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16 years after, Gudu still groans in poverty

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Sixteen years after the creation Gudu Local Government in Sokoto state, not much has been done to uplift the living standard of the people of the area in virtually all sectors of development. Our reporter, Sadeeq Aliyu, was among the team of journalists who went on tour of the area to assess the performance of current Council Chairman and reports.

Before the creation of Gudu Local Government Area in the present Sokoto state by the General Sani Abacha regime in 1996, the area used to be a sort of small `Siberia` due to its remoteness and lack of access road.
Situated on the desert fringes with arid vegetation with little agricultural potentialities, Gudu was like an abandoned area left to cater for itself before it was elevated to local government status. Its proximity to Niger Republic had made it easy for the people of the area to relate more with people of Niger than their brothers and sisters in Nigeria.
At a time, sick people from the area had to cross the border to seek for medical attention which was not forth coming in their territory. All their economic activities were tied to the neighbouring villages in Niger as they were almost cut off with their people in Nigeria. However, when the area was given a local government status, there was a little sigh of relief partly brought about by the access road constructed to connect them with other parts of the state.
Recently, the current Chairman of the Council, Yusuf Isa Kurdula took some journalists on a guarded tour of the area. During this tour, it was observed that there was perennial water scarcity in most of the villages visited as people and animals were seen struggling for water to drink from deep wells.
In some places, it becomes a daily routine for women and children as well as men too, who carry jerry cans on oxen driven carts going to all directions in search of water.
In Yaka village, residents interviewed said water is one of their major problems. Due to the deep water table, residents do not have enough water for domestic purposes while agricultural activities have been grounded.
In the area, normal social lifes have been shrinked and dried. Illiteracy and unemployment form part of the major problem as there are no secondary schools and no skill acquisition centers to boost knowledge.
Also there is the problem of absence of basic infrastructure that would have helped boost economic and social productivity in the area.
Some of the youth encountered said the situation has led to untold hardship resulting to a rise in rural-urban migration as the young and old abandon the area in search of greener pastures outside with some natives even venturing into neigbouring Niger.
The story is the same in other communities such as Karfen China, Karfen Sarki and Bangi villages; and even in Balle, the headquarters of the council. During the tour, it was discovered that economic activities have almost been paralysed. Apart from apart from the seasonal farming which has also been badly hit by inadequate rainfall which has further worsened the peasantry life of the people. Here the poverty rate has continued to worsen as the villagers continue to wait for help that appears to have refused to come.
Also in Bachaka, which is the second largest village in the local government still remain inaccessible as all access roads are in very bad shape. The roads can only be plied by heavy duty vehicles,  four wheel drive off roaders and trucks.
Currently, the people of the area now have their social and economic lives fused into if not totally absorbed by the powerful drawing influence from people of Niger Republic who appear to show more concern for the boarder communities than authorities in Nigeria especially in the areas of health care and commerce.
However, despite the odds, and low indices of development, the council Chairman, Yusuf Isa Kurdula is very optimistic that things would not continue that way under his regime.
Outlining his plans to turn around the fortune of the people of the area Isa said focus has been channeled towards the areas of provision of basic infrastructure that will support and boost economic activities as well as the improve on the welfare of the people.
However, reeling out his achievements in the last one year of his tenure, the council chairman said he had executed about 120 developmental projects at the cost of N224 million. These, he said include 30 mosques, seven cemeteries, 36 open dug wells and two blocks of offices.
Unfortunately, the dire need for good drinking water still persist while supply of electricity remains a mirage.
Some of the residents who spoke to Peoples Daily Weekend lamented that most elected representatives from the area at the state and federal levels have not been supportive enough in the effort to improve the living standard of the hapless population in the fringes and this has been one of the major source of pain for the people, who during elections give them their votes and mandate after promises of better things to come.
Some residents lamented that immediately after elections, some of those, who came to solicit their support will abandon them to their fate as they continue to languish in abject poverty and lack, forgotten by the very system which they are part owners.
It is critical to point out that all the efforts should not be left on the shoulder of the Local Government. State and Federal governments should rise to the occasion and take a drastic step to bring a new lease of life to these suffering Nigerians.



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