Al-Makura gives health, education priority in Nasarawa State
IN his inauguration speech tagged: “A Journey in Faith, Hope and Renewal,” Governor Tanko Umaru Almakura to x-rayed the challenges faced by Nasarawa State and the efforts adopted by his administration in tackling the challenges in his first four years tenure in office.
He told the gathering at the Lafia township square that, though burdened by inherited debts servicing and series of security challenges he was able to record significant achievements in area of infrastructural development in all sectors, especially roads expansion and construction.
He stated: “Here in Nasarawa State, we have had in the past four years to face the hard truths, and adopt bold and imaginative policies and strategies designed to secure the prosperity and well being of our people.” He noted that the state is doing better than most state in Nigeria.
And indeed it wasn’t an exaggerated statement, at least the state can boast of being debt free and is among a handful of states that not only pays the national minimum wage, but also pays its employees their salaries as and when due.
Almakura said with less burden in his second tenure, he has designed a template that would make bold new investment in health, education and put more money in pockets of youths through an elaborate youth empowerment scheme.
The business tycoon cum politician, who is passionate in ensuring speedy development in the health and education sector, recently told journalists that, although these two critical areas would be the center piece of his administration, he was also quick to note that his development effort will by no means be limited to them, saying his mission is to ensure that every community has access to basic health services and quality education, especially those living in rural areas where there is near total absences of health facilities.
Our priorities are clear, provide excellent, affordable educations for every child, and give families the support they need to raise happy, healthy children,” said Almakura.
We cannot resolve all the state’s many pressing needs, but these bold new investments in health care and education would make an important difference in the lives and education of many thousands of young people and families. They would set our state on course for an even brighter future.
He said to ensure maximum result in this regard his government will evolve a special marshal plan to roundly tackle health issues from recruitment and training of health personnel to the provision of adequate infrastructure.
Almakura noted that over 70 per cent of the personnel working in about 700 health centres spread across the state are unskilled, hence the dire need to review the manpower structure of the sector.
According to him the state government is working out modalities with the Nursing Council to increase admission into the state school of nursing currently under going expansion to meet up the required work force in the state health centres.
He explained that the state government will work out modalities of employing the students before graduation to motivate them and serve to balance up the much needed nursing workforce the state. “We have about 700 primary health care centres, but lack of trained capacity work force has been one of our major challenges because it looks like nursing and midwifery is no longer attractive for our people”.
Almakura also maintained that he has mandated the state planning commission to collate statistical data for developing strategic master plan that would be used in health and education development initiative.
To demonstrate his commitment to this course Governor Almakura has donated the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital, Lafia, to the Federal University Lafia for use as University Teaching hospital when the institution commences medical studies.
Similarly, in addition to the three referral general hospitals being constructed in Lafia, Akwanga and Nasarawa local government areas of the state, Nasarawa State government said that it had earmarked N120 million for the renovation and upgrading of the Doma, Keana and Umaisha general hospitals in order to ensure quality healthcare delivery in the state.
The state is also collaborating with international agencies in boosting health service.
Chief Field Officer of United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Kaduna office, Utpal Moitra said that they are ready to provide technical assistance to the Nasarawa state government expecially in the area of free health care services.
He assured that UNICEF will collaborate with the state government in its bid to develop manpower capacity to offer competitive healthcare delivery services to the populace, especially rural dwellers.
Similarly the state recently entered a partnership agreement with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is to boost primary health care delivery in the thirteen local government areas in the state.
The Director Integrity Delivery of the foundation, Mrs Dona Hoving explained that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is now focusing its attention on primary health care development and Nasarawa State was among the pilot states. “I couldn’t be more proud of the vision Governor Tanko Al-Makura shared as part of his four years plans, a vision that puts health and education first,” said special assistant on media and publicity, Ahmed Tukur.
Not only is he keeping his promise to make health care and education reform a priority, but he is doing it in a way that will transform our efforts to help it accessible to all no matter their economic circumstances, also it would help give every child the opportunity for an excellent education from start to finish. “ Tukur added.
The governor spokesman also disclosed that the present administration has built comprehensive special schools for the physically challenge as part of government effort to give them a sense of belonging in the society.
Recently, during an occasion in Lafia to launched some research documents designed by the Nigerian Academy of Sciences in collaboration with the state government, the governor revealed that his administration has signed a technical agreement with the Singaporean government with a view to provide technical equipments and further enhance the training of women and youths.
The technical agreement with the Singaporean government is to enhance the training of women and youths in various skills that will snowball into industrial development,” he added.