By Umar Ardo PhD
Our vision for Adamawa state is fundamentally grounded on the principles of African values of honesty and of being our brothers’ keepers. Because our state is a land of potentially unlimited opportunities, endowed with human and material resources, optimal utilization of our God-given talents, skills, huge labour force and natural assets we can create a knowledge-and-labour-based-society in which those who work hard succeed, the weak and old amongst us cared for; and, by respecting our differences, our diverse communities grow stronger and our prosperity, unity and success become assured, enthroning politics of inclusion, tolerance and compassion, under rule of law.
Our primary mission is to get everybody in the service of Adamawa State give the needed commitments essential for the realization of our vision – by example, by action and by sacrifice, and to remain throughout the article of faith in the conduct of all public service of the state.
Our Key Objectives
Our key objectives are:-
a) To Conquer Hunger – ensuring that every Adamawa indigene in the state, male and female, young and old, will have enough quality food to eat and not ever go hungry;
b) To Conquer Disease – ensuring that every Adamawa indigene in the state, male and female, young and old, will have access to proper Medicare for all ailments;
c) To Conquer Illiteracy and Ignorance – ensuring that every Adamawa school-age child in the state will have access to high-quality education, from primary to tertiary levels;
d) To Conquer Unemployment – ensuring that every indigene of the state, specifically our youths whose focal duty and responsibility will be to develop society with their intellect and physical strengths in innovation, invention, production, construction, management, etc., is gainfully or self-employed and contributing to the material development of society; and
e) To Conquer Infrastructural deficit – ensuring the provision of basic public infrastructure such as portable water, schools, hospitals, electricity, roads, dams, railways, sanitation, forestation, etc.
We plan to achieve these five key objectives through focusing on the following five priority programs;-
i. Creating wealth for the state and reducing poverty;
ii. Investing in Human development through capacity building;
iii. Providing security of life and property and stamping out crime;
iv. Providing Physical infrastructure and social services; and
v. Instituting greater commitment to ethics, transparency and accountability in public service.
i. Creating Wealth for Adamawa
Given that Adamawa state has excellent vegetation, we plan to initiate large-scale state-sponsored Public-Private-Partnership-Driven mechanized commercial farming, thorough harnessing and expanding the produce of our vast economic trees, exploring and exploiting our massive solid mineral deposits and facilitating for the establishments of several Agro-allied industries across the state to process these produces. These shall constitute key pivots in our wealth creation and distribution scheme and revenue generation and developmental drive.
In addition to the agro-allied sector, and the area of economic trees, such as Shea butter, locust beans, tangerines, gum Arabic, etc., animal husbandry shall also be a key priority. As established by research, most of our people depend on cattle, sheep, goats and pigs for meat, milk, cheese, hair, honey, butter, manure, incense, hides, skins and poultry product. In the villages, farmers use cattle bulls for carting, ploughing and hauling. Thousands of people wholly or partly make their livings from selling, milking, butchering, or transporting herds. Cattle and animal owners thus play an important role in the economy and nutrition of our communities. With its value-chain, it is potentially a multi-trillion naira industry. We will therefore establish ranches, prohibit open grazing that has been the source of communal conflicts in the state, and facilitate the establishment of wide range of animal feeds industries and water treatment plants to develop animal-related industrial base in the state. This will cover all types of animal – cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, etc. This way, beyond creating wealth through animal husbandry and its value chain, we would also be halting the perennial poverty-induced crimes and insecurity, and end conflicts between farmers and herders, thus entrenching peaceful coexistence in our communities.
ii. Human Development
Our commitment to sustainable human capacity development is premised on the reality that today’s world is essentially knowledge based and driven, and will remain increasingly so in time to come. This then calls for a holistic fight on illiteracy and ignorance by investing heavily in education, in research and technology, in expanding access to schools, re-introduction of mass literacy programs, training and retraining of our professionals and bureaucrats. We will also evolve range of policies and methods that will train our people, male and female, to be enterprising self-entrepreneurs; our educated youths into skilled pools of engineers, architects, accountants, pilots, ITCs to stimulate creativity and innovation in the skills and talents of our mass populace into large producers, consumers and service providers.
iii. Security for Adamawa
Our vision recognizes that a safe, secure and peaceful atmosphere is indispensable for the attainment of its goals. As shown above, most of our security problems are clearly a product of negative socio-economic circumstances. We will therefore adopt a two pronged multi-spectrum strategy to address our security challenges drawing from experience garnered from on-going and previous efforts. On the one hand, we will systematically tackle the sociological root causes of crime and other security challenges which include unemployment, poverty, illiteracy, real and perceived neglect and marginalization, through our developmental programs as conceived in our priorities outlined above. On the other hand, working closely with the Federal Government, our first strategy will be complemented with efforts to upgrade the professional capacity of our national security operatives and institutions through a deliberate program of training, equipping and enhancing motivation of national security agencies in the state. In this regard, the welfare and logistics needs of our security forces in the state will receive particular attention as incentives to greater commitment to professionalism. We will also intensify the manning of our international borders to guard against the infiltration into our state of elements with criminal tendencies from other countries. We will equally examine the possibility of enacting an Edict that will involve our Traditional, Community and Religious Leaders in the security architecture of the state.
iv. Physical Infrastructure and Social Services
Our key priorities in this regard are:-
i. Set up a panel to comprehensively assess the level and extent of destructions of lives and property wrecked on our people during the insurgents’ invasions of the state with a view to compensating our people of their losses;
ii. Reconstructing destroyed infrastructure and constructing others for economic and social growth;
iii. Providing portable water, effective Health Care Delivery Scheme and power supply to our communities;
iv. Providing free and compulsory primary to tertiary education to every school-age child, and rejuvenate adult-education;
v. Examine the feasibility of constructing internal railway lines within the state to stimulate and enhance rapid economic development, quick transformation and modernization of our communities;
vi. Generating gainful employment for our populace in agriculture, industry, construction, solid minerals and technology; and
vii. Establishing functional Micro-credit Banks to advance Micro-lending to the poor.
v. Transparency and Accountability
We can only achieve these goals with commitment, transparency and full accountability by all government functionaries. We shall therefore put all government policies and programs at the public domain for scrutiny, and strengthen the financial regulations mechanism and strict compliance with laid down due process in the execution of government business. While we will strive to work closely with anti-corruption agencies, we are however going to lead by example. We will endeavour to build and promote honesty in our polity and see government funds and property as sacred trusts in our care for which we are accountable. We will not steal a single kobo from state treasury, and we will not allow any body to do so. We shall also endeavour to recover all stolen public monies from government coffers. All workers’ emoluments – salaries, allowances, pensions and any other entitlements – shall be paid as and when due. In addition, we will review upwards the wages of our civil servants to raise the earnings power of our workers and thus discourage the propensity to steal and be corrupt. This way, we will make the era of free-for-all thievery of public funds a thing of the past. We will review our pension policy towards evolving a Contributory Pension Scheme. We will allow Local Government Councils their full autonomy, with their full statutory financial allocations. We will abolish the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs which has been used by successive state governments to siphon their federal allocations. We will instead create a Local Government Bureau made up of a nominee from each Local Government responsible for monitoring, evaluating and reporting all Local Government activities. We will equally review the positions and functions of Development Areas with a view to assigning them definite and specific roles in the state’s developmental scheme.
How to Achieve Objectives: Our Modus Operendi
Our vision, mission and objectives outlined above can only be achieved by means of ethical orientation that inculcates guiding principles and values in our people, and by systemic innovation and practical approach to issues.
1. Guiding Principles and Values
Every public servant in the state (be they elective, appointive or bureaucratic) will be guided by the following three-key principles:-
i. Creating opportunity for all indigenes;
ii. Demanding responsibility from every indigene; and
iii. Forging strong and virile communal spirit among all indigenes.
To attain this, every public servant must subscribe to the following three-key values:-
i. Sincerity of purpose;
ii. Clarity of goal; and
iii. Dedication to duty.
2. Systemic Innovation and Practical Approach
This technique in achieving our objectives will be premised on meticulous planning and organizing. To this end:-
i. The solution to each and every problem of the state shall be amply dependent on innovation and creativity, and not necessarily on convention. Every person entrusted with responsibility will be expected to come forth with innovative and creative skills and ideas in the resolution of the given issue at hand;
ii. Every Adamawa indigene shall be registered and given an identity. We shall adopt GridCode as State Addressing Scheme by which every inch of land in the state is measured, calculated and given a code address. This way, not only the existence of every indigene, their addresses and potentials (including their biometrics and DNAs) is known, but so also the extent and rates of our landscape and its mineral contents. Once this data is generated, then by it the value of the state is already raised by at least 1/4 off the ground. Planning, organizing and providing social services thus become easy and simplified;
iii. Going concurrently with the identity scheme will be biometric automation of the state work force in the service of government, and skilled and unskilled labour force reservoir. This will give the exact statistics of the labour force, skilled and unskilled, at the disposal of the state to plan where and how to put to use every available labour – to build the schools, roads, railways, dams, industrial parks, plant economic trees, etc. thereby creating value out of every talent, skill and physical energy in the state. This shall enhance the utilization of our vast talents, skills and physical energies in such a manner that no person in the state is redundant and no area of human endevour necessary for economic and social progress of our communities is left untouched. This way every able-bodied person will be contributing to the improvement of the state and also earning income from his/her inputs;
iv. To facilitate the promotion of such strong economy we need to rescue the ecology. The rate at which desert encroachment is ravaging our state is alarming, and no viable economy, least of all agro-allied based economy, can be developed and sustained under such a condition. Hence, in addition to the planting of economic trees, we will also embark on a massive tree-planting initiative to push back the encroaching desert in a synchronized reforestation program. Every indigene of voting age in the state will be required to plant and nurture at least two trees around his or her domains. A Saturday will be officially set aside every month for this purpose. Only the sick or 70 years and above will be exempted by choice. Every public servant in the state will be expected to have at least one tree in addition to the compulsory two required of all indigenes. Incentives will also be given to any person with more than two trees. Any child below voting age who plants and nurtures two trees or more will be rewarded with a price, the details of which will be determined after due assessments. Of course the law prohibiting cutting down of trees will be firmly enforced, while making available adequate alternatives of cooking fuel for all households in the state. Adamawa will be returned to its natural green ecosystem; and
v. In order to maximize our advantage in the agricultural sector and turn our zone into agronomic hub of the country, we intend to initiate the formation of Agricultural Community of Benue Valley States (ACOBEVAS) comprising Adamawa, Gombe, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa and Kogi states. Indeed, the ecology of these six states is most conducive for farming, fishing and animal husbandry. The objective is to cooperate by putting the strengths, skills, lands, labour and resources of member states together and develop the Benue Valley region into an agricultural base, and list our state (and zone) among the wealthy states of the federation.
Like former President Olusegun Obasanjo would say, there is always so much money out there – you would only need to know how to source it. As a serving state government, we shall be committed to finding and accessing it.
Umar Ardo, Ph.D is Adamawa State SDP Gubernatorial Candidate.