Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has clarified more earlier comments he made expressing dismay over the war of words between some northern and southern governors. In this interview, the governor also reiterated his position about grazing, insisting that ranches and modern animal husbandry be put in place.
By Abdulmumin Murtala
What informed the comments you made at the Independence Day ceremony speech you delivered concerning the North-South dichotomy?
I will start by congratulating us all about the independence celebration after Nigeria has attained 61 years. I know my speech at the stadium will attract criticisms to some, appreciation to some and what we call in Hausa ‘kace na ce’.
But I think the first question has hit the nail on the head. The recent problem between northern governors and southern governors as I earlier mentioned, is unfortunate.
A situation whereby governors of one region use uncomplimentary language to their colleagues in the other region is not civilised at all. There is no civilisation at all in that. The issues at stake are varied; some issues that can be resolved while some issues are political party issues.
To me some of the issues that brought the dichotomy is the issue of power shift, whether power should go to the north or whether power should go to the south.
Like I have been saying, the constitution has not mentioned that power should shift from North to South. But it has been a tradition in the country to have power zoning. And this zoning is a strategy by a political party. Each party has to develop a strategy on how to win election.
If you think power shift will bring you votes to win elections, you have not offended the constitution. If you think you can retain leadership of this country forever and win election, the constitution is not offended.
So I thought this issue should be left to political parties to resolve. Not we as governors to have two opposing groups. That is important.
So I urge the chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum to convene a meeting of the governors forum so that we apologise to each other for the uncomplimentary remarks on an issue that is solely a political one. That is my stand on that.
What other issue can you attribute to this problem between the northern governors and those of the south?
Another issue that brought the dichotomy is the issue of open grazing. Each state has the powers to make laws and there is diversity in each of these states.
What is one problem to this state may not be a problem to another state. So states have the powers with their state assemblies to make laws.
I have been saying it; is unfortunate that the issue of open grazing have brought a lot of controversy.
Like I earlier said, trekking from northern part of this country to the middle belt or central part of this country or to the south, to me, is not acceptable.
The children will not be able to have education, which to me it is criminal. Will the education system follow them along with the routes from north to central to southern parts of this country? Can any educational system agreed with that? That is one.
The other issue is that some of these herdsmen are from West African countries. Because of climatic change they move down to northern parts of this country, to the Middle Belt and to the South with thousands of cattle and with arms.
Should that be acceptable to Nigeria? Can’t we take it to the ECOWAS organisation? Before the issue of the climatic change and many years ago, the relationship between herdsmen and farmers was esteem symbiotic relationship. While the farmers provide grazing areas for the herdsmen, the herdsmen provide manure for the farmers.
But now the discovery of fertilizer, the farmer does not require manure as such and with the increase of population, the grazing areas are reduced.
Even with the climate change, the vegetation has changed. So now the relationship is a parasitic relationship not a symbiotic relationship and that beings conflict.
So I think is better to develop the ranching system where the herdsmen are confined to a place where they can have animal husbandry in the modern system.
That is why at the Dansoshiya Forest here in Kano we creating the Ruga system where we provide water, housing, markets, veterinary clinic and educational system for the children so that they can also be enjoying social development like any other person in Nigeria.
I think that is the answer because now the issue is that as I have been saying herdsmen have not succeeded in killing poverty and poverty neither has nor succeeded in killing herdsmen.
Because a man with thousands of cattle cannot be called a poor man, he is moving with a mobile bank. But there is no doubt somebody who treks from the north to the south cannot be called a rich man.
If you look at his shoes and his body you will understand that the herdsman has not succeeded in killing poverty and poverty has not succeeded in killing the herdsman.
I was once in China and I asked my driver, a Chinese man, ‘I have not seen cows crossing the roads?’ He said ‘no, no, no, the cattle rearers are in one zone. Anybody who wants to rear cattle will be in that zone. That is why you cannot see the cows here and there’.
“That is planning. That is what we should have.
The greatest crime in migrating from north to south for grazing is lack of education for the children. As far as I am concerned, that is the greatest crime, you denying somebody education.
“No Islamic education, no western education, nothing whatsoever; that is why we are in the problems in which we are now.
Is like the governors concentrate more on issues that are political instead of issues of development. Don’t you see this as retrogressive to the nation?
Governors are talking about politics instead of the problems bedeviling the country. Well, even the problems bedeviling the country are also politics.
We have to look at them, some require political solutions and as you know, as 2023 approaches, even you journalists, your attention is on politics now rather than development or the country’s problems. So that is the problem of 2023.
Can you add a few words on your opinion about power shift in the country?
The issue of power shift has been answered. I said it is a political party issue. There is no muscling about that.
But some of us think as tradition, power can be rotating from one part of the country to another, that one is not a crime. If there is an understanding like that, it is not a crime but that one is a political party issue.
You have achieved a lot in terms of infrastructure project, how do you see the possibility of completing them before the end of your tenure?
Yes, I said we completed some started by the last administrations and some left by my previous administration and the Kwankwaso administration. We found it important and we completed some, in fact many, but still there are some left due to lack of funds especially the five kilometer roads in each of the 44 Local Government Areas.
We are still battling because we still need more than N60 billion, which we don’t have. But I assure you, the ones that we started, we will complete them according to our estimations.
What will be the position of Kano state concerning Value Added Tax, VAT, between the states and the FGN?
The issue of the Value Added Tax and the states, that one is before the court. So I will not comment on that lest I get accused of acting in contempt of court.