Alhaji Ahmad Mahmud former deputy governor of Jigawa State during the administration of Dr. Sule Lamido and director general of the campaign to return Governor Abubakar Badaru for a second tenure fields questions from Olaseni Durojaiye on how the governor has changed governance narrative in the North-west state
Q. What are the achievements of this government in the last four years?
When this government came in 2015, it found out that the previous administration had badly vandalized the psyche of the people such that impunity was the order of the day. Anything and everything goes during that regime. A lot of things were messy. In four years, Governor Abubakar Badaru has changed all of that including the orientation of the people about things and governance.
There were a lot issues in the country pre-2015 elections. There was the Boko Haram issue; insecurity everywhere, the economy was down.
With the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, things have started to ease up. The economy has since been on the rise, insecurity has reduced drastically, Boko Haram has been curtailed and contained. All these actions by the federal government naturally trickle down to the state governments.
Jigawa is also a beneficiary of the positive action of the federal government. The first thing Badaru did when he came in was to prioritise people-oriented investments by way of human capital development, through education. Education was; and is still a priority of this administration. He believes that once education is right, every other thing will be right. The other one is the issue of agriculture. Agriculture for this administration is like crude oil and that is why the government is investing heavily in agriculture such that it even has a slogan, farming is a business. The governor is galvanizing the youths into the agriculture value chain and ensures that they not only participate but they are making a living from it now.
He also started the cluster farming initiative. What this government did through this initiative was to refocus the subsistence mind-set of the small holder farmer and open their eyes to the commercial potential in farming activities. The government then registered these subsistence farmers and cluster them for target input provision and extension service. Initially, a maximum cluster size of 50 hectares was formed in each of the 287 wards in the state. So far, a total of 1,306 clusters have been established with 61,184 farmers presently in this initiative. At the moment, Jigawa is heavily into rice farming. What we grow presently is even much more than some states. Very soon, Jigawa will not only be supplying the rice needs of the country but the entire West African sub region. All these have been achieved in than three years.
You were in the administrations of former Governor Sule Lamido and now that of Abubakar Badaru, what is the incumbent administration doing differently?
There is a great difference. When he came into the government, he abolished security vote. He is the first governor in Nigeria that immediately he was sworn in, he stopped the payment of security vote.
I was Commissioner for Finance between 2000 and 2005. I know how the ministry was run. I have never in my life thought of getting a leader who is so prudent, so accountable like Badaru. Unlike before, this governor is a budget man. Everything and anything that the government must do must be documented, that is, it must be in the budget. If it is not in the budget, then, you won’t see him appending his signature.
He will never do anything outside of the budget. His action presently is a big deal in our political development. When I say it is a big deal, I am talking from experience. I know how government operates in this clime but for him to have a completely paradigm shift from the status quo, it is a big deal.
Unlike in the past, the governor was said to have insisted on completing the past administration’s projects though they are from different political parties with different manifestos?
That is why I said this governor is a big deal in Nigeria today. His actions are totally different from what is operational in Nigeria presently. It is unheard of that a new government from another party and different manifestos would still continue the projects of his predecessor. These are part of the qualities this man possesses. He completed these projects; first of all, because the projects are for the people, more importantly, it is the people’s projects because it is the people that own the resources spent on the projects. He has completed projects worth over N100 billion that he inherited before he started new ones of his own. His action is a real time progression in our political developments. We need more of the likes of Badaru in our polity. We need more clean businessmen in our polity. We need more of clean but God-fearing people like Badaru in our polity. If everyone is staying back, there won’t be serious minded people in politics. If Badaru too had stayed back, how would we have had this benefits the state is presently enjoying now. The more we have the likes of Badaru in the polity, from the ward, to local government, to state and the federal, the better for this country.
There has been a gale of defections from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to your party. You also defected to the APC from the PDP under which you were a deputy governor of the Jigawa State. How do you respond to insinuations that the defectors were monetarily induced?
If you know Badaru very well, you will know that the governor would be the last person that would induce anybody with money. Badaru is not different from president Buhari. He is a very prudent person. I was once in PDP. I was the deputy governor to Dr. Sule Lamido for eight years of his administration. Whoever is coming to APC is coming essentially because of two things. One, they are coming because they have since discovered that their lifestyle have changed, dependence on them have also reduced because the people are busy themselves, they are seeing developments everywhere which are also beneficial to them as well. Two, some of them are coming because of some of us who left the PDP. They are convinced that if people like me could leave the party, then they also have no reason to remain there. Presently, there are over 70 political groupings in the state waiting to decamp to the APC and declare their support for the APC. And they are from other parties too, including the PDP and the SDP. In the last one or two weeks, that is what we have been doing, receiving new members who interestingly, are even willing to support us financially. Last week, I was in two local government areas where we witnessed the defection into the APC of 22 ward chairmen, two local government chairmen.
If everybody that matter in the state are all coming over to the APC, will this not lead to a one party state devoid of a virile opposition which experts continue to insisted is need for the growth of any democracy?
Yes, it might likely happen because if the government is truly for the people, if it is caring for the people, there is likelihood that the people would be voting such party into government all the time. Now, everyone can see that nobody is stealing any money, because there is nothing to steal. Besides, the governor is a self-made. He is a contented person, he will not loot the state’s treasury; and the little he receives is accounted for through strategic projects that are beneficial to the people.
Nobody is preventing you from joining the party, nobody is bribing his way to secure contracts, and everything is done on merit. If you live in the state, you don’t need to know the governor before you get certain things done. Rules are rules. The problem with our country is that people go along with the trend, by trend I mean where the money is, that is where people will go to, even if it is detrimental to the development of the generality of the people.
However, things are changing. Ideas now rule the world. Prudence, I can say, is one word and a major reason why people are in love with this administration. Now, everyone is tending towards agriculture which fortunately is paying their bills. As we speak here, I am the Director of Campaign; we have not received any money from the government.
We source the resources ourselves. Badaru isn’t giving us a dime. This campaign is been financed by the people. Now, people are watching and looking at our lifestyle, they know that their money is not being stolen. They know that whatever resources are earmarked for this or that project will definitely go into that project and that they will see the project physically, not on paper.
Everything and anything that the government must do must be documented, that is, it must be in the budget. If it is not in the budget, then, you won’t see him appending his signature. He will never do anything outside of the budget. His action presently is a big deal in our political development