Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi
Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu is seen as the champion of rice farming revolution across Nigeria. But, at home, his quest to liberate his people from subsistence farming and get them involved in trading and other commercial activities has continued to dominate his government’s policies. Even with the divergent political affiliations and ideologies in the state, Bagudu has continued to unite the people for a common purpose.
From rice farmers to the herdsmen and fishermen, Bagudu’s politics of inclusiveness has continued to unite the people of the state. To fulfill his visions for the state, after a successful rice revolution, Bagudu’s administration also designed programmes for herdsmen and fishermen across the state.
Speaking on the inclusiveness of his government, the governor explained that this set of people, if properly guided, could transform from old style to modern ways of doing their business, thereby overcoming the challenges of climate change.
To make life more meaningful to various groups of artisans, farmers and herdsmen, he has signed a lot of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with both local and international organisations to redesign ways of farming, fishing and animals husbandry by his people.
Recently, the Kebbi State Government and an agricultural firm, Machine and Equipment Corporation Africa (MECA), signed an MoU for the management of 100 tractors under a ‘Tractor Hiring Scheme,’ which is expected to cultivate over 200,000 hectares annually. The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Attahiru Maccido, signed the agreement on behalf of the state government, while the Company’s Group Country Director, Mr. Iliya Gashinbaki, signed on behalf of the firm.
Speaking at the occasion, Maccido explained that Bagudu had approved the submission of the Ministry of Agriculture, recommending the adoption of the scheme by MECA, for management of 100 tractors bought by the state government.
According to him, “It is aimed at avoiding the costly mistakes of the previous administration, which resulted in the collapse of the scheme due to negligent and poor management. That is why the state government took time to ensure that it selected a competent and able management company. MECA has a solid background; it is a combination of the private sector, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and NIRSAL. So, we have no doubt about their capacity, and that is why the state government decided to enter into the agreement with them.”
The Commissioner stated that 50 of the tractors would be deployed to the four agricultural zones under the Kebbi State Agricultural and Rural Development Agency (KARDA) in Argungu, Bunza, Zuru and Yauri, by the company and they would equally be available for hire to small scale farmers. “In the same vein, the remaining 50 tractors will be given to large scale farmers upon payment of a deposit, which are also going to be managed by the company,” he added.
Similarly, the administration of Bagudu has also partnered with the World Fish programme to re-position fish farming and aquaculture activities in the state. The World Fish programme is led by the Country Director for Egypt and Nigeria, Dr. Harrison Charo Larisa.
Bagudu said: “We want to do it right. We have the potential and active communities, especially our teeming youths. They are always ready for any opportunity to do things right. We may not know how to do it properly and market it well, and that is why we need support of experts.
“We know our state could do better in fishing, and transform it for the better, if not the best. If we use our potential, we can do it better, just like our people have been taking care of two strayed elephants. They have been providing them with sugar cane and sweet potatoes. That is the result of our efforts to re- orientate our people.”
In his June 12 Democracy Day broadcast, Bagudu announced about N3 billion contract award for the rehabilitation and construction of additional facilities in Primary and Junior Secondary Schools across the 21 local government areas in the state. He noted that his administration, in the last five years, had brought development to the state through government of ‘inclusiveness.’
“We are increasing our investments in both education and health sectors. In the last few weeks, we have awarded contracts close to N3billion for rehabilitation, and we are adding more facilities in our Primary and Juniors Secondary Schools. I urge all of us, particularly, the media and the Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), to please obtain the list of all the contracts awarded, local government by local government, so that we will ensure proper monitoring and ensure prompt completion and quality work.
“In the health sector, we have also partnered with the UNICEF to rehabilitate 140 Primary Health Centres in different wards across the state. And sometimes, we do not celebrate our successes. We believe that our successes, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, is as a result of the painstaking work done by our health workers in small facilities already rehabilitated, and others which are in the process of rehabilitation.”
The governor also disclosed that the National Bureau of Statistics data released recently on poverty, inflation and unemployment rating of states in the North West placed Kebbi State in a second position, stressing that the results simply showed that Kebbi State is second best in the zone, trailing behind only Kaduna State.
“It means that in the whole of North West, Kebbi State is doing better than five other states. But, this is not our aspiration; our aspiration is to be the number one state in the zone,” he said.
Bagudu added that his administration decided to carry everybody along in the state’s development processes, so as to attract more private sector investments, and increase the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for future development.
“Kebbi State has caught the attention of the world in the inclusive government, which invariably, presents an ample opportunity for a thriving economy to all. We deliberately re-positioned our farming, pastoral, fishing and mining sectors. These are the sectors that employ majority of our people, and these inclusive programmes have generated fractions from wide employments and income. And on daily basis, we have seen increment on these.
“Finally, I want to assure the good people of Kebbi State that we would continue to strive to do our very best. And, we have chosen the hard way to mobilise the development by mobilising everyone. This government campaigned on the promise that we would include everyone,” the governor said.
Bearing in mind the fact that Kebbi State has four emirates – Gwandu, Argungu, Yauri and Zuru with various indigenous traditional festivals, which they cherish, Bagudu swung into action by allocating budget to host and celebrate such festivals as Argungu fishing festival, Yauri Rigatta festival, Hutogo and Uhola cultural festivals, respectively.
The governor, according to many political analysts, scored a political masterstroke for successfully hosting Argungun fishing festival, as well as Rigatta Yauri festival, which were attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, the Speaker of the House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the Sultan of Sokoto, among other important personalities in Nigeria and beyond.
On the sacrifices made by the people of the state, the governor said: “I know the kind of sacrifices everybody is making. All these sacrifices are to empower everybody. Part of what we have seen from the insecurity across the country is that there is need for inclusiveness. Once people are not included, they may resort to expressions of their grievances, and the outcome may be negative. Our priority now is to uplift our people so that everybody will feel included. Those who are willing should partner with us because we are ready to partner with them. The most important thing is that we must energise our youths.”
Evaluating Bagudu’s performances, the Chairman, Kebbi State Standing Committee on the Biofuel, Professor Muhammed Abubakar Kaoje, described him as the most intelligent governor the state has ever had. He noted that his administration had been re-positioning the state towards becoming the economic hub of North West, saying, “By the time Bagudu would be leaving the Government House, the people of the state would not want him to go.” He explained that by the time ethanol project was completed, it would not only create jobs for hundreds of people; it will also generate huge IGR for the state.
A cross section of Kebbi residents who spoke to Daily Sun on Bagudu’s performance also commended him for the prompt payment of civil servants’ salaries, stable power supply, educational development and security among others.
A group of youths in Nassarawa area of Birnin Kebbi, led by Abubakar Sanni Gwandu, said: “The five years of Bagudu on the saddle is good, particularly in the agricultural sector, although, not without hitches. Honestly, he has performed wonderfully well. The Anchor Borrowers programme, without doubt, gave employment to nearly two million unemployed youths in the state, who have accessed the loans made available and fully utilized them.”
In public service, the group said civil servants in the state are grossly indebted to the governor for his prompt payment of salaries, no matter what. According to them, what is most fascinating is the fact that at a time many states were locked down due to COVID 19, forcing many governors to cut workers’ salaries, he paid Kebbi workers their full salaries and in record time too.
Also, at Kola town, a suburb of Birnin Kebbi, few kilometres away from the state capital, residents commended the governor for the construction of the road that connects them to the state capital. One of the elite in the area, Malam Mashayabo, said they are praying fervently for Bagudu to succeed throughout his administration. He said the road had eased their transportation problems, as well as boosted economic activities in the village. He stressed that they could now transport local rice and livestock to the state capital’s main market.
The District Head of Kola village, Alhaji Hassan Bashar, in his words, said: “Myself and the people of Kola town are pleased with the road constructed from Badariya area in Birnin Kebbi to Kola town, which has also linked us to Bulasa village. One of the importance of the road is that it is used to conveniently move patients to urban hospitals for proper medical attention. It has also made it easy for commuters, petty traders and farmers to convey their goods and farm products to the city.”
A member of the opposition party, who wouldn’t want his name in print, commended the governor for prompt payment of salaries, but stressed that other sectors needed more attention from the governor as well.
Besides, Bagudu, whose administration had initiated different projects, such as road construction, water supply, and construction/rehabilitation of schools, in all the 225 wards across the state since his inauguration as the governor of the state, has vowed to continue to re-position the state to achieve economic greatness.