Jigawa State deputy governor, Ibrahim Hassan, a lawyer, speaks with ADAMU AMADU on the current Igbo-Northerners political war of words, among other issues. Excerpts:
IS it true that the Igbo were leaving the state in compliance with the Arewa Youth’s quit notice?
I’m not aware and it is not true. Report reaching us from the security operatives indicated the Igbo are not leaving the state. Also, the state police commissioner has met with all the associations of non-indigenes residing in Jigawa. They discussed extensively with police and they were satisfied with the security situations and assurances of adequate protection of life and property which made them to continue living in the state. Government is ever ready to protect them. Also those that made that pronouncement [Arewa Youth] made some statement later which indicated solutions to the issue. By God’s grace there wouldn’t be any problem in Jigawa and hopeful anywhere in the country.
Apart from the meeting between security agencies and the non-indigenes, what other measure is the state government taking to prevent the youth from attempting to implement the notice, especially with the present large number of jobless youths?
Though I have never heard that there is any statement asking the youth to use force to send non-indigenes or Igbo out, even if there is, I am assuring you not in Jigawa will it happen. And whoever tries to take law into their own hands will have the weight of the law to contend with. People should not forget that our people are living and doing their businesses in other parts of the country. If you try to send them out, they may retaliate from there. I am very sure that no youth in Jigawa will threaten any stranger for living in the state.
As an acting governor and lawyer, how do you see the altercations threatening the unity of the country?
There is no justification for someone to wake up and say he or she is supporting the division of the country now. We have a constitution that guides the handling of our affairs, the process of channeling any request and expressing opinion. It is not possible as a citizen of Nigeria from Anambra or Kaduna State, to just announce the breaking up the country. You have somebody representing you in the National Assembly. All parts of the country enjoy government projects and service through its agencies.
For instance, the Igbo are largely business people who always travel on business trips abroad, using Nigerian passport with Nigerian flag and logo to travel to China and I don’t see why they will clamour for the break-up of the country. They can’t have their cake and eat it. You cannot claim Nigeria at the hour of need and in the same breath try to bring crisis. I believe this is a creation of some selfish politicians who were sent away in the last elections and lost opportunity to continue embezzling public wealth. Why are these agitations coming in the life of this administration? The promoters are desperate to cause crisis to destabilise the government and the country by using small boys. If you look at the boy championing the matter, who is he? How old was he during the last civil war? I am happy the elders in Igboland are not supporting the agitation. No reasonable people will support such. They believe in the unity and oneness of the country. If you ask those calling for the break-up of the country what plans they have on how they will govern their part, nobody among them will tell you any concrete plan.
What do you mean by the issue had not been raised until now?
I mean that it is all politics. The issue of Biafra agitation was created by our opponent. Why now? Why not in the years of other governments? I suspect the masterminds are looters of public wealth whose access to public treasury has been blocked. They are the ones trying to bring crisis and cause trouble in the country and for the government.
Do you mean the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?
No, I’m not saying it is PDP. I mean some people that were in the past government and who turned national wealth to a personal belongings and but are now no more. I’m not trying to say it is any political party.
You are the chairman of the Jigawa Investment Promotion Council. What is the motive behind this council?
We all know there is an economic problem in the country due to the fall in the price of crude oil. As a result, most of the states in the country can’t pay their workers talk less of executing any development project. Jigawa has no source of internal revenue. The state totally relies on the monthly federal allocation. No investment. No business activities. In Nigeria now, only two or three states can survive without Federal Government allocation, Lagos, Rivers and maybe Ogun State. Others cannot. But we in Jigawa are taking almost 95 to 100 per cent reliance on federal allocation.
Therefore, every right-thinking leader must think and plan on how to be economically independent through diversification.This and so many others reasons under Governor Muhammadu Badaru that are geared towards change the economic direction of the state for its future through diversification plans and creation of more IGR channels.
At the moment, when Jigawa receives its allocation after paying salary, what remains sometimes is not up to N10 million. It is dangerous to continue to rely on such monthly revenue. In my presentation at a town hall meeting held during two years anniversary, I told participants the dangers facing by the country on account of reliance on oil. The changes we were expecting to come in the next 30 years are already in place, electrical vehicles and machines are increasing almost taking over the gasoline vehicles and machines. Nowadays there are vehicles can travel from Jigawa to Abuja even beyond with just one battery charged.
What are the achievements made so far in two years of this administration?
Despite the challenges, we have achieved a lot. We are also doing our best to come up with good, reliable and sustainable plans and programmes to change and improve the both the economy of the state government and that of the people through abundant human and natural resources development. Our first approach in this regard is agriculture, because we have enough arable farmland and over 80 per cent of the people in the state are farmers. We have over 400,000 hectares of farmland in the state, and this land is not fully utilising. This is why we came up with so many programmes on agriculture where we established cluster farming system and supported farmers with all necessary items such as improved seedling, fertilizer and modern techniques through specially trained extension agents on selected crops such as rice, wheat, groundnut and sesame. In this project we engaged over 50,000 farmers. Government has developed over 4,000 hectares of Fadama areas council and distributed it to only unemployed youth to plant rice only during the rainy season. We also engaged two investors Dangote and Mr Lee on Agro-lied companies to generate income.
What is the role of Invest Jigawa?
Invest Jigawa is the organisation with all the responsibilities of looking for and attracting investors. It was the organisation that convinced Mr Lee, Dangote and other investors who agreed and came to invest in the state. All investment matters are handled by the body to make investors to get everything simple, easy and faster. The state government has reformed so many procedures on land and mineral resources available in the state to further attract and encourage investors.
So far, how many investors have you attracted?
Now we have about 20 investors who have come to establish companies, apart from the existing nonfunctional one we inherited.
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