Ibrahim Shema’s good deeds still resonate in Katsina- By Kammonke Abam

Ibrahim Shema’s good deeds still resonate in Katsina- By Kammonke Abam

June 17
12:43 2013

PREAMBLE: Governor Ibrahim Shema holds a special place in Katsina’s political ecosystem. He embodies the struggle for equity, freedom, peace, and social justice. His status as a politician with a Midas touch is all the more impressive when considering the immense achievements that trademarked his administration. But Shema’s genius lay in his prudent management of state resources to such an extent that he did not incur any debt throughout his eight years as Governor; and also shrewdly invested the state’s resources and reaped bountiful dividends from the investment, using some of it to build the ultramodern Government House in Katsina.

He is unusual in his ways. He has mastered the deployment of the two key phrases that have the capacity to win the fiercest battles in life: “I am sorry “ and “thank you”. Some of the people who have interfaced with him share how humble they get listening to him offer apologies whenever he errs, and offering a thank you when people respond to his requests. Ibrahim Shema does not take anything for granted. He appreciates all the deeds, gifts, and errands by both his peers and subordinates. And that is the humbling part. He is driven by the philosophy that when you appreciate a good deed, you not only endear yourself to the person, but it also helps you in your future endeavors. This has gone a long way in energising his teams either as a politician or as a legal luminary. He believes that as a leader, it is an asset for people to access you. His good deeds still resonate loudly in Katsina State. They are worthy legacies that he bequeathed to the people of Katsina. Across the state, he is sorely missed.

His two-term tenure from 2007 to 2015 characterised an intersection between the conservative values of traditional Katsina culture and the dynamics of modernity. He didn’t end the divide between the rich and poor, but he made great efforts to bridge it. Like the revered Mallam Aminu Kano, he related with the talakawas very cordially and also maintained a dignified respect for the nobles and political elite of Katsina State. He brought civility and steadiness to the system. He demystified the system that put the “haves” on one divide and the “have nots” on the other. He set up a level playing ground for children to access social infrastructure. As Governor, he kept telling Katsina people that “You don’t have to be a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for your child to enjoy free education in Katsina State. You don’t have to lobby anybody for your child to be sent abroad to read medicine, pharmacy, nursing or environmental engineering, or indeed get free medicare for yourself and family in government hospitals”

Shema had made a pact at the inception of the first tenure which he kept, and which earned him the second tenure. He built bridges of peace, unity and progress. This has set him apart as a political statesman. He has passion for the people. He is a pro-people administrator. His unusualness extended to the way he governed Katsina. He ran his administration from his heart. He made up his mind to leave the state better than he met it. And he did. It is on record that Governor Shema did not borrow money from any financial institution or government for the eight years of us administration. This is too good to be true, yet it is. Only he and his colleague in Anambra, Governor Peter Obi, are the only governors in Nigeria with such feat. Added to this incredible achievement is the next other feat that is yet to be equalled: he massively invested the state resources in blue chip opportunities and these investments yielded huge dividends, so much that he ploughed some of the interest accruing from the investments into building the new ultramodern Government House in Katsina, an architectural masterpiece.

As Governor, he also invested heavily in education because he believes that education is one of the greatest tools of development. He believes that education is the key to social mobility and the general transformation of the lives of people in any society.

The other notable achievement of Governor Shema was his belief in and investment in educating the girl child. Coming from a section of the country that culturally inhibits the education of the girl-child, it is worthy of commendation that he ingeniously encouraged girl child education. He incentivised parents to release their girl children by approving allowance to parents who sent the girlchild to school. He also built several girls schools across the 34 local government areas of Katsina to further accentuate the programme.

Another vulnerable group that Governor Shema focused his administration’s attention on is the Almajiris. The Almajiris are child-beggars who were often taken advantage by unscrupulous people to be used to former trouble. They often constituted public nuisance. He had to send them to school. Government paid allowance to encourage them to stay in school. Sending Almajiris to school is a revolutionary strategy to make them useful to themselves and their state in future as well as preemptively ensuring social security in the state.

In a Vanguard newspaper report, Shema was reported to have made massive investment in primary and secondary education that “shot-up school enrollment at the primary school level from about one million in 2005 to close to 1.5million in 2011 – about 50 percent increase – and, at the secondary school level, from 142,729 in 2005 to 280,973 in 2011.

“This was achieved through free education up to secondary school and payment of WAEC, NAPTEB, NECO and NCAIS (National Colleges of Arabic and Islamic Studies) fees which motivated children from humble backgrounds with an assurance that they will write their final examinations for free”, the governor said. The icing on the cake of the Shema giant strides in the education sector in Katsina is the completion of the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University Project started by his predecessor and mentor, the late President Yar’Adua.

“Not only that, he gave out more than N1b(including land, school buildings and hostels) to the newly federal university in Dusinma as part of the state government contribution to its successful take off. And for the youth disposed to learning trades, Shema built the craft village. In this village, there is virtually all the trades that you can find under the sun for anybody to learn. From GSM and computer repairs to tie and dye, welding, carpentry, etc. This human development project has produced so many graduates that today contribute to the socio-economic development of the state. Mechanics produced by the village have been the ones taking care of the governor’s two official cars that he has used since his first term. Shema is a believer in the age long saying that health is wealth. All that has been done in the health sector since 2007 when the governor took office is geared towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the sector including cutting the child and maternal mortal
ity rates by 2015.

Shema also invested heavily in agriculture. Like most states in Nigeria, agriculture is the major occupation of the Katsina people. This is one state where farming goes on all-year-round because of the attention paid to irrigation. So whether it rains or not, farmers have no problem watering their plants. There are several irrigation dams across the state supporting large scale agriculture, one of which is Jibia Dam which increased yield from 100 hectares of land in 2007 to 3,500 in 2011. So prudent is his management of the state resources that his administration has not borrowed any money whether internally or externally to execute its projects.

His successful governorship trajectory projected him for national assignments to the extent that his name features prominently in the Nigeria’s political leadership space. Fingers are crossed on his probable next leadership bid.

Shema, a successful corporate lawyer, worked in the legal department of the National Fertilizer Company (NAFCON). Later he co-founded a law office: Shema, Oscar and Company, in Lagos.

He was appointed Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Katsina State in the year 1999. From being a commissioner, he was seconded to the PDP national executive as national vice chairman, North-West. He was also Deputy National Chairman 1, of PDP. He ran for and eventually was elected the governor of Katsina State in 2007.

Ibrahim Shehu Shema a native of Dutsin-Ma, Katsina State, was born on September 22, 1957. Ibrahim Shehu Shema’s earliest education was at Nassarawa Primary School which he had around 1964. After that, he had his secondary education at Government Secondary School, Kafanchan, which he concluded in the year 1976.

Thereafter, he moved to College of Arts, Science and Technology in Zaria. Ibrahim Shehu Shema later got admission into Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, where he studied Law between the years 1980 and 1983. He holds an MBA and an MA in International Relations from the same university, ABU.

Ibrahim Shema’s good deeds still resonate in Katsina- By Kammonke Abam - overview
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June 2013