Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello Masari spoke with reporters in Katsina, the state capital, on his administration’s achievements in the education, agriculture and health sectors. The governor also spoke on his predecessor, Ibrahim Shema, who is being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of corruption. KOLADE ADEYEMI was there.
How are you tacking the challenges of governance Katsina State?
I think education is one of the cornerstones of our agenda. You know, lack of education is partly responsible for what has happened between the herdsmen and the vigilante who are protecting the community. You see, it there are sufficient and qualitative education, even if it is up to secondary school level, we wouldn’t have the escalation that we experienced. I remember there was a day former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was in Katsina, and there was an incident of herdsmen and community clash in Faskari, which claimed the lives of over 200 people. So, I think if we address the issue of education seriously, we would have done a lot. Apart from education, there must be access to health facilities. There should also be access to potable water. Another critical issue is agriculture—you know, the beauty of agriculture is that whatever the farmer sells goes to his pocket, whatever the livestock holder has goes to his pocket. So, if you want to empower the rural community, empower them on agriculture. That is the major difference between money from agriculture and money from oil; because if say okay produce oil and sell it to ourselves, you find out that it is not possible and the oil money doesn’t go to that ordinary person, it goes to the multi-national oil companies and we end up with royalties. Since the ordinary man does not involve in exploration and production of oil, we only rely on the figure given to us and the common man actually will not benefit anything from it directly, but in agriculture, the common man is always involved. So, if you empower the ordinary person, your source of revenue base will expand and business and commercial activities will grow. There will be massive production and dead factories will come back to life; and the demand for energy will increase—the demand for energy will also attract investors who will be interested in the sector. So, it is just like a circle. So, if you want to address the problem of Nigeria, you have to start with education. So, the consequent of insurgency is lack of education. In the Northeast, we have Boko Haram because there is lack of education which contributed to the failure of the institutions. Ninety nine per cent of Boko Haram insurgents were neither literate in Islamic or western education, because if they were, they will know that that type of Jihad is not normal.
What is the solution to the leadership crisis rocking the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the Northwest?
I think you watched this wildlife documentary. You know, when the lion or tigers are chasing a prey, everybody will see it; when the prey is down or is being killed, then, in terms of eating the meat, there will be serious quarrel among them-and even those who are not participants like the Hhnes and the wild dogs who are not participants in the killing will come. So, the bigger one among them, will always carry the meat and run away. If it Leopard, it will take part of his own and climb the tree. But if that meat is not available, you will not see any of them fighting. They fight because there is something to fight for, and that is why they are fighting. And again, there are two things that you have to accept. One, the fact that there are some problems that are historical; two, I think there is a jinx in Kano which we are hoping the current leadership will break in the future, because they were together since 1999 and I don’t think Kwankwaso or Ganduje can build any political alliance that will last to the time they have lasted. 1999 to 2015 is not a joke, and I seriously doubt if they can build such political alliance that can last for over 16 years with anybody. So, their political life and career are inter-twined. So, we thought with this political marriage and deep understanding between Kwankwaso and Ganduje, with it, the political jinx in Kano would have been broken. Mallam Aminu Kano and late Abubakar Rimi were fighting. From then on, that of Sabo Barkin Zuwo didn’t last more than three months. During the NRC and the SDP, Kabiru Gaya parted ways with his people like Abba Dabo, who was his former SSG. The crack was visible. Kwankwaso came in 1999 and parted ways with Musa Gwadebe and others. So, when Shekarau came, with all what General Muhammadu Buhari did for him, they fell apart in the ANPP. Kwankwaso in PDP and he fell out with the PDP again and joined the new PDP, later the APC. So, we thought that, at least this time, having been together for a long time, the jinx would have been broken. But, we are working behind the scene to see how we can bring the two of them together so that they can stop what they are doing to themselves because the energy the government is spending, the energy Kwankwaso is spending; that energy would have been used for the development of Kano better than what is happening. In Kaduna, it was an amalgamation of various political groups that formed the APC and these are the groups that are not really united. The groups are not united and the groups are the ones that the current governor, Nasir El-Rufai, which foundation has been the CPC and those in more of the opposition and new entrants from the new PDP, and those of the ACN and those of the ANPP. I think the inter-play in the political circle in Kaduna is more between these groups. So, really, you can see there is a slight difference between that of Kano and Kaduna.
What have you done to bring back sanity and transparency in the state?
What is happening to the former governor today is a lesson to us all that is in office today. The same people who were clearing ways and roads for him to pass are the same people who are blocking his way to freedom. I think this is a real lesson for our leaders. It is a lesson to leadership. It is not something that one should laugh at. But certainly, we as Nigerians, we have to draw a line. There is a certain level that we cannot descend. We should listen to the voice of wisdom, especially those outside the government; because those working directly with you or under you may not the courage to tell you the truth. They will hardly look you in the face and tell you the truth. For me, I like the truth no matter how bitter it is. Truth itself doesn’t hide, but the way it is said because there is a way which my messenger can come and advice me, and there are ways he comes and talks to me, I will consider it. So, it is the ways and means of how you tell the truth that matters. I always say this that it is not truth that is the problem but how it is said. As leaders, we should try to answer that word leader, because leaders means one that is in the front and others are following—whether in character or conduct or behavior or attitude—that is a leader. The problem we have today is that there are so many rulers, not leaders. Rulers are all over the place, but leaders are difficult to find.
What are you doing to curtail cattle rustling in Katsina State?
The process started way back in 2015, when we came on board. When we came in, it was at the highest point of insecurity, especially affecting nine of our local government borders. The borders in the forest areas include Zamfara, Katsina and others. We realised that the forest extended to Zamfara, Kebbi, Kaduna and Niger. On this side, and we realised also that no one state alone can deal with the situation decisively, except with the cooperation of other bordering states, because if we operate against the cattle rustlers in Katsina State on this side, they will just run to Kaduna, kebbi or Niger states. So, we the five states, decided initially, that is Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Kebbi and Niger, to meet in a common approach, because all the military formations are under Kaduna State. So, we all agreed among ourselves to seat with the military, the airforce, the customs, because they have helicopters they use for air surveillance, over the roles they play to combat smuggling. And the civil defence in order to identify and fish-out and point out where the cattle rustlers are in the forests. After that meeting, we informed the president, who also directed the service chief, including the Chief of Defence Staff and the Head of Service. We sat with them and we agreed and the Kaduna operation started last year. After that, we now decided that every state should now come together and re-enforce all our security outfits. The joint ecurity outfits were now mandated to start patrolling the trouble spots. So, after reaching a certain level, we now realised that we cannot permanently station the army and the police in the forests. The only thing was for us to negotiate. Luckily enough for us, the person that emerged as the chairman of the task force was the leader of Miyeti-Allah in Kaduna state (a Fulani man), an enlightened and educated person who speaks the language and knows the culture. He facilitated the meetings between us and the cattle rustlers. From the initial meetings, we learnt a lot. We learnt that over 95% of those in the forests are the criminals.Source: The Nation