Alhaji Aliyu Saleh Bagare, the Turakin Tikau, is the former Deputy Governor, under the Bukar Abba Ibrahim Administration in Yobe state. In this interview with National Trail newspaper, he spoke to Our Correspondent, YAHAYA WAKILI on his view of the Buhari administration, and how APC fares in Yobe State under Governor Ibrahim Gaidam. Excerpt:
The Change long expected by Nigerians is finally here with the APC. What is your assessment of the Buhari administration so far? Well, the change of government from PDP to APC I think is a very welcome development. We cannot say that the change has so far satisfied our desires all but we know that this change is taking us to the promise land. We have so far seen changes in a number of issues, I mean, and I am particularly speaking on security. In the past years to move from one town to another is a big problem more especially in the north East zone, but with the coming of Buhari government, now people can sleep with their eyes closed, one can travel without fear of being attacked, killed or harassed by small boys carrying guns. You see before the coming of APC government, security issues have deteriorated beyond any our imaginations. Our people have been running from pillar to post to save their lives from being sniff out by young stars that were abandoned due to recklessness of the past administrations. People have to change towns and villages in search of peace, but now in Yobe state I can say we are almost free now. We can go or move from one area to another for our business without fear or molesting from somebody or groups. We can go about or move around without any fear that we might killed or wounded from flying bullets or direct attack. For just this one, for me, the change of government from PDP to APC is a welcome development. Secondly, if you look at the economy of the country you can see that many culprits who hitherto have taken the wealth of this country to private pockets were exposed. Those that were being arrested, we know are one time powerful Nigerians who are seen as untouchables. The looters as well as the greedy are being exposed by the day. I believe a time will come when we would appreciate what is going on now. But do you agree that the fight against corruption as championed by the Buhari administration is a kind of political witch- hunt as some sections of the country view it? Well, fighting of corruption by the Muhammadu Buhari administration is not a new thing, even the time he was a military head of State, he fought corruption and also in the right direction. I think now what he is doing is not a witch-hunt but something similar to what he did years back. We are in a political era, it is normal for some people to think otherwise but I think he fight against corruption now like before is in the right direction. I think if he allowed people to continue looting our treasuries, we can never develop, we can never be economically free and when we as a nation cannot stand economically, then we are no longer free citizens, especially if we cannot produce what we consumed. Everybody knows that the prices of foods stuff are rising up beyond the rich of the common man, but this is a global happening that Nigeria cannot be an exception. As bad as it may be felt, I think it has also help our people to go back to farm. In Yobe state, people have gone to the farm even those who abundant the farm for many years. Now they return back to farm. Now what we want from Mr. President to do is to assist our farmers with fertilizers. If fertilizer can be made available people are now ready to embark on agriculture and by the Grace of God, this price escalation and shortage of food stuff will be things of the past. God helping us, this year there would be a good harvest. How about the removals of fuel subsidy, what can you say about it? This is a very difficult question to answer, but I will try. You see, ok now, after the removal, you can see the commodity everywhere, any filling stations you go in this country you will get fuel no scarcity. But before the removal of the subsidy, people sold the commodity above the government price, the commodity become scarcity, they monopolize the market. Still the common man was at the receiving end but now the subsidy was remove the masses can get the commodity available I think that is better for the nation. If the subsidy is on, the hardship might be worse than what people are facing now, because the fuel might have been on sell for more than N300 now. So, for me, the removal is a welcome development but most people will not understand this, but definitely the removal have yield the needed result because anytime now you drive to any filling station you can get the fuel as you want but before to get the commodity is another problem. You have been speaking on the positive side for the Buhari administration, what areas do you think Mr. President needs to improve on? He should continue fighting the corruption. He also needs to keep the spirit going and not allow people to divert his attention. Let him continue as he started with security situation of this country because the principal responsibility of any government is to provide the security of lives and properties of its citizens. I want Mr. President to re-double his effort on security matters because if there is no security in the country, no development, nothings can move at all, because before about 24 out of the 27 local government areas of Borno state and 2 local government areas in Yobe state are under the control of Boko Haram but now all of them are free. This is something good, so he should keep the good work. Nigerians are suffering, some people hardly eat, the gap is widening between the rich and the poor, and this was significant to Buhari administration like in 1984. What is your take on this? You see, as I told you
earlier, this is not about Nigeria alone, this is global and Buhari is not President in other countries that are facing the same price and food crises. Some countries are even worse than Nigeria, we should be patient and not to heap blame. Nigeria cannot be on exception and also I says people should embarked massively in farming and farmers should be assisted in getting farm inputs more especially fertilizers, if farmers get fertilizer enough and on time I assure you we will get good harvest and the price of food stuff will come down drastically! So people should be exercise patient and even Mr. President has come out and begs Nigerian to be patient because gradually everything will be normal. In sha Allah, so let us exercise patient, in Islam patient is the number one requirement for any success to be achieved, if you want to achieve some things you have to be patient. We need to give Mr. President the needed time to correct all abnormalities he met in office, and then we can begin to appreciate his concern for this country. People are attributing these hard times to closing of our borders by the Federal government, what do you say about this? The closing of border has to do with the situation of security we have and this is done at the right time in the right direction because if you live your border open you don’t know the type of hazard that would come through those border, therefore, in order to have enough severance we need to closed the border. If we leave the border open we cannot control it, definitely I think closure of the border has come at the right time because it is only then that we can have the control over the influence of foreigners coming to our country. It has nothing to do with the hardship or prices of food as some people would want to say. You have talked about assisting farmer with fertilizer, but you are aware that, the Yobe state government in 2015 did not purchase fertilizer to the farmers, so also this year. What do you have to say about this? Well, fertilizer in Yobe state is one of the requirements, but when there are economy crises, government itself is struggling. Struggling on many front, salaries of worker, pensions, development, education, healthcare and what have you I do not think not purchasing fertilizer was intentional; the governor did not refuse to purchase the fertilizer, but I think it was due to lack of resources. May be the government is facing financial problem that is why government was not able to purchase the fertilizer. There must to be a reason otherwise if you could recalled back in past years back, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam purchased enough fertilizer to the farmers in Yobe state and unfortunately for us also the fertilizer Blanding company we have in Gujba was burnt by the insurgents. So, this contributed the fertilizer problem in the state, I am sure when the economic situation of the government improved, he will definitely purchase the fertilizer. There was a massive retrenchment of workers in the local governments; do you believe this is all about ghost workers? The local government is unfortunately a field for corruption and embezzlement of the merger resources government put in their care. So, when there is embezzlement unless a strict measure is taking against those culprit the system cannot be corrected, in order to correct the system in the local government, there must be a strictly measure to curtail such embezzlement that is why he the governor take this strict measure, he constituted a very strong committee to verify the staff of the local government to get genuine staff and flush out the ghost workers. I am absolutely in agreement with him on this because there are names that are ghost names in the pay roll of the local governments. I heard he dissolved all the Directors of Personnel Management (DPM) and Treasuries and appoint new once because the old DPM’s and Treasurers are conniving to embezzled the local government funds so dropping them should teach a lesson to others. I believe others will learn and those who are newly posted will learn from the mistake of those that were flush out. If people were left unpunished the local government will be collapse and even the salary the local government councils would not be able to pay. In government taking of such measure has become imperative in order to allow the government to continue. What is your message to the people of Yobe state? Well, my message to the people of Yobe state, you see, always I have been saying people should work hard, people should avoid idleness. Everybody should try to have something doing, so that through this personal effort we can contribute to our national economy. People should avoid depending on government or begging, we must have a goal to achieve, we have to work hard to achieve some things. If you are a farmer by profession, take it seriously and our youth should be engaged in acquiring skills. If you look at India or China those people have gone far in development, everybody have something to do either youths or elders, and nobody is sitting idle. So, Nigeria cannot be an exception, if we work hard, we can achieve self-sufficient. I think the nation will mobilize our youths not to be involved in political thuggery. If the youth don’t have something to do then we are bringing trouble to the nation.