Abdullahi Hassan, Zaria
Muhammad Datti Babawo is one of the longest and vibrant members of House of Representative from Sabon Gari Constituency of Kaduna State. He has been re-elected for the fourth time. He was the deputy chairman of the House committee on Power, Environment, Science and Technology.
He speaks on why President Muhammadu Buhari must be supported. He spoke on other issues of interest.
Four years gone, would you say the All Progressives Congress (APC) has lived up to expectations?
Well, what I will say is that the first term of this administration was not as bad as some people are made to believe because when this government came in 2015, it met a lot of challenges particularly at the inception of the administration. The price of petroleum which is the mainstay of the economy had hit 38 dollars per barrel from 140 dollars. There is also problem of finance; Buhari’s government met almost an empty treasury. So a lot of things have to be put in place to get things right at that time. The fight against of corruption and the issue of insecurity were pursued vigorously. Boko Haram held 27 local government areas in Borno under their control, but now they hold none.
You will recall that before Buhari took over in 2015 the functioning planes were not many, there were only 15 planes with our Air force but now you have more than 40 planes. I think we are making progress, with time and coordinated effort of security agencies we’ll defeat insurgency, banditry and kidnappings.
Legislative/Executive relationship in the 8th National Assembly was frosty. What should Nigerians expect from the 9th Senate?
I think this time around APC is doing everything possible to ensure that the frosty relationship is discontinued. Our party wants us to borrow from other democratic nations with best parliamentary practices. Once you defect to the opposition party you automatically cease to be the leader of that assembly. This is an international best practice in the world. In fact what happened in the past was an aberration. This time around, we’ll not allow it. But that does not mean that the National Assembly will be a rubber stamp. If there is anything we feel will move the country forward, we will facilitate it. But you know, naturally, there must some disagreements on some critical issue but that can still be resolved without much rancor.
Recently, you sponsored a bill that generated public discuss in media on the ban on sales, export and consumption of donkey in the country. Can you tell us more about the bill?
I think some people misconceived the idea. You see, anybody that comes from the northern part of the country knows what a donkey is; it is the livelihood of the rural people in most of our rural areas particularly, in the North. These donkeys are used for transportation, social and economic activities. For example the donkeys are used for transporting organic fertilizer to farms especially in areas where they don’t have any means of transportation. They are also used in ridging and other agricultural activities. During harvesting, donkeys are used in transporting these farm products either back home or to the market. We also use donkeys in fetching water from distant places to our homes. We use them for commercial transport in conveyance of sand, cement and blocks. To crown it all, in most remote areas , donkeys are used as ambulances as well as in wedding ceremonies where a bride climb and move to her groom’s home. The economic importance of donkeys cannot be over emphasised.
I sponsored the bill not knowing it will generate global attention. The very day I presented the bill, major international media houses tried to know more about the bill. A week after we had a public hearing where a charity based organisation in London called Donkey Centaury came all the way from UK to support this bill because of its implication, the UN also developed interest in the bill because UN said that there are 44million donkeys’ world- wide and they are working animal, very productive. Also two days after public hearing, surprisingly, we had two groups, one from UK and other from Ethiopia. These groups want to know more about the bill in fact they sent their own recommendation on these issues. They called it Group Action for Working Horses and Donkeys; they are charity groups that are working to protect the consumption of donkeys in the world. How come the donkeys become an important issue over the world? One, it is because Chinese are now the major marketers of donkey skin in the world. The skin is for herbal or traditional medicine. So for that reason this Chinese medicine became very popular within the middle class of China, with a donkey population of 11 million in less than a decade but the donkeys’ population has reduced to less than five million now and Chinese requires two million annually to satisfy their market requirement . So what they did was to go round the world particularly Africa, Asia, Australia and South America to import donkeys. Nigeria is one of the places they targeted. The information we have is every day for a single market, Maigatari Market in Kano. In Jigawa State almost 2,500 donkeys are being transported to be slaughtered and their skins removed. So the Chinese now became aggrieved. Today with the current trend in the next four years there will be no more donkeys in Nigeria and definitely it will affect the livelihood of rural dwellers. This is the reason I sponsored the bill. A donkey that used to cost N7000 is now sold at N150, 000. So people in rural areas feel they cannot keep donkeys.