Recently, Kaduna State governor, Mr. Patrick Yakowa, was in Washington DC where he attended the Nigerian Investors’ Forum on Agriculture and the 2012 United States Exim Bank Conference. At the end of the events, the governor spoke with ABIODUN OLUWAROTIMI on security issues in his state and other issues.
Sir, you have just attended several meetings on how to woo foreign investors to come and invest in Kaduna State.What are your plans to ensure their safety as the state pesently faces several security issues?
Like I said during these events, Kaduna is very safe for foreign investors to do their businesses. My administration has been doing a lot of things to make the state very safe for both the natives and foreigners. We are also doing everything to ensure that terrorists do not have any place to stay or hide in Kaduna State.
With all these steps and support from the federal government and our security agencies, Kaduna State will soon overcome its security challenges. Security challenges are everywhere and every state knows how it manages its own security problem.
What is the future of investors that may come to invest in agriculture in your state?
During the just concluded Nigerian Investors’ Forum on Agriculture, I was able to invite American investors to come and invest in agriculture in Kaduna because I am ready to fulfil the mandate of transforming the state’s agricultural sector. I am doing this because of my belief that agriculture is the engine room for the revival of the state’s economy.
I congratulate the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Prof. Adebowale Adefuye, and the Vice President, Alhaji Namadi Sambo, for the success that the government of Nigeria recorded at the end of the Washington Agriculture Investors’ Forum. We were able to use the forum to showcase the opportunities in the Nigerian agriculture sector to American companies.
The prime aim of unlocking the value-added potential in the major cash crops value chains, including improved post-harvest management and food processing capacity in Nigeria, was achieved at the end of the well attended forum.
As for my state, Kaduna, we were able to inform American investors about certain crops which the state is currently involved in. We told them that my administration loves to have foreign direct investment in them. The summit also involved planned visits to certain places of interest and facilities that have direct bearing on the agricultural sector with investment potential.
Apart from this, I also used the opportunity to enlighten American investors about the ease of doing business in Kaduna State, tax incentives, land purchase assistance, initiated incentive on investment, and so on. I will like to note that Dufil, the Noodles producing company, and many foreign investors are really investing in Kaduna State.
This is one of my achievements in the area of trying to attract foreign investors to come and create job opportunities in the state. This is a multi-billion Naira industry that has been established by some Asian investors.
We have provided them with a land, and the employments that such factories will create in Kaduna will go a long way in eradicating crimes and poverty in the state. Like I said, I have got another request for a land from another group of investors who want to establish a Fertilizer Plant in Kaduna. I have since given directives to the state Ministry of Lands not to waste time in identifying a suitable place for them to commence the construction of their factory.
At the United States Exim Bank Conference, the Nigerian power sector was discussed. What is the progress now?
Yes, we also made progress in that area during our visit to Washington DC because the Mministry of Power and Steel has promised to carry out a new power tariff review to subsidise the cost of power for the rural and urban poor in the country as part of the federal government’s plans to reform the power sector.
The proposed new tariff will be cost-effective and also provide a cushioning effect to the poor people in the society. We are really going to work on the power sector reform in order to achieve effective investment opportunities for foreign investors coming into the country.
What steps is your administration taking to eradicate polio in your state?
My administration has been seeking support and cooperation from all stakeholders in the health sector, including religious and community leaders, to completely eradicate polio in the state. We have already introduced free health programmes for children under five years and pregnant women in the state.
My administration is determined to eradicate polio by the end of 2012 in the state. Also, the 23 local governments are also working to resolve all cases of non-compliance and improve immunisation activities in their areas. Like I recently said during the launch of the polio-free campaign in Kaduna, the authorities of the local councils in the state will be held responsible for continued non-compliance in any part of the state.
They should be ready to accept responsibility for any failure of the various intervention efforts against the virus, because their records in this regard will serve as the yardstick for measuring their individual performances in office.
What will you say about the peace that has eluded the northern part of the country in recent times?
We are seriously working with the security agencies to bring those behind the menace of Boko Haram to justice, regardless of their powers. I am using this opportunity to plead with the people of Kaduna State to join hands with the government in its determination to bring lasting peace.
I want them to promote peace in the state by trying to always give out information that can lead to the arrest of the people behind terrorism in this part of the country because we are seriously committed to bringing the perpetrators to justice.
Apart from the joint efforts with the federal government, Kaduna State recently had a workshop for traditional rulers on peace and security enhancement because they too have a vital role to play in this issue.
I wish to assure all the citizens of Kaduna State that my government will continue to do all it can to not only protect life and property but to ensure that they enjoy harmonious co-existence in the state through peace and reconciliation efforts.
At this point, I would like to note that, from the reports I am getting, the work of the State Peace and Reconciliation Committee is making good progress and we shall soon put behind us all those negative things that help to divide Kaduna State and focus squarely on the positive things that unite the state.
What have you done in the area education in the state?
My administration has paid a very special attention to education, especially primary education which is the bedrock for all other levels of education. We have introduced free and compulsory primary education for all children.
Just recently, the Kaduna State government released N115,038,400 for the payment of scholarship for 9,856 students of the state in higher institutions across the nation. The payment was the second for the 2010/2011 session. The total number of students for 2010/2011 session is 25,015 and this cost the state government N294,979,900.
The category of payment include N15,000 for undergraduates and Higher National Diploma (HND) students in science, engineering and technology; N9,000 for undergraduates, HND, NCE (National College of Education) and ND (National Diploma) students in arts, science, engineering and technology; N8,000 for pre-degree and IJMB students in arts and science while NCE and ND students in arts got N4,800.
Also while pre-ND, NCE, certificate, remedial students in arts and science got N4,500 each. Students studying in Togo are getting N100,000.