“This time in office I will continue to improve the economy of the people of the state like farmers, fishermen which will contribute to boosting our internal revenue in the state.” – Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi state during his inauguration for a second term in office on May 29, 2019
Prior to Abubakar Atiku Bagudu’s taking over of the reins of governance as the fourth executive governor of Kebbi state on May 29, 2015, not much was known of the North-west state in terms of its enormous agriculture and mineral potential.
However, barely two years into his administration, Governor Bagudu had transformed Kebbi from a mere civil servant and peasant agrarian state that relied mostly on subsistence farming to a major producer of rice on industrial scale in Nigeria.
The current participation of more than 70,000 farmers in the Anchor Borrowers Rice and wheat farming is heading towards making Kebbi a new destination and hub for agro based commodities of the country.
In fact, Kebbi state has become synonymous with rice production. In 2017, the state earned about N150 billion from the sale of its locally cultivated rice. But rice is hardly the only product grown in the state, whose economy is agrarian. In 2018, the state began the cultivation of 47,000 hectares of cassava as raw material for the production of ethanol biofuel.
Governor Bagudu underscored this fact during his second term inaugural speech thus, “We have partnered Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and we have started ethanol programme in Danko/Wasagu Local Government Area and other local government areas will soon join.” The governor explained that the fuel would not be crude oil but oil made through scientific methods.
Bagudu said his administration in the last four years recorded huge success in health, education, electricity, infrastructure and agriculture. “To buttress our recorded success, UNICEF, recently, reported that our immunization coverage has improved from as low as 18 per cent to well over 74 per cent.
“Just three days ago, the Institute of Charted Accountant of Nigeria reported that the state is ranked number four after Kaduna, Jigawa and FCT in terms of adequacy of disclosure and due processes in the conduct of public expenditure.
“In the area of infrastructure, all the 21 local government areas had been touched with one infrastructure or the other. We have constructed over 410 kilometres of new roads and rehabilitated about 500 kilometres of existing roads. On education, the performances of our children have improved in WAEC and JAMB; as we have recruited 2,000 teachers to further support our effort of transforming the education sector.
“On electricity, we have achieved 24 hours basis power availability across the state while in agriculture, our name has gone viral in the country courtesy of Anchored Borrowers programme. We have achieved success in a number of commodities and rice companies are now springing up and we will achieve more,” he said.
He said the state government also needed to improve on education and health sectors to develop younger generations in the state and also make the Almajiri to acquire both Islamic and Western education. The governor commended members of the state executive council for their efforts in moving the state forward during his first tenure.
“I appreciate the contribution of our traditional leaders, clerics and security agencies and political party members for the efforts they have put in within the four years of our stewardship. We noticed that some of you have left your comfort zones and joined the cabinet in order to offer your contributions towards our efforts in moving the state forward,” he said.
Bagudu also commended the Secretary to the State Government, Babale Umar, Chief of Staff, Suleiman Argungu, and his Special Advisers for their efforts in ensuring the development of the state.
Indeed, Bagudu had hit the ground running so fast so as to ensure that Kebbi state became an industrial hub that in 2016, he allocated a budget of N12.8 billion to the agriculture sector, demonstrating that the governor places top priority on agriculture in the state. The governor through the assistance of the federal government gave out incentives to farmers in all the 21 local government areas of the state so they could grow crops, particularly rice which is an export produce for which Nigeria spends over N1.4 trillion annually to import.
Not only that, his government made provisions of supportive policies to farmers, including partnering with private firms to buy surplus that may be produced by these farmers so they can have reasons to farm again when the time comes. As matter of fact, the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lagos state has made Kebbi the highest rice producing state in the country. This feat of Bagudu has saved Nigeria the humongous amount of money used in importing rice every year and thereby earning the commendation of President Muhammadu Buhari who urged other state governors to emulate Governor Atiku Bagudu by supporting farmers in their various states in order to boost agriculture as a major foreign exchange earner for the country rather than the over dependency on crude oil.
Today, the agriculture sector constitutes over 50 per cent of the Kebbi state workforce, accounting for the estimated increase in the state internally generated revenue (IGR). A visit to settlements within and outside the state capital like Dukku, Makera, Suru, Bagudo, Illo, Argungu, Zuru and Yauri will convince one that both the rich and the poor, old and young, big and small are now into farming, because to them it is a lucrative business with quick returns on investment. This was made possible by Governor Bagudu whose dream is to see foreigners come into the state to demand for higher-value foods like rice, onions, wheat, and water melon, and this will in turn create employment not for only those in the rural areas but the entire state.
Governor Bagudu is also making huge investments in education, health, infrastructure, social safety, as well as in every sector of the state’s economy including Kebbi state’s technology future. The government has signed an agreement with educational non-profit Profuturo, to improve the currency of knowledge in the state’s classrooms.
Bagudu’s superlative performance in his first term may be a child’s play by the time he would have completed his two terms of eight years on May 28, 2023. It is, therefore, expected that all hands must be deck to actualise Governor Bagudu’s dream to make Yobe state not just the industrial hub of the North-west or Nigeria but globally.
Kafur writes from Kaduna, Kaduna state.
Jauro: Matching stellar credentials with excellent service at NESREA
By Ikilima Abubakar
Certainly, no appointment in Nigeria ever gets past the scrutiny of ethnic champions who always have a thing or two to point out in support of their rather caged mindset or idea of who ought to be appointed, detailing which divide of Nigeria the appointee must emerge from. So, it was not surprising that Professor Aliyu Jauro’s appointment to head NESREA was greeted in fierce but discordant tones by the usual suspects.
However, seeing what the young professor has achieved so far and how he has made them swallow their criticism of his age and other inconsequentials, one wonders if these myopic lots have the courage and responsibility to tender the apologies that I believe the good professor has earned from them.
No matter, Nigeria now owes Professor Jauro’s NESREA a debt of gratitude for several daring policies and transformation the environmental chemist has brought to bear on the charge to position the country among nations that are serious about their environment.
In fact, those of us who are very conversant with Professor Jauro’s elephant strides since assuming office will have no problem dubbing him the best DG since the creation of the agency and this will still be putting it lightly.
His commitment to enforcing the Extended Producer Responsibility Programme (EPRON), for instance, has emerged as a very strong rallying point for technology enthusiasts. Curbing e-Waste had become important because of the excessive damage in health hazards and income that represents on Nigeria when left unchecked. With this, producers are now mandated by law to take responsibility for their waste all through the life circle of their products.
However, it will be Jauro’s dogged commitment in ensuring that those who pollute the environment are arrested and prosecuted that will come to be fondly remembered as his best legacy. But before going full focus, the DG consulted widely even among traditional rulers. This was done to make the people, through the monarchs, realise that a safe environment is the responsibility of everyone. This is probably why NESREA has charged youths to play an active part in the agency’s march towards ensuring a safe Nigeria for all to live and work by joining the agency’s green party to sensitise Nigerians about environmental pollution.
For the first time, NESREA accredited environmental consultants now face the risk of having their licenses revoked if it is discovered that they leg deep in professional misconduct capable of misleading the agency into issuing clearance certificates to clients shadily audited. It was to ensure that everyone involved in this unwholesome practice is made aware of the consequences that Jauro organised a four-day induction cum refresher courses for new and existing environmental consultants.
This same tenacity has been brought to the all-important endeavour of water safety. Prof Jauro has made it clear that ensuring safe water for Nigerians, especially at the backs of scary numbers, is non-negotiable. To this end, he has engaged stakeholders and his counterparts at the ministry of water resources to collaborate towards achieving the global goal of clean, safe water for all.
It is no surprise then that Jauro’s NESREA has emerged as a very strong partner of the United Nations and has secured the Global Economy Facility Funded Circular Economy Approaches for the Electronics sector in Nigeria. Through this multi-million-dollar approach, NESREA and partners are looking to create a robust, self-sustaining circular economy approach for electronics. This, among others, is aimed at restating Nigeria’s commitment to enforcing environmental protection laws and most importantly to ensure that Nigeria makes a quick break from the roll of nations reduced into destinations for e-Wastes.
Indeed, the NESREA stewardship of Prof Aliyu Jauro has put Nigeria firmly among serious nations and nothing typifies this seriousness better than the blend of safety and economic viability that the DG is striking, and his strategic partnership with other government agencies like NCC to drive his policies and strategies towards achieving the one goal of making this nation a robust economy signposted by the commitment towards a safe living and working environment. It is this commitment that is rekindling the faith of international organisations on the ability of Nigeria to do the needful and lead Africa into a future that is edging towards green and self-sustaining societies free of all forms of artificial pollution.
Of course, some of these goals will take a while to materialise, but they will invariably be linked to the inputs visionaries in the league of Prof. Jauro, who saw the future and made the decision to subscribe to the global best practices, that posterity will remember kindly.
As for those who only expect failure from people, Prof. Jauro must be a greatly hated individual to them right now. But, between working for one’s country and incurring the wrath of small-minded people who only expect failure and caving into ethnic obliqueness championed by desperate position seekers devoid of any initiatives that leave lasting imprints in the sands of time, smart nations will settle for the latter. Prof Jauro is that latter who will relish being hated by few enemies of Nigeria while the majority of us for whom he denies himself sleep appreciate his immense contributions to the all-round environmental safety of this nation.
Ikilima writes from Kaduna