By Shehu Danjuma
Some residents of Katsina State note that although the state has encountered challenges since its creation on September 23, 1987, it has recorded substantial development.
They note that Katsina which used to be a semi-urban area with little infrastructure before 1987 had tremendously metamorphosed to fast developing state capital.
They also recall that the state had a population of most people who were subsistence farmers before its creation, observing that the farmers in the state now have embraced mechanised farming.
On the development of infrastructure, they observe that the 40-kilometre ring-road that surrounds the state capital opens up the state capital for development.
Citing some of the development strides in the state, Justice Mamman Nasir, former President of the Nigerian courts of appeals and an indigenes of the state, said Katsina was the centre of learning that produced the first crops of northern leaders.
Nasir said “Katsina Training College had produced the likes of the late Premier of Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello and the late Prime Minister of Nigeria, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, among others’’.
He said the creation of Katsina State was a blessing to the entire people of the state as it had opened doors of opportunities to the indigenes.
He noted that when the state was created; it had only seven local government areas which had developed to the present 34 local government areas.
He said the creation of the state also opened-up the establishment of additional district head offices from 23 to 45 district head offices, providing jobs for the youth in the state.
Many residents of the state attest to it that when the state was created three decades ago, it had not a single university or state college of education for the youth and manpower training.
They observe that the state has four degree awarding institutions presently, including a federal university at Dutsin-ma, Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, National Open University, Katsina Campus, Federal College of Education, Katsina and Isa Kaita College of Education, Dutsin-ma that belongs to Katsina State Government.
Sharing similar sentiments, Wazirin Katsina, Dr Sani Abubakar Lugga said the creation of Katsina State had been the architect of the rapid development of the residents of the state in the education sector.
“Katsina is the first state to have an Islamic University — Al-Qalam University — which has been producing graduates.
“Presently, Katsina State has more than 300 public secondary schools and more than 200 private primary and secondary schools across the state,’’ he said.
Lugga also observed that commercial activities had also gone-up due to the establishment of a branch of Central Bank of Nigeria and other commercial banks in the state.
Similarly, Prof. Halima Idris, Commissioner for Education in the state said the Masari-led administration had given the education sector high priority.
He said it was because of this that the present state government had expended more than N2 billion to renovate and rehabilitate primary schools across the state.
“In addition, government has expended over N3 billion to renovate depilated secondary schools across the state.
“Further to this, the state government has established new secondary schools across the state with the aim of boosting enrolment of students,’’ he said.
The commissioner, however, called on people in the state to give the present administration in the state necessary support so as to benefit from the dividends of democracy.
Also, former state Commissioner for Information Hajiya Mariya Abdullahi said the creation of the state had boosted enrollment figure for female children in the state.
Abdullahi noted that several towns and villages had benefited from electrification and roads construction networks.
Similarly, Dr Muttaqah Rabe, a former Commissioner of Works, said the state government had recorded laudable achievements within the last 16 years of democratic dispensation.
The level of development in the state notwithstanding, he expressed concern that there was no development in the state during the previous 12 years of the military regime.
To fill this gap, Special Adviser to Governor Masari on Inter-Governmental Affairs, Dr Lawal Bagiwa said the administration had signed an agreement with the African Development Bank for 110 million-dollar facility.
He said the facility would be used to develop the health sector, staff training as well as rehabilitation of hospitals and clinics across the state.
In the same vein, Alhaji Bala Abdulahi, General Manager of the State Rural Electrification Board, said government had expended more than N16 billion to connect more than 500 villages to the national grid.
Abdullahi noted that several villages had also been provided with transformers to ensure steady supply of electricity.
“All the 34 local governments have benefited from the installation of new transformers to boost power supply.
“We are, however, experiencing the destruction of transformers and cables due to the activities of vandals who have been stealing our equipment.
“We are calling our people to be protecting all the electrical installation in various villages and towns across the state,’’ he pleaded.
All in all, political analysts recall that Masari had insisted in his electioneering in 2015 that Katsina State was poorly governed and promised to address the challenges if he became the governor.
In response to how far he has made good his promise, Masari said his administration had reduced government expenditure by as high as about 40 per cent.
He also said the state was able to recover lost grounds in several critical sectors, including education and agriculture through careful implementation of highly rewarding initiatives.
“We hardly go out of Nigeria officially except on sponsorship; none of us at leadership level has so far done that except where interested parties sponsored government officials.
“We also cut cost of going abroad for medical treatment for all of us; we cut cost of how much we take from treasury for travelling, even internally.
“There are so many areas in which we make some savings that made it possible for us to reach where we have reached.
“We haven’t reached where we plan to reach; because of the constraints of resources, we are highly limited in our efforts to look for other sources of revenue,’’ he said.
In spite of these challenges, Masari said his administration was making efforts to restore the state to its past glory through outstanding development projects.