Nigeria will continue to be one indivisible country —Ganduje
The Kano State governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje spoke on the issue of Almajir and his plan after completing his second term in office in 2023, during an interaction with journalists, including KOLA OYELERE.
RECENTLY, your Katsina State counterpart, Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, said he would quit politics in 2023 when he completes his second term in office. Do you have a similar plan?
I am not tired anyway; neither will I resign nor retire from politics. I have been in politics since 1978. In 2023, my eyes will still be open, .However, on who will succeed me? First and foremost, only God knows tomorrow and can determine what will be inside it, But, our party (All Progressives Congress) delegates’ will choose my successor when the time comes. They will also pick the presidential candidate for the ruling party.
With your two terms of four years each expected to lapse in 2023, is certain your government would be able to complete all the ongoing projects before May 29, 2023?
We inherited many capital projects. Some are being completed and some are still ongoing. We are not neglecting any. We are determined to complete all the projects we started. We shall complete all of them, except those that cannot be completed because of their nature and government is a continuum. The incoming government will also look inward on how to complete whatever projects our regime might not complete because of one reason or another.
There are rising agitations in the country, with some people calling for self-determination. What is your take on this?
I am quite sure that Nigeria will not divide, even in the face of the daunting challenges. I am confident that Nigeria will continue to be one indivisible country. I don’t want to comment on those who are calling for the split because they are young people who did not experience the civil war. I am confident because last week, Ohanaeze Ndigbo said they are not part of the Biafra agitation; they are for one Nigeria. Afenifere, Arewa Consultative Forum (AREWA) and the Middle Belt groups, all said they belong to one Nigeria. So, I am calling on all the regional bodies to meet and find out how we can convert our differences to upholding the unity of this country. All that we require is to respect our differences and convert our challenges to unity. If God wants us to be one religion, all of us will be one religion. If God wants us to be bats and be flying all over the country, we would be bats. So, we should forget our differences and be united as one.
While you featured on a radio programme, you said there is a plan to take a stock of all herdsmen from Kano state. Could you elaborate on it?
I am assuring that I will not relent in my effort to see that Kano remains peaceful. We want know how many herdsmen we have in Kano. That was why we set up the Fulani and other stakeholders’ committee to take stock of all the herdsmen in the state, including those that are not in the state presently but are from Kano. We want see how we can integrate them into the larger society. They should also come and feel the presence of government. Knowing their number will help us to formulate good policies for their welfare and that of the society in general. This commitment to a more peaceful society informed the state administration’s policy of establishing the Ruga Project at Dansoshiya forest. At Dansoshiya, we have started discussion with experts to come and grow grass that will be used in feeding cattle. Before this, we had provided some residential areas, good system of water supply and other facilities for herders. And they have since started relocating to Dansoshiya.
There were reports that your administration inherited over N9 billion as pension fund from the administration of Mallam Ibrahim Shakarau. What is your comment on this?
You said the former governor, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau left N9 billion as pension fund; but when we came in, I met N4billion pension fund which was loaned to the housing scheme. I met an arrangement; pensioners’ money was being used to build houses at Kwankwasiyya and Amana cities .Because of that, today, we cannot settle the liabilities incurred from the housing scheme, neither can we settle pension and gratuity because of the financial difficulties we found ourselves. Some states barely paid salaries, let alone pension and gratuity, but in Kano, we are doing our best. You can cross check the facts. We did not meet any money for pensioners. We are facing financial problems. We are paying workers. We cannot borrow money from bank to pay pensioners. We are trying our best. The former governor, Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, used most of the pensioners’ fund to build houses. However, the pensioners were given the houses. He even gave out some of the houses to institutions. The pensioners have enough houses which they can sell but even if they sell them, the houses will be consumed by liabilities.
How is your administration ensuring peaceful co-existence among the residents of the stare?
First, we thank Almighty Allah how He has been helping us to live peacefully in the state. With the blessing from Allah and the teeming masses of the state, irrespective of religion or ethnicity, they have been supporting us to move forward peacefully. I therefore promise that this administration will continue to ensure that the ancient commercial city remains the most peaceful state in the country, devoid of insurgency, banditry, ethnic unrest and discrimination. Kano is a mini-Nigeria, where all residents are recognised as indigenes of the state. We promise that everybody is an indigene of Kano State; no discrimination; no segregation. As part of ensuring peace in the state, the government empowers the youth; we have succeeded in empowering more than one million of the youth in the state. We identified 25 skills in Kano. We purchased equipment and built the Dangote Ultra-Modern Skill Acquisition centre.
We also engaged in general empowerment, where we empower the youth, women, tricycle operators, artisans; and many others sent to the Peugeot Automobile of Nigeria (PAN) plant in Kaduna to learn skills. We are sending another batch to Kaduna where they will spend one year. We are taking care of their accommodation, feeding and everything. Besides, the government will continue with the free, compulsory basic and secondary education policy. Education in the state is free and compulsory from primary to the secondary level. The UBEC counterpart fund has been paid, running into billions of Naira. The Federal Government has also succeeded in paying its counterpart funding. The state government also established the Education Trust Fund, where five percent of our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and five percent of the Local Government funds are channeled into education. Also on health, apart from the Contributory Health scheme, where civil servants contribute for free medical services, we also collect five percent of our IGR and five percent of our local government funds to fund the health sector. In order to reduce medical tourism abroad, we are building an ultra-modern cancer treatment centre which will be the best and the biggest in the country.
There are still lots of Almajir roaming the streets begging. What is your government doing on this menace?
Evacuating Almajiri from the streets of Kano has become a very big challenge owing to the continuous influx of Almajiri into Kano from neighbouring states. So, the Almajiri issue is a big problem. Here in Kano, we have children from all over the northern part of this country. We have returned some children to their respective states, but sometimes they come back to Kano even before our officials return because the government of those states have not taken responsibility. The Almajiris in Kano have been taken to the various schools we built for them. We have about 300, 000 of them, and they are all accommodated in those schools.”
The issue of autonomy for judiciary, local government and legislature is still eliciting ripples in most states in the country. What is your views on the issue?
This present administration in Kano has continued to work and ensure the independence of the judiciary and local government and legislature autonomy. We have no problem with judicial independence. In fact, the judiciary is independent in the state because we make sure that all their funds are released to them. We have no problem with that. On local government, we have no problem with them; we release their allocation from the Federal Government, though sometimes, we engage in joint projects.
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