No One Is More Qualified Than El-Rufai To Govern Kaduna State -Uba Sani


Uba Sani
Uba Sani
Recently, Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s policies, particularly his resolve to demolish and recover government properties occupied by some individuals, is creating tension in Kaduna State. It has also attracted public outcry, in your opinion, what is the true situation now?
I think the issue of recovering some lands that belong to schools and hospitals in the state is a very straight forward one. You will recall that during the campaigns, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai promised he was going to make six things his priority, namely: education, health, agriculture, infrastructure, security, youth and women empowerment. These sectors are the most important issues for this government.
That is the reason why, when he assumed office, we believed education, which is the bedrock of any society, should be given full attention.
So, he decided to first of all create an enabling environment for secondary school students in the state. To get a full picture of the situation, we went round all the secondary schools and even some primary schools too. You see, government’s effort was to ensure that our children have the best education this time around. We realised that the first thing we needed to do was to give them a very conducive environment.
Though the government has started making positive impact in many other areas, nobody is talking about them. People were busy making a lot of noise on the demolition. I expected people to commend the government on some of the things we have started doing, that are positive when it comes to educational development in the state.
What are some of these things you are talking about?
 As I speak to you now, nobody is talking about the move by the government of Nasir el-Rufai to provide all the junior and senior secondary school children in the state with free and customised tablets (computers). The tablets will have all schools’ syllabus, WAEC (West African Examination Council) past questions and answers, text books ranging from English, Mathematics, and Sciences to Social studies and so on.
Again, nobody is also talking about free uniforms. They are not talking about the free education that this government has introduced from primary to Junior Secondary School. They are not talking about the free feeding for primary school that we are about to start. We realised that the state also needs quality teachers; so after providing them with these things, they need to have quality teachers and in doing that, the government has decided to send the teachers for training and increase their salaries, which will be one of the best in the country.
Besides that, when we visited some of the primary schools in the state we discovered that in most schools, pupils sat on bare floor, during school hours. No chairs, no tables. But as I talk to you now, we are working hard to see that all the primary schools in the state have chairs and tables when they resume in September.
Most importantly we have recorded tremendous success in the area of security in the State. Before we came on board, cattle rustling were rampant. There were mysterious politically-motivated killing in many parts of this state. Now, crime rate is going down seriously. Insecurity has been reduced to the barest minimum because you now have a leader who is more sensitive to the problems of his people. You now have a leader with viable solutions to the challenges of insecurity in Kaduna state. Many of our so-called critics do not want to comment on insecurity because they would have no concrete criticism to make.

The public is somehow confused that those opposing your government policies are members of your party, the All Progressive Party (APC). What would you say is responsible for this?
I think anybody, whether in APC or any other party, who decides to attack the government’s intention in implementing this programme that is purely aimed at helping the children of the less-privileged to have good education, may be basically because his children are not even schooling in this country, talk-less of being in the public schools.

******All these people making noise, I can bet that their children are not in public schools. Their children are in private schools; some are even abroad, so they don’t care about what happens to the children of the poor*****. They are only talking because they want to score cheap political points but I am sure that the general public has understood their agenda and nobody will believe their stories because, they have nothing to lose; but we have, we are in government and we have responsibility to help the poor and the less-privileged and we know what our people want and the government of Nasir el-Rufai is ready to provide those services to the people.

A prominent member of the APC in the state once accused Governor el-Rufai of implementing programmes that are anti-masses; that the governor placed a ban on street begging and stopped Ramadan feeding, What is your take on this? 
Whoever is saying that is just being mischievous. Let me tell you something. Yes, we were voted in by the masses of this state, precisely the beggars, hawkers, the physically-challenged and the general public, but it is not the intention of Nasir el-Rufai to leave them in the situation we met them.
These comments are nothing but mischievous. What they are saying is that we should allow the beggars to continue begging till the end of their lives, but if you ask them whether they would want their children to go begging, they will tell you no.

I challenge anybody who is saying we should allow these people to continue begging, to tell me whether their own children are begging. If their children do not beg on the streets, why should they ask us to allow the children of Kaduna state to continue to do so?
I heard some of them saying that the government has not made any arrangement for these beggars, which is not true. We are making adequate arrangements to cater for these people. We are constantly in touch with them. They have leadership, I mean all those that are concerned, be it the hawkers, beggars and the physically-challenged; we are discussing with their leadership and we are making arrangements for them. About 90 per cent of those affected are the physically challenged people but we discovered that most of them are talented in different crafts.
The government is ready to support them so as to improve their lives. The fact that they are indigenes of this state makes it the responsibility of the government to support them. The governor swore to an oath, to be fair and that is why he wants to take them out of the streets and provide them with their important needs, for them to live meaningful lives. The problem is that those making noise cannot know this because their minds are already polluted.
The idea of taking them off the streets is for their safety too. If you remember, all the bomb blasts here in Kaduna and even in Abuja, the hawkers and beggars have always been the major victims, we want to avoid that by taking them off the streets. I can authoritatively inform you that one of the physically-challenged persons has been appointed as Special Assistant to the governor. This is also to get them close to the government.

What about the cancellation of Ramadan feeding?
Well, the issue of the Ramadan Fasting is clear. The governor and I are Muslims, but we did nothing wrong. We have reached out to all the Islamic scholars and the Muslim Ummah in the state and they are happy with our decisions; and so, we did not just take this decision on our own.
We had a town hall meeting, which was organized by my office. At that meeting we sat with all the stakeholders and the governor told them that in every festivity, the government spent over N400 million, distributing food items to very few people in the state and those people are the wealthy people in the society, going by the records. That was what has been happening in the past administration.
But, when this administration came, we said if we have N400 million we can use it in providing chairs in some of our primary schools, those schools where our children sat on the floors. That money can go a long way in providing these needed facilities for the children. That was why we stopped the Ramadan feeding.
When the present government gathered donations from good Samaritans like Aliko Dangote and others, we invite women groups from Islamic foundations and told them that we have got trailer loads of food items and we charged them with the responsibilities of cooking the food and feeding the Muslims across the 23 local governments of the state. So, we fed those that really needed it and we were able to feed between 20 to 30,000 people every day, throughout the 29 days that the Ramadan lasted. We did not make noise about it because we believe that we gave the people that really needed it.
So, those who want us to use government money, I mean those who call themselves social critics, are just being economical with the truth. They are the real enemies of the masses because they don’t want us to achieve anything.

And what about the Hajj seats?
Talking about Hajj operations, we sat down and x-rayed the activities and we discovered that a greater percentage of the pilgrims are being sponsored by the government. We discovered that over N300 million was being drained every year in that exercise.
We also looked at those who go to Jerusalem and found out the same thing, although the figure is not as much as that of the Hajj. But even at that, only five per cent of Jerusalem Pilgrims pay from their private pockets, the rest were being sponsored by Kaduna State Government. When we looked at all these things we concluded that it would be of immense benefit to stop government sponsoring people to both Hajj and Jerusalem, because those who benefit are capable of sponsoring themselves.
I think people should commend the governor for taking this bold step to save the state.
Our so-called critics are not talking about the money we will use in building roads, putting chairs in our classrooms or equipping our hospitals, no. They are asking why we are not spending money on people. Some of them are even proud to say they are going to buy some camels, cows or whatever and distribute them to the people. That is not the kind of government we wish for Kaduna people.
If they have such money, why can’t they give scholarships to our children to go to school? If you think you want to support the people, the noble thing for you to do is to at least send five people to school and sponsor them up to university level; because that is the genuine way to empower the poor, not to buy camels, rams, cows and share to people and you start making noise that you have supported the people. That is hypocrisy.
That concept is deceptive. It is not a solution to their problems; you need to empower the poor by educating them. And when they are educated, they have the power to contribute to nation building. Our desire is not to feed them today and they become hungry tomorrow.
We intend to build the state and in doing so you must be fair to everybody. That is our focus.

The governor was also accused by some members of the APC in Kaduna, of running the government without the input of party stakeholders and that his high-handedness is responsible for the in-fighting and apathy in the party presently. What is your view on this?
This is also not true. I say this without fear of contradiction; no governor in the present dispensation has our kind of open-door policy in the entire federation today. I stand to be corrected on this. Coming to our Town Hall Meeting that I mentioned earlier, it came to be because the Governor told me that he wants to operate a totally open door policy and so, he charged me as his Political Adviser to make it possible to meet anybody that wants to meet him.
I told him that it was not possible for him to meet with all the people that wanted to see him. This is because on daily basis, we receive 20 to 30 letters from people who are seeking to see the governor. Some of them have genuine things they wanted to discuss; others want clarification on certain issues concerning the government policies and programmes.
In the end, taking all these into consideration, I sat with the governor and agreed that everybody that would want to see the governor must see him. So, I suggested to him that the only way people can see you was to organise a town hall meeting on monthly basis in all the three geo-political zones. This innovation has never happened in the history of Kaduna State.


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