Bauchi State governor, Senator Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, after observing the Eid-el-Fitr prayer in Bauchi, fielded questions from journalists on various national issues. ISHOLA MICHAEL brings excerpts from the interview.
What do you make of the celebration of Eid-el-Fitr at this moment of challenges in the country?
We are very grateful to God. Eid-el-Fitr has come at a moment we ought to have a sober reflection but we praise Allah that we are celebrating in peace and not in pieces. Ramadan has been a period of prayers and devotion. We hope and pray that Allah has expiated our sins and we are brand new today.
What is your take on the happenings around the country?
I have already sent out my message that as a nation, we need to reflect deeply on our common existence because we are challenged by so many forms of misdemeanor, crime and criminality and most of them, banditry, kidnapping and the rest, are coming from us, members of the Islamic faith. We must be very courageous to say it and that is not something that is acceptable in the tenets of Islam. That is something that is very incongruous to the values of Islam and we should fear God because we don’t keep ourselves and our communities. We should have a change of heart.
Insecurity is escalating in the country, how do you react to this?
Insecurity is escalating to other parts of the country, and I call on the Federal Government to do whatever they can. But certainly, it is not the responsibility of the Federal government alone, but that of the states, local governments, the traditional institution, our religious leaders, stakeholders. We are all policemen today. We know these bandits. We know where they stay and what they do. Sometimes they are aided and abetted by us. We should fish them out because the police, with their number, because of the dearth of human capital, cannot fight this war. They are already overwhelmed and I am calling on the Federal Government to work with us as governors and local governments because that is where the solution is.
Is the Federal Government not doing enough to salvage the situation?
The Federal Government’s security architecture has failed not because of any compromise but because the situation is overwhelming. I hope we can sit down as a country to reflect and make sure we bring solutions. We should exercise restraint in our responses and utterances because this country is so united, this country is so interwoven and if there are breakaways here and there as being mooted by some people, the monumental humanitarian crises will be better imagined because I can’t imagine how it will be and certainly, it is a challenge.
What is your reaction to the economic situation in the country?
We should be very careful with the economy. We should be able to grow it. We should be able to have a roundtable understanding of our problems rather than escalating it on the pages of the newspapers and the social media. I think the economy should be grown and I will not talk as an opposition. I think the Federal Government has lost the idea of how to grow the economy. They are just involved in a blame game. What they are best known for is blame game, always saying this and that. They are not even fighting the corruption that they said they are fighting; there is more corruption. Perceptions are built that there are sacred cows. There are tin gods in this country that cannot be touched.
What other problems do you think are militating against the progress of the country?
If you are not fair and equitable in your administration, in your management, if there is nepotism, only one section is given positions in government; what the Southern governors said smacks of some truth – where some people are given too much attention to the detriment of the other side. What we know in this country, as a federalist, there is always a balance in terms of appointments of federal officers, in terms of appointments even at the local level, because if you don’t practise fairness at the top, then you cannot get it at the lower level. And people will begin to think of self-actualisation, self-determination and so on.
What have been the achievements and challenges of your administration in the last two years?
We have a lot of challenges. We came at a time when the economy was down. Whatever touches the Federal Government touches the states, especially for states like ours that are completely dependent on federal allocation. We are trying to really grow our micro economy in the state, so that we will be able to generate our IGR and do projects just as we are doing. Certainly, it has not been good since I came in two years ago. We have not got any Paris Club money. We have not gotten any budget support. We have not got anything from the Federal Government.
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