The Kano state Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, in this exclusive interview, tells BLUEPRINT WEEKEND how he was able to win re-election despite the intrigues that characterised the governorship poll in the state; his achievements since re-election as well as other national issues.
Nigerians have still not come to terms with the way you were able to defeat your opponents to win re-election due to the nature of Kano politics. How did you do it?
Kano is a cosmopolitan city, a politically ideologist state. If you recall, Malam Aminu Kano and many others like a two-term governor and now four-time senator, Kabiru Gaya, are from Kano state. That is to tell you how complicated Kano is. Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, a two-term governor of Kano state, is now a senator, just like my former boss, Ibrahim Musa Kwankwaso. If I continue mentioning the big names, you will appreciate the complexity of the state. I am one of them; that is why I have been succeeding. If you are born in the war front, you don’t fear gunshots. They sound ordinary to you. We all served together in 1979. I think Kwankwaso was still in school when I was commissioner for works and housing for eight years, while Shekarau was permanent secretary. That’s why I said I am one of them.
Is it correct to say you have sent many of them into retirement?
I don’t think anybody is being retired. Politics is an issue of sentiment. Which sentiment are you using as a vehicle in order to make you win an election? Some will win or lose, but the struggle continues. However, due to one reason or another, people usually step aside for some time in politics.
What efforts are you making in terms of education, bearing in mind that resources available to states these days are scarce?
Yes, resources are very scarce, but Kano is the most populous state in Nigeria, according to the last census figures. If you have high population, you are vulnerable and at risk. Your population can be an asset or liability. The best way you can make your population to be an asset is through human capital development. If you are talking of human development, then you must consider education and health. Sustainability is very important, but you have to start somewhere, somehow. That is why we are starting with education. With our rough estimation, we cannot do it alone. We are expecting stakeholders to come in, that is why we have education promotion committees in the state and it is working because a lot of people are assisting in providing facilities.
Basically, when we are talking about free, compulsory basic education, we mean that all those out-of-school children must be in the system. Girl-child education is a must and Almajiri system must be integrated. These are three important issues and that’s why we are talking about free and compulsory education. Once we are able to accomplish the three issues, then we are killing so many birds with one stone. One, we are bringing our youth to be well-educated, to get employment and not to be recruited to become terrorists. Also, our women should not be left behind and even the issue of population will be addressed. Many of our girls are getting married immediately after primary school, but we want an education that will take them up to secondary school level, then by implication, you are prolonging their time of marriage and for them to give birth at ripe ages. That will reduce VVF and other health problems associated with child marriages. Education will make them stay in marriages and to be employed. No country will develop socio-economically without the education of women. We don’t want any child to pay fees in primary and secondary schools. In fact, very soon, I will order for all the secondary schools to open bank accounts. We have already calculated how much they are collecting from school children. We will give them that money so that they can run the schools effectively. There are many problems associated with that. Infrastructure-wise, we don’t have money to build so many classrooms that will accommodate them, and this is because we have two million out-of-school Almajiri kids. However, what we want to do is to employ some voluntary teachers. The federal government is already doing that with the N-Power programme. There are so many unemployed graduates who can easily key into voluntary teaching. We intend to recruit about three thousand N-Power teachers to integrate the Almajiri kids. You know, the curriculum of the Almajiri is the reading and memorisation of the holy Qur’an, not even much aspects of Islam or western education. In order to integrate them, we don’t have to provide all subjects to the Almajiri kids because they are already in one form of education, which is also helping them in their intellectual development. It is not only western education that helps in their intellectual development. If you have an Almajiri kid, who has recited the holy Qur’an, he will be better when he goes for western education than those who didn’t go directly to Almajiri schools – the research has been conducted. We will send teachers to these Qur’anic schools to teach English and mathematics. This will enable them to take common entrance examinations, which is a gateway to junior secondary school.
Tell us the ways you have been fighting crimes in Kano, considering the spate of insecurity across the country?
Kano is peaceful, compared to other states. The Magaji of Daura was kidnapped and held in captivity for almost two months, but he was rescued in Kano. The recent Taraba kidnap kingpin was captured in Kano too. Almost 95 per cent of the kidnapped in Kano are being rescued and kidnappers arrested. From our records, we have sophisticated equipment which we don’t want to mention here for obvious reasons. There is coordination among security agencies and we have community participation in keeping the state safe. Security agencies get information from the local people, which is very important. They are coordinated, honest, and we assist them. That is how we have succeeded in keeping Kano safe.
How are traditional institutions helping to checkmate crimes in Kano?
We increased the number of traditional institutions because of their importance. It is assisting us in the security situation because we undertook a sensitisation programme. In a particular emirate, we started with the air force, army, police, DSS, Civil defence, vigilance groups, Customs, immigration, prisons, NDLEA, and all those relating to security. We discussed with emirs and districts, village heads, ward heads and we established committees involving security agencies and local people. That is how we tried to use the traditional system in trying to maintain peace and stability in the state.
We created the emirates for three basic reasons. Firstly, it is because of history and demand by the people. Secondly, it is to widen the participation of traditional institutions in governance. Thirdly, it is in order to develop mini-cities. Kano is growing up as a mega city and we don’t want a one-city state. We want bigger towns to become mini cities, in terms social and infrastructural facilities. That is where we are going and the people are happy about the creation of traditional institutions. It is not because we want to punish somebody or reduce his powers, no. We want the state to have a balanced development, both in the urban and rural areas. We have shaped the outlook of urban Kano and that is what we want to do in the rural areas.
You will soon mark your first 100 days in office for second term; what have been your achievements so far?
Okay, let’s take polio, for instance; we will ensure to continue the fight against polio. There has been no outbreak of polio for more than three years now in Kano or and even the country as a whole. We entered into a tripartite agreement with an organisation. Within the 100 days in office, we have increased the tempo of immunisation exercise and health contributory scheme. We have the best health contributory scheme in the country, where all our civil servants and their families are included. We are now trying to include the vulnerable and non-vulnerable for free medical services. We are already discussing with the private sector for them to key in, so that health services will be provided at affordable rates or almost free of charge, through the contributory health scheme. We also introduced the health trust fund. We made a law and we are collecting money and putting it into the basket to make sure that the drug scheme is working well and that there are consumables in our hospitals, both in the city and rural areas. To reduce medical tourism abroad, we have upgraded the Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital and they have succeeded in brain and spinal cord surgeries. Within 100 days, we have started constructing an ultra modern cancer treatment centre, which will be the biggest in the country. We started it in the last two months. It was in Melbourne, Australia, where I saw the cancer centre and decided to erect nothing less than that in Kano. Those who are managing the hospital in Australia are the same ones doing the job here, including some Italians.
For education, we have a stakeholder’ summit in September and the vice- president is coming to declare it open – all the managers of Almajiri system, parents and experts in education will be there. We shall be able to examine all the implications of a free and compulsory education and come up with solutions.
For water supply, we signed an agreement with the French and federal governments and they have already given us three million Euros and very soon we will start the upgrade of the water system in Kano. The money is already here. All the old pipes will be replaced and metres connected for people to pay for the water for sustainable water supply. All over the country, the problem is that things are not sustainable. People are consuming electricity and water without paying; so it is difficult to make it sustainable. We have taken measures whereby whatever we do will become sustainable.
For agriculture, our fertiliser-blending plants ensure that many states now buy fertilisers from Kano. Sometimes they even work for 24 hours. If you want 100 bags of fertiliser, you will get them. It was not working for over 25 years, but we made it to work and we are fixing additional lines within these three months; that is 100 days. We will provide Nigeria with fertilisers, and not Kano alone.
Why have you not constituted your second term cabinet? Will you retain many of the old members, and what is your assessment of the new ministers appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari?
I am still examining, assessing, and weighing up the options and it will come when it will come. As far as Kano is concerned, we are alright. We have two ministers from Kano, one for agriculture and one for defence. Very soon, sons and daughters of Kano will go and thank Mr. President for the appointment of the ministers.
What is your position on the controversial Ruga project?
Ruga project is a must, though the name has been bastardised. You can call it Ruga or rural settlement, but we need to understand who the herdsmen are in Nigeria. There are three types of herdsmen in Nigeria. One, because of climate change, they are in West Africa, who are coming into Nigeria with thousands of cattle and usually they carry arms. From the beginning, it was to defend themselves, but now they have graduated into banditry. Movement of them from West Africa or the Middle Belt to northern part of Nigeria is not attainable, and this must be stopped if we are seeking peace and stability. The second one, the herdsmen from northern part of Nigeria go to the Middle Belt during the dry season and come back during the rainy season in order to get grazing areas. Thirdly, there are herdsmen who are born in an environment; that is historically not their own. In Enugu and other parts of Nigeria, you will get some Fulani who have been there for more than 100 years. They were born there and there are herdsmen.
So, in order to solve the problem, as far as I am concerned, it is to ban the movement of herdsmen from one part of the country to another. For those who are already settled in different communities with different sense of culture and tradition and religion, nobody should tell them to leave that place because they are Nigerians. However, they should negotiate with those communities on how to operate their herdsmanship in order not to encroach on farmlands. If you want to build a nightclub, you don’t go near a church or mosque to build that. You can go to the outskirts of the city to build that, because the constitution does not prevent you from doing that. Most importantly, they should be settlement for herdsmen, so that they should graduate from social-cultural to socio-economic. The way they do herdsmanship now is not economically viable.
If you settle the Fulani in one pace, you will be able to provide them with amenities like every other Nigerian. They will be able to have schools, hospitals, veterinary clinics, markets, security and be able to practise modern breeding of cattle. It is not the number of cattle that matters, but their productivity. That is why we are saying that a traditional herdsman has not succeeded in killing poverty and poverty has also not killed him. The way he is going about with a number of cattle, you cannot call him a poor man, but the way he looks trekking for miles cannot allow you call him a rich man either. So, we are preparing to start Ruga in Kano now. Already technical committees are working. There is a forest that is already being used as a training ground for military to avoid being inherited by bandits and it will become grazing area.
What are you about women empowerment?
Many mechanics in Kano are roadside mechanics, according to our research, and the present types of vehicles we have are computerised. We have a target of training at least 1, 000 auto mechanics in Kano. We started with 75, who trained for one year as we signed an MoU with Peugeot in Kaduna. They are now full auto mechanics. We took another 150 and we trained 50 women. All of them graduated after one year now and can scatter your vehicle and fix it on their own. We have taken another 250 to Kaduna – that is 200 men and 50 women. They will soon become auto mechanics. Apart from what we are saying about compulsory free secondary education for the girl-child, training as an auto mechanic is also good. We have done so many empowerment programmes for women. We are even going to build a college of education for women and we have recruited 1,500 women teachers and given to them letters of employment.
What is your take on the insinuations that APC will disintegrate after the tenure of President Buhari?
There are dreaming. APC will continue to wax stronger.