· How he killed Agriculture in Zamfara
BY IFEANYI CHUKWU NWANNAH
The last statistics released by National Population Commission indicated that Zamfara is a state with 3.7million people. The people depend very much on farming with its motto: “farming is our pride”. The rate of poverty was relatively low because the farming activity was the touchstone for year to year to sustainable economic growth. The people were comfortable with their farming activities.
But the advent of former Governor Ahmad Sani Yarima’s government in
1999 killed farming both in the rural and urban areas as he introduced
politics to the youths and women who then believed that there was a lot to gain in politics than in farming. Both the youths and women began to rush to Gusau for greener pasture.
Then Yarima began to purchase and distribute motorcycles to the youth
through Zamfara Poverty Reduction Agency. And anyone who collected the motorcycles would sell it and come back for another one. No one ventured to commit the money to production. It continued like that until Yarima left office in 2007.
When he left, poverty began to bite hard on the people because the new
government led by Shinkafi could not lavish money like Yarima. But he
encouraged the youths to go to school. He therefore devoted 28 percent
of total budget of 2008 on education. With this, he was able to build
and rebuild 33 Junior and Senior Secondary Schools. He further made a
policy framework which placed emphasis on the full development of
education, infrastructural and economic development to eliminate the
problem of unemployment.
Even though former Governor Ahmad Sani Yarima was said to have squandered the resources of the state, he created remarkable history by the construction of the State Skill Acquisition Program where the youths across the state were trained on various trades after which they were empowered for a sustainable growth. While on training, they were given some allowances
to keep them happy.
Experts have described the effort as unique aimed at eradicating poverty among the people. When former Governor Shinkafi took over the throne, he even increased the allowances from N3,000 to N5,000 per month so that apprentices could do their job with ease.
The important point to note here is the level of commitment made by both Senator Yarima and Shinkafi’s administrations to empower the youth and the women who were the majority in any given society, so as to create a conducive environment for the youth and women.
But when Abdulaziz Yari came in, he did not see anything good in the
Skill Acquisition Program hence, he scrapped the program. The action
of the Governor pushed most of the youths into the forest killing
innocent people every day. Former Governor Shinkafi in an interview
with newsmen in his Gusau residence last week lamented that poverty is
responsible for various fashions of crime in Zamfara state because
insecurity has never resigned during both Yarima’s time and his own
time. This he said is because the rate of poverty is very high.
He attributed the cause of poverty and crime to the sack of over 14,000 civil servants in the state, saying that since they have no work and no money in their pockets, they have to relocate to the forest for blood deals.
An economist, Adam Smith who lived in the 18th Century, said there is
no society that can be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater
part of the members are poor and miserable. It has been proved that,
the truth of what he said is even most obvious today while minority
live in relative comfort, majority are living in squatters, setting up shacks where they can. Those who are not fortunate, they take to the street.
Many eke out a living in whatever way they can, scavenging in garbage
dumps, hauling heavy loads. It is obvious that many people cannot afford two square meals a day talk less of having account in financial institution. The World Bank statistics put it that 12.5million Nigerians have no bank account yet. The statistics of how many people that have no bank account is not yet clear. But there is every evidence that the risk of poverty in Zamfara is directly correlated to lack of projects that have economic value and direct bearing to the lives of the people which can give rise to general employment in the state.
Economic experts have said, the only way to free Zamfara state from the clutches of poverty is a natured, structured and supported economic policy by the government. That they say is the only viable means to contribute meaningfully to employment.
Former Governor Shinkafi said that when he took over power in 2007, he
discovered that if Zamfara state must keep from long dominated economic woes, having over 70 percent of poverty concentration in the state, there must therefore be a strong economic development. Even though the state is a traditional rural state, he sourced funds from financial institutions to rebase the state economy.
He submitted that, the urge to make Zamfara depend less on oil and Federal allocation pushed him to initiate the State Solid Mineral Processing Company, Zamfara International Cargo Airport, the Seven Storey Investment House, BSM Petroleum Refinery which he said all the projects had economic value to the state.
The Former Governor said all the projects were on going and that his
administration was negotiating for N18billion form the capital markets to use N4billion to finance the on-going projects and use the remaining one to service the outstanding debt.
The state solid minerals factory which he initiated completed in partnership with the Chinese firm. It was a 50-50 deal which former Governor Shinkafi said his government contributed N1.4billion and the Chinese firm contributed N1.4billion on the project also. The project was completed and commissioned by President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to him, the statistics released by the National Planning department, cooper can only be located in Zamfara throughout Nigeria.
Hence, he said he had to invite the Americans and Chinese to invest in
Copper business which he said they moved straight to Bakura and other
local government areas. He said the solid mineral processing factory can serve that purpose but added that since the Federal Government controls the whole resources in Nigeria, the factory was not able to function during his tenure.
The Zamfara International Cargo Airport which the Governor said would have brought economic prospect to the state. He said that many international experts on the field came in and gave their own pieces of advice. According to him, in the while Africa, it is only Kenya that has the International Cargo Airport which he said is generating a lot of revenue for the country. That he said gave him the idea to initiate the project in Zamfara state so that the state will depend less on oil and Federal allocation.
In the same vein, the initiation of seven storey investment house was done for foreign investors to come in, saying that, it was about 75percent completion before he left power. These are economic projects which any responsible government cannot neglect because of its great importance.
The former Governor is very optimistic that putting these projects into operation will draw the attention of the youth, pointing out that, an idle mind is a devils workshop and that if the youths have work and money in their pockets, the thought of crime would not originate in their minds.
He said during his tenure, local government councils were given their whole money so that they could initiate and construct projects for the benefit of their people. Then some people were employed in the local government areas without coming to urban areas.
It is certainly clear that, the former Governor MahmudaAliyu Shinkafi
is one of the favoured aspirants of Zamfara PDP governorship race. He
is favoured by both women and youth.