Ibrahim Abdullahi Gobir
Senator Ibrahim Abdullahi Gobir represents Sokoto East senatorial district. In an interview with journalists, he addressed the current security challenges in the country, unemployment and other sundry issues. Mohammed Aminu presents the excerpts
Two years in the Senate, how has it been?
I think I have achieved quite a lot. You see, the first thing I did when I got to Senate was to get in touch with the Federal Ministry of
Water Resources and then found out the possibility of rehabilitating the Goronyo dam that was damaged as result of the 2009 flood
disaster. So within a month we went to Goronyo Local Government Sokoto, with the Minister of Water Resources Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe,
assessed the level of damage there and subsequently laid the foundation for the repair of the dam.
So we set in motion and a contract was awarded for the repairs of the dam at the cost of N3.1billion. Similarly, I established a vocational training centre in Sabon Birni local government area at the cost of N95 million, where youths will be trained on different vocational skills such as vulcanizing, wielding and plumbing among others. We established solar powered boreholes in each of the eight local government areas in the senatorial district at the cost of N56 million. In other words, what we did was to pick one village in each of the councils and set up a solar-powered borehole. We also provided 20 tube wells and water pumps in each of the eight local government areas in the senatorial district so that we can assist our people in their irrigation farming.
I procured 1,380 motorcycles at the cost of N90 million and this will be distributed very soon. I also procured 100 tailoring machines that
will be distributed to 100 women in the zone. I have, to this end, facilitated the recruitment of 71 indigenes from my senatorial district
into the police, Customs and federal ministries and departments.
What about your achievements in the Senate?
I serve on the Power Committee, aviation, privatisation and science and technology. Generally, in all the committees, we have been vibrant
in trying to ensure that some of the yearnings in the transformation agenda are achieved. For instance, in the area of aviation, we have
insisted that regulators adhere to the laid down procedure and by ensuring that anybody that is not competent is flushed out.
We have worked to ensure that our airports are well equipped and safe. In the privatisation, we have ensured that a real blueprint is made and the privitisation is carried out in a way that it will have a human face so that people will not suffer unnecessarily.
Were there no moves towards initiating bills that will promote development in the country?
I remember that there is a bill currently in the Senate for industrial development. The Nigerian government is trying to look
into cluster or industrial park. I think what some ministries and departments are trying to do is to go to China to study how these industrial clusters work and how different cottage industries will be established in an area just like it is being carried out in China.
Once we are able to have one somewhere in Sokoto, Abuja or anywhere in the country, I think that will help immensely, then we will be able
to engineer an industrial revolution in the country. I think once we have the bill passed then we will be okay. Our main concern is to be
firm and rigid so that at the end of the day, we will have a bill that will not have negative impact on the nation's development but a bill
that will facilitate investment and engender positive change.
We are saying that the Gross Domestic Product of the nation is growing but the truth of the matter is that we don't see the impact of the
economic growth on the average Nigerian. We believe that with some of these bills, we should be able to make real impact on the citizens.
Personally, I have been to China to partner a company that is good in onion paste production and water melon so that we can have a water melon factory in Sabon Birni local government area of Sokoto state.
We have water melon in abundance in Sabon Birni but they are not utilised and being wasted due to lack of means of preservation. So, I believe if we can have such a factory, it will enhance the development of the area while many youths will be engaged in meaningful employment. So, this is what we are trying to do.
What is your assessment of the nation's democracy in the last 14 years and do you think there can be uninterrupted power supply as pledged by President Jonathan by 2015?
We have made some progress as a nation from 1999 till date. I think we are okay and of course development cannot happen overnight. Currently we are battling with insecurity, abduction, Boko Haram insurgency and poverty, among others. But of course, I look at that as a process in our own development no matter what anybody wants to say. The level of insecurity in the country at the moment is so bad that it is even swallowing the gains we have made so far in our democratic dispensation.
On the issue of power, I don't believe what the President said in terms of Nigeria having uninterrupted power in 2015. If you look at it
from 1960 till date, we have only been able to generate less than 5,000 mega watts and if you take the vision 2020, we are expected to
generate 40,000 mega watts. So, that is why I don't believe that, as a member of the Senate Committee on Power and as an electrical engineer. In fact, during our tours to the Federal Ministry of Power recently, I told them that it is not possible that Nigerians will stop using
generator by 2015 and I gave them the reasons why it is not feasible.
So, I don't think this thing is going to work out. We have a bad budgeting system that is not helping anyone and not even the World
Bank. The budget is not being implemented and not on the basis of your requirement, so, how can you develop the economy with that budgeting system?
What do you think should be done by the federal government to tackle insecurity in the country?
I believe solution will come no matter what it takes but all of us have to strive to curb the menace. You see, the issue of insecurity in the country scares almost everyone. I think it is high time the leadership and Nigerians put heads together to find a way out of the challenge ravaging some parts of the country. I am so much disturbed by the situation, particularly the high level of unemployment among the youths and those coming out of the university.
I think before looking at the solution, we have to first review the curriculum. We need a functional education. A functional education is a situation whereby somebody will leave school and already have something to do on his own rather than seeking for white collar jobs. So, we have to change the curriculum in schools so that by the time somebody comes out of the university, he already knows what to do and able to have self employment and fend for himself rather than roam the streets looking for employment.
My thinking is that if government will come up with functional education by reviewing the curriculum. For instance, during one of my tours in the zone, I met a young man who studied Bsc Mathematics and another who studied Bsc Chemistry but were moving about with political thugs because of joblessness. So, these kinds of people may derail and sit down and create a bomb because of frustration arising from unemployment. So, we are sitting on a time bomb and unless something drastic is done to salvage the situation because if you send people to school and there are no jobs for them after graduation, it is a serious problem. Solution has to be found by the federal government in that regard.
Your party, the PDP is currently facing internal challenges and observers are insinuating that the PDP may be defeated by the APC in 2015. What are your fears?
Of course, in every situation there must be a problem. Tell me, is there any party in the country that does not have a problem. I bet you, there is no such party in the country at the moment. The All Progressives Congress (APC) you are talking about is not a party but a mere association that cannot cure even malaria. So, PDP is solid and waxing stronger.