By Maduabuchi Nmeribeh/Kano
Though he agreed that Nigeria’s founding fathers laid good foundation for the development of the country, Kano state Governor, Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf, has maintained that some leaders of the country drifted away from the dreams of Nigeria’s founding fathers, insisting that the current administration at the Local, states and Federal levels must wake up to the challenges of overcoming unemployment, youth restiveness, insecurity, among other factors militating against socio-economic development of Nigeria.
Governor Yusuf spoke at Sani Abacha Stadium, Kofar Mata, Kano, on Sunday, during a colourful ceremony to mark the 2023 independence anniversary.
According to him, “the challenges of insecurity and poverty must be attended to with sincerity; the challenges bedeviling education provisioning and healthcare services must be genuinely attended to; and the challenges of hunger and malnutrition must be tackled compassionately.”
He maintained that Nigeria,63 years after independence has recorded some progress, “but we ought to have done much better.
“Our founding fathers have laid the foundation for a nation on the principles of fairness, equity, justice and progress. These are the fulcrum upon which any progressive and prosperous society is built.
“At this moment of reflection, we must recognize and salute the efforts of all our previous leaders that contributed their quota in keeping our country united and catalyzing our development to where we are today.
“It is only rational to also recognize that arising from some policy choices of some of our past leaders, our development and growth ought to have gone beyond where we are today. Our cohesion and unity ought to have been stronger than what it is today. Our security and stability ought to have been better than what it is today.”
He added that: “Independence day is a period to reconnect with our history – reflect on our past, assess our present and make plans and projections about our future.
“In looking at the past, it is appropriate to pay tribute to the great nationalists and patriotic freedom fighters who sacrificed everything to ensure the freedom of our people and our Nation. It is also a thing of joy and inspiration to remind our youth that all the major contributors to Nigeria’s independence struggle played their roles when they were young men and women.
“On occasion like this, we must salute the resilience, intelligence and doggedness of the likes of Malam Aminu Kano, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Mallam Sa’adu Zungur, Yusuf Maitama Sule, Chief Anthony Enahoro and Madam Magret Ekpo. We must pay tribute to the commitment, patriotism and the foresight of the likes of Sir Ahmadu Bello, Alhaji Sule Gaya, Herbert Macaulay, Dr. Nmandi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Hajiya Gambo Sawaba, Madam Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Jaja of Opobo and Sir Kashim Ibrahim. These are the men and women who led the struggle that culminated into the declaration of independence of Nigeria 63 years ago.”
He, however, maintained that his administration is determined to look to the future with hope, belief and careful plans devoid of the encumbrances of the burden of the past.
He said his administration is working deliberately to break away from the circle of despair, poverty, insecurity and youth restiveness, in Kano state.
Enumerating the modest achievements of his administration, Governor Yusuf said: “Fellow compatriots, in the four months since our assumption of office, our administration have taken some bold steps in ensuring security of lives and properties – the cases of phone snatching and street crimes have become a history in our State.
“We have taken bold steps against the sale and consumption of illicit drugs to save our youth from becoming victims of the menace. Believing that preventive measures are not enough to stop these vices, we have re-opened all our institutes for skill acquisition for the purposes of equipping our teeming youth with soft and hard skills as well as empowering them with startup capital to start their SMEs and contribute to the development of our State and our nation.
“We have taken decisive steps to overhaul our Education and Healthcare sectors. Schools are being renovated in batches – we are providing free uniforms, schools bag and shoes at pilot stage, we are providing free exercise books and textbooks to Primary and Junior Secondary School pupils. And arrangement have reached advanced stage in providing one free meal to primary school pupils.
“We are also building new schools across the 44 Local Government councils in our quest to mop all out-of-school children roaming our streets. To support girls-child education and encourage parents to send their daughters to school, we are issuing stipend of 20,000 Naira to over 45,000 girl – child as a pilot scheme to support them to continue schooling. We are also re-introducing the girl – child school buses to transport them to and from schools.
“To support our high level manpower development agenda, we are sending 1001 First Class graduates this academic session to study for Masters degrees at universities abroad.
“We have also supported numerous Kano State indigenes with the payment of registration fees in some Federal Tertiary Education institutions. We have reduced, by 50%, the registration fees in all State-owned tertiary education institutions.
“On the heathcare, we have rebuilt and equipped the Hasiya Bayero Pediatric Hospital and commissioned it to provide free medical care to children, we have renovated and upgraded the Accident and Emergency section of the Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital. We have already started renovations and upgrading work at Abdullahi Wase Teaching Hospital, Nuhu Bamalli Hospital and Bela leprosy Hospital. We are in the process of renovating and all our general Hospitals, Clinics and Healthcare centers across the 44 local governments.
“Fellow compatriots, we are celebrating this year’s independence anniversary at a time of serious economic hardship arising from the removal of fuel subsidy. Here in Kano State, our administration has taken some practical steps to support people at the bottom of the social ladder with some palliatives. We have purchased 99 trailers of Rice, 150 trailers of maize for distribution to the most deserving households.
“We are also taking decisive and sustainable steps to clear our town and cities of refuse dumps. We have procured refuse disposal equipments and re-established REMASAB and empower the agency with every necessary support to ensure that Kano is clean.
“My fellow compatriots, before I end this anniversary speech, let me extend my greetings of hope for a better future to our teeming youth who constitute the largest proportion of our demography. Let me extend my greetings to our women, who are the pathfinders and moral compasses of our society.
“Let me extend my greetings and solidarity on this anniversary, to all the workers in our State who are working hard to support government to meet the citizens’ aspirations. Let me extend my felicitation and respect to the senior citizens who have invested their energies in building our State and whose wealth of experience and wisdom we shall continue to benefit from. Let me extend my greetings and appreciations to the Ulamas for their continues prayers.
“Let me also extend my gratitude and respect to the law enforcement agencies who are on their feet to keep our State safe and peaceful. Let me extend my felicitation to Nigeria on this 63rd Anniversary.’
Among dignitaries who attended the colourful ceremony include heads of all security agencies in the state; the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero; Emir of Bichi, Alhaji Nasiru Ado Bayero; members of Kano state Executive Council; the Head of Service, Bala Mohammed; Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Abdullahi Baffa Bichi; Director-General, Special Services, Government House, AVM Ibrahim Umar (rtd), among other politicians and captains of industry.
However, Governor Yusuf is expected to pay special visit to Nassarawa Children Home; Kurmawa Correctional Centre; Murtala Muhammad Specialist hospital as part of activities to mark the independence anniversary.
Earlier on Saturday, independence lectures was held under the chairmanship of former Deputy Governor of the State, Prof. Hafiz Abubakar, with Emeritus Prof. Munzali Jibril as the Guest Speaker.