Governor Mai Mala Buni’s speech at the opening of the two-day Education Summit that his administration organised last week to think out-of-the-box and suggest solutions to some of the challenges in Yobe’s education sector – education being always a work in progress – speaks to his leadership as an introspective person who wants to get things done by carefully weighing the options and bringing all-hands-on-deck.
Widely praised for its straight-talk, the speech pointed the experts, resource persons, traditional and community leaders and other stakeholders gathered for the Summit in a clear direction – to find practical and implementable ways on how Yobe’s children could have improved access to qualitative education. The speech also confirms his determination to ‘walk the talk’.
A little under a month earlier, the governor, who declared a state of emergency in Yobe’s education sector, had pledged to work with every person and entity – and deploy every resource available – to build on Yobe’s education sector and place it on a sounder footing. The Summit was a methodical, broad-based approach to reaching that goal.
It also set the tone for what is to come under his watch in the months and years ahead. Separate and apart from what we know an approach like the Summit that held could achieve, the people of Yobe State are getting increasingly assured, through his take on various issues so far, that Governor Mai Mala Buni would truly be the leader they hoped for – a determined and dedicated public servant who, like his predecessor, would always prove that ‘words must mean something’.
The governor has said, for example, that Yobe’s next level accomplishments will be hammered into place on the anvils of continuity and consolidation. He has proceeded firmly to do that. In healthcare, water supply, agriculture, the civil service and other sectors vital to the day-to-day wellbeing of ordinary people, the governor has maintained – and is building on – the progress Yobe has made under former Governor Ibrahim Gaidam.
Governor Buni has also taken three broad initiatives that speak to the Yobe he has in mind for the next four years.
First, he has shown that to make progress on a more sustainable basis, Yobe’s economic foundations must be strengthened and reinforced on the crest of its well-known comparative advantage – agriculture. By taking concrete steps to resuscitate the Yobe Flour and Feed Mills (a company that has a rice mill upgrade capacity), the Woven Sacks factory and the Yobe Fertilizer Blending company, Governor Buni has helped to enhance the agricultural value-chain in the state. With irrigation agriculture already making progress under his predecessor at the Nguru Lake and Mugura Garin-Gada, and the multiple irrigation sites he plans to support, it is only a matter of time before Yobe becomes the nation’s food basket that it should be.
This will have significant impact on internal revenue flow and will positively affect Yobe’s capacity to provide employment for its teeming youths.
Second, the governor has shown that to move to the Next Level, Yobe must leverage on its partnerships and contacts with development partners both within and outside the country. In a meeting with the representatives of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Abuja recently, for example, the governor has made clear that he will sustain all ongoing partnerships, continue to meet all counterpart funding obligations and will spare no effort to join hands with governmental and non-governmental organisations to bring about more progress to the state.
Third, Governor Buni has shown that over the next many years, Yobe would tap from the vast and relentless energy of its youths to move the state forward. In a meeting with a group of youths from across the three senatorial districts of the state recently, the governor has revealed that a Yobe Youth Development Summit is being contemplated to engage with them and each other, and develop a template that will go farther than before in addressing their needs and concerns.
One of those needs and concerns, the governor reckons, is a capacity for the youths to stand on their feet, and to be more useful to themselves, their family and community.
This is the reason that the governor, for one, is currently exploring a partnership with entities in the Kingdom of Morocco in the area of skills acquisition, among others, so that interested youths in the state could be trained in arts and crafts, fashion designing, and embroidery, including in how to make Kufta and Alkyabba that people use a lot in the North.
A meeting between Governor Buni and the Deputy Head of Mission of the Moroccan embassy in Abuja, Mr. El Houssaine Oustitane, which held recently and set the tone for the partnership, would be followed soon by visits to Yobe and Morocco at the technical level to avail officials on both sides the opportunity to make concrete inputs on how to go forward.
In Governor Buni’s recent visit to and interaction with the students and teachers at the Yetim Care Foundation, an orphanage in Damaturu, the state capital, and the support that he provided to them, he has also shown that he deeply cares for what happens in the lives of orphans and the less privileged in society.
So, what does all this say about Governor Buni’s desire to make a real difference in the lives of the people that he leads?
First, the idea that the governor is nudging Yobe forward on the twin track of continuity and consolidation means that the state is likelier than most to make more progress within the shortest possible time. It means that resources and endowments that are already on the ground can be leveraged, enhanced and deployed to effect. This is clear from the directive he gave to government officials on what to focus on as the process begins to resuscitate those existing industries that he intends to breathe life into again.
Second, the governor’s suave take on the issues that he’s tackled so far – the idea of building on partnerships and tapping from the state’s brightest minds to make progress as evidenced in the Yobe Education Summit – also clearly shows that he will justify the trust and confidence that have been reposed in him at every step of the way.
What is even more significant is that within a space of just a few weeks since taking the mantle of leadership, Governor Buni has shown that he will lead an administration in which everything necessary and possible will be done to keep Yobe on track to make more progress and improve on the people’s living conditions.
Mr Bego, a Director General for Press Affairs to Governor Buni, wrote from Damaturu, Yobe State.