By Emmanuel Oloniruha
The Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Bello, on Sunday expressed his commitment to having functional primary healthcare in each political ward of the state.
Bello, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said that his administration was putting measures in place to also address shortage of doctors and other medical practitioners in the state.
He listed renovation and expansion of existing health facilities as well as improved remuneration for doctors as some of the measures being taken to address the health sector challenges in the state.
“We decided to have one functional primary healthcare in each ward. At the moment we have over 100 and there are still some we have not done yet.
“The idea is that once you have functional primary healthcare in a ward it reduced pressure on secondary facilities.’’
Bello said that government was remodelling and expanding the general hospital in Kontagora and others areas, saying there is no sense in building new hospital when exiting ones are not functional.
“The upgrading of the general hospital in Kontangora is ongoing and hopefully to be completed by end of 2021. It will have all the state of the art equipment.
“The only thing that will be left is manpower but then we have also built a new nursing school attached to the hospital. Hopefully, we will commission the school of nursing by January or February 2021.
“We have also upgraded the school of nursing in Bida and we have completed it. The school was built with no accreditation for over 10 years. We have rebuilt it and it has been accredited and now functioning.’’
In the education sector, Bello pledged to continue to create conducive learning environment for students as well as promote quality education for human development and transformation of the state.
The governor said when his administration came into power in 2015, there were a lot of challenges in all sectors including dilapidation of the state owned schools due to due lack of maintenance.
Bello said that his government, however took assessment and audit of the schools and thereafter introduced “Whole School Development Approach’’ aimed at rebuilding and renovating the infrastructure.
`This cost a lot of money because we are rebuilding the schools with staff quarters. Some of the schools have not been renovated for the past 40 years.
“The staff were living in very dilapidated structures, so we renovated and furnished classrooms, dormitories and hostels. Unfortunately, we have not been able to do all. At the moment we have done nine and we are hoping to do more.’’
Bello added that when he came into office he realised that most of the government primary schools in the state had only one or two teachers teaching primary one to six.
“We all know that it is not possible to get quality education in such environment. I found out that even though on paper, they have a lot of teachers but in actual sense they have one or two teachers.’’
He said what he discovered was that some of the teachers do not go to their assigned schools because of the distance from their areas of residents to the schools, saying some only go once in a week.
To address the problem, Bello said that his administration started a new programme called “Teacher Institutes’’; a specialised school to train qualified teachers, in different part of the state.
He said while the plan was to have the specialised schools in each senatorial zones of the state, two centres were already functioning at Dandaudu and Kuta.
“We admitted students from each ward, hoping that after some few years they will go back to their wards. At the moment the first set just finished their O’level Certificate examination. I think they scored over 90 per cent.’’
Bello said that the demand for the school was now high as many people now want to enrol their children in the school, adding that ”even UBEC from the federal authority have come to see what we are doing there.“
Also on his achievements, Bello expressed joy that after many years of lack of access to potable water in the state, pipe borne water was now running in some areas including Minna, the state capital.
“When we came, in Minna, the state capital, there is no water. We bought new low and high lift pumps for Minna, Suleja, Bida and Kontagora from Germany at almost N2 billion.
“We have fixed the water treatment plant but because water have not been running for many years most of the pipes are weak. When we test and release water the pipe will burst.
“But in Minna I am happy to say that we are making progress. We have finished the installation of the water treatment plants and we have done the reticulation and the water system is running now.
“People that have no access to running water in the last 10 years now have water. Bida is almost completed too. The main issue now is power and we are working on it.’’
Bello added that his administration was addressing the challenge of dilapidated roads infrastructure that made road transportation stressful within the state.
He said that his administration had contracted over 450 kilometres of roads, including ongoing roads construction within Minna, with some of the sections ready to be inaugurated soon.
Bello said that his administration had also started the dualisation of Minna –Bida road, adding that the state government was already speaking with Islamic Development Bank about the road.
“My administration has also spent a lot of money on federal roads within the state including Minna-Suleja Road, Minna – Kontangora -Tegina Road.
“We have done about 30 to 40 kilometre on federal roads within the state and we have not been refunded for it.’’
Bello said that his administration had also linked up two local government headquarters in the state without electricity to power grid.
“We have linked up Bangi and we have constructed the road. A journey that previously take you six hours now take one hour.
“Electricity project in Agwara is ongoing we have finished the lines. We are waiting for it to be tested and put to use.
“We have also connected a lot of communities to electricity. In some cases we try to encourage the use of solar system in some communities.’’
Bello added that his administration had recorded achievements in the development of innovation centres in the state, saying the state now have centres where it trained 250 youths at a time in skills and acquisitions.
He said that by 2021, the state government would give more attention to technical and vocation schools to address the problem of unemployment in the state.
“Next year I hope and pray that we are able to generate good revenue. I think the direction now is technical schools because when people have skills, they do not wait for political appointment or office jobs.’’