Alhaji Al-Amin Aliyu, a business man and grassroots politician is the CEO of Rahama City Suite in Bauchi. In 2015, he played crucial roles in the All Progressives Congress (APC) to actualize the election of Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar of Bauchi State. In this interview with KABIR AKINTOLA, he speaks on the governor’s development roadmap for the state, maintaining that Bauchi is the State to watch come 2019 when present first-term state governors in the country will be seeking re-election by their people.
How do you classify Bauchi State today in terms of the vision of the present administration in the state vis-a-vis the state’s potential for growth?
Our state, as you may well know, is basically agrarian. Thank God we are in the raining season now when more of our people are very busy and productively engaged on their farms especially on account of the progressive and radical reforms of Governor M.A. Abubakar in the agro sector of the state. We are eagerly expecting a bumper harvest across the three senatorial districts where the state government has introduced highly sophisticated and modern agro-based programs to enhance the living conditions of the people. Mark you, food security is the best security a vision-driven leader like our governor can to give his highly-appreciative people. Side by side with these agricultural potentials is that our state has many mineral deposits that are being tapped.
Bauchi is also a widely-acknowledged tourist destination. Above all, we are a peace-loving people. We are a highly politically-conscious people. Political discourse in pre-independence North started in Bauchi. Don’t forget that Nigeria’s first and last Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the golden voice of Africa, hailed from Bauchi. We have successfully produced three Secretaries to the Government of the Federation, Heads of Service of the Federation, Cabinet Ministers, etc. I have gone this great length to show you the enviable developmental trajectory of Bauchi State. We are about 9 million people or so. But let us go to the aspect of your question about what is the vision of the present administration under Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, the fifth democratically elected governor of the state.
He is a man of vision, a dogged and astute administrator. While launching the 2015 farming season in Misau, the administration disbursed 10,000 metric tons of fertilizer to farmers at subsidized rate of N2,750 for NPK and N3,000 for Urea, and just recently because of the huge successes recorded in last year’s rain-fed and this year’s dry season farming, Bauchi State government has provided 30,000 tons of fertilizer which is being sold at 5,500 naira per bag for this year’s farming season with an increase of 15,000 tons over what was procured and distributed to farmers for last year. The State government has targeted at least 100,000 rice and maize farmers in 2017 planting season after making contacts with commodity companies in Lebanon, China and the Czech Republic that have indicated interest in our groundnuts, sesame and soybeans while others have also shown interest in establishing agro-processing industries in the state.
As we speak, there are farmlands with over 2,500 hectares of rice farmland in Itas, Gadau and Zaki local government areas which got about N400 million under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers’ rice farming programme as a palliative to the farmers to mitigate the delay in the release of funds to associations by commercial banks. This was done in order to make them fully committed to the National Anchor Borrowers programme even before obtaining the loan package from the CBN.
The State’s tractor hiring services have also been re-modelled to enhance farming activities boost the partnership with the Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO, to improve food supply to about 2,000 IDPs in the State through the provision of 60 metric tons of improved crop seeds. An aggressive collaboration is on with the China Research Institute on the development of new pastures and fodder for livestock on grass species has been developed to yield 500 metric tons of fodder per hectare in one growing season being provided to livestock farmers as part of the on-going mechanized agric program in the state. The upshot of all these is that the government is turning agriculture into an attractive alternative revenue source and as employer of labour. This is the general policy direction across states in the country now. I told you that we are agrarian so what the governor is doing is to explore the vast agricultural potentials of the state. We really do not know what would have happened to this state if this change revolution did not come at this material time.
The picture you have just painted of Governor Abubakar’s administration is that of a government that has performed very well. How do you reconcile this with the not-so-good picture being painted by some people including even functionaries that have left the administration complaining of one thing or another?
Can you be more specific please? Which of such functionaries do you have in mind? And what were their contributions to the giant strides of this administration before they left? Can you pin any specific achievement to their names or portfolios before their exit? Tell me please.
…(cuts in) I do not have the figure right now but that there have been a few functionaries who announced their exit for one reason or another. And very recently, the social media was awash with the story of the purported resignation of the governor Senior Special Assistant, SSA, on Scheduling, Alhaji Tahir Ibrahim Tahir, the Talban Bauchi. Is this not one resignation too many?
First, let me observe that it took the Talba Bauchi two full years into the life of a government which he was part of to finally summon the courage that he has no place in the current change in our state. Second, advertising his reasons for leaving the cabinet as the governor’s alleged non-performance is, in my opinion, an aggravated political disaster. To be sure, the cabinet is not a concentration camp and so he is free to leave but to describe M.A’s government as non-performing is bad enough. We are not surprised at all.
It is interesting that the Talba of Bauchi tendered his resignation first on Facebook before the formal copy of his letter got to the office of the Secretary to the State Government. Alhaji Tahir Ibrahim Tahir’s allegation that he had no access to the governor is most uncharitable and the biggest joke of the century. This cannot the truth. People should stop toying with our sensibilities.
As SSA Scheduling to the governor, the Talba Bauchi had unhindered access to the governor more than other top appointees of the governor because, partly, he was responsible for scheduling and arranging those who see the governor. If he had no access to the governor how did those pictures he copiously took with the governor gleefully posted on his social media pages? Or do pictures lie? And why did it take him this long to quit? Please ask him.
All these were recorded in spite of paucity of resources and the fact that financial obligations of government like servicing of debt are being made and salaries of workers are being paid as at when due. One therefore wonders what Alhaji Tahir meant by attributing his exit to an alleged non-performance that cannot be substantiated. This political gimmickry won’t work. We know where they are shooting from but we will appropriately respond to these baseless claims when the time comes.
How true is the claim by the state government that it does not owe any of its workers?
If any worker in the state is owed, you would have been hearing the labour agitating by now. It is true that no one is owed a kobo. You will agree with me that any state government that does not owe its workers deserves an award because this is the most challenging time for governments now. Even those that are paying half salaries deserve kudos in a situation where some states owe their workers for upwards of six months or more. No one in the state’s workforce is owed as salaries and backlog of arrears left by the immediate past administration have been cleared by the governor. The labour appreciates this very much.
To enhance security, the governor procured and handed over 25 brand new Toyota Hillux jeeps, fully equipped with security gadgets to the Nigerian Army, Police and State Security Service, insisting that a peaceful atmosphere that guarantees security of lives and property is vital to recording any measure of success. The governor deserves praise for putting so much into achieving security and excellent industrial harmony in the state. Security of lives and property is stable in the state right now.
All the Emirs in the six Emirate Councils in the state could not hide their excitement when they hosted the governor in their respective domains during a recent tour of the councils by the governor. Don’t forget that he inherited a government with debt cumulative external and domestic debts to the tune of over N100 billion made up of domestic loans N48.743 billion; foreign loans of $87.572 million and contractual liabilities N41.556 billion as well as state government gratuity arrears of N7.741 billion, local government areas gratuity arrears of N6.924 billion and unpaid salary arrears of workers. In spite of paucity of resources, all these liabilities incurred are being serviced. By and large, the administration has done very well in the circumstance. By 2019 when first-term governors will be seeking a second mandate of their people, Bauchi will be a state to watch. Governor Abubakar has indeed performed beyond average.