As part of activities marking the Golden Jubilee Anniversary of Kwara State, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed held an interactive session with selected Journalists in Ilorin, Kwara State, where he spoke on issues that affect the state and nation. SAKA LAARO was there for Nigerian Newsdirect. Excerpts:
What are we celebrating in Kwara at 50?
A young state was created in 1967 from two old provinces, Ilorin/Kabba Province. Since its creation, we have moved substantially from being provinces to a well developed state today. For those who are witnesses to the trajectory of where we were and where we are today. Kwara State has gone through a lot and so we have a cause to celebrate. Looking through a list of past governors that manned the state in the last 50 years, including myself, we have 19. On the average, it means by the turnover a governor does not spend more than two years or maximum, two and a half years on the throne. The turnover has not allowed for consistency or for any governor to involve in any long term plan. However, economic wise, Kwara State has moved from being a civil service-driven environment that it was to an economic hub. Those of us here in early 90s till sometimes 2003/2004, you can count the number of commercial banks in Ilorin, not to talk of other areas. The incursion of commercial banks tells you that there is a significant increase in the level of bankable businesses in this environment. In terms of infrastructure, you will see that a lot of communities are linked up through our new roads or the rehabilitation of old roads. Looking at the education sector, there is a significant increase in number of tertiary institutions in the state. Talking of even secondary schools, there is a significant increase in number of schools far more than we have in those days. And most importantly, you will see the level that our health care systems have been brought to; in addition to rehabilitating some key ones in strategic locations, we have been able to torch quite a significant number of rural environments where we have either basic or primary health centres. We have built and renovated a lot of schools and lot more are coming. In terms of water supply, so many communities are having access to potable water either through boreholes or surface channels. All in all, I would say Kwara State has appreciated tremendously economically, socially, politically and of course in terms of infrastructure. In the area of human capital development we have significantly moved forward at 50 and that signals that we have done what we could within the trajectory of development and a lot more could still be done. Don’t forget, when the statistics were being read in the hall a few weeks ago kwara state was mentioned as having the least number of unemployed youths. This didn’t just happen by accident; it is by conscious effort in supporting our youths in accessing employment in one form or an other. These are some of the changes we see and it is worth celebrating as the state clocks 50 years. Our prayer is that the next 50 years will be strategically approached in way and manner that people’s life will be better than where we are today. I said all these as a background to why we arecelebrating and what we look forward to do in years to come.
Comparatively, places like Lagos, government is celebrating 50 years of creation but nothing on ground shows that Local Governments are carried along in the events?
First, you see at the local government levels, I said this sometimes ago. There are about 774 local governments in Nigeria, most of which were created largely based on political exigencies; if you go through the constitution on criteria for creating local governments, you will see that quite a few fit into these criteria. Most of them we created during military administrations. Out local governments are what they are and will continue to be what they are until there is a restructuring in the system to improve on their capacity to access resources. Currently, they are heavily reliant of federal allocation and the same allocation has been dwindling monthly as a result of dwindling price of crude oil. So you cannot expect to see much from local government outside Lagos. Lagos is a purely commercial environment and if probably Kwara is also commercial come to places like Isin Local government, what kind of commercial activities go on there? What resources can you raise from that kind of a place? What sort of internal revenue can you raise from that place? And ditto for other local governments in most of the states that are not in commercial environments, so it’s a huge challenge. And that is why even the payment of salaries which is most critical they are faced with today is not do able 100 percent because their capacity to raise revenue is weak and they are presently reliant on the dwindling federation allocation account. It is from this allocation that local government workers are serviced from, teacher at basic levels are serviced from it, so also local government pensioners. So it is difficult to see them get 100 per cent of their emoluments. Their emoluments is a function of the federal allocation that comes in so between you and me, this is a challenge and it will remain a challenge until there is a reform to address the situation. It will either increase allocation accruable to the local governments or create a level of flexibility that allows a stronger synergy with the states in such a way and manner that they too can tap into what the states are doing to improve their revenues. This is part of the challenges that local governments are faced with, so a place to draw comparism from is not likely Lagos. When you draw comparism with Niger state, Ekiti state and Osun states, then you are talking. Lagos has been a federalcapital; every structure is on ground to make things work. The Lagos environment has been made more enabling for those things to thrive. In fact if you compare Kwara with Edo state, then we might not be too far from each other.
You just mentioned the issue of water. There has been claims that government spends money on water reticulation projects, yet residents go through hell to get water, because there is no water in Kwara state, what is your response sir?
Water will continue to be a problem because the population is increasing, not decreasing. The number of people in Kwara yesterday are not the number today, so meeting the needs of the people in the area of water is a continuous process we will continue to and we are still on the reticulation, which is about 95 per cent completed, so as I will always tell you, the need is growing, what the people need is far bigger than 25 million gallons that was just completed because more people are coming in and that is what happens everywhere in the world except for populations that are not growing. Except where new children are not born; probably where there is war or something except that population will keep growing and government will continue to work towards expansion, it is a continuous process. So in essence, there will continue to be pressure on power supply and on water. The same thing goes for health services and on infrastructure, so government will continue to put machinery in place not only to expand new ones but also to rehabilitate old ones. These are part of the challenge that government business are faced with, so for water as we continue to maintain the old one that are being put under pressure, we would ensure that new ones are also put in place; So I think within the available resources at our disposal, we are able to carry on to certain levels and we still have a lot more that we can get to.
Recently, the Kaiama-Kishi and the Michael Imoudu – Amoyo road were being taken over by the federal government; the question is why were these roads taken over despite state government’s decision to undertake the construction?
Thank you very much; these roads are federal roads. They belong to federal government so in essence it is not a takeover, it is the state that attempted to rehabilitate federal roads but the federal government has decided to do its own work that is exactly what happened. They are federal roads so where the state decided to intervene to improve on movement of the people along those axis but coincidentally, the federal government has also awarded those roads so that is what is going on now.
What do we expect from government in the next two years?
The next two years will see significant improvements in areas of human capital development, increased support for tertiary institutions, secondary institutions and of course primary institutions. We would also see to significant rehabilitation of roads to link up communities; don’t forget that we have acquired an asphalt plant and we are working on a funding window that will see to adequate procurement of materials which will aid in construction of new roads and rehabilitation of old ones. We would see significant improvement in areas of health care delivery; we have some hospitals already slated for completion, some for rehabilitation. Among them we have general hospitals; of course quite a number of them will be brought to completion level general and basic primary health care levels. We would improve more in water supply in addition to the current reticulation currently going on. We would put in more effort so that we can access more water from underground and surface through water works. Of course in terms of energy we would also see a major shift from the current deployment of transformers to link the national grid, you will see us embrace more of the solar options for lighting up our communities because it is becoming increasingly clear that reliance on national grid for energy supply is not likely to give us the power need in the state and it is very unlikely that it will get to the rural communities; now with pockets of solar solutions coming in we would begin to see deployment into our rural environments. God willing, this will soon take shape, we have started with the light up Kwara, this is just the beginning. We would complete the ones in Ilorin and then move to the rural environment. And also our vocational institutions would take off fully to the extent that we would serve as an institution that would drive growth of entrepreneurship especially hand sunk , in areas of automobiles, construction, electrification, electrical works, welding, other areas where we expect to see improved manpower development and so on and so forth. These are all areas we hope to move as we approach 2019. It will largely be up scaling on what we are doing right now, either through expansion or introduction of new ones. We hope to see a new secretariat for civil servants; at that location where we have ministry of planning, we hope to have four blocks of three storey building that will house four ministries, Ministry of Water resources, Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Planning and Economic development. We would also see a fully renovated indoor sports hall, God willing. Most importantly, in the next two years, the state would have moved into a major agric hub, we are growing at a level that we see our youth truly embracing agriculture and key into an off taker demand driven scheme.
Those of you who followed us to Shonga would testify that the Shonga business has moved into a fully integrated agric scheme which has created room for backward integration and it has significantly created a platform for our youth to that train.
Coming to the grading of traditional rulers, it is widely believed in some quarters that while some of the traditional rulers merit the grading, many who also merit it were left out. What are you doing to address this seeming imbalance?
The issue of grading Obas has been done largely to help support governance at that level in such a way and manner that our traditional rulers have significant roles to play when it comes to managing our people at the grassroots. So it is on the strength of this that we sought to upgrade some of these traditional rulers. If you recall towards the end of my first tenure in office, we upgraded some traditional rulers. Then we set up a committee that reviewed the issues of traditional rulers and subsequently some were upgraded between second class and third class. Don’t forget that these classes of traditional rulers are usually remunerated from the local governments and the drop in the allocation of local government has not made it easy for us to increase the pressure on the local government allocations. That is why those who had been graded have not been given their entitlements in terms of staff of office and remunerations, but the ones that are remunerated at the state level, the first class level are those whom we have given their staff of office and carried on their support as due.
Still on traditional rulers grading, Ohoro of Shao and Oba of Jebba claimed they are being shortchanged in the scheme of things, what is your defence sir?
You see, we have this bring-down syndrome being borne in our system, we don’t look at things from objective point of view and some of us are not too disturbed because the facts will always be there for posterity. George Innih, now of blessed memory, no matter how he was criticized, we all can see what he did while in office as administrator in Kwara state. So what people say in terms of condemnation especially when it is driven by political interests doesn’t get us perturbed. If we get perturbed we would lose focus, so it is not unexpected that people will say all manner of things not correct about our administration, people will come out to castigate us but we know that the facts are there for you to check. So when the criticisms are constructive, we listen because such are necessary ingredients for checks and balances. As for the Obas mentioned, most of their gradings were not according to procedures laid down for such issues in administration so when an administration comes in the procedures are looked into and if need be, they are reversed.
What are you doing on the retirees at the local government level?
We need to understand how federal, state and local governments are run; we had causes to explain this times without number that this is how government is been run. The local government as it were have their allocation sent to them from the federation account and when it gets in it comes into a joint allocation account, jointly owned among the 16 local governments, so the term joint allocation account it is not joint with states but amongst the 16 local governments. Let it be clearly understood. It is within this platform of joint allocation committee based on laws put together by the state house of assembly to guide them on how to allocate these resources. This is what the constitution stipulates that their money would enter into a joint allocation account, JAAC, and the money will be disbursed in accordance with the laws of the house of assembly, so each time the issue of shortfall come in, the ball is thrown back to the state governments. The state government does not share in that joint allocation; it is a joint allocation among the 16 local governments, let it be clearly understood; and it is within this platform of the joint allocation committee that they decide what goesinto what they jointly fund for example, they jointly fund SUBEB, they jointly fund traditional rulers, they jointly fund the local government service commission. After all these the funds are now appropriated to local government workers, pensioners and of cause SUBEB. So each time you hear of shortfall in allocation, it will affect what goes into these local governments and that is why in the last one year, it has been difficult to get 100 per cent of their salaries because allocation had dropped significantly and local governments as you may know do not have the capacity to increase what comes in from as revenue unlike states that have other financial ways and means of increasing their revenue through revenue generating strategies. You all are aware of what we have done with the internally generated revenue of the state increasing it from five hundred million naira per month to one billion, five hundred million per month. That is a significant increase for us at the state level; it is not the same at the local government level, local governments do not have the latitude to do such. This is because their environment is not robust enough to create this kind of revenue base. So it is a major challenge, so each if they have autonomy can they change their revenueprofile? So the major challenge is reformation, they need a reform that will enhance their capacity to access finance and increase revenue. That is what local governments need. Until this is done, every other institution that relies on what comes in to local government as allocation would continue to suffer the same fate as it is now. So teachers at the primary levels who take salary from local government allocation will continue to suffer as long as there is a shortfall from federal allocation to local governments. Pensioners whose remunerations and entitlements are tied to that allocation would also continue to suffer in as much as their allocations continue to drop from federation account. In the past when we mix both state and local government allocation jointly before we appropriate, at that level I can take absolute responsibility for what goes where but under the present arrangement, I don’t now where the state comes in, so each time I hear these complaints, it is out of mischief. Why should they come and hold the state ransom that they have not collected salaries, they need this, they need that, it is act of mischief. Let us face the fact as they are and the fact is that local government allocation is getting smaller and smaller and it cannot service the local government as it were. So that restricting is the only way out.
Like this month for example, the allocation is reduced again, there is a shortfall and it means those depending on local government allocations will not have their salaries 100 per cent because I have seen the allocation and am sure you too must have seen it too.
The state’s own too has a shortfall but while the state can augment our income from other sources, the local governments do not have such ways and means to so all those who rely on their allocation will face hard times whenever there is a shortfall. And naturally you should understand that it is not easy for me to say am taking from states allocation to add up for local governments. Those of you who checked my budget, the 2017 appropriation budget you will see that there is no line of space for me to take money to add to any local government, so all in all, if the facts must be faced as they are, there is need to alert the federal government that there is an imminent collapse in the local government administrative structure if the allocation continues to dwindle like this. It is either the federal government increases the ratios that come to them or create a window where they can access additional money added to what comes into the local government purse.
Short of those two it will be difficult for local government to continue to rely on a federal allocation that is also reliant on the price of crude oil, which we also see as dwindling. It will continue like this for a while until there is a reform. The state cannot reform local governments, it has to be a federally directed reform and it will also involve constitutional amendment. So let us understand where the problems are. All these bickering and buck passing at the state government; that we are not paying local government workers and pensioners are refusing to face the facts as they are and we are being economical with the truth and we are not helping ourselves. Some politicians around are playing politics with the situation as a platform to make the government look bad as if the state is owing local governments, we are not owing local governments, we have never owed them. At the state level we have been able to meet our obligations when due. So each time I come out, I will continue to say it that Kwara State government is not owing local government workers. Our pensioners, workers and all those who draw remuneration from the state government cannot say we owe them. I cannot say same with the issue of local government because I don’t generate the allocation it will be difficult to defend the problem of insufficiency. Since I don’t dictate what comes in; I cannot defend whether it is insufficient or not. So the reform is what will change the revenue base of local government, we need to get things clear.
Last time, newspapers carried the story that money was owed local governments, I followed it up, when a live programme was also on, I had to phone in and say ‘we are not owing ooooo. There are 16 local governments and they are all owed at varying levels.’ Kaiama for example owes just one month and another local government owes just five or six months. So we cannot create a blanket position and say local governments are being owed, no! Their money comes in from federal allocation and they share it as it comes. In my honest opinion, the way local government is for now is not workable, that reform is essential. We see what is happening with the politics of crude oil, OPEC is saying something and other bodies say different things that will continue to affect the prices of fuel.
How is your government supporting Agriculture as a way of engaging the youths in the state?
I love these questions; you see, Agriculture as it were had been wrongly perceived by people as a government programme. Agric is a business and it has to be treated as such and that is why we have introduced the off taker demand- driven Agric scheme. It is designed to make the man who is starting at the primary level to be lifted up to the person who is going to off take whatever he is producing for valueaddition. For example, the man who is producing maize is already linked up to a feed mill and this feed mill too is already linked up to a poultry farm that is the kind of scheme we have put in place. You will see a place there at the Ministry of Agric called Agric Mall; It is designed to be a one-stop shop where intending farmers can accessinput requirements. The first one you can access there is tractor hiring. A farmer is expected to hire tractor, government is not going to give it out free of charge and there are a thousand and one individuals that have tractors for hire. So if someone tells you he doesn’t see tractor, it must be that he doesn’t have money to hire one, they are available for hire. Currently, I also hire tractors to do my own farm. That is what we call Agric because it is business.
Also to make funding easy, we have gone to Central Bank of Nigeria to arrange for a credit scheme, Commercial Agric Credit Scheme, CACS, which is coming at 9 per cent. This has been designed to be available to intending farmers to borrow, use and pay back. That is why there is a lot of noise going on about CACS and ODDA scheme it is designed for farmers to key into and the Agric Mall is designed to link you towhere you are going to get seeds, herbicides and chemicals. We have asked those who sell herbicides to register with the Agric Mall, so Agric Mall is the go-in between, the tractor owner on one side and the person who wants to hire tractor on the other side; between the chemical seller and the user of chemical; between the farmer and the seed seller, that is how Agric is run. Then government’s responsibility is to continue to crate subsidy which we have done by accessing a loan at 9 per cent interest per anum, any serious farmer will take advantage of that. By this we are taking our farming from subsistent level to commercial level. We also have extension work system tied to it at the Agric Mall, so there is no excuse. You see in the past people are used to a situation where government would just buy tractors and leave them on the ground and people will just come and pick the one to use; where has this translated into? Has it moved from 10,000 hectares to 20,000 hectares? The answer is NO. It is so because in the past Agric is seen as a social activity, but now it is seen as a commercial business. Those who want to key into it are those who want to create wealth from Agriculture. They can recognize the input levels, they see the out puts and they can measure the impact.
With the different levels of payments alleged to be made in schools, can we still say that education is free in Kwara State?
Education is free in Kwara, what is free in education; it is the tuition that is free. The Okada you are riding from home to school is not free; the uniform to put on is not free, you have to make them. What government is supplying you, what you are paying for is learning, the tuition fee. That does not foreclose that all other things you need to pay for, which vary from school to school would also be free.
The only two things that will be free is the tuition and the free meal that the federal government is working on. So when you get to some schools they will say ok “ha, Ijoba ni a o ni sanwo Ile iwe mo” but they are asking us to bring so and so amount; it’s not all everything that is free, what is free is tuition fee. But among the teachers and the parents and the administration of the school if they agree that ok tuition fee is removed, what else you have to pay for, they then agree among themselves with the Parents teachers association, PTA, on what they want to contribute to augment the education of their wards. So let it be understood from that angle.
What can you say about the functionality of the scholarship board vis a vis award of scholarships to deserving students?
Scholarship has not been given for some times now because of our dwindling allocation. It is not easy awarding scholarship to deserving students, what we are giving is bursary, which is a paltry sum of about five thousand naira each to just encourage our youths but when our allocation improves, we can hopefully set aside some money aside for scholarship in critical human capital need areas. As of now it is not do able due to dwindling allocation and because of the pressing issues attendant on federation allocation, issues of salaries and other funding needs. However for the bursary, the students came some time ago and we gave them assurances that once I get some inflow, extraordinary inflow, for example, Paris club, Stabilization fund, Ecological funds etc. Not as if we are going to use ecological funds directly, but we will use some savings coming in from them. These areas that federation allocation is funding will now be freed.
Why are road projects abandoned in the metropolis?
Road construction would continue to go on, even till my last day in office, roads will continue to be constructed. Don’t forget that when I came in, I inherited a number of abandoned roads, I have the list here, completed and abandoned, not less than twenty, which we completed in our time. Road, water and energy are consumables; we would continue to rehabilitate and do new ones, it is a continuous thing, so the ones you see abandoned is just been stopped. No contractor must leave site now because I have arranged a funding window for them. On no account and under any guise should any contractor leave site now, we have he Infrastructure Fund kwara, which is a funding window, funded from our internal generated revenue and on quarterly bases we make funds available for all ongoing roads, all ongoing water projects, health projects and we are also jumpstarting new ones from there, we sat down and did the calculations one by one, it is not what is happening by accident that is why once you key into the programme. We sat down and calculated all we need to complete the projects so every project funded under IF-K is destined for completion; it becomes autorun, so all the project that we started will be completed.
Multiple taxations is said to be sending many companies out of Kwara while some are about leaving, how do you address this?
There is nothing called multiple taxations in Kwara State, we need to understand that in the past, people do not pay taxes; fees were highly compromised, commissions were hardly charged. When we say we moved our revenue from five hundred million to one billion five hundred million, not that we brought new taxes or new laws all we did was increase efficiency in other words, those who were not paying taxes now begin to pay. Most factories owe ground rents, so when you look into their records some of them owe up to between nine to ten years. How can you be using a premise and not pay for it? So by the time you calculate and ask them to pay, they will say you are putting them under pressure but the truth is that they are asked to pay what they are owing, they are not new. Some of them came to me and we even gave them waivers like asking them to pay three years out of ten so that they can move on yet they are still making noise on it. Those are the challenges, I must be frank and they come to me for waivers. I still have some waiver papers on my table now. On the issue of new taxes to be introduced, it is currently on the table of the state house of assembly so there should be no noise about it. It is undergoing public hearing, this is an opportunity for everyone to go and say his bit as a guide the house of assembly on what to do and what not to do.
Whether you believe or refuse to believe it Kwara state has a lot more enabling environment than most states you see in south west. Comparing Lagos; Lagos has more taxes than we have here and their drive for those taxes in uncompromising. How do you think they raise about twenty six billion every month? Those people who say they are going to Lagos knows that they cannot go to Lagos because if they go there they will pay. We are a bit subtle here and we allow them enjoy some holidays. Only some days ago, we gave tax holiday to some pioneer SMEs, only pioneers not all of them and we would ensure that they get it like that till they get to stability levels. After that they willbegin to pay expected dues. I am not aware of any manufacturing company that left kwara because of taxes, there is none and here will be none because in all we do, we draw comparism to what is obtainable in other areas; none has left and none will leave on the bases of tax.
Cocacola that left, it was strategic for them to leave. Their biggest challenge is energy; rather than manufacturing in Ilorin, Ibadan and every other place, they chose to concentrate in Ibadan and Ilorin to serve as depot for distribution which is their business and you cannot tell them how they run their business. It is them who knows where the shoe pinches most so they are not leaving because of tax but energy and it is strategic.
Who owns Shonga Farms?
On the ownership of Shonga Farms, you all know where to get these facts, the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC is there. There you can see all registered businesses and who owns them and to their level of ownership, it is there in CAC. Why do you always want to hear from me?
I have been asked this question more than forty times in the last few years and nobody has gone to CAC. With this you will realize that there is mischief. That is why last governor did so much explanation on it, when I came in I started doing explanations on it because a lot of people see it as a platform for mischief and as long as we want to take that part we would never see anything good in what people are doing and that is the problem we have as Africans and as Nigerians. We must learn to appreciate what is good and criticize constructively.
This is how Shonga Farms started; when those white farmers came, they also went to Nasarawa as they came to Kwara. When Senator Adamu was here with the Senate President, he was asking how we are able to keep these white men here?
He said the ones that came to Nasarawa had left and I said they would obviously go away from asarawa because the state government funded them, once that administration goes they too would go. What we did here was that we created a Public Private Partnership arrangement with them and funded them under a debt equity structure, I created the financial vehicle that put them in place through financial ingenuity, that is why they are still there so even when I am gone in the next thirty years they would still be there.
What the state government did was we gave them land, provided infrastructure, gave them loans to build houses then we went to commercial banks, don’t forget that the CBN had directed that every commercial bank must put some money aside for SMEs, I think about 10percent of their annual profit or thereabout. Some of them have accrued this money and have not been investing them as directed most people don’t even know, it is only a few of us that work in the financial industry knows that these funds are there. So we went to these commercial banks and ask them to invest their equity funds into Shonga farms Holdings. These funds were used to buy equipments, so the banks are now part owners in that business because the money that has been invested is equity. That equity was now used to buy equipments.
These equipments were now used as security to secure loans from the banks; that is why we call it debt funding equity arrangement. A lot of people are not used to this kind of funding; all they know is government funding this and that. You need a good understanding of this funding arrangement to know how it works. So in essence, the equipments which were bought secured the loans obtained from the same banks. To make the arrangement comfortable, we were asked to partake in the stake and what we did was capitalize the road construction, power and the infrastructures given to assist them into shares. That is how we were able to stabilize Shonga holdings which are a holding company to about thirteen other companies broken down into three major consortiums; they are Diary, Poultry and Mix Cropping. Today it is a huge success story. Those who followed us there know that it is a success story. They are the best hatchery in sub sahara Africa, mark my choice of words and we have just a few farms like that where there is complete value chain; starting from the parent stock, to the hatchery to the day old, broilers and then to the dressed chicken. It is a complete value chain and what does that tell you? It simply say it is a derisk business. Potential business agents can put their money there. It was after we did that, that companies came from South Africa and injected Forty Million dollars, the hatchery you saw came from that because investors have come to put money there.
If the business is not viable why will they put their money there?
So compare that with whatever you hear, go there and see for yourself, I feel very proud to be part of that success story. Those who don’t know beyond subsistent farm expect that each time we talk of Shonga Farms they want to see Maize on the road, products here and there, it is beyond that. That is why we still have about two hundred million Nigerians who cannot grow what we want to eat.
If you go to America, less than 10 percent of Americans feed the whole of America but here 70 percent of us are farmers yet we are importing food, what does that indicate?
One word, efficiency. There is no efficiency. Efficiency can only happen when you take the bull by the horn, de-risk it; recognize the value chain, fund it and you see the business growing. It is a pilot to show Nigerians how a value chain can be use to drive agric business. So those who don’t understand should go there and see things for themselves, thank you.
Critics say you spent about N2billion on a low key celebration, on the whole, how much was budgeted for the Kwara at 50 celebrations?
What was budgeted was appropriated, it’s there in the appropriation law, I am working within the budget, those who criticize us need see the public document, budget, how much we spent was in there, check you will see whether what we have done is appropriate or short of expectation, go see it. What we spent is less than 10 percent of what people are saying. When the SSG came in the Chairman of the committee I hugged him because he had been judicious, we never expect that the amount will be enough, less than 10percent.
What is the status of the Cargo terminal?
The Cargo terminal as you may be aware is a federal government thing and until it is made like a concurrent thing then we would have a critical role to play. Several investors had come to meet us wanting to partner with out cargo terminal but we told them a go ahead must come from the federal government and aviation as it were today is not on concurrent list. When we were doing the cargo terminal, it was with the understanding that is going to serve as a platform for exporting agric produce which our farmers will naturally be expected to produce from Shonga and other areas but the dwindling level of our economy has made us the net importer of foods as against what we plan for net exportation. We are still talking with a few individuals and companies who can partner with us or through whatever means to assist us in getting concession from federal government to enable utilization as such, that is part of the challenge we have because it is not yet at the stage that state government can take decision on their own.
Herdsmen and farmers clashed recently in a community, how far have you gone breaking a truce with the warring parties?
The Herdsmen Issue has been reviewed very critically. We had a very extensive meeting with the representatives of the herdsmen, representatives of traditional rulers and that of the farmers and we all agreed that we need to cooperate within ourselves for us to get a peaceful environment. Part of the cooperating is that we have a Myetialla, which is a body that houses the cattle rearers. It is agreed that anytime there is an encroachment on any farm compensation would be extended and members will ensure that compensation is paid as and when due. On the strength of that you will see very little areas of differences it means if your cow destroys a farm you will pay compensation. The only problem is that this is workable within our area, where we have cattle rearers from places like Mali, they may not know that we have a compensation arrangement on ground. This is where the Miyeti-Allah comes in, it is their responsibility to help us identify which one is from Mali and which one is our own because some of us cannot distinguish one from another. So on the strength of that they have promised to keep a tab on those areas so that straying cattle rearers are discouraged and those who live within us would rear their cattle in way and manner that their cattle will not stray into farmlands.
What is the true state of the state’s mass transit scheme, members of the public critic that the luxurious buses had stayed too long inside government house awaiting distribution perhaps because these buses are not in good shape?
Firstly, these luxurious buses were purchase under our SME arrangement
for members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW who
will operate them and return money to the state coffers. Secondly, the terminus where these buses will operate from is still under construction, if we had completed it they would have started operation in about two days ago but as it is now going by the level of the work on that site, by next week the buses will start work in earnest.