OPINION

Re: The North Is Suffering And Smiling, By Balkisu Saidu

“O you who believe!  Fear God, and stand with those who are truthful (in words and deeds).” These are the directives of Almighty Allah (Quran 9:119).

I was shocked by the content of an article titled ‘The North is Suffering and Smiling’ by Abu Shekara, Special Adviser on Media to Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, published online by thisdaylive.com on 5 January 2019. My shock stems from the personal knowledge I have of the author, having worked with him at various times, since the 90s. Abu was known to me as a person who paid great attention to details and was interested in accuracy of facts. The flowery and superficial article in the publication bears little resemblance to the quality I expected from the Abu Shekara I knew.

It is, however, a political season. And as Albert Einstein reflected “all of us who are concerned for peace and triumph of reason and justice must be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field.” Political agenda can becloud good judgment!

It is therefore not surprising that Abu Shekara will publish such scathing attack on the person and administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. What is surprising is his failure to point to the economic policies of the Government that were designed, as he claimed, to “adversely target” the Northern economic activities and have “ravaging impact on the livelihoods of the Northern masses.”

What I know, as a Northerner, is that going into the 2015 elections, our major concerns in the North were:

1.    Insecurity, majorly in the North East, where insurgents were in full control of 17 Local Government Areas with frequent abductions; recurring ethno-religious and communal conflicts; and farmers/herders clashes;

2.    Inadequate and dilapidated infrastructure, which had crippled economic activities with devastating implications on standard of living; and

3.    Growing population of out-of-school children and fallen standard of education.

In the three-plus years of the Buhari administration, all the areas under the control of the insurgents in the North East have been recovered; hundreds of abducted persons have been rescued; deliberate and decisive steps have been taken to address the farmer/herders clashes and communal conflicts, with verifiable accomplishments. Admittedly, there are still pockets of asymmetric attacks by insurgents and criminal activities by hoodlums and bandits, who are on the run and being rounded up.

These three-plus years have also recorded numerous achievements in the execution of projects in the North.  Some of these projects include:

1.    The completed 135km Sokoto–Tambuwal–Jega Road, in Sokoto and Kebbi States.

2.    The completed Shagari Irrigation Project, in Sokoto State.

3.    The provision of power supply to Federal Universities including Usmanu Danfodiyo University – Main Campus, Sokoto; Bayero University – New Campus, Kano; Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University – Gubi Campus, Bauchi; and Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi, Benue.

4.    Provision of 60MVA 132/33KV Power Transformers in Sokoto, Sokoto State.

5.    Construction of Yauri-Koko-Jega Road, in Kebbi State.

6.    Provision of 60MVA Transformer in Dan Agundi Substation, Kano, Kano State.

7.    Provision of 2X60MVA Transformer in Kakuri Substation, Kaduna, Kaduna State.

8.    Provision of 60MVA Transformer in Katsina Substation, Katsina, Katsina State.

9.    Provision of 40MVA Mobile Substation at Zaria, Kaduna State.

10.    Provision of 2x40MVA 132/33KV Power Transformer at Daura, Katsina State.

11.    Provision of 60MVA 132/33KV Power Transformers at Hadejia, Jigawa State.

12.    Provision of 60MVA 132/33KV Power Transformers at Funtua, Katsina State.

13.    Completion of Galma Dam, Kaduna State.

14.    Construction of 3,050MW Mambilla Power Plant, Taraba State.

15.    Completion of 330/132KV Molai Transmission Substation in Maiduguri, Borno State.

16.    Completion of 330/132KV Damaturu Transmission Substation, Yobe State

17.    Provision of 60MVA 132/33KV Power Transformers at Bauchi, Bauchi State.

18.    Provision of 40MVA Mobile Substation at Damboa, Borno State.

19.    Provision of 28/40MVA Mobile Substation at Mayo Belwa, Adamawa State.

20.    Provision of 30/40MVA Mobile Substation at Gombe, Gombe State.

21.    Sabon Gari and Kantin Kwari Market Electrification Projects, Kano State.

22.    Construction of 215MW Kaduna Power Plant, Kaduna State.

23.    Construction of 10MW Katsina Wind Power Plant, Katsina State.

24.    Construction of Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Highway.

25.    Dualisation of Kano–Wudil–Shuari section of Kano–Maiduguri Road, linking Kano–Jigawa–Bauchi–Yobe–Borno States.

26.    Dualisation of Kano–Katsina Road.

27.    Construction of Kano Western Bypass.

28.    Construction of Kaduna Eastern Bypass, Kaduna State.

29.    Construction of Modern Medical Diagnostic Centre at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria, Kaduna State.

30.    Completion of Sabke Water Supply Project, Katsina State.

31.    Dualisation of Shuarin-Azare section of Kano–Maiduguri Road linking Kano–Jigawa–Bauchi–Yobe.

32.    Dualisation of Azare–Potiskum section of Kano–Maiduguri Roadlinking Kano–Jigawa–Bauchi–Yobe–Borno States.

33.    Dualisation of Potiskum–Damaturu section of Kano–Maiduguri Roadlinking Kano–Jigawa–Bauchi–Yobe–Borno States.

34.    Dualisation of Damaturu–Maiduguri section of Kano–Maiduguri Road linking Kano–Jigawa–Bauchi–Yobe–Borno States.

35.    Reconstruction of Gombe-Numan-Yola Road.

36.    Reconstruction of 122km Mayo Belwa-Jada-Ganye-Toungo Road.

37.    Construction of 40MW Kashimbila Dam & Hydro Power Plant, Taraba State.

38.    Construction of 29MW Dadin Kowa Hydro Power Plant, Gombe State.

39.    Completion of Takum Water Supply Project, Taraba State.

40.    Construction of Oju/Loko–Oweto bridge over River Benue to link Loko (Nasarawa State) and Oweto (Benue State).

41.    Dualisation of Abuja–Abaji–Lokoja Road.

42.    Dualisation of Suleja–Minna Road in Niger State.

43.    Dualisation of Abuja–Abaji–Lokoja Road, Koton Karfe–Lokoja in Kogi State.

44.    Dualisation of Lokoja-Benin Road: Obajana–Okene in Kogi State.

45.    Rehabilitation of Enugu–Makurdi Road.

46.    Construction of Otukpo-Oweto Road.

47.    Completion of construction of 93km Ilorin-Jebba Road.

48.    Dualisation of Abuja–Keffi–Lafia–Makurdi Road.

49.    Rehabilitation of Suleja-Minna Road.

50.    Construction of Nigeria’s Central Rail Line (Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Standard Gauge Line), spanning Kogi, Edo and Delta States.

51.    Rehabilitation of the Abuja International Airport Runway, and construction of new Abuja International Airport Terminal.

52.    Completion of the Bill Clinton Drive Interchange Bridge along the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Road (Airport Road), in the FCT.

53.    Construction of Apo–Wasa–Karshi Dual Carriageway, in the FCT.

54.    Construction of the Inner Southern Expressway (Goodluck Jonathan Way) in the FCT.

55.    Completion of Mangu Regional Water Supply Scheme, in Plateau State.

56.    Completion of Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi Water Supply Project, Benue State.

57.    Construction of 30MW Gurara Power Plant, Niger State.

58.    Construction of 700MW Zungeru Hydro Power Plant, Niger State.

59.    Provision of 150MVA 330/132//33KV Power Transformers at Kanji (Fakun), Niger State.

60.    Provision of 2x60MVA 132/33KV Power Transformer at Lokoja, Kogi State.

61.    Provision of 1460MVA 132/33KV Power Transformers at Kontagora, Niger State.

62.    Provision of 60MVA 132/33KV Power Transformers at Okene, Kogi State.

63.    Provision of 2x40MVA 132/33KV Power Transformer at Kainji (Dogon Gari), Niger State.

64.    Provision of 2x60MVA 132/33KV Power Transformer at Kukwaba, FCT.

65.    Provision of 60MVA Transformer in Karu Substation, FCT.

66.    Construction of Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Expressway.

67.    $12.4 million project funded by the Japanese Government for the upgrading (installation of power capacitor banks) of two Transmission Sub-Stations, in Apo, FCT and Keffi, Nasarawa to stabilise power supply to 7,000 households. 

The N-Power Scheme of the Social Investment Programme (SIP) has recruited beneficiaries in each Local Government Area of the 19 Northern States, who are providing support in teaching, healthcare, agriculture, etc. The Home-Grown School Feeding Programme of the SIP has resulted in increase in enrolment and retention of pupils in Public Primary Schools, while providing employment to hundreds of cooks and farmers. The TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni have been disbursed in all the 19 States of the North, supporting small and medium traders with cash flow; while MSME Clinics provide technical support to entrepreneurs. The Anchor Borrowers Programme’s support to smallholder famers and millers has brought about unprecedented boost in agricultural production in the North; and the Conditional Cash Transfer to the poorest of the poor is providing succour to the hitherto forgotten underprivileged members of our communities.

I ask Abu, please which of the above economic policies of the administration of Muhammadu Buhari has ravaged the livelihoods of the Northern masses?

Perhaps Abu Shekara would like to refocus his attention home. Perhaps he would like to assist the people of our State, Sokoto, with a list of achievements recorded by our State Government from May 2015 to date. Even with what Abu Shakara has described as “failures” of President Muhammadu Buhari, the fact remains that, from May 2015 to December 2019, a total of ?207,032,768,396.67 has been released by the Federal Government to the Government of Sokoto State.

These releases include:

 1.    Share of Federation Account ?158,159,883,659.42 (May 2015 to December 2018);

 2.    Budget Support ?17,569,000,000.00 (June 2016 to January 2018);

 3.    Paris Club Refund ?31,303,884,737.25
Abu may wish to inform Sakkwatawa of the projects executed in Sokoto State that are commiserate with over Two Hundred and Seven Billion Naira. After all, governance is the shared responsibility of the three tiers – Federal, States and Local Government Councils.

As the record of President Muhammadu Buhari in the area of development in the North is examined, let us look inwards to also examine, in a similar dispassionate manner, the records and achievements of our State. Sokoto, the Seat of the Caliphate; the cradle of just governance; the exalted home of revered Sheikh Usmanu Bn Fodiyo and Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto.

The big difference here is: while President Muhammadu Buhari is open to, and actually invites scrutiny of his record, others find any enquiry about their records as “political witch-hunt”, “attempt to embarrass”, or “act of disrespect.” It is understandable that the overwhelming acceptance of President Muhammadu Buhari by the Northerners will be disconcerting to the opposition, however, the blatant attempt to manipulate the Northerners into thinking that their brothers and sisters from other parts of the country are now their enemies or that their capable and over-achieving President is being controlled into “abandoning” their cause is not going to work. Northerners are not gullible. Northerners crave facts not fiction; and they can certainly discern the motives behind outlandish and concocted allegations, mischief and misrepresentations.

My counsel to Abu Shekara: please do not allow political agenda to cloud your judgment.

Saidu is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Research, Legal and Compliance MattersOffice of the Vice President

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