Wamakko’s war against poverty
Bashir Rabe |
UN says about 70 per cent of
Nigerians are poor and live below Poverty level. It is therefore
little wonder that all tiers of government are up in arms against
Analysts say that
the leaders, in doing so, are only emulating previous
administrations in the fight against poverty.
At the Federal
level, government has set up various programmes, including the
National Poverty Alleviation Programme (NAPEP), as well as rural
development, gender and youth empowerment schemes.
analysts say, are similar to previous ones like the Directorate of
Foods, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) and the National
Directorate of Employment (NDE).
are usually domesticated in the states and local governments as they
strive to improve the standard of living of the people.
component of this is usually the need to create jobs, empower the
poor, and provide facilities that would make life better for the
poor, especially the rural dwellers.
In Sokoto State,
Gov. Aliyu Wamakko has taken the war against poverty to greater
heights by striving to create jobs for the unemployed, while working
toward creating a conducive atmosphere for those seeking to go into
“We are a richly
blessed people and have no cause to suffer from squalor, hunger,
unemployment and starvation,” Wamakko told the launch of the State
Poverty Reduction Agency (SPORA), in 2007.
He said that the
agency would evolve interventionist programmes toward a strong and
A key aspect
SPORA is the youth skills acquisition programme. Among the 20,000
youths registered under the scheme, 1,200 have graduated.
They are now
masters in various skills including Solar-powered electricity,
solar-powered boreholes, paint production and metal works.
trained in the production of buckets, pots and stoves, perfumes,
candles, mattresses, beauty creams, chalk, shoes and bags.
Alhaji Bala Bashir, the Coordinator of the programme, the trainees
receive about 400 Naira daily, as transport and feeding allowance
for the training that usually lasts between 60 and 90 days.
He says that
about 140 million Naira has also been sunk into purchasing the
machinery used for the training.
government is also encouraging the youths to put in their best. In
this direction, the government has announced that 500 of the youths,
who graduated in Solar-powered borehole technology, will be engaged
by the state.
They are to be
used in installing hundreds of Solar-powered boreholes in the 23
Local Government Areas of the state.
them, their expertise is being perfected, while they are being
prepared for becoming self reliant”, Bashir says.
on government job, the youths can either decide to become
independent or continue in government employment”.
that the state government intends to set up mini industries for the
trained youths. It will also provide the enabling environment for
those of them asking for soft loans to enable them attain
One of such
trainees, Miss Zainab Usman, a 25-years-old school leaver from
Shagari Local Government Area, specialised in making female shoes
and bags. She says she prefers to open her shop rather than seeking
a job with any company.
Wamakko for the gesture, Usman advises youths to utilize the
opportunity offered by the programme to develop themselves and be
“freed from agonising poverty’’.
Murjanatu Abdullahi, 25, from Gwiwa area of Sokoto metropolis, also
says that she will use the skills acquired in Vaseline production to
“start a new life”.
“With my skills,
all I need is the capital to become an employer of labour,” she
says, adding that the skills acquisition programme has reduced
poverty by creating employment for many.
Auditor, 45, from Dundaye in Wamakko Local Government Area, who
trained in chalk production, is optimistic that the state would stop
importing chalk once his company comes on stream.
According to him,
Wamako has invested greatly by training the youths and the state,
and indeed the entire nation, will soon reap the reward of such
On his part, Umar
Yakubu, another trainee, who is specialising in shoes and bags
production, has called on other governors in the North to emulate
Wamakko and train their youths.
“When I started
this training, I vowed to produce 20 bags each for men and women
before the end of my training. I have achieved that by 80 per cent
now and will even surpass it,” he says.
Alhaji Yusuf Sani,
a member of the PDP in the state, says he is particularly happy that
the skills acquisition programme has taken many youths off the
“Many of our
youths are now fully engaged and you can see that they are no longer
restive and area boy-like”, Says Sani.
But despite its
gains, critics say that the training can only yield the desired
results if the graduates are given funds with which to start their
“If you train the
youths and do not give them any means to start and stand on their
own, you would have done nothing,” says Alhaji Balarabe Danladi, a
teacher in Sokoto.
He says that most
of the trainees are too poor to raise any capital for a meaningful
business and therefore need urgent assistance from government to
attain the dream of bidding farewell to poverty and employing other
Another critic of
the government’s efforts, Malam Abdu Lawani, says that more would
have been done if the state had partnered with private firms or rich
individuals to help its poverty reduction efforts.
state government alone cannot meaningfully reduce poverty. It has
many competing needs. So, the banks, the industries and rich
individuals should also be involved in the effort to reduce poverty
as they will also gain from a peaceful and fruitful state,’’ he
While lauding the
efforts of the Sokoto State government, analysts agree that much
more needs be done to assist those trained to meet government’s goal
of reducing poverty in the state.
These, they say,
should include the creation of an enabling environment for
industries to grow anywhere in the entire state.
to them, will mean stable electricity supply, water supply and good
roads, in even the remotest villages.