Biu, Shani, Kwara-Kusar and Bayo Local Government Areas of Borno State are fast becoming the food baskets of the state, all thanks to the effort of Hon. Muktar Aliyu Betara, representing the area in the House of Representatives. Michael Olugbode reports
Biu, Shani, Kwaya-Kusar and Bayo Local Government areas of Borno State populated by about 1.5 million people, is largely agrarian with over ninety per cent of the working class farmers. Many people in the four local government councils can be described as poor as their farm bring forth little yields; a large population finds it difficult to eat decent meals and life has been unexciting. Many have unsavoury tales of how life has treated them unfairly with hard work but little to show for it. They are definitely hard working but with heaven given little rainfall, it has become an uneasy task to get good harvest and subsequently rich pocket has become a dream.
Hamisu Inuwa, is a man in his late twenties, an indigene of Kwaya-Kusar, who has been living in the area since birth, two years ago he can barely feed his wife and four children. He is a farmer whose farm yield was really poor and his situation was obviously pitiable as he found it difficult to bring food on the table and feel a lesser man. He constantly look to the heaven to open up to water his farm, and any time there is a gathered cloud, he goes about celebrating but his celebration is always cut short with little rain and little harvest. He had given up on the heaven shower for it had not always come and once it came, it was much more little than could impact on his farm and pocket. He had no money to procure the irrigation system that would have watered his farm and reverse his fortunes.
He had given up on farming and was contemplating leaving Kwaya-Kusar for a big town and take up any menial job to keep body and soul together, until he had a chance meeting with Hon. Muktar Aliyu Betara, the member representing Biu, Shani, Kwara-Kusar and Bayo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
This meeting will forever be remembered by Inuwa, whose situation had remained changed ever since. He was given a water pump by the lawmaker that assisted him to pump water from a nearby borehole which was equally built by Hon. Muktar Betara.
With the irrigation system functioning, Inuwa now is proud to be called a farmer and do not dream any longer to look for jobs in big town. He started harvesting so much more from his farm and his family begin to feed better. With richer pocket, Inuwa about a year ago took a second wife who just gave birth to a boy.
Recounting his experience, Inuwa said: “I am a farmer and due to water scarcity the yield from my farm was little and I found it difficult to feed my family, I was not the only one affected, it was a problem that affected everyone in our local government, we presented our complaint to some elders who approached Hon. Betara, he dug borehole for us and brought a water pumping machine for each of the farmers, he did not stop here, he doled out money which we used to buy seeds and till our farms.
“The donation impacted positively on our lives, the water scarcity became a thing of the past and now I no longer hire water pump machine for my irrigation activities, which has boost my farm yields. Before the gift of water pump machine from Hon. Betara, I was not producing more than 10 bags of crops, but on getting it, I now produce 30 bags. This has equally assisted me to take good care of my family, I used to find it difficult to feed my moderate family of a wife and four children but with my new economic status just last year, I married a second wife and she just gave birth to a son; and feeding has not been a problem, all thanks to the Honourable.”
In Shani, the case of Abubakar Imam, a man in his thirties was not different from Hamisu Inuwa, he could hardly feed his family as output from his farm was nothing to write home about. He even took to shoe cobbling to supplement his income, even with this life was really hard. Balance diet was far from his table as they had to eat anything that was available and it was only during festivals that meat was eaten. His children attended school in tattered uniforms with no shoes and there was no other way to describe his situation than poor.
He said his situation and that of many others changed when Hon. Betara decided to donate water pumping machines and dug boreholes which improved their farm produce yields and subsequently their income. “The Honourable decided to give about 100 of us water pumping machines and our stories have changed, we now have improved produce and better than what we used to be.”
Imam said: “Though I cannot be said to be rich now but I am better than what I used to be, I am no longer into shoe cobbling as I am now fully involved in agriculture and plant all manner of seeds throughout the year during both raining and dry seasons, we are feeding well as a family and my children are no longer in tatters and have shoes on their feet, all thanks to Betara.”
The farmers of Bayo and Biu have the same tale of a turnaround because of donation from their lawmaker. Some said farming was becoming boring and unproductive until Betara came to their aid and made farmers kings again.
They however said his impact is not only felt in farming alone but cut across other fields and all other individuals. Sale Iro said: “Hon. Betara’s gesture and development for our people is beyond description. He sponsored education of our children, got them employment at the federal level. For instance, he got jobs in the Nigerian Police Force for over 30 youths, 15 in the armed forces, six others employed into some federal government agencies. I benefitted a lot from the lawmaker’s gesture. For example, I got a tricyle, which assisted me to boost my earnings. This has increased my capital and boost my agricultural yields. Initially, I was producing only 10 bags of rice but now I produce 50 bags as a result of the water pump machine he gave me.”
It is not only the men that are being assisted by the lawmaker as Mairo Adamu would attest to. She said: “Hon. Betara has improved our lives through series of human development programmes and poverty alleviation intervention. In fact, he has done more than any single politician has done to improve our living standards far. He improved the lives of women through distribution of skills acquisition materials. In fact he was the first to initiate women empowerment scheme, he gave us capital of between N30,000 to 50,000, this he gave to over a thousand women to start a business, skills acquisition materials such as sewing machines, spaghetti-making machines, among others were given to women. His intervention has really changed the lives of women for better.”
One needs motivation to do some of the things the lawmaker is doing for his people in the face of the present politics in the country; and according to Hon. Betara, his motivation is seeing his people happy. He told our correspondent that: “You have seen it yourself, they are very happy. If you look at the situation now, the recession the country is into today, we need to assist our people. As a legislator, these are not things you get from the National Assembly, but the generators, the sewing machines, the deep freezers are part of my intervention of constituency project given to me by the government. But the money I share to my constituency is part of my contribution to my people.”
On his intervention in poverty alleviation, he said: “I cannot count all, I have given out cars to people in my constituency to start commercial transportation, since I was first elected I cannot count the numbers, I know I have given out more than 500 vehicles, when motorcycles were still allowed for commercial transportation I gave out over a thousand motorcycles, I have equally given out countless tricycles for commercial transportation, in the last Assembly alone I was able to give over 100 tricycles. All these are for commercial purpose and not for a luxury ride. Monetary assistance to my people is a regular thing which I cannot count, I just cannot remember all, I have given a lot of money for businesses.”
Definitely in Nigeria today due to high poverty level, the impact of a lawmaker cannot be restricted to motions and arguments on the floor of the Assembly but his impact must be felt in the pockets and on the tables of members of his constituency and this Betara has been able to do effectively well.