The governorship candidates of five leading political parties in Kano on Saturday reeled out their plans for the state in a debate organised by the BBC Hausa Service.
During the event held at the Dangote Business School of the Bayero University, Kano, the candidates spoke about how they will improve school enrolment, tackle growing insecurity, and solve the healthcare challenges of the state, among other policy discussions,
Candidates who attended the debate were Sha’aban Sharada of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Nasiru Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abba Kabir-Yusuf of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Muhammad Abacha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Salihu Tanko of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).
The debate was the first in a series of governorship debates across northern Nigeria.
While the governorship candidate of the NNPP was present at the event, he, however, took permission and left midway into the debate for another political event in neighbouring Kaduna State.
The debate anchored by Ibrahim Isah lasted for over three hours.
Kano, the most populous state in northern Nigeria, is battling with the menace of the Almajiri also known as street children, which constitute a large chunk of the out-of-school children in the north.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in its latest global data said Nigeria now has about 20 million out-of-school children.
The candidates promised to improve school enrolment and strengthen security if any of them is given the mandate on the 11th of March governorship election.
Mr Tanko of the PRP said, if elected, he would prioritise basic education because he considers the primary school level to be a critical stage in laying a solid educational foundation for the development of all children.
He said “Kano state leads in the northern state in the number of out-of-school children, this is unfortunate because it has impacted (negatively) the development of our people.
“At the secondary school level, I will also prioritise the development of technical schools and provide enough funding at the higher institutions to enable the lecturers to work on solutions to our common problems through research,” he said.
“The out-of-school children, the government has not, over the years, failed to build enough classrooms to facilitate more enrollment of children. I will ensure that I built at least 28,000 classes in four years through direct contracts to accommodate about 2 million children roaming the streets in the state, “ he added.
On his part, the candidate of the ADP, Mr Sharada, said within his first hundred days in office, he would assess the educational situation in the state to see which category the state falls in, before taking any decision.
“To assess the quality and quantity of the teachers, and to identify whether they are qualified to teach or not, I will embark on a transfer of service to those who are not qualified to teach,” he said.
“When we improve the infrastructural standard of public schools like that of the private ones with a conducive environment suitable for learning these will attract children’s enrollment to schools.
“School feeding is also key, my administration will ensure the sustainability of the program and ensure the quality of teachers in addressing the problems, Mr Sharada said.
The candidate of the PDP, Muhammad Abacha, said the schools in the state are inadequate. He also pointed out that some of the teachers are unqualified.
“I visited one of the schools in Fagge my local government area, and I found that even the teacher was sitting at the window, and failed to answer my question, the learning environment is not conducive,” Mr Abacha said.
“On the street children, it’s about poverty and hunger, many parents cannot afford the educational responsibilities of their children. My government will make it mandatory to address the problem of such children because I believe that the only thing you can do for children is to ensure that they have Islamic and conventional education.
“In the last 20 years, those that did not go to school are part of the problem of insecurity, thuggery, and kidnapping because they cannot secure an environment,” Mr Abacha said.
The candidate of the NNPP, Mr Kabir-Yusuf, said if elected he will make education free for all children to ensure more enrolment in schools and ease the financial burden on the parents.
“There are about 7000 primary schools in Kano, with a population of over three million children, out of which 60 per cent of them are out of school due to poverty, this is in addition to children that are dropped out.
“Many teachers have died, many have retired from service and the government has failed to replace them.
“The funding to make education free for all can be done if we tackle bribery and corruption and invite donor agencies across the world who are always willing to help and develop education
“I can also achieve free education for all through the federal government agency through the UBEC counterpart’s funding, for me, this is achievable if we can also improve the internally generated revenue,” Mr Kabir-Yusuf said.
The APC candidate, Mr Gawuna, said he as an experienced administrator and politician who has served in various capacities, knows that education in the state is progressing.
“I was opportune to be in the government since 1999 and since then, each successive administration constructed more classrooms and provided more infrastructures than the preceding governments.
“The administration of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje has built more classrooms and infrastructure than the previous administrations, now in Kano, education is not only free but also compulsory.
“Before the policy of free and compulsory education, the out-of-school figure was about 1.8 million but now after the policy, the enrollment figure has tripled to about 3.7 million and the beauty of the enrollment figure shows that the girl child constituted about 60 per cent of that figures.
“The high school enrollment figures have impacted the school feeding program in Kano. I believe that the issue of education is a collective effort, and without debating much on the challenges of education, I believe that with my sincerity of purpose, I will address the problem,” Mr Gawuna said.
Kano with about 20 million people, however, there are only 22 secondary health facilities, with less than 600 medical doctors which are inadequate to cater to the health needs of the population.
The candidate of the NNPP, Mr Kabir-Yusuf, said the challenge in the health sector is a serious one that his administration, if elected, will address, lamenting the rate at which women are dying from childbirth complications in the state.
“I plan to develop the health sector through the provision of adequate manpower, we have 100 medical doctors who were sponsored by the previous administration of Rabiu Kwankwaso that are yet to get employed, and we will ensure that we get them employed,” Mr Kabir-Yusuf said.
Mr Abacha said he will address the challenges in the health sector through the provision of adequate funding by ensuring that 25 per cent of the state’s budget goes to the health sector, and sponsoring students to study health-related courses to bridge the gap of manpower in the health sector.
Mr Sharada said he will ensure that each of the 484 political wards in the state has primary healthcare facilities and improve the secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities across the state if elected as the next governor.
Mr Tanko said he will also prioritise primary healthcare and ensure the welfare of the medical and healthcare workers across the state
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Mr Gawuna said aside from the provisions of adequate funding and the provision of infrastructure, there is also the need to enlighten the people to use approved health facilities when they are ill or in need of medical assistance.
He said women are being encouraged to use health facilities, adding that Kano is rated number one by the WHO in the provision of primary healthcare in the North under the administration of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, which he will build on achievements if elected.
On security, Mr Gawuna said he has enough experience in dealing with security issues for being in the government that has committed and ensured Kano is one of the most secure states in the northwest.
He said under their advice the problem of phone snatching in the state has dramatically reduced by 90 per cent according to the security briefing after the kano government announced the restriction of the night operations of the tricycle riders.
Mr Sharada accused the government of covering the dire insecurity in the state. He said about 37 boarding schools were shut down due to insecurity.
Mr Tanko said he will address the security challenges by engaging stakeholders at the ward level. He said he would use traditional rulers to ensure communities are secured
Mr Abacha said he believes that it’s the responsibility of the government to ensure the security of lives and properties. He said if elected he will tackle insecurity at the community level.
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