Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has objected to the imposition of Ruga Settlement programme of the Federal Government on the states.
Reacting to the policy, he likened the imposition to forcefully building nightclub near a church or mosque without the authorisation of the owners of the religious centres.
Speaking in Abuja to a select group of journalists on his second term 100 days in office, Ganduje equally criticised the migration of herdsmen to the South, urging the Federal Government to stem the tide of migration as antidote for the friction between the herdsmen and farmers.
Looking back in the last four years, how has Kano State changed under you?
During the last four years in Kano State, we have witnessed lots of developments. But I will just mention the very conspicuous ones because there are projects, which you can see and programmes which you may not see, but may hear about. We tried as much as we can to improve the outlook of Kano metropolis. Kano being a mega city, the issue of transportation, road network and security, as well as water supply are very important. In other to improve the transportation system and road network, we had to introduce number of new designs in form of road inter-change. We introduced flyovers, constructing a flyover of almost two kilometres to Sabon Gari and an under-pass at Kofar Ruwa and another one at Madobi road and Zoo road. We also constructed hundreds of kilometres of roads across the various local governments. In the area of youth employment, we embarked on the training of our youths in different skills and equally gave them employment. For instance, we undertook a survey and found out that most of the motor mechanics in Kano are roadside mechanics and in the present transportation system, vehicles are computerised. So, we signed an agreement with Peugeot Automobile Nigeria to train at least 1,000 auto mechanics engineers. We took 75 to them outside where they spent one year and graduated and were given certificates and empowerment. All of them are gainfully employed now. We took another 200 made up of 150 boys and 50 girls who have graduated and so, women are now auto mechanics in Kano. We have taken another 250 comprising 200 boys and 50 girls who are expected to round off by November this year after which, we will take another set. We also undertook another research to find out the skill that will give our youths automatic employment or become self-employed after training. We identified 24 different skills and we employed a consultant to advise us on what to do with that. The consultant designed an ultra-modern skill acquisition centre and proscribed the types of equipment that should be installed. Everything is being completed and will soon be commissioned by the Vice President. We spent over N5 billion on it, including the equipment and we are naming it after Aliko Dangote because of his dexterity in providing employment to Nigerians. In the health sector, we discovered that there was a big problem in the funding of health and we decided to introduce the contributory health scheme modelled after the National Health Insurance Scheme. This has been very successful in Kano. All our civil servants have cued in and we are now extending it to the private sector and the vulnerable will benefit free of charge from the scheme.
In other to increase funding of health, we introduced Health Trust Fund. Five per cent of our IGR every month goes into the basket and one per cent from the local government is also paid into the fund monthly. Every month, we have at least N150 million paid into the basket and that is assisting our drug revolving scheme and the funding of consumables in our primary health care scheme. For agriculture, fertiliser is no more an issue in Kano State. Most northern states are buying their fertilisers in Kano. The fertiliser blending plan was built by the late Abubakar Rimi, but abandoned for over 25 years until we reactivated it, put in new machines and it’s now working 24 hours. Still on agriculture, we are clustering our irrigation scheme, constructing farm centres and irrigation facilities provided there. On the herdsmen/farmers clashes, we have succeeded in curtailing it in the state and have resolved the issue of cattle rustling by giving amnesty to the Fulanis who are involved in that. We are going to construct farm settlements so that the herdsmen will no longer travel from one place to the other. We have a technical committee in place involving the herdsmen themselves. We have five big forests, which we are converting to grazing areas, including the Falgore Forest. We have already awarded contract and water is being provided there. We will construct some dams in some of the places. We will also provide social amenities like hospitals, veterinary clinics, markets, security posts, schools so that the herdsmen will enjoy basic facilities like any other Nigerian. We have been saying that as a way of solving the problem of herdsmen/farmers clash, the Federal Government should ban the herdsmen trekking from the northern part of Nigeria to the South because along the way, you get so many problems. Unless they are domiciled in one place, then the issue of having peace and stability remain questionable. Not only that, the herdsmen men in Nigeria need to improve because herdsmanship is no more a socio-cultural issue, it should be a socio-economic issue. But the way they are managing it is socio-cultural because they have not succeeded in fighting poverty and poverty has not succeeded in fighting them. You cannot call a herdsman, a poor man because he is moving with cows worth millions of naira, but if he treks thousands of kilometres you cannot distinguish him from a poor man. That is why I said that he has not succeeded in killing poverty and poverty has not succeeded in killing him. Resettling the Fulanis is the solution. Already, I have sponsored 75 of their children to Turkey to learn artificial insemination, which they are practising all over now. Also, when they are settled, there is the need to introduce new system of rearing cattle. What is important now is how do we take Kano to the next level? We have declared primary and secondary education free and compulsory, including girls education across the state. I am sure that you are aware of the Almajiri issue. It is a serious issue in Nigeria today and breeding lots of security issues. We decided to discuss with those who are operating the Almajiri system to integrate it with our educational system. We made it compulsory because any child of school age in Kano must go to school. However, Kano being a commercial centre, we have influx of Almajiris from all over North, from Chad and Niger. So, we are submitting a memo to the Northern States Governors Forum for a common legislation on the movement of Almajiris from one state to the other. Unless we do that, the problem is difficult to solve in isolation and I believe that the memo will get the blessing of the northern states. The new Emirates have attracted a lot of attention and I think it is important for me to talk about it. There are three basic reasons we created the new Emirates. First, it is because of history and demand by the people in the new Emirates. Secondly, to widen and deepen the participation of the traditional system in governance so that the traditional institution is no more an institution of regalia, but an institution that is functional, work with the people and assist the government in the implementation of important programmes and projects. Thirdly, we want to create mini-cities in the state so that some big towns can develop into cities while Kano mega city will continue to grow, while other towns are improved upon to become cities. By so doing, we believe it will improve the socio-economic development of the rural areas. If we are talking of compulsory education, who will help you to ensure that all children go to school? It is the Emir, the district heads and the village and ward heads. It is the village heads that will help you in security system because the security agents alone cannot do it. It is also to improve the cultural activities. From the information we received, thousands of things were bought during this Sallah because of the decentralisation of Sallah celebration to major towns. The emirates have been created to involve them in governance, which is very good.
What is your take on the Ruga policy of the Federal Government?
I don’t subscribe to calls for Fulani herdsmen in the South to come back to the North because Ruga should not be a national issue. It should be a state issue. If there are Fulanis in a southern state that want to remain there, the constitution has allowed them to remain there. But they should negotiate with the inhabitants of that state under what terms they should carry out their herdsmanship without harming anybody. If you are existing in an environment, then you should not harm the environment and the environment must not harm you. That can only exist when you negotiate. You cannot build a nightclub near a church or near a mosque. You have to negotiate with the owners of the church or the mosque. So, if you want to practice herdsmanship, which is okay and beneficial, you must have a symbiotic relationship between the herdsmen and the farmers. Because of climate change and increase in population and the land is not increasing, grazing areas is scarce. You don’t have to be a herdsman now to rear cattle because anybody is free to rear cattle. That is my understanding of the situation. You can remain where you are and run your business, but you must negotiate.
What is the update on your faceoff with Emir Sanusi over the creation of emirates in Kano?
The Emir of Kano has no problem with the creation of new Emirates in Kano. Of course, he had a problem with anti-corruption agency in the state and the committee did its own work and submitted a report to the state government. Many people have been appealing to allow peace and stability in the state. The state government has already said that it does not intend to remove the Emir of Kano. But at the same time, we are sceptical in controlling the anti-corruption agency because it is an independent body. But I believe there is peace and stability in the state. The role the Emir played during the election has to do with his own conviction. What is important is that we have won the election and we are not going to look back. So, the creation of Emirates has nothing to do with that misunderstanding. After all, Abubakar Rimi of blessed memory created Emirates. But Rimi was a much younger and radical politician without experience like we are. That was why his own emirates could not survive. But this time, I want to assure you that even though it is in the court, it will survive. This shows experience in politics and governance.
What is your take on the advice by the Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai for APC to abandon zoning for competency in 2023?
The way I looked at it is that it is an issue between idealism and realism. Idealism is a situation whereby things should be done in accordance with ideas. If things are done like that, then everybody should have equal treatment and equal chance to contest and then, what the people decide should be done. Now, on the issue of realism, Nigeria is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country with several geopolitical zones. So, in reality people are yearning for participation from different geopolitical zones: North and South. That is still in our mind. The reality of the situation is that people are clamouring for marginalization in the leadership of the country, but the idealism is that people should participate and be elected based on their capacity and capability.
So, it is not the governor of Kano State that would decide whether it would be idealism or realism. It is the party that would determine which theory should be applied in Nigeria and though is a political strategy as well. Politics is a game of number. So, the political party should decide which one to follow.
How can we tackle the issue of Fulani herdsmen?
There are three types of herdsmen in Nigeria. The first are those who are coming with thousands of cattle from West African countries and you don’t expect them to carry the food for the cattle. Along the way, they have to cut trees and provide food for the cattle and that create some problem. They are attacked by farmers and along the line, they have learnt to attack farmers as well. They go about with their families on horses and donkeys and also carry arms and have graduated into bandits. That is one category of herdsmen who are coming from West Africa. That is an ECOWAS problem, which Nigeria should negotiate. The second is the herdsmen who are from the northern part of Nigeria. They trek through the North-central zone to the South. They normally don’t have a lot of cattle like the ones coming from West Africa. Those ones too create problems because of trekking from one place to the other. The third are those herdsmen who are born in places different from places of their socio-cultural and socio-religious origin. I am sure that in the South, you can get some Fulani herdsmen born there and are not trekking to come to the North, but want to be permanently there.
They also have problems because when their young ones cannot go to school, they can also cause problems. This is my own classification and I am doing it because I am a Fulani man. So, I know what it feels to be a herdsman and business should not continue as usual. Herdsmanship should be a socio-economic venture not a socio-cultural venture as it is right now.
What is your take on the call for revolution by a section of Nigerian youths?
This is unconstitutional and it is the creation of the opposition to some extent and the tribalists especially when you consider what happened to the former Deputy Senate President in Germany. So, it is in the imagination of all those who want to destabilise Nigeria. It is also the handiwork of those religious extremists like El-Zakzaky people. If you know what happened in Iraq, you will discover that it is all about revolution. But in Nigeria, we have elected a government, we have a constitution, we have a legislature and if you want to change the government, you go through the constitution. That is the most agreed change of government in all countries of the world. So, the call for revolution should not be taken lightly. They should be taken to court and treated according to the rule of law.
Does the influx of Almajiri into Kano give you concern?
As I told you, we undertook a survey and found out that most of them are not from Kano. Some are from Niger, Chad, Katsina, Borno, among others. The Almajiri system is not flourishing in the North-east because of the effect of Boko Haram. So, sometimes, you find a trailer load of 2000 Almajiris being off-loaded in Kano. That is how we had such large population of Almajiris in Kano. There are only few of them who are from the rural areas of Kano.
What is the reality over the speculation that governors are plotting against Oshiomhole?
I am not aware of governors working against the national leadership of the APC. I have not heard of any such thing. The progressive governors will soon meet with the national chairman because he invited us for a meeting. So, I have not heard of any gang up against the national leadership and if it exists, I am not aware of it and I am not a party to it.