By AMINA ALHASSAN
Hon. Halima Hassan Tukur is a former two time member of the House of Representatives. In this interview with AMINA ALHASSAN, she reveals that the people of Yauri, Kebbi State and environs have a reason to smile as FG revives the N1.4bn Yelwa/Yauri 132 kV transmission station project.
You have been quiet since you left the House of Representatives. Tell us, what have you been doing since then?
Well, during my second tenure as a member in 2011, there was a court case which I won and returned to the HoR. The next election year, when I contested for the seat of the Senate, once again as the first female candidate from Kebbi State and the Sokoto Caliphate, I won up to the primary level but unfortunately, I lost the elections. The ‘change’ mantra that was sweeping across the country affected us as candidates of PDP. As you know, APC took most, if not all of the seats. As God would have it, my able Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, who has been my colleague since 2007, respected me and was gracious enough to give me, and some of our other colleagues who had lost their elections, positions as Special Assistants in his office. He has shown that irrespective of party affiliation, once you are colleagues, you should extend a hand of friendship and love to those you know can perform well. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to the Speaker for giving me this opportunity and also giving a slot to my constituency, Yauri. Speaking of your constituency, you have been instrumental in reviving the 132 kv transmission station project which had been redundant or rather abandoned for many years. Why was it abandoned for so long and what part did you play in bringing it up again?
The genesis of the whole project coming to being was because my late father and then Emir of Yauri initiated it to improve the power supply in Yauri but unfortunately, they couldn’t make head way. It was by the will of God that I was elected as their representative and I took up the project since I was on the House committee for Power and they captured it in the budget.
Actually, the company handling the project stopped work when the plant was nearly 85 per cent completed. It wasn’t supposed to take this long to finish but due to some challenges along the way, it has. There was a time we couldn’t include it in the budget and, when we did, eventually, the two contractors were involved in their own personal issues leading to a court injunction to suspend all the projects they were involved with, including ours.
The credit for its revival goes to the new Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) MD, Alhaji Usman Gur Mohammed, who was able to take charge because I raised the issue and the legal department at the Ministry of Power took it up. The MD was able to bring the contractors back to continue work. They are back on the site as we speak.
How will the project impact on the people in the state?
After completion, it is going to boost power in the state and almost everybody in the state will benefit from it. In the past, we were getting our power supply from Kontagora’s 33kv line, which was not adequate with low shade. With this project, even the neighbouring states and countries can tap from it. We shouldn’t be suffering; we should be given special concession since we were the ones that were displaced by the Kainji Dam so that Nigerians can benefit. We already have two power stations in place- in Yauri and Ngaski. These can step down the electricity supply which the main plant will feed into and then be distributed to other places. People’s lives will improve as they will be able to carry out economic as well as social activities.
Just for clarification, is it a state project?
No, it is not. It is a Federal Government project, which is why we really give gratitude to this administration for wading in to revive the project. Again, the credit goes to the new TCN MD and also to the Emir of Yauri, HRH Dr. Muhammad Zayyanu Abdullahi, who has been passionate about seeing to it that the project is completed on time.
How would you rate this government two years into PMB’s administration?
I see this government trying its best in terms of bringing some changes. Nigerians have become used to things coming easy which makes us redundant, weak and expecting things to be done for us. We had been used to receiving handouts and aids from international donors, giving or collecting gratification, and so on. Now, everybody is being made to sit up and face the reality of working in order to earn. We are blessed with so many resources but we don’t value them. So this is also a wakeup call for youth to be hardworking and self-reliant.
The number of women in politics seems to have waned since the last elections. What would you attribute to this?
I believe the men are stronger than we are and can use any means in their power to get a position. But a lot of people believe that women can do so much when they are in a position to do so. We are not fighting the men; we are their friends, wives and sisters and we both should be able to contribute our quota to nation building.