Any Nigerian who stays in Bauchi State for seven years or more becomes an indigene of the state with all attendant rights and privileges, Governor Isa Yuguda assured yesterday as he vowed to uphold the provision of the Nigerian Constitution which confers such rights on non-indigenous inhabitants of states in the country.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to LEADERSHIP headquarters in Abuja yesterday, the Governor boldly declared that there are no non-indigenes or settlers in Bauchi State because even those who have not stayed for up to seven years in the state are regarded as being “in transition” to indigenous status.
Governor Yuguda, who emphasised the sanctity of the oath of office, vows to protect and uphold the import and contents of the Constitution while also citing his administration’s accommodation of up to 2 million refugees - almost half of the state’s 4.6 million population- displaced from troubled areas of neighbouring states who are not herded into makeshift camps in mosques or schools but provided with land where they can put up shelter and carry on with their lives.
He said the national emergency service officials were highly impressed with his unique approach to resettlement of displaced persons from outside the state compared to the practice in other states.
The orphans and vulnerable children in the state were also catered for under a law enacted by the state legislature which raises a special fund from 2% deductions from the salaries of all workers in the state the proceeds of which are spent on meeting the needs of the disadvantaged children.
All these developments were in furtherance of his constitutional responsibility for the welfare of all inhabitants of the state as well as his dogged pursuit of the enthronement of harmony and peaceful co-existence among the diverse people who inhabit the state.
Laments sabotage of Kafin Zaki Dam project
Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State yesterday lamented the undue politicization and systematic sabotage of the realization of the Kafin Zaki Dam project which has the potential to create more than two million jobs from various agro-allied ventures that would thrive on 120,000 hectares of arable land for production of wheat, sugar, rice and vegetables.
The governor narrated how the project which was conceived in the aftermath of the1972-1974 drought had been intermittently stalled by vested interests including environmentalists protesting its negative impact on the migratory birds’ sanctuary in the Nguru wetlands in Yobe State and others claiming the dam would drain the Lake Chad and deny them irrigation for their farmlands.
“Now that the dam has not been constructed see the disaster it has caused by flooding and destroying vast areas of farmlands and numerous settlements creating poverty and spreading misery instead of the food sufficiency, employment and prosperity envisaged”, Governor Yuguda stated.
He pointed out that the Nguru wetlands have since been heavily silted and overgrown by grasses and shrubs thereby reducing the presence of the migratory birds apart from the fact that it the wetlands last only four months annually before drying up.
Lake Chad too had shrunk from about 25,000 square miles to a meager 5,000 square miles most of which is no longer within Nigerian territory even though only 1% of water from the Jama’are River flows into the lake.
Governor Yuguda who said if he had the N60 billion required for the project he would execute the project described the situation as an example of how we allow trivial sentiments to becloud our vision and divert attention from important issues of general economic progress while the people in advanced countries of the world exhibit unwavering commitment to the sensible utilization of their God-given resources to develop and progress.
He urged journalists to rise to the challenge of guiding and motivating our people in the direction of economic progress and political enlightenment rather than fanning embers of parochialism and sectarian intolerance.
The proposed dam would be of zoned earthfill construction and would be 11 kilometres-long. It would be designed with the potential to install a hydroelectric plant. The reservoir would have a storage capacity of 2,700 million cubic meters, and would be the second largest in Nigeria after the Kainji Dam.
It would irrigate 120,000 hectares of arable land on which cash crops could be grown. Potentially the project would support production of one million tonnes of sugarcane annually and provide over one million jobs in industries related to agriculture.
In 1984 the contract was terminated, but it was reinstated in 1992 by the Ibrahim Babangida regime. In 1994 the Sani Abacha regime terminated the contract again, and set up a judicial committee of inquiry into all aspects of the project. In 2002, funding was allocated for the project, but then abruptly withdrawn.
In 2008 Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State awarded a contract to the Dangote Group to restart the abandoned dam project, a move that was supported by Abdul Ahmed Ningi, a Bauchi state representative who was House Leader in the National Assembly when the project was cancelled in 2002.