John Shiklam writes on how two senators from Kaduna State are competing in their efforts to impact positively on the lives of people in their senatorial zones
Two senators from Kaduna, Senator Shehu Sani (APC) representing Kaduna Central senatorial district and Senator Danjuma Laah (PDP) Southern Kaduna senatorial district seem to be in a hot competition as they strive to outwit one another by initiating projects aimed at improving the lives of people in their senatorial zones.
The duo who are first timers in the Senate, but they have become very popular among their people courtesy of the various programmes they embarked upon which have impacted positively on the lives of their people in their respective senatorial zones.
Sani and Laah seemed to be competing among themselves in delivering dividends of democracy to their constituents.
Both politicians have initiated programmes ranging from education, electricity and security.
Keen observers are of the view that this kind of competition among elected office holders will bring about development.
For instance one of the popular programmes initiated by Sani is his “Let there be light” programme aimed at tackling the electricity challenges being faced by many communities in his senatorial zone.
Laah on his part focuses on education, electricity and security issues in his senatorial zone.
Sani while launching the programme in Kaduna, lamented the epileptic power supply, which, according to him has threatened many small businesses.
He said the programme was aimed at facilitating the provision of electricity to the people to improve their living condition.
The senator, cum human rights activist, who described electricity as an indispensable source for the socio economic development of any society, maintained that “we cannot build an economically viable nation without being able to provide power to our communities” stressing that electricity is an indispensable ingredient for the industrialisation of the country.
He disclosed that before the formal launching of the programme, he had intervened in facilitating the provision of electricity in some communities within the seven local government areas of the senatorial zone.
One of the challenges many communities are facing is the failure of the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company to repair or replace its broken transformers, leaving such responsibility to electricity consumers who contribute money for the repairs and replacement of transformers and armored cables.
Sani assisted many communities with transformers as well as solar panels.
According to him, almost 55 per cent of electricity consumers have problems of transformers, disclosing that over 320 transformers were being requested by various communities in his senatorial zone.
So far, he has provided more than 30 communities in the senatorial zone with transformers, cables and solar panels.
“Right now I have a request of over 320 transformers from various communities. This project did not start today, I started it in the past seven to eight months. I have provided some transformers and I have repaired some transformers and I am going to provide more.
“I am introducing solar power to our communities and I am focusing on 100 communities to provide them with solar power during the remaining three years of my tenure in the senate,” he said.
Sani said that “solar power is the future of power. I am now starting the journey of liberating my people from the blackmail of power generation. I am bringing light to my people, I am empowering them. I am calling every representative of the people to tow this line. We will not be scored by what we say, we will be scored by what we do.
“I have started with installing solar power at St. Gerald Catholic Hospital. I am using this opportunity to call on all Nigerians to think of a better way of empowering themselves, by providing solar power to these communities, I am freeing them from darkness.”
Following several requests for transformers, Sani had purchased additional 60 transformers each at the cost of N750, 000 for distribution to the communities.
“There are so many requests for transformers by many communities in my senatorial zone. I am going to reach out to all of them. I have purchased 60 transformers, each at the cost of N750,000,” he revealed while inspecting the transformers shortly after the official launching of the programme.
He said it was unfortunate that after decades of independence, “Nigeria is still grappling within the range of 2000 to 3000 megawatts of electricity” while countries like South Africa and Pakistan generate over 40,000 megawatts and 65,000 megawatts of electricity respectively.
“We cannot achieve our industrial and economic ambition without electricity. We have seen over the past two years, how our power project has plummeted. This is an issue that we must take very seriously. Our people have suffered enough and I appealed that all hands should be on deck to address the issue of electricity.
“As a senator representing Kaduna Central, I consider it my personal duty and responsibility to do everything possible to give support in the provision of electricity.
“Nigeria must take the issue of power supply very seriously. If we are serious about diversifying our economy, we must take the issue of electricity very seriously,” he said.
According to him, all the industrialised nations of the world were making progress because of stable power supply while developing nations like Nigeria have continued to lag behind as a result of poor power supply.
“In the last 16 years successive governments have spent over $25 billion in the name of power reforms, but it has not solved the problem, even the privatisation of electricity generation and distribution has not solve the problem of poor electricity in our country.
“For how long can our people continue to remain in the dark?
If we are committed to change, we must be seen to be seriously committed to that ambition. As a senator representing this zone, I will do all I can to facilitate the provision of electricity to our people,” Sani declared.
He called on the electricity distribution companies to live up to the expectations of the people, stressing that “if the essence of privatising electricity generation and distribution is to improve services, it has not been able to be yield results to our people because everyday, power supply is moving from bad to worst.”
Sani said either the privatisation process is reversed or the privatised companies are assisted to be able to perform and deliver.
The senator also used the occasion to express his opposition to attempt by the federal government to invest in nuclear energy, pointing out that nuclear energy is unsafe in Nigeria as it comes with a lot of danger.
According to him, N2 billion from the 2016 budget was allocated for the construction of nuclear stations, adding that he was not comfortable with such decision considering the danger involved.
“My own fear is, are we ready for nuclear power stations? Nuclear power station is not like what happens when militants break a pipeline and the next day it may be repaired. It comes with a lot of safety measures.
If we are to establish a nuclear station, we must know that it comes with a lot of consequences. Nuclear station is not an NNPC depot, it is not also an NNPC pipeline. We have seen the danger of nuclear power station in Japan and in Russia. Renewable energy is the future of energy,” Sani said.
On his part, Laah donated a building worth N145 million to the new study centre of the National Open University Nigeria (NOUN) in Kagoro, Kaura Local Government Area as his contribution to ensure that people in the area have easy access to university education.
Beside the donation to NOUN, Laah also gave out eight fully air conditioned patrol vehicles and 87 security patrol motorcycles to the vigilante groups in the area which had suffered deadly attacks by armed bandits leading to many loss of lives and destruction of property.
Making the donations in Kafanchan, he noted that education for the people of Southern Kaduna senatorial zone is a priority. According to him, the establishment of the education centre will enable many people to realise their dream of acquiring university education.
He said before erecting the building, he had to consult NOUN who gave him the permission to erect the edifice.
“I actually started it sometimes back even before I became a senator. The physical structure alone is over N100 million. I have so far invested N45 million in just the furnishing. When fully operational, it will have state-of-the-art computers and gadgets, specifically configured for long distance teaching,” he said.
He said the centre, in addition to running NOUN programmes, will also run programmes with Harvard University and some few renowned international institutes, using latest 3D video Technology.
He also disclosed that he has spent about N60 million on the Kafanchan campus of Kaduna State University, KASU, specifically by providing library books, an e-library, a 60 kva power plant, Air conditioners and the provision of water.
He said the provision of the security motor cycles and vehicles were his contributions, towards checking the activities of invaders who have continued to ravage communities in the area.
“I take the issue of security very serious as part of my campaign promises. We campaigned at a time that people were so terrorised by invaders who killed, burnt our villages and rendered many communities inhabitable. People were afraid to go to farms in many areas, worsening the poverty level in my zone,” he said.
According to him, the situation had been remedied to some minimum level by strengthening the capacity of local vigilante group known as “Yan Banga” hence his decision to purchase the security vehicles and motorbikes, along with accessories that will enhance effective patrol of the eight local governments in the senatorial zone.
Laah added that so far, he has procured 30 transformers of 300kva and was working closely with officials of Rural Electrification Agency to augment and stabilise electricity supply in the various communities in need.
Many observers noted the efforts of the senators is good for Nigeria’s democracy, saying that if all elected representatives at the national and state levels as well as those in public offices, could embark on one development programme or the other, it will go a long way in improving the lives of the people.