Thursday, November 13, 2014 8:50 am
Abba Risqua Murtala Muhammed, son of the assassinated Head of State, Murtala Ramat Muhammed, has declared his intention to contest for the gubernatorial election in Kano state under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. While formally declaring his aspiration at his campaign office located on Hadejia Road, penultimate week, the former Senior Special Assistant to ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo on Foreign Affairs spoke glowingly on his vision and mission for Kano state, pinpointing agriculture as his cardinal policy thrust. MADUABUCHI NMERIBEH was there.
Why do you want to become Governor of Kano state?
I have taken the time to critically examine the development of the democratic ideals in our state and the achievements of the numerous governments and our various political institutions with a view to contributing my quota. After extensive consultations with numerous stakeholders, ranging from family members to friends, associates, elders, the traditional institutions, Ulamas, political associate and professionals in various human endeavours, I arrived at the conclusion to offer myself for the race, so as to translate the experiences I have gathered in both public and private sectors of the economy into play.
I have also reviewed the provisions of the Nigerian constitution to ascertain the extent to which our political actors, institutions and the general public have participated in our country’s democratic journey as guided by our constitution vis-à-vis the compelling need for me to participate in the political arena. It’s thus about contributing to the ongoing efforts to build a state where every Kano indigene is given the opportunity to excel in his chosen career under the tenets of equity, fairness, justice, peace and unity. But what is more important than anything else is stomach infrastructure, as a hungry man is an angry man.
I have concluded with prayers, seeking the Almighty Allah to guide me and give me the wisdom to choose the right path.
What are those things you will like to fix right if given the chance to govern Kano?
Those before us have played their part; those in current leadership positions are playing theirs too. We must play our part too. We must continue to add value to the positive developments, refine the not so positive developments and dump the negative developments for the benefit our people. Allah has given our state so much to be thankful for, as we are blessed with vast arable land, large deposits of various natural resources, a large population of able bodied men and women, a people that are very proud of their heritage and culture, a state that has historically been the centre of commerce and is traditionally regarded as the trading hub of sub Saharan Africa and of course visionary leaders who have bequeathed legacies for us to build upon. We must collectively express our appreciation to Allah for his blessings and mercy by harnessing all these potentials for the benefit of our people. We must continue to build Kano State and make her an example for other African cities to follow by creating the enabling environment for wealth creation and prosperity.
I must as a matter of priority provide the basic infrastructure for businesses to thrive, for commerce to flourish on a global level and for investors to recognize Kano State as the preferred investment destination. I must ensure the smooth functioning of our educational institutions and transform them to centres of excellence that will provide our children the opportunity to achieve their desired goals in life, by competing favourably with others from any part of the world in terms of educational, exposure and analytical skills.
Apart from that, I will equip our hospitals to cater for the health of our huge population and provide an alternative to the hardship being faced by our people and huge resources being spent in search of health care in foreign lands that cannot boast of more natural blessings of Allah than we have.
Also, I must provide employment opportunities for our people, so as to earn commensurate salaries at the end of the month, which will allow them to comfortably put three square meals on the table, as well as improve the quality of life by owning good cars, homes and the ability to secure their future. Creation of an environment where people can have thriving businesses that allow them to participate in regional markets and even compete globally will be given priority attention. I must develop agriculture to the level of feeding the entire country and restore the good old days of “Operation Feed the Nation” but this time, by Kano State”.
You agree with me that one of the factors killing Kano economy is epileptic power supply. What alternative arrangement are you planning to ensure adequate power supply to sustain Kano industries when you get their?
I will explore five major areas, among others to ensure regular power supply if given the opportunity, which will include Energy, considered as the fuel of economic growth. To this end, I will collaborate with other northern states and the federal government to create an enabling environment for the regular generation of electricity in Northern Nigeria, through the supply of gas, with which to fuel our electricity generation plants and power our industries. Also, I will cooperate with the federal government to fast track the construction of rail line from areas with large deposits of low sulphur coal within the country to support the establishment of coal fired power plants in our state. To ensure it sustainability, I will establish a state electricity company to be saddled with the responsibility of establishing electricity generation plants for direct delivery of electricity to our industrial areas. (I think RMk has done this) I will also develop alternative sources of energy in Kano State by encouraging private sector participation in the development of energy, while at the same time protecting the rights of consumers against sharp practices of energy providers by establishing an efficient state electricity regulation agency .Soon after satisfying the requirements of the industrial community, I will supply the excess electricity capacity generated internally to the private distribution companies for onward supply to individual households and private consumers.
Besides, I will create new industrial parks in Kano State in proximity to the electricity generation plants with direct supply of electricity from those plants .I will also fight desert encroachment through the provision of adequate infrastructure and incentives for promoting the distribution and use of cooking gas. In order to ensure that school leavers and youths are gainfully employed, I will create job opportunities through the provision of electricity and gas to fuel our industries. To ensure health growth of agricultural produce, I will establish a fertilizer plant, which will be powered by gas to cater for our agricultural requirements. At the close of the day, my goal is to ensure that Kano State is transformed to a viable industrial and manufacturing haven, as I ensure the provision of power to process and preserve our farm produce for delivery to the local and international markets. I will power our hospitals to provide proper healthcare, as well as power our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions towards becoming centres of excellence. Also, I will create the platform to adequately put in place a surveillance system that will monitor and police our communities, as power is inevitably the engine for growth, development and the creation of a secure and peaceful environment.
How do you intend to boost agriculture as Governor of Kano state?
If given the opportunity, I will revive Operation Feed the Nation in Kano State, so as to make Agriculture a major source of livelihood for our people, as well as a major revenue earner for Kano State. Mechanized agriculture will be our main focus in order to create an export-oriented agricultural state. With all sincerity, I will transform, Kano State to the continental hub for the production, processing and export of agricultural produce in the entire country. Large parcels of arable land will be made available to farmers, as well as access to funding, credit facilities and incentives will be provided to develop these lands into effective large-scale farms. Also, I will make available quality high yielding seeds, productive breeds, fertilizer, pesticides and readily provide modern farming tools to all our farmers. Relevant agricultural advice/support will be made readily available to farmers to enable them effectively utilize all the agricultural incentives, which would be put in place to develop their capacity. Agricultural research will be given top priority in order to enhance productivity and delivery of farm produce to the available markets, both domestic and international. Areas such as production of quality seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, animal feeds, packaging and processing food products will be top on our agricultural programme. Also, I will greatly improve the required standards to farmers, as well as train them on modern farming techniques and the effective management of mechanized agricultural tools. To ensure an all season farming, I will champion the completion of Kano Second Irrigation Scheme, as well as develop all available dams in the state, rehabilitate and expanded them as the case may be for the provision of adequate irrigation during the dry season and flood control during the rainy season. Water canals will be developed for effective distribution of water to the farms, as water distribution equipment will be made available to the farmers for round the year cultivation of crops and the development of grazing areas for livestock. I will make available processing centres, which will enable our farmers to process and preserve their crops to ensure that the quality of their farm produce conforms with international standards.
To ensure preservation of farm produce, I will make modern refrigeration and storage facilities available to all farmers, as well as enhance the effective delivery of farm produce, including beef to the market in the most edible and hygienic condition. Infrastructure for transporting farm produce will be given top priority. A comprehensive road network will be developed from our farms to local markets and export processing zones will be created to enhance the export of farm products to the international markets.
What are your plans for education considering the fact that Kano is lagging behind in this sector?
Based on the fact that the Future of our Leaders of Tomorrow is dependent on education, I will to that extent develop a comprehensive curriculum in order to improve the quality and standard of education for the state’s primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. I will set up a committee for the formulation of a well-rounded plan that will focuses on the quality of our teachers in order to improve the learning skills of our students. For a conducive and improved learning environment, I will embark on the building of structurally sound classrooms, equipped with modern chairs, desks and teaching equipment, with ICT infrastructure, libraries, science laboratories and adequate sporting facilities.
All the educational institutions, as a matter of top priority will be equipped with up to date and relevant text books, teaching aids, such as white boards with markers and all necessary accessories, projectors, computers etc. To avoid congestion, I will ensure that no more than 40 people per class, so as to achieve the 99.9% literacy coverage level in the entire state. Also, I will as a matter of top priority discourage the almajiri practice by providing the necessary incentives to enable our people enrol their children in schools. I will equally encourage vibrant parent teachers associations in our primary and secondary schools, as well as the putting in place of competent advisory boards in our tertiary institutions.
I will encourage the teaching of disciplines and support research in our tertiary institutions, which will apply to our peculiar composition as a state, as well as support vocational training, technical education, adult and mass education for the adult population in the state, with particular focus on women. I will also ensure the inculcation of good character, which will tally with our religious teachings.
What measures would you put in place to ensure a healthy society?
I will increase the budget of the Health sector by providing hospitals, equipment and medicine to adequately cater for the medical needs of our people. Among others, it will include the provision and proper maintenance of state of the art medical equipment and healthcare infrastructure. Also. I will invest heavily in laboratories and health centres in every local government area of the State and provide major immunization/vaccine centres and blood banks in major parts of the state. I will establish free emergency services in all the 44 Local Government areas by providing ambulances and mobile clinics, equipped with basic life support systems and first aid services with emergency hotline services in order to create an effective emergency response system for our people. I will also create an enabling environment for private investment in the health sector and encourage, as well as encourage public private partnership in the provision of healthcare institutions in our state.
My would-be administration will partner with tertiary hospitals to provide adequate coverage to all state hospitals by equipping them with the necessary diagnostic, laboratory and surgical equipment, required to provide proper healthcare to our people. As a top priority, I will ensure the provision of genuine, affordable and up to date drugs for our people in treating their ailments.
As an incentive, I will implement a comprehensive salary scheme for our doctors and health workers in order to secure their commitment towards providing quality medical services to our people. I will in addition implement an effective medical education programme for all doctors and health workers in order to enhance their medical knowledge and competence in the discharge of their duties.
Apart from that, I will develop a comprehensive midwifery program in all the rural areas, and empower the State Medical Board with the necessary powers to regulate medical practices in the state, and severely sanction and punish perpetrators of improper medical treatment and the marketing of fake drugs. The board will implement a very strict policy of ensuring that our medical doctors and health workers have the necessary training and permits to practice their profession. I will equally regulate the practice of local herbalists, as well as address the use of local concoctions by our people, which will serve as a first line of defence to treat medical ailments. I will ensure the implementation of thorough yearly appraisals and performance audit of medical centres and their staff.
Apart from that, I will introduce a comprehensive tele-medicine programme to aid the delivery of adequate healthcare to our rural populace, including an online networking of all hospitals in Kano State.
To bridge manpower in the Healthcare Sector, I will employ and train more doctors and health workers in local and international medical institutions in order to keep them abreast with unfolding international medical exploits around the world
In addition, I will transform both the existing Muhammad Abdullahi Wase Specialist Hospital and the Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital into state of the art hospitals and make them the centres of medical excellence to cater for the healthcare needs of not only the people of Kano but for the entire Northern Region, while Kano State will become a centre for Sub Saharan medical tourism.
What plans do you have to transform Kano State to an investment destination ?
First and foremost, I will provide adequate potable drinking water at affordable rates, as well as infrastructure to all parts of Kano State. Besides, I will construct an effective drainage system, as well as establish an effective refuse collection and disposal programme. Industries will be compelled to properly treat their waste in order to avoid contaminating drinking water sources, while Health officers will be mandated and equipped to constantly monitor and inspect all parts of the state, especially markets in order to ensure that strict sanitation standards are complied with to ensure personal and environmental hygiene.
To avoid the spread of malaria, I will ensure a mosquito and fly free environment, as well as get rid of all stagnant pools of water by constantly fumigating drainages in Kano State and its environs. This will significantly reduce the rate of transmission of diseases, illnesses and the high cost of treating these illnesses and the burden that these avoidable sicknesses put on our health care system.
How would you improve on the provision of infrastructure in the entire state?
To ensure accessibility to all areas, I will establish rural, metropolitan and intrastate road networks of streets, roads, highways and expressways, as well as regularly maintain the roads to ensure that they are free of potholes, thereby providing a trouble-free driving environment. As an alternative, I will introduce more sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, traffic lights, streetlights, traffic cameras, traffic monitoring towers, mega bridges and flyovers for a hitch-free flow of traffic. I will also focus attention on the State Geographic Information System in order to enhance the orderly planning, development and expansion of Kano State, which will at the close of the day provide the platform for the Global Positioning System and traffic routing. I will in addition improve on our urban renewal strategy to further decongest our urban areas and provide the amenities necessary to cater for our population.
Since the banning of commercial motor cycles and introduction of tricycles, transportation has been a source of worry to residents in the metropolis. How do you intend to address the hiccups inter-city transportation?
After due consultations, I will introduce an effective Mass Transport System, comprising an effective government-operated 24 hour public bus transport system with frequent bus stops all around the state, which will be operated at an affordable price for the benefit of our people. Besides, I will establish an efficiently regulated public sector metered taxi cab system, including air-conditioned cars and radiophones for on demand bookings. Also, I must ensure that there’s intra-city light rail system to ferry our people from all nooks and crannies of Kano State to every other part of the State at an affordable price, in an efficient and timely manner. The measure will decongest the city of incessant traffic, noise and smoke pollution. Also, I will establish rail stations in every district, including a central rail station at the centre of the rail network. I will install a comprehensive community camera surveillance network to monitor our environment and take stock of ongoing developments in order to reduce crime, as well as transform our markets into proper well laid out organized markets to cater for the needs of our people in a clean, orderly and sanitized environment. Also, I will create a proper traffic system and adequate car parks for these markets in order to reduce congestion and traffic obstructions on major and minor roads. Furthermore, I will set up a comprehensive database of the entire population of Kano State in order to create records for statistics and planning purposes.
Do you have any plan for sustainable housing scheme for Kano residents?
To ensure that all Kano residents are conveniently accommodated, I will embark on massive low and medium income housing schemes, with mortgage packages to cater for the high housing demand of the average Kano family. In addition to that, I will create a commercial and financial centre open to all local and international companies that plan to establish a commercial presence in Kano Stat In order to keep fit, I will establish recreational youth sport centres for our teeming youths in every Local Government Area in order to create an avenue for our children, brothers and sisters to channel their energy and have a sense of belonging. It will go a very long way in engaging our youth and keep them away from negative vices. My priority, among others is for stomach infrastructure as well as to put food on the table of our average Kano family and it is my belief that all my mind set will result in food in the stomachs of our people. At the close of the day, it will inevitably lead to a satisfied society, where peace will reign supreme, thereby resulting in our collective security.