We’ll recover all monies released for projects not done under Tambuwal – Gov Aliyu

We’ll recover all monies released for projects not done under Tambuwal – Gov Aliyu

‘Ko kudi ko aiki’, which literally means “You either work or return our money” has been the trademark of the current administration in Sokoto State under the leadership of Governor Ahmed Aliyu. In this interview with selected journalists, the governor explained how this came about. He also spoke on some of the challenges he met in the state and how they have been tackling them. Our reporter Abubakar Auwal reports.

What were the challenges you met when you were sworn in as Governor of Sokoto State?  

It has been very, very hectic. Very hectic in the sense that I took the mantle of leadership in Sokoto without any working document. What I mean by a working document is that there was no handover note to guide me.  I just drew a line and started afresh.  

 When we came in, the state was in a mess. Many things were in bad condition. No potable water in the state and the only place with running taps, you would see that they were only getting raw water, which was not treated. In fact, it was not good for human consumption. No electricity throughout the state, including the government house. Township roads were not motorable because they were neglected. The state was very dirty. Our major roads were almost taken over by refuse, which constituted an eyesore.   Refuse had not been evacuated for years.  

Worker’s salaries were not paid as and when due, they were paid between the 10th and 15th of the following months. These were some of the ugly situations we inherited.

What steps (in terms of policies and programmes) did you take in addressing the challenges you met in the state? 

Before we even won our election, we were monitoring the situation of the state under the then government. The system was not working at all. It was a bad system. Nothing was working in the state. That was what gave birth to my 9-Point Smart and Innovative Agenda, which consists of all the sectors of development, including, security, promoting Islamic affairs, education, agriculture, healthcare service delivery, youth and women empowerment, economy, local government autonomy, and water supply. If you look at these critically, you will see these are the major areas of development. 

 I am happy to inform you that, the people of the state have started feeling the impact of our policies because they have started seeing development, and improvement in all the sectors of the economy. 

Tell us what your government has done with regard to addressing banditry and other security-related issues.  

Security is everyone’s business. Nothing can be achieved without security. That is why I made it my number one priority. My government is committed to ensuring the security of life and property in the state. To that effect, I have been convening regular security meetings where the heads of security agencies brief me on the security situation in the state. As you know, security issues should not be made public, especially some of the measures we have taken to curtail the menace.  

But I would gladly tell you our intervention in this area is yielding positive results. Security agencies in the state are working in synergy and we have been sufficiently supporting them to carry out their operations effectively.  

We have also established the state security outfit, which we named Sokoto Community Guard Corps. Members of the corps were recruited from the 13 local government areas worst hit by insecurity.  They are well-equipped and well-trained. Their work is to complement the efforts of conventional security in the state. And Alhamdulillah, we have started seeing the positive results of this collaboration. 

In the area of education, what are your government’s efforts so far to mop up out of school children in Sokoto State? 

 Education plays a key role in any society. So, my government attaches great importance to education. It may interest you to know some of the achievements we have made so far in the sector. We offset all the outstanding registration fees of our students studying at Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto and other tertiary institutions across the country. We have so far spent one billion naira on paying registration fees for our students. Even yesterday, I approved N540 million for the payment of this year’s registration fees.

We have equally settled the salaries of sabbatical teachers in our institutions of higher learning from June 2023 to date. We have renovated quite a number of schools and equipped them. We have also restored feeding in our boarding schools which was abandoned by my predecessor.

Let me hit directly at your question. When we are talking about out-of-school children, we are talking about children who attained the official school age but are not enrolled. But mind you, we can only understand whether our children are out of school or not when we look at the peculiarity of each and every state and also look at the factors or yardsticks used in making this assessment.

As you know, Sokoto State is 100 per cent an Islamic state. Our children are being enrolled in Islamic schools at a very tender age. So, in this context, we cannot call all of them out-of-school children because they are attending Islamiyya schools. What we are doing now is integrating the two, Islamic and Western knowledge so that our children will learn both at the same time irrespective of which school they are attending, whether it is Islamiyya or conventional school.  And we have employed more teachers to that effect.

However, there are factors responsible for out-of-school children. Look at early marriage; look at conflicts like religious, tribal and even banditry as well as cultural norms. But like I said, we are working towards solving this problem. 

As the country battles with economic challenges, what short- and long-term measures has your government put in place to economically help citizens in Sokoto State? 

Alhamdulillah. Sokoto is one of the states in the country blessed with natural resources. We have gold, oil, and limestone. We are in discussion with investors to come to the state, so that we can work together and see how best we can harness our mineral deposits. At the same time, we are looking at how we can provide interest-free loans to our traders so that we can boost trade and commercial activities in the state.

 We are also planning to revive our ailing industries.  Sokoto State used to have ceramic and leather processing industries before, which have all gone down now. So, we will see how possible we can revive them.

We are also trying to see how best we can empower our teeming youth. I mean youths that are mostly found idle, to make them self-reliant and productive.

 So far so good, we have trained thousands of them in different skills and trades. And just two days ago, we provided 1000 motorcycles and 500 tricycles to our youth, all in our attempt to make our people gainfully employed.

We have so far started preparation to see how we can renovate our Lugu dam in Wurno Local Government Area for irrigation activities so that we can boost rice production. Not only a Lugu dam and other irrigation sites too, so as to ensure food sufficiency in the state.

We are also trying to see how best to carry our farmers along. Just five months ago, they were given fertiliser free of charge. Now we are trying to see how we can also provide them with farm implements and cash assistance to boost their morale.  

Your Excellency, Ko Kudi ko aiki, meaning you either work or return our money, has been the trademark of your government. Can you elaborate on this? 

Absolutely! That is the slogan, Ko Kudi ko aiki. The reason for this slogan is very clear. When we took over the affairs of this state, we discovered a lot of scams all over. The immediate past administration claimed to have executed many capital projects and to our surprise, the money had been released but in the real sense, no work was done. So, what we say is simple, we either see the work or the public money returned, that is all. Ko Kudi ko aiki.

Sokoto State has been experiencing water scarcity, how is this being tackled by your government?

You will agree with me, water is life. When we came in, the water situation in the state was so bad. A jerry can of water was sold between N150 and N200. This is unacceptable. That was why when I assumed office, I immediately declared a state of emergency on water supply in the state. We renovated and replaced some equipment in the main water intake and treatment plant.  At the same time, we renovated some number of boreholes and are currently, building new boreholes across the state, all in our efforts to provide potable and uninterrupted water supply to the people of the state. Not only that, we are trying to complete the water projects awarded during former Governor Aliyu Wamakko’s administration, including that of Gagi, Mana, Tamaje and Old Airport. I am optimistic that after completing these projects, Sokoto and its environs will be getting a 24-hour water supply. The project I am talking about was awarded yesterday to the tune of N14.1 billion.

Based on your plans and projections, where do you see Sokoto State in the next four years of your administration?

Yes, I mentioned that during my campaigns. I want to see Sokoto as a state which can guarantee quality education, potable drinking water, effective health service delivery, township roads, and good agricultural mechanisation to its citizens. I want to see a totally transformed Sokoto State, which can be the envy of other states, I want it to be a role model for other states.