October 23, 2023

Insecurity won’t halt developmental strides in Niger State – Gov Bago

Bago, Speaker

Mohammed Umar Bago,

…says state in news for wrong reasons due to protracted insurgency

…bags most innovative governor award

By Gift ChapiOdekina

Niger State Governor, Mohammed Bago has said that despite the security challenges in the state, developmental strides are inevitable for the people of Niger.

This is as the governor also stated that the state has no business being poor, having been blessed with enormous human and natural resources, assuring that under his leadership, the resources of the state would be adequately harnessed for the benefit of citizens.

Bago stated this in Minna, the Niger State capital, at a meeting organised by the Niger State Government for the House of Representatives Press Corp.

The event, which signified the end of a two-day retreat on climate change organised by the state government for the press corps, had the governor honoured with the ‘most innovative governor’ of the year award.

While lamenting that the state is always in the news for wrong reasons due to protracted insurgency that has claimed lives, Bago said his administration has developed strategies to tackle insecurity while assuring that the menace won’t stop the state from making developmental strides.

He said: “Niger State is the largest in terms of land mass in Nigeria, with about 76, 300 square kilometres of arable land. Niger State also has four Hydropower dams. That is Kianji, Jeba, Shiroro and Zungeru. We have the only white sand beach in West Africa, the shagunu beach.

“There is also Zuma rock and a lot more that people don’t know. I have come here today to tell you that with this partnership we are establishing, we need to spread the gospel. Lets people understand where we stand. What people understand about Niger state is the issue of insecurity and insurgency.

“Yes, we cannot shy away from insecurity, it is a reality but what percentage of our land is in that mess? Very insignificant. You cannot underscore the fact that lives are being lost but we are saying that we are working assiduously to make sure that everybody lives well in Niger state and in Nigeria at large.”

Revealing what his administration was doing to mitigate the hardship occasioned by fuel subsidy removal, Bago said the state government has signed an agreement for the purchase of 200 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses.

According to him, the 200 buses is in fulfillment of his promise to provide free transportation for students and also for civil servants at a subsidised rate.

The governor stated: “We are very ambitious as a goverment. We have already purchased about 200 CNG buses to commute for free students going to school and subsidised for civil servants in Niger State. 100 of the buses will commute Abuja and Suleja daily, while 50 will be in Minna and others will be spread between Kontangora and Bida.

“Secondly, we have awarded contracts for construction of roads. That is about 566km of the roads and we have started with groundbreaking. It is unprecedented in this state, we are so ambitious and by the grace of God, we will be there.”

Speaking on the forthcoming two-day Green Economy Summit being hosted by the State government slated for Tuesday, Bago said the summit will provide an opportunity for the state to harness it’s potentials.

Noting that Nigeria was yet to explore the full benefits of green economy,
he lamented that Niger State has the largest congregation of shea trees in the world but no single effort is being done to plant them.
He said: “We are holding the first of its kind green economy summit because we have seen the comparative advantage we have in this state. So much money is out there and the only way we can access carbon credits is when we first aggregate our forests, and trade them in exchange for the emission by multi national companies.

“Niger State has the largest congregation of shea trees in the world It is an endowment by God. These things nobody knows about are there but our women are in the farms, cutting them down to make firewoods. We, however need them to understand that we must protect our forest from deforestation and also promote afforestation.

“We have two major Rivers. One, on the left side, River Niger and to the right side, River Kaduna. Niger is the only state with this endowment. You can navigate from Baro until you get to the Atlantic.

“So Niger state is not supposed to be poor. Now we have been given opportunity to write history but we don’t want to write it alone.”

He said despite Niger being rated as leading producer of paddy rice in the country, the rice mills in the state were nothing to write home about.

The governor who declared that the era where people take rice paddy out of the state for almost free was over, added that a Memorandum of Understanding between the state government and one of the leading rice mills in Nigeria, Gerawa Rice Mill was in the offing.

“I went for Peer review yesterday in Kano because Niger state is the largest producer of paddy rice in Nigeria but our rice mills are nothing to write home about. I heard of the largest rice mill in Africa in Kano and I went for Peer review and it is something that is massive.

“So how do we take comparative advantage of that? We will first aggregate this paddy and trade them off to these people instead of them coming here to carry it for free and our people are losing. We want to empower our local farmers with improved seedlings and inputs so that they can produce more tonnage and also make more money. We are going to have an MOU between Niger State Development Company and Gerawa rice mill for offtake of all rice paddy that we can control so that we are sure that our farmers don’t lose”, he said.

The governor emphasized the importance of collaboration in promoting accurate reportage and projection of a positive image of Niger,
stressing that “our story must be told and heard and the only way people understand our aims and objectives is when we speak our stories ourself.”

He added: “Your acceptance to hold this retreat in Minna, Niger State is fulfilling. Your coming to Minna has rejig the economy. Our hotelier and food vendors are happy. This retreat by the grace of God will hold annually in Niger.

“We cannot take for granted the relationship we have enjoined with national assembly press corp, especially the house of representatives. I was there for 12years and I know the stewardship of this corps.”

Chairperson of the House of Representatives Press Corps, Grace Ike, who presented the award to the governor, said the medal was in recognition of the governor’s excellent service, dedication and unparalleled contribution to the development of the Nigerian economy.