Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, speaks with journalists in Sokoto on some of his achievements and experience as a governor, Olakunle Maruf brings the excerpts.
Despite having many members from the opposition party in your state assembly, you were able to manage your relationship with the House without rancour. What is the secret and your advice to the incoming administration?
I would like to advise whoever is coming after me to maintain a very cordial relationship with the legislative arm. I think if my memory didn’t fail me, President Shehu Shagari once advised a sitting president to be very cautious and accommodating when dealing with the legislature because you cannot remove one of them, but when they come together, they can make life difficult for you and also remove you as either a president or governor.
I believe this piece of advice is key for anyone who is occupying any arm of the executive, either at the local government, state or even at national level. Sincerely speaking, whoever comes after me should really do a lot more on that, because we need stability to work.
To ensure a strong partnership, each of the three organs will have to be accommodating by tolerating the shortcomings of one another. So, I will advise my successor to not just apply my own accommodating style, but also improve on it so as to have the support of the legislature in whatever he does.
On assumption of office in 2015, you decided to chart a new way of doing things by completing uncompleted projects of your predecessors, instead of just initiating your own projects. What prompted such a move? Also, what legacy do you intend to bequeath with such a move?
We should first understand that the government is a continuum and projects are about the people. Like I used to say, they are not for political parties and if you believe you are the leader of the people and that a particular project has not been completed either by the immediate past or the previous administrations, and the project is good for the people, you should complete it.
It will be recalled that when we came in, we discovered that the initial contractor given the project of Independent Power Project (IPP) ran away with the money. That administration never did anything to the contractor; what they did was to now get another contractor and re-award the same contract to him. But till the administration left office, the project was not completed or even moved close to completion.
But as of now, I can tell you that the project is about 90 per cent completed. This administration committed billions of naira to see to the completion of the project. This is because we know that even though initially, there was a mistake in the concept of the project, if we still abandon it like others, all the public funds invested in it by the previous administration would be wasted.
Also, the past administration abandoned the hospitals in Gwadabawa, Isa and Tambuwal, but today, they have all been completed; the Bafarawa administration began them. This administration has cleared the backlog of pensions of civil servants; those that were not paid by both the Bafarawa and Wamakko administrations, because we believe those civil servants have served the people of the state and our administration is for the people of the state. It is not about politics.
When we decided to take some of our children overseas for medical-related courses, we came up with a programme where I insisted that it must be spread across the state and each of the 23 local government areas must have its representative which will be a student that will be selected based on merit.
We came out with an examination and after the examination, two of the children of APC chairman in the state, Honourable Isa SadiqAcida, passed the examination. Most of my friends and political associates know that if I take a position on something, none of them can approach me to bend it to favour anyone; they know I wouldn’t do it and none of them ever approached me for such.
The then chairman of the board came to me and said, ‘Your Excellency, two of the children of the APC chairman qualified for the scholarship, what do we do about it?’ I asked him, ‘Are they not indigenes of the state, let them go.’ But unfortunately, the APC chairman denied his children from benefiting. He denied his children, because of politics. This is a programme initiated to benefit the people of the state and he (Acida) for political reasons denied his children the opportunity to benefit from such.
Sir, we have barely five months before the expiration of your tenure. What assurance will you give the people of Sokoto State that ongoing projects will not be abandoned?
I believe since the commencement of those projects, none of them has ever been abandoned for a single day and with that I want to assure the state that we will do all what it takes to make sure we complete the projects before the expiration of my tenure.
Your government has been women-friendly, as many of them have so far been appointed into different offices, which is unprecedented in the state. How would you ensure that the legacy is sustained after your tenure?
I believe in women’s empowerment and the best way to empower women is by giving them an education that is why we came up with the idea of Girls Science Academy, Kasarawa and many other things we have been doing. We believe that if you give women serious education, they can do well; they can even do better than a number of us (men).
Sustaining women’s inclusion in the governance and leadership of the state is not my legacy; it is the legacy of Sheikh Uthman Bin-Fodio. When you go back to history and read about the story of Nana-Asmau during the days of Jihad and after Jihad, you will know the role she played in recognising women within their age group, not only for education but also in making sure that they have a pride of place in leadership.
In a way, Sultan Muhammad Bello has always been consulted on so many matters of the state, especially those affecting women and children. Women’s inclusion in governance is a legacy of the caliphate and part of the history of Sokoto State.
And I found out that MallamUbandoma (PDP candidate) is one of those who cherish the legacy of the caliphate and a promoter of that legacy himself. He has been an important part of this administration. He was Commissioner for Finance and Secretary to the State government (SSG), before the time he decided to throw his hat into the ring. So he has been part of what this administration has been doing as he has occupied important positions.
I believe that he understands the significance and importance of putting forward women and giving them tasks for recognition as we have done in this administration. I pray in the name of Allah that MallamUbandoma will be able to sustain the legacy.
You promise to uplift the state owned-media house, but nothing has been done as of today. Also, what is your administration doing to improve on the package being given to media workers in the state as it applies in some other states?
I was never informed or carried along in that area. Honestly, if I was informed we would have done something. I promise to pay more attention to it by the special grace of God. We have done so in many other places. Talking about the special salary structure, I am directing the relevant stakeholders to find out if there is any state with such a structure to get it for me, and I promise to do the same here.
We have done similar things before. When you look at the lecturers in our various higher institutions in the state, their salaries and allowances were increased to be on the same level with their counterparts in other states. We have also increased the salaries of our health workers, doctors in particular, to bring it at par with others of their colleagues in other states services.
We are not averse to doing things that will encourage our workforce; the challenge is not just for me, but also for those who hold those very important departments of government. Once they told me, I have no other things to do, we have been working hard to improve the welfare of our workers in the state, even the December Salary was paid before Christmas, compared to some other states.
There are states, where workers are owed salaries of up to about six months. Also, we have been paying gratuities, I just mentioned that we have been paying pensions to those who never expected it, because they have been owed for a long time by past administrations. We are a very friendly government and anything that will improve the welfare of workers is what we do.
Sir, what is your administration doing about the Gudu Mega School that you constructed, but has not been commissioned for security reasons?
The Gudu Mega School is one project that is very dear to my heart, but unfortunately, the insecurity has denied us access to use the facility. It is my wish that before I leave office, we should admit students into that college. However, for whatever reason, if the situation does not improve, I don’t see myself taking anybody’s child to the place if we can’t guarantee their safety. I am sure the incoming administration will do the needful if and when the situation improves, that is my position on that.
There are reports that some of your colleague governors in G-5 led by Wike are planning to strike a deal with APC. What is your reaction to that?
My five good colleagues that are in G-5, you see I have always been saying that political engineering or negotiation is not a war of attrition and I will not speculate. In this our business, whenever you are cooking, even if you try to hide it, it will still come out. This is because you cannot plan and execute a political project in your bedroom. You must come out with it. So when my colleagues resolve on what to do, that is when the party will respond on whatever position they have taken, I will not speculate on that.
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