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How we have reduced deaths arising from snake bites in my local government – Manship

How we have reduced deaths arising from snake bites in my local government – Manship

Christopher Audu Manship is the Transition Implementation Committee (TIC) chairman of Qua’an Pan Local Government Area of Plateau State. In this Interview with Nathaniel Gbaoron in Jos, he spoke on his achievements as chairman of the local government since his appointment on 9th June, 2023, exactly one year ago. Excerpts:

You’ve been the local government chairman of Qua’an Pan local government since 9th June, 2023; what would you say has been your experience all this while?

It has not been easy, but I thank God Almighty for the opportunity given to me to serve the people of Qua’an pan local government and to serve at the grassroot, is not always easy. We met a lot of issues like the issue of insecurity, lack of infrastructure. Our medical system has been down, completely dilapidated roads, so many things. Lack of electricity in the rural areas, in the communities and in the secretariat. But the most important issue was insecurity, it was something else, as at then.

Okay, so what have you been able to do in terms of your major challenges so far?

We have done a lot and we thank God it’s subject to verification. We have done so many things in terms of security. Some are physical and some are things that you do that people don’t see on the physical. But what the people want is to sleep with their eyes closed and then knowing that their lives and property are safe. Security is not something that you can do it and round it up. You will only do your best and reduce it to the barest minimum. I think that is where we are in Qua’n pan local government. We met a situation where robberies were done in broad day light, people don’t go to markets, people don’t go to farms. Kidnappings were everywhere, house theft, culpable homicides were all in Qua’n pan. We made sure that we do our best to see that people go to their farms, people go to the markets, people open their shops to do business. So, we have done a lot by trying to see that we collaborate with the security agents, the traditional council, the community leaders, the religious leaders, civil society. In fact, no group has been left without being discussed with to see that our security has improved, which arrests have been done, people were prosecuted. We are on it and we are trusting God that with what we are seeing now. I think we thank God for what he has done for us in the local government in terms of security.

Talking about infrastructure, can you tell us exactly what you have been able to do?

Thanks to the executive governor of Plateau State, Barr. Caleb Manasseh Mutfwang, for giving us a free hand to operate. We in Plateau State, we get to know that transition is different from elected. But the executive governor has given us an open-door policy. We discuss and he allows us to do what our people want. So, all the success that we have, he has been behind it. He tells us, we discuss and he instructs us, go and work for your people. That is the only thing I need from you. Work for your people. Make sure you improve in your security.

So, in terms of infrastructure, we built five brand new hospitals, clinics. We remodel the chief’s palace, which is our heritage. We equally make sure that our villages are accessible, by that we completed the bridge in Tunya, Kwande district we built another bridge in Jack Shindai, we have the Vankage and the Kongdong. Cinics are built in Pandan and Namu. The one in Namu is 18 beds; The one in Pandan is twelve beds. The one in Kwaka is 14 beds, The one in Monde Dungras is 14 beds. For the snake bite clinic, the center is in Dumak and it’s 14 beds. These are clinics that we built from scratch. We did not renovate. We built them from scratch. We equally solarised the council secretariat. All the blocks are solarised. Initially when we came, no light. And, you know how far is our local government. We are not connected to the national grid. So, we solarised the whole secretariat. We solarised the chairman quarters and the guest house. And equally, we renovated the guest house, furnished it. Anybody who knows our area will know that we don’t have good hotels. We have no option when visitors come, so we have renovated it, landscape it, furnish it too, and it’s now ready to be used. The district office in Kwala was fenced, redesigned and then renovated equally. We had the Duma Gitchin clinic which was demolished, rebuilt, fenced. And that location is like a cattle area. The clinic was located around there. So, most of the staff that were in that village don’t have accommodation because it’s a village. So, what we did this time around was to fence the clinic, built staff quarters for the clinic, and before, when you go there, you will see cows roaming around the clinic. But now we have fenced it. There are so many things that we have done. We have constructed roads. We built a culvert for them, the one in Doka. In Doka we also built a clinic for them. So, I think those are some of the infrastructures that we have been able to do so far, so good to our credit. Within this period, we have 16 projects.

We equally look at in terms of education, we gave scholarship for our students in all institutions, even in professional schools worth about 25 million. We equally looked at our situation where most of the students are not science oriented, we don’t have a science school. So recently we bought science equipment for two secondary schools, one in the northern and one in the southern Qua’an Pan worth about 15 to 18 million naira so that our schools will be science oriented. When you go to our local government, you hear lawyers, journalists and whatever, we don’t have much doctors, we don’t have much engineers, and we feel that charity begins at home. Let us try to see if we can inculcate those kinds of values to our people. Let them be science oriented, most especially the young ones. Equally in terms of agriculture, we have refurbished all our tractors. When we came, the three of them were down but to the glory of God, now it’s raining season. The three of them are already in the field. We purchased fertilizer for our people. We purchase five trailer-load of fertilizer from the state government at the cost of 6,250 naira and I think in Plateau state we are the only local government that subsidise our fertilizer from N6,250 to N4,250 we subsidised each bag 2000 and we have already distributed it. So far so good, we are on cost in terms of education. We registered JAMB for our students, about 1000 of them in January. And recently, with the current hardship in the University of Jos, the final year, students we are looking up to, we understood that there is a policy in the school that you must pay your school fees before you write exams. So, we took care of the balances. We collected their receipts and paid the balances of all the students from the local government who couldn’t pay their school fees before the exams, most especially those at the final year.

What informed your decision to set up the special clinic for snake bite patients?

When my predecessor started the project in 2018. It was just like a pilot project. He started it in the staff clinic in the council, and it had only two beds. So, we decided that, no, our people are vulnerable to snake bites because of our location, our people are farmers. We don’t have one factory in the area 99.9% are farmers except civil servants. Everybody is a farmer, so they are prompt to snake bites. And when he brought the idea, he couldn’t build a place for them, and we felt that it’s a good one, it’s a laudable project, and we felt that we should continue with that, and we also felt that we should have a permanent place for it. When you go there, you see the patients and the patient relatives are almost staying in the whole offices and on the floor, because it’s not only the people of our local government that seek for the help because we have subsidised the anti-snake venom from N75, 000 to N40, 000. Now it’s around N95,000 but we are still giving N40,000 per anti-snake venom. Now, people come from various parts of Nigeria most especially people from Taraba, Nasarawa and Benue states.

So, we felt that we should expand the clinic, and that was actually what happened. We built a permanent place so that the staff clinic can be renovated, and then we started using it.

Have you reduced the cases of death relating to snake bites in the area?

Yes, seriously, because initially, when snake bites you, you are sure of dying? In fact, let me say, 98% of those people who had snake bites died. But now, you can confirm. For now, you can see that the death rate has dropped. Since I became the chairman, nobody died in that clinic. The man has been trained outside Plateau State on the treatment of snake bites. All the staff were trained outside Plateau and that is the result. So, it has reduced. Once you are there, you are rest assured, by the grace of God you will be okay. And what will interest you to know if you visit the clinic is that, I told him those people who cannot afford the anti-snake venom, he should relate to us. And then we settle the bills without them knowing until when it is paid.

Revenue generation and remittance is one of the notable challenges at the local government; can you tell us the revenue base of Qua’an Pan local government?

We try to see that we reduce the leakages. To discover the leakages and make sure that all revenues accrued to the local government goes into the post of the council. In fact, we begin to visit the markets with my committee members to see that all revenues accruing to the local government are remitted. We took care of our markets and one of the things that will interest you is that we make sure that throughout this rainy season, those districts that vehicles don’t go to bring out agricultural products. We have taken care of the bridges and now they are beginning to come to the markets. The economy of that place has grown; We made sure we discussed and we are discussing with the state Internal Revenue Service to improve the IGR of our local government.

How would you assess the administration of His Excellency Governor Caleb Mutfwang within one year?

His Excellency barrister Caleb Manasseh Mutfwang is God sent to Plateau state. We have seen development; infrastructural development. We have seen peace. Peace has returned to Plateau State salaries are being paid as and when due. Let me tell you, even as a local government. We now pay salaries on the 24th. It has never been like that in Plateau State.