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My commissioner, perm secs, others have been sacked due to corruption — Ganduje

My commissioner, perm secs, others have been sacked due to corruption — Ganduje

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Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje speaks about the allegations of underage voters, herdsmen and farmers clashes, the anti-corruption fight in the state among other national issues, in this interview with JOHN ALECHENU

Fighting corruption is one of the campaign promises made by your party, but it appears the fight is limited to the federal level and some have said corruption is fighting back. What is the situation in Kano State?

The anti-corruption fight is one of the cardinal principles of our party. Mr. President made it very clear during his campaign that he would improve the security situation in the country, improve the economy and fight corruption. We have taken a cue from what Mr. President said during his campaign and since we came in, the security situation in Kano State has improved, and the economy is improving. We have equally taken the issue of corruption seriously. We have established an anti-corruption commission. We employed someone people call a junior (Ibrahim) Magu, who is fearless. He is an activist, who does not fear anybody and because of his activities, I lost a commissioner while some permanent secretaries and my Accountant General had to leave. They are facing (corruption) charges (in court) now. I gave that commission a free hand. We are constructing anti-corruption offices in all the 44 local government areas and we have sent five of our officers to the EFCC for training. We are sending others to the ICPC for training. Our law is on the ground and the commission is independent and very effective. It goes into the civil service and even into the private sector and nobody is being spared. So, I am happy to say that Kano has been rated as having the best anti-corruption outfit. I agree with you that corruption is fighting back at the national level and even at the state level. We have people who hide under the guise of politics to attack the government because we want them to return what they have taken from the government. What is important is to refine the system so that those who want to loot government funds will find it difficult to do that. The issue is that our institutions are very weak. We must have a very strong institution so that any junior officer can tell you, ‘sir, this is not in accordance with the rules and regulations’ and you will accept what the junior officer is telling you and abide by it because it is not an offence. So, unless our institutions are strong, the anti-corruption fight will be difficult. I believe that Mr. President is doing a lot in that regard.

You talked about security. Kano is one of the states which came under the attack of the Boko Haram terrorists. What has changed?

Yes, when we came in, it was the heydays of Boko Haram and so, we had to work round the clock with security agents. I think what is important is the coordination among the security agencies. That helped a lot in improving the security situation. There was a good coordination among the security agencies and a good coordination with the communities and that brought out a lot of information from the communities. I am sure you heard that a lot of Boko Haram commanders were arrested in Kano because Kano was a good hiding place for them, as a mega city where you can easily blend with others. With modern security gadgets, the security agents are able to fish them out. We are working hand in hand with the communities. Also, we have addressed the problem of cattle rustling and we discovered that the Fulani were part of the problem because they were also snatching cattle from their brothers. We sat down with them and I was able to provide them with some empowerment. Since we entered into that agreement, we have not had any issue of cattle rustling in Kano. We appointed a committee that works round the clock to ensure that all the cattle that are stolen are returned. We have the Falgore Forest which is as big as the Sambisa Forest. I told the President that I wanted the military to use the place for training and he agreed and I also met with the Chief of Army Staff and he agreed and right now, the military uses the place for training. The state government will contribute to the development of some facilities in the forest to make it a permanent training ground. The issue of kidnapping has also reduced. We also are working with the security agents to enact a law setting up a neigbourhood security which will include all the stakeholders in order to maintain peace and stability in such areas.

The menace of killer herdsmen appears to be intractable. What do you think is responsible for the problem and what is the solution?

This is a national security problem. In Kano, we are blessed with some dams and grazing areas. You must know that the Middle Belt (of Nigeria) is more blessed with grazing areas and that is why the problem is concentrated in the Middle Belt because the climate is different. The climate is more friendly there than in the extreme North. We have started providing some facilities and have identified five grazing areas and we are discouraging our herdsmen from going outside the state. We want to use the Falgore Forest, especially now that the security situation has improved. We have designed how to construct some dams. We had to start with feasibility study and that is what we are doing. There are some rivers and dams in the forest which we have to harness to provide some facilities for herdsmen. That is why we are inviting them to come. When we inaugurated our free vaccination, we vaccinated over one million for free. We also sponsored the children of herdsmen for training in artificial insemination (a deliberate introduction of sperm into a female’s uterus or cervix for the purpose of achieving pregnancy). The first qualification for that training was that you have to be the child of a herdsman because we didn’t want a situation where we train you and you abandon the trade. We sent 70 of them to Turkey for training and right now, they are practising artificial insemination. We constructed two modern artificial insemination centres where modern animal husbandry is being practised. It is a programme we have taken seriously and it is a programme that will be a blessing to Kano state if they can come to Kano and we are able to provide them with some facilities that will sustain them. We know that our environment is not the best for herdsmen, but since the Israelis can convert the desert to one of the best irrigated areas in the world, we can do the same in Kano. It is not that we have the best environment for herdsmen.

There were allegations that underage persons participated in the last local government elections held in your state. What happened?

The answer to this should come from INEC. For the sake of clarity, that local government election in Kano was the most successful local government election ever held in Kano state. Not because we won all the seats. After all, previous administrations also won all the seats. When you have a local government election where nobody was killed, nobody was hurt, no building was burnt and had a large turnout of voters, we are bound to say that it was a successful election. I have been around in Kano for a long time and can say in some cases local government election was not held at all because of insecurity and some local government secretariats were burnt. I am still reconstructing some of such secretariats burnt during previous administrations. In our own, nobody was hurt, nobody was arrested and nothing happened. We had a smooth local government election because of the level of the public enlightenment we carried out. Regarding the clip you are talking about, let me say that it was totally hypothetical. How can you see a queue of all children with no single adult? That was hypothetical because it was arranged in an artificial election arena that was created. We did not use any card reader for the election and the child was holding a card reader. So, you can see that it was a photo trick. There was no underage voting in Kano. Yes, INEC set up a committee and the members came to Kano. The chairman of our electoral commission showed them our records and proved to them that the clip was taken some years back. We used our ICT experts to find out the first time that clip appeared on the Internet. We discovered that the clip first went on the Internet in 2015 because you can always verify that. So, I want to assure you that there was no underage voting in Kano. It was a kind of blackmail and anybody who is in doubt about the credibility of the election should go to court.

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