While diversifying the economy has become key to sustainable development in Nigeria today, Senator Kabiru Gaya, representing Kano South, has designed a device not only in human capacity building but also to draw governance close to the people. The former Kano State governor speaks with EMAMEH GABRIEL
Just recently, you launched a portal which some have said is the first of its kind. What do you intend to achieve with that?
The issue of setting up a portal which is a more enlarged version of my website came up from the idea of young men like you who are in the field utilising their digital talents. They came up with this initiative so as to create the room for people to have a lot of information about my activities in the senate; motions, bills and contributions on the floor of the Senate or my performances during budget, my oversights, projects be it either health, education, agriculture, employment or empowerment and a lot more of many things they are able to cover that will also allow people go through.
I have a booklet of up to 170 pages which clearly states my stewardship, my contribution to my constituency as a senator during my last eight years (now 10 years). So they put in all that to it and many people are going through that portal to check and see who is really Senator Kabiru Gaya.
The essence of that is for some people to be educated, know what we in the national assembly are doing for them because they only believe that what we are doing is making money from the national assembly. They don’t know that we are doing personal politics to assist the community apart from what we have in the budget.
Fortunately, I have started seeing positive response not just in Nigeria but outside the country. Recently there was message from somebody in Europe and his comment was that he didn’t know that the senators are performing, he said he thought we are just bunch of people who sit in the senate and take allowances and do nothing, but with that, he was convinced that senators are doing good. Another person called me to say I should continue that good project I am doing in the constituency that now brings me closer to the people and at the same time, he understands that with this, lawmakers who are believed to be far from the people would be closer to the people.
Another person also commended me in so many aspects, saying that if senators would be like this, then there won’t be any cry against them. So, this is the reason behind the whole idea.
Is this your initiative an extension of the open NASS the public have been yearning for and …?
Cuts in… Actually, it is not that alone, you see I am committed to serving my people. I have been elected to serve them and I am not here to protect the role of oppositions of the Senate. The essence is that when I was elected by the people, the demands on me is to ensure that I attract the gains of democracy to them.
You must know that in politics people hardly appreciate what you do. So what we are doing now is to showcase what we are doing for critics and even our supporters to now go to our website, not only to check our activities but to also put us on the scale of performance and with this, appraise us base on our performances. I believe this will help us pass our message to the public so they can tell who they wish to support in the future.
How do you intend to get these messages across to the people, particularly in such areas where there are limited access and knowledge to ICT? Have you thought of training yourpeople to equip them
with ICT knowledge?
Ok, let me give you an example. I have 18 skills acquisition centers. 18 in Kano south and I have 16 local governments which means two local government have two each —– Gaya has two. The purpose of those acquisition centers is to assist some people who are ready to key in to learning or to be self reliant either in carpentry, brick laying, in electrical works, computer technology and in ICT literacy.
So, that is the essence. In that place we have computers and about 10 computers each for every center, and we have trained people on how to get into the internet and be used to computer. Apart from that, we have two ICT centers, one in Gaya and one other. These centers are meant to allow people to go on internet and do online business. People of the community can do business on the internet when they go there, ordering what they want to order and then market their products. I have bought over 300 computers and supplied them to secondary schools to enlighten people and make thematically learn more on computer technology.
When you said “I have bought”, is this individual contributions as a way of giving back to the people or constituency projects?
It is in the interest of the public to know this.
You see there are two things; there are projects that are constituency projects and there are projects also which are not constituency projects. Like building a center, it must be a constituency projects, buying computers may be a constituency project or self financed but issues like empowerment of men and women are being self driven by myself. One example then was the release of some inmates in prison who were jailed because of petty money they borrowed and they could not pay back. maybe the money they collected are feeding money. They borrowed money to feed their families and they couldn’t pay back and they were arrested and the judge kept them in jail for 5 months or more, we have found that those who borrow money like N15,000, N20,000 were the highest, but there are people who borrowed N5,000 and they were jailed five months and they cannot afford to pay the money. So, we checked and got about 96 people and I paid about N600,000 to settle those 96 people. So sometimes, we do that and for issue like eye treatment, people who are partially blind or have problem with their eye sight, we sponsored those ones personally. We treated over 1,000 people maximum of 100 and some less in some local government areas and there are 16 local government, so if you multiply the 16 local government by the 100 persons, you will get about 1,600 people. I have also done 200 class room blocks and also vehicles were given out after campaigns.
Sir, you sponsored the Bill for the North East Development Commission when this government came on board. This is two years now, nothing has been done about that.
Let me explain to you that bill was sponsored by me soon afterwards I was sworn as one of the senators of the 8th senate and the members from the North East were shocked because it was like to them, how could a Senator from the North West, from Kano not even Kano, but from Kano South sponsor a bill to support or assist the people of North East. They were shocked and surprised. The bill was read for the first time and then later the Senators from the north east felt disturbed that they had to bring another bill and fortunately or unfortunately for them, they covered my bill word by word but it is ok, it’s good, because the issue is that they would be abused for not bringing a bill and somebody from the north west is bringing a bill, but I don’t mind, we worked together as a team and we made up the bill and the bill was passed. Finally, when the bill was passed, the members from the North East, governors, Senators, House or Reps members, traditional rulers and who is who in those areas came to Abuja to thank the Senate President and the National Assembly.
Legislators in the North East commended Gaya for the idea and i could recalled Senator Goje made a comment praising senator me for bringing up the bill and that they even delayed him so that they could be part of the bill but still he believes senators Gaya’s name will be indelible and will be written in gold in the North East.
You are chairman of Senate Committee on Works, two years down the line for this administration, would you said your committee has effected any impact on works as a ministry?
My committee has done very well. I am not praising the committee of works but in the budget of 2016/2017, the product of president Buhari’s wish and desire and commitment based on people’s request and Nigeria’s yearning to have better infrastructures in the country, we were able to balance and link project A to B that is from north to south and south to West and East to West.
All these projects were put there and I am telling you that by the next few months when the roads start properly, Nigeria will be extremely happy with president Muhammadu Buhari in this aspect. Generally budget for works was about N30 billion. The projects in works boosted the the confidence of more of Nigerians and those who have bad roads, the roads will be better as soon as possible.