ADAMAWA State in the North East geo-political zone of Nigeria is making appreciable progress in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the leadership of its current governor, Senator Muhammad Umar Jibirilla Bindow.
Governor Bindow considers the SDGs to be in tandem with his administration's blueprint for the development of the state and has therefore been implementing the global goals.
Following the decimation of the Boko Haram insurgents by the military, the Bindow administration has adopted a holistic approach in tackling the issues of food supply, shelter, access to education, employment and the rebuilding of roads and institutions destroyed at the peak of the insurgency. Leveraging the SDGs for socio-economic development of Adamawa State, Governor Bindow's administration is focusing on the critical areas of poverty alleviation, ensuring quality education, enhancing women's empowerment and peace-building.
The report of the United Nations on Nigeria's Poverty Index conducted in 2014 shows clearly that a large proportion of Adamawa State people live below poverty line and are exposed to various vulnerabilities. According to the report, the poverty rate of Adamawa State is 59. 0%. There are indications that the Boko Haram insurgency which has ravaged some parts of the State has worsened the level of poverty in Adamawa.
Governor Bindow confirmed this recently when he declared: “The scourge of poverty has gotten to a threshold where every person needs to make a commitment to achieve the desired result. The recent insurgency attacks and clashes have further deepened the level of poverty among our people and placed them at a position of disadvantage as many of our people were ripped off--their businesses, farmlands and trade.”
His administration has therefore adopted strategies to alleviate poverty in the state. One of the strategies is the strengthening of the micro, small and medium-scale Enterprises (MSME) with the introduction of the Bindow for Social Change, (BSC) Initiative. Through the BSC Initiative, his administration launched a N500 million credit package for small and informal entrepreneurs. A total of 9,000 first-line jobs were created on this revolving loan project. It also led to the creation of additional 40 entrepreneurs, each taking at least N30, 000 loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for women cooperative societies, MSMEs and agriculture in the state.
Since agriculture is the main socio-economic activity of the people of Adamawa State, the state government is providing support for this critical sector to ensure food security. To provide enough fertilizer for farmers, the Bindow administration launched a N3.5 billion fertilizer acquisition and supply programme. To boost mechanised agriculture, the state government procured new tractors which were distributed to the 21 local government areas of the state.
Alhaji Ahmadu Waziri, Commissioner for Agriculture, said the state government has helped the local governments in ensuring proper utilization of the tractors for maximum benefit.
The state government equally established a large-scale rice production and processing company in Fufore and developed a viable Dairy Development Programme in the State in partnership with Friesland Campina Wamco.
To ensure that the youths acquire the skills to enable them to become self-reliant, the Bindow administration revived the Technical Skills Acquisition Centres in the State which were abandoned by the previous administrations. Recently, about 500 youths graduated from the skills acquisition Centre in Yola after training in various trades.
About 179 Internally Displace Persons (IDPs) also benefited from the skills acquisition initiative as they were trained on Technology Skilled Acquisition Scheme sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in September 2017. Mr. Samuel Bwalya, UNDP Country Director, said that the trainees from the IDPs were supported with start-up equipment grants to establish their own businesses.
Enhancing quality education
The Bindow administration accords priority to education. In 2015, the Adamawa State Ministry of Education embarked on campaign for the revamping of the education sector in insurgency-ravaged areas of the State. The state government received the support of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and a renowned non-governmental organization (NGO) known as North East Regional Initiative (NERI) in the education revival project.
In 2016, the Bindow administration declared a state of emergency in the basic education sector and resolved to salvage it. As part of measures to achieve this goal, the state government established two teachers' training colleges to train teachers to enable them to impart quality teaching and learning on the pupils and students in primary and post-primary schools respectively. The government also motivated the teachers in both primary and secondary schools across the state to put in their best.
In addition, the state government had in 2017 approved N487 million for the massive renovation, rehabilitation and equipping of secondary schools across Adamawa State. The project also involved the procurement of text books, desks, beds and beddings and other forms of furniture for students.
Recently, the Adamawa State government in collaboration with UNICEF launched the rehabilitation of some block of classrooms destroyed by Boko Haram in seven local government areas of the state. Professor Kaletapwa Farauta, who was then the Commissioner of Education said 40 schools were selected from Gombi, Mubi North, Mubi South, Maiha, Hong, Michika and Madagali local government areas to benefit from it.
Mrs Fadimatu Alfa, Director, Social Mobilisation of Adamawa State Universal Education Board (ADSUBEB), said the UNICEF package was N25 million shared among the School-Based Management Committees (SBMCs) in the 40 benefiting schools with different amounts depending on the rehabilitation work needed.
The state is equally partnering with NigCommSAT to train and install VSAT systems to provide internet connectivity for use in the provision of quality education.
The Oando Foundation (OF) in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Emergency Crisis Response (ECR) has also commenced an initiative to ensure the transition of thousands of internally displaced out-of-school children in the state from informal to formal/mainstream educational institutions. The adopted schools have been supplied teaching and learning aids by Oando Foundation to improve the quality of teaching and ultimately increase learning outcomes for children.
Timothy Curtin, Deputy Director, Education, USAID Education Crisis Response said the organisation seeks to work with both public and private sector actors to optimize its efforts to help displaced children and youths return to school.
Adamawa State commenced the implementation of the National Home-grown School Feeding Programme, one of the Social Investment Programmes (SIP) of the Federal Government in October 2017. Mr. Julius Kadala, the current Adamawa State Commissioner of Education said that about 1, 941 schools will benefit from the programme.
The Adamawa State government has expressed its commitment to implement SDG-5 – gender equality and women's economic empowerment. However, despite its avowed commitment to gender equality, Governor Bindow caused a row in August 2015 when he appointed a man, Alhaji Aliyu Tola, as the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development. Women Affairs ministries at state and federal levels of government, as symbols of gender balance, are traditionally headed by females. This was why the appointment elicited criticisms from women groups and politicians.
Mr. Samuel Bwalya, Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
In September 2015 when Mrs Aisha Buhari, wife of the Nigerian leader visited Yola, the Adamawa State capital, he urged Governor Bindow to swap his Commissioner for Women Affairs, Alhaji Tola, with a woman.
Despite the public outcry, Governor Bindow has continued to retain Tola as commissioner for women affairs.
Even though Governor Bindow appointed a man as commissioner for women affairs, he appears to be gender-sensitive in his appointments to some extent. For instance, four sensitive ministries of his government, have women as commissioners. The four female commissioners in Adamawa are Dr. Fatima Atiku Abubakar (Health), Barrister Lilian Kayode (Works), Mrs Victoria Sashi (Mineral Resources) and Professor Kaleptawa Farauta who was in charge of the Ministry of Education before her recent redeployment to Adamawa State University, Mubi, as acting vice chancellor.
Unperturbed by the initial outcry over the appointment of a man as commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Alhaji Tola has been working hard to prove critics wrong. In his speech during an advocacy campaign to the Adamawa House of Assembly on Equal Opportunities and Other Bills, held on December 21, 2016, he promised that the state government would strive to bridge the gender gap.
He urged the State House of Assembly to ensure that gender equality remains a state and local government priority, for development to thrive. He then admonished the legislators to:
• Energetically pass the Equal Opportunities Bill, Child Right Act, and Violence against Persons Prohibition Bill;
• Provide significant financing for gender equality for all, so that commitments become reality in the state;
• Monitor progress so that all levels of government will hold themselves and each other accountable for the pledges made towards the development of our people and communities.
Alhaji Tola has also been making efforts to ensure the validation and adoption of the Adamawa State Action Plan (SAP) on the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. In his address during the validation workshop held in Yola on October 26, 2017, he said it has become imperative for the state to strengthen women's participation in decision-making and end sexual violence because Adamawa women have suffered hardship as they are often subjected to emotional and physical violence such as abduction, rape, and destruction of lives and properties.
He added that since women are mostly affected by conflict, more needs to be done to empower them, to begin to play significant roles in peace-building, rehabilitation, and post-conflict reconstruction in Adamawa communities. “I therefore enjoin all stakeholders represented here, to review and validate the Adamawa State Action Plan (SAP) on UNSCR 1325, that truly reflects the peculiarities of our people and addresses the collective experience of the people of our Adamawa. When validated, the document will provide a roadmap for the inclusion and participation of more women in all aspects of peace-building and post-conflict rehabilitation of Adamawa,” Tola said.
The Adamawa State government is also empowering women with the skills and quality education that can adequately prepare them to excel. In February 2016, the Federal Ministry for Women Affairs and Social Development in conjunction with the UN Women and the people of Japan organized a capacity building workshop for women in Adamawa State. The participants were trained on soap and detergent making, tie and dye, cake baking, and juice making. They later received take-off grants which enabled them to establish small scale businesses.
Adamawa is one of the eight pilot states benefitting from N200 million earmarked by the Federal Government for disbursement to women through the National Women Empowerment Fund (NAWEF) as well as the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
Hajiya Maryam Muhammad Umar Jibirilla, wife of the state governor has also been supporting the women through economic empowerment and provision of safe kits for pregnant women.
The Bindow administration has been promoting inclusive and sustainable employment and decent work for civil servants in the state. When he assumed office in 2015, workers were being owed backlog of salary arrears, but Governor Bindow cleared the arrears within a few weeks. Since then, his administration has ensured prompt payment of workers' salaries. The administration embarked on the construction of a 300-unit housing estate to provide shelter for civil servants in the state. The project was executed by the state government in partnership with KD Properties and Estate Limited and Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN). The estate project will allocate about 10% of the houses directly to civil servants of the State, under an owner-occupier sub-programme.
The Adamawa State government has adopted measures to address the ever-growing environmental challenges of the state, particularly desertification and other ecological problems. To prevent ecological disasters in future, the state government has been sensitizing people on climate change and afforestation. The State government has also been fighting desertification through the annual tree planting campaign and the establishment of shelterbelts.
Peace, justice and strong institutions
As one of the states in the North East which is just recovering from the challenge of Boko Haram insurgency, the Adamawa State government is working tirelessly to ensure the safety of lives and property.
To build peace between herdsmen and farmers, the state government had set up an Administrative Penal of Enquiry headed by Mr. Joshua Atiku to investigate the conflict and come up with recommendations on how to put the lingering crisis to rest in the state. After the panel submitted its report, the state government started the implementations of the panel's recommendation by compensating herdsmen and farmers in Kodomun village, in Demsa Local Government Area of the state. The state government gave them cash donations totalling N10 million as well as bags of rice to the victims to cushion the effects of the attacks.
The Adamawa State government has also been supporting the security agents in the state with amenities; particularly patrol-vehicles to enable them tackle banditry and stem the activities of the few remaining insurgents who still cowardly strike in the fringes of Madagali and Michika Local Government Areas of the state. It is equally making efforts to create a good working environment for judicial officers so that they will always ensure that the rule of law takes pre-eminence over the rule of man