Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State in a chat with newsmen speaks on his activities in the last one year. Excerpts:
By Rufus Ike
Assessment of the Muhammadu Buhari administration
President Muhammadu Buhari has remained his honest self and to me, he has done well since his election. During the campaign period, his emphases were on three things security, tackling corruption and revamping the economy. Before he came on board, the corruption going on was mind-boggling.
The economy was in terrible shape and I recalled when some of us in the House of Representatives raised alarm over what was going on, we were called names and branded enemies of the former regime. The recent removal of subsidy shows that the President is on top of things as far as the economy is concerned.
If not for the trust and confidence the people have on President Buhari, the removal of the subsidy would have led to protests and breakdown of law and order.
Differences between Speakership and Governorship
Even though the two positions are important leadership positions, they are distinct from each other and demands are different. The adjustment has been gradual and the experience worthwhile. However, as I said, the demands of the two offices are not similar largely because, in the National Assembly, I was representing a constituency from far away in Abuja. But in the executive arm, as the number one citizen of the state, I am presiding over the affairs of the state from the state capital. I am now working from within the midst of the people at all times. This gives me the opportunity to feel the pulse of their demands and work together with them to find lasting solutions to issues.
As Speaker of the House of Representatives, you are first among equals, and you do not have a guarantee of tenure. You may go into the Chamber for sitting and come out of it as an ordinary member of the House. The decision to remain on that seat is at the discretion of 359 members who may decide to remove you from office at any given time without much fuse and at a very short notice.
The demands of the two offices are enormous even though not many would want to return to their positions after their tenure in the House of Representatives.
Just ask former Speakers Etteh (Patricia), Dimeji Bankole, Ghali Na’Abba and the rest. The same cannot be said of Governors.
Continuity of projects
This administration is a continuation of the last administration, and we feel it is of paramount importance to complete ongoing projects. However, due to the precarious financial situation we find ourselves in the country, it became imperative to reassess our priorities. We’ve looked into all the projects and decided on priority ones to complete. Our pledge is that there will be no abandoned projects, and we will start new ones at the appropriate time.
Education sector revival
We declared a state of emergency in the sector because we felt extreme measures were required to tackle the problems there. In the last one year, we set up a technical committee under the leadership of Professor Risqua Arabu Shehu to analyse all the problems and proffer solution.
Few weeks back, we received an interim report and the Committee has continued its work. We are determined to turn around the fortunes of the sector for the benefit of our people.
You know we have a competitive advantage when it comes to some selected crops like rice, wheat, tomato and onions. In the next harvesting season, we hope to be the number one state in the production of garlic, sesame seed, and ginger.
Our farmers will testify to the fact that this administration has impacted positively in the sector in the last one year. We have purchased about 20,000 metric tonnes of assorted fertilizers worth over N1.2 billion for this year’s cropping season. We did same last year. The State Government has also intervened in the provision of water pumps, seedlings, drilling tube wells and machinery. Similarly, we have procured 1000 units of Tiller Machines for distribution to farmers.
Plans for 2019
In my view, it is wrong to bring up the issue of 2019 when we are just a year old in office. This is 2016, so the discussion about 2019 is absolutely unnecessary at this time. My philosophy is simple: during the political season, discuss politics, during the time of governance; the topic of discussion should be governance.