In the most ideal of settings, Zamfara state would be bathed in the red of neon lights signifying the state of emergency in the majority of its sectors.
In Oxford University’s Multidimensional Poverty Index Data Bank of 2017, Zamfara State had a 92% poverty ranking, making it the poorest state in the north and the whole of Nigeria.
Its literacy rate, at 19%, fails to scratch even a quarter of a pass mark of a thriving education sector, with Almajiris constituting a great proportion of its child population, and a 46.3% primary school completion rate.
In more good news, its 1,869,377 population, with a Maternal Mortality Rate at 1 100 deaths per 100 000, has at last count, a whopping two tertiary hospitals to cater to the healthcare needs of its citizenry. Zamfara also takes notice as the state with the least Early Childcare Development (ECD) centres in Nigeria.
To top things off, the state also has the worst insecurity problem in North West Nigeria.
Which is why, it is only logical that the first point of call for its newly elected Governor – Bello Matawalle is the construction of an airport in the city capital – Gusau. This project, so imperative, will supposedly take off within the first one hundred days of his office.
You know, so the citizens of the state, the dominant majority of whom can barely afford the very basics of a dignified life, can saunter into the airport and jet of to holiday destinations of their choosing.
It’s irrelevant that Zamfara State is surrounded to by Sokoto State, which has an already developed airport, whose travel time is 0.16 hours between both states. And also by Katsina State, with its state airport, with a travel time of 0.19 hours — making this expenditure, largely unnecessary at best, and grossly pre-mature at worst.
It should be noted that this airport, despite all other standing impediments in the state, wasn’t freshly conceived by Governor Matawalle. The brainchild of Governor Mamuda Shinkafi, this airport has been included in budgetary estimates and proposals for about 10 years.
To be fair, however, someone must have gotten an early look into the opening paragraph of this here article, as the administration headed by Governor Matawalle has begun moves in earnest, promising free healthcare to women and children in the state. As well as states of emergency on education, security and energy in the states. But then again, Nigeria’s education sector has been under a state of emergency since November 2018, so are states of emergencies really working out for us?
It isn’t presumptuous to suggest that whatever amount is to be expended on this airport, would be much better spread across sectors that are in the direst need of development. Putting measures in place to make sure your citizens can compete on a national level (for starters) is most imperative.
Let’s leave overpriced airport food and bribe-soliciting airport officials to a time in the future, when school children doubling as alms-seekers aren’t a given part of the landscape of your state.