Kano State Governor Abdullahi Umar Gabduje has blamed the idea held in specific quarters that his colleagues of Progressive Governors Forum are planning to remove the National chairman of All progressives Congress (APC) from his seat. Ganduje, who stated this on issues of national
significance in an interactive session with correspondents in Abuja, stated that he could never be involved with such plot.According to him: “I am not aware of governors working against the national leadership of the APC. I have not heard of any such thing. So, I have not heard of any gang up against the national leadership and if it exists, I’m not aware of it and I’m not a party to it.”
Ganduje described the recent call for revolution by a section of Nigerian youth as illegal and unconstitutional, noting, “This is unconstitutional and it is the creation of the opposition to some extent and those 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 Sheik 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. Those involved should be taken to court and treated according to the rule of law.”
On the issue of whether to rely on zoning or merit to determine the choice of President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor in 2023, Ganduje argued: “The way I look at it is that it is an issue between idealism and realism. Idealism is a situation whereby things should be done in accordance with the ideals. If things are done like that, then everybody should have equal treatment and everybody has equal chance to contest and then, what the people decide should be done. Now, the issue of realism.
“Nigeria is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country with several geopolitical zones. In reality, people are yearning for participation of different political zones and not the politics of north and south. So, the reality of the situation is that people are crying of marginalisation in the leadership of the country.
“But the idealism is that people should participate and be elected based on their capacity. So, it is not the governor of Kano State that should decide whether it is idealism or realism. It is the party that will determine which should be applied in Nigeria and you know that it is a political strategy. So, the political party should decide which option to follow.”Faulting the call on herders to leave the southern part of the country, he urged Nigerians to imbibe the culture of cohabiting with one another peaceably.
Said he: “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 Fulani in a southern state and they 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 night club 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 all right 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.
“There are three type 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 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 being 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 one are those herdsmen who are born in places different from places of their socio-cultural and socio-religious origin.
“I’m sure that in the south you can get some Fulani herdsmen who are born there and are not trekking to come to the north, but are 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’m doing it because I’m 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 and not a socio-cultural venture as it is right now.”
He assured the citizenry in Kano State that he would surely build on the achievement recorded during his first tenure in office, adding: “During the last four years in Kano State, we witnessed a lot 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, issue of 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 a number of new designs in form of road inter-change. We introduced flyovers; we constructed a flyover of almost two kilometres to Sabon Gari and an underpass 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 upon the training of our youths in different skills and gave them employment.
In the health sector, Ganduje stated how he discovered the “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 queued 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. We also decided to build an ultra modern hospital in other to reduce medical tourism. The Mohammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital which was commissioned by the president himself is well equipped and the first brain and spinal cord surgeries were conducted in the hospital. We believe that this will reduce drastically the issue of medical tourism abroad.
“In other to regulate the activities of private hospitals, we decided to establish a governing board that will regulate private health facilities where people are not over-charged, ensuring that qualified doctors and nurses are employed, so that our people will be safe if they attended private hospitals.
For agriculture, the governor said fertiliser was no longer an issue in Kano State. He noted that most northern states now buy fertilisers from Kano. “The fertiliser blending plan was built by late Abubakar Rimi, but abandoned for over 25 years until we reactivated it,” he said. “We put in new machines and it is now working 24 hours. We no longer suffer from fertiliser issue because it is all over the state. We constructed stores in local government areas where the fertilisers are stored. If you are looking for 100 trailers of fertiliser, you can get it in a day.
“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. In fact, we are holding stakeholders’ summit on education in Kano State on September 3 and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is coming to declare the summit open. What we intend to do is to ensure that instead of our population becoming a liability, it will be an asset.
Ganduje also addressed the vexing issues of almajiti, saying his state and other northern states should find means to address it with a view to nipping the practice in the bud.“I’m sure that you are aware of the almajiri issue,” he remarked. “It is a serious issue in Nigeria today and it is breeding a lot of security issues. We decided to discuss with those who are operating the almajiri system so that we integrate it with our educational system. They have agreed and will be part of the summit. We made it compulsory because any child of school age in Kano must go to school.
“But Kano, being a commercial centre, has influx of almajiris from all over north, from Chad and Niger. So, we are submitting a memo to the Northern States Governors Forum so that we have 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.
“On agriculture, we are clustering our irrigation scheme and constructing farm centres with irrigation facilities provided. Now, 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.