By Mary Amodu
Mohammed Bello, Niger State Governor was one of the few sitting governors who came personally to the National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress, APC to submit his expression of interest and nomination forms after which he spoke with journalists on his reelection bid.
Why is he running for second term
I am actually not happy today because I just left communities that have been submerged completely by water. We have close to 20 LGAs which have been submerged with water.
Why I am seeking for a second time is simple, we have started some good works and most of them are near completion and we must do our best to complete those projects in the interest of our people. These are projects that are of high impact to the citizens of Niger State, so we have at the moment invested a lot in the state to ensure condusive economy and social environment in the future, so four years is not enough, eight years is a bit tough but with eight years, we hope that the predecessor in 2023 would maintain the temple to continue with the infrastructural development. So, yes I am going for second term to enable me complete some of the projects which are still ongoing.
His take on the recent defection on APC
I am not really bothered about the defection. I have carefully analyzed those defecting and I have discovered most of them are defecting for personal reasons. They don’t have one unified reason for defection. They all have individual reasons why they are defecting. So, I am not really bothered about those defections.
Whether Niger State has tapped into the benefit of been around the FCT
Because of our proximity to FCT there is a lot of pressure on our infrastructure especially in Suleja area, most people who work in Abuja live in Suleja and that has brought about pressure on our infrastructure and amenities in Suleja Local Government Area. We have started working with Ministry of Finance and FCT on the infrastructure and we found out that most of the people who work in Suleja pay their taxes in FCT but we have started reaping those benefits and we are still working on others.
When FCT was conceived, Niger State contributed to 75% of the land in FCT at that point, there were a lot of agreements, understandings, arrangements that were signed and the Federal government has not kept to those agreements. At the moment we have formed a committee, a pressure group that would interface with the government to enable us recover some of those commitment. The most important of those promises then was to improve on our infrastructure in Suleja, to provide tertiary institutions, access roads to reduce pressure in the main Suleja road itself. Doing this, would reduce hardship in Suleja LGA. So, you are right, we havent yet reaped the right benefit of been close to FCT. I hope once we compiled all our documents together, we have a consultant working on all the benefits and compensations but unfortunately, I know most of those for compensation must have died but it is better late than never, so we would continue to push until we get the last dime of what is meant for Niger State.
Intention to sustain Niger State as the best state in terms of Agriculture in Nigeria
Agriculture is something we need to take seriously, we have tried our best but I think we need to do more. We have recently provided about 150 tractors but I think we have to go commercial, mechanized farming, we tried to develop our dams to encourage more of dry season farming.
The problem with the wet season farming is the flood issues and I can tell you, we have had the worst flood season since I became the Governor. Thousands of hectares of lands submerged with water, and more than 100 communities are experiencing this. So, this year unfortunately, the production would be less than last year which was close to 540000 metric tones of rice.
On Educational Development
As regards to education, this is something we need to take seriously. We have put in place a framework to guarantee the educational system in Niger State, to improve on the quality. Unfortunately when we came in, most of the infrastructure were worn out, as you are aware, education requires a lot of capital, you also know the investment of education is not immediately but we have decided to moved on. We have started picking up our schools, the whole school system approach with the secondary schools, we have also started working on the primary schools, through UBEC and at the same time, we are given some spot to our tertiary institutions. We have started a teachers training center to reduce the teachers gap which is functional now and few years from now, we would start yielding fruits when we start producing good quality teachers. So, those are the main problems we found in education, infrastructure and technical issues as regards to the classrooms, dormitory, materials and the technical side is the quality of teachers that we lack.