In this interview with journalists, Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje Speaks on the contentious Ruga issue, the splitting of the Kano Emirate and other National Issues. ANDREW ESSIEN presents the excerpts.
You recently asked the herdsmen in the south to relocate to Kano. Of what benefit will this be to your state?
I don’t subscribe to calls for Fulani herdsmen in the south to come back to the north because ruga should not be a national issue. It should be a state issue. If there are fulanis in a southern state and wants to remain there, the constitution has allowed them to remain there. But they should negotiate with the inhabitants of that state under what terms they should carry out their herdsmanship without harming anybody. If you are existing in an environment, then you should not harm the environment and the environment must not harm you.
That can only exist when you negotiate. You cannot build a night club near a church or near a mosque. You have to negotiate with the owners of the church or the mosque. So, if you want to practice herdsmanship which is ok and beneficial, you must have a symbiotic relationship between the herdsmen and the farmers. Because of climate change and increase in population and the land is not increasing, grazing areas is scarce. You don’t have to be a herdsman now to rear cattle because anybody is free to rear cattle. That is my understanding of the situation. You can remain where you are and run your business, but you must negotiate.
What is the true situation between the Kano state government and Emir Sanusi?
The Emir of Kano has no problem with the creation of new Emirates in Kano. Of course, he had a problem with anti-corruption agency in the state and the committee did its own work and submitted a report to the state government. Many people have been appealing to allow peace and stability in the state. The state government has already said that we do not intend to remove the Emir of Kano. But at the same time, we are skeptical in controlling the anti-corruption agency because it is an independent body. But I believe there is peace and stability in the state. The role the Emir played during the election has to do with his own conviction. What is important is that we have won the election and we are not going to look back.
So, the creation of Emirates has nothing to do with that misunderstanding. After all, Abubakar Rimi of blessed memory created Emirates. But Rimi was a much younger and radical politician, but he was not as experienced as we are. That was why his own emirates could not survive. But this time, I want to assure you that even though it is in the court, it will survive. This shows experience in politics and governance.
Kaduna state governor, Nasir El-Rufai was of the opinion that the APC should abandon zoning for competency in 2023. What is your take on this?
The way I looked at it is that it is an issue between idealism and realism. Idealism is a situation whereby things should be done in accordance with ideas. If things are done like that, then everybody should have equal treatment and everybody has equal chance to contest and then, what the people decide should be done. Now, the issue of realism. Nigeria is a multi-ethnic, multi religious country with several geopolitical zones. In reality, people are yearning for participation of different political zones and not the politics of north and south. So, the reality of the situation is that people are crying of marginalisation in the leadership of the country. But the idealism is that people should participate and be elected based on their capacity. So, it is not the governor of Kano state that should decide whether it is idealism or realism. It is the party that will determine which should be applied in Nigeria and you know that it is a political strategy. So, the political party should decide which option to follow.
With regards to free primary and secondary education, what is the status and sustainability of the tsangaya education?
The Tsanganyya system as started by the former President was a very good system. But it was a micro level. As of today in Kano, we have over 2million almajiris. We don’t have the infrastructural facilities to provide classrooms for over two million amlajiris. Even our children in the formal system, are about three million. So, you can see that the almajiris are trying to equal the number of our children in the formal system. But what we intend to do is to recruit volunteer teachers like the federal government has done with those teachers who are unemployed. We can give them allowances. We are not uprooting the almajiri system because it has its own purpose. But we have already discussed with the owners of the almajiri system. What we intend to do is to post English and Mathematics teachers to those Tsanganyya schools so that the children should be able to take common entrance examination later which is a national examination. With that they should be able to get admission into junior secondary school. That is what we intend to do to ensure its sustainability. Of course, there is the issue of feeding and school uniform. For basic education, already, there is a law which makes it compulsory. So, we are not creating something new. The only thing is the senior secondary school and we intend to make a law on that. We are also inviting some corporate organisations to take part and provide corporate social responsibility in helping to sustain the system.
As a Fulani man yourself, share your thoughts on “herdsmenship” and how it ought to be.
There are three types of herdsmen in Nigeria. The first is those who are coming with thousands of cattle from West African countries and you don’t expect them to carry the food for the cattle. Along the way, they have to cut trees and provide food for the cattle and that creates some problem. They are attacked by farmers and along the line, they have learnt to attack farmers as well. They go about with their families on horses and donkeys and also carry arms and have graduated into being bandits. That is one category of herdsmen who are coming from West Africa. That is an ECOWAS problem which Nigeria should negotiate. The second is the herdsmen who are from the northern part of Nigeria. They trek through the north central zone to the south. They normally don’t have alot of cattle like the ones coming from West Africa. Those ones too, create problems because of trekking from one place to the other. The third one are those herdsmen who are born in places different from places of their socio-cultural and socio-religious origin. I am sure that in the south, you can get some fulani herdsmen who are born there and are not trekking to come to the north, but are permanently there. They also have problems because when their young ones cannot go to school, they can also cause problems. This is my own classification and I am doing it because I am a fulani man. So, I know what it feels to be a herdsman and business should not continue as usual. Herdsmanship should be a socio-economic venture and not a socio-cultural venture as it is right now.
What is your take on the call for revolution by a section of Nigerian youths?
This is unconstitutional and it is the creation of the opposition to some extent and those tribalists especially when you consider what happened to the former Deputy Senate President in Germany. So, it is in the imagination of all those who wants to destabilise Nigeria. It is also the hand work of those religious extremists like El-Zakzaky people. If you know what happened in Iraq, you will discover that it is all about revolution. But in Nigeria, we have elected a government, we have a constitution, we have a legislature and if you want to change the government, you go through the constitution. That is the most agreed change of government in all countries of the world. So, the call for revolution should not be taken lightly. They should be taken to court and treated according to the rule of law.
If all your plans are for the herdsmen, what are your Plans for farmers?
The farmers are already enjoying their incentives from the federal and state government. A lot of imputes are being provided by both the federal and state government. We have over 10,000 extension workers in Kano serving the workers. Our fertilizer blending plant is working 24 hours. It is not for the herdsmen, but for the farmers. I told you that we are going to cluster irrigation. We have the Islamic development bank coming to assist in the irrigation scheme for farmers. The farmers are the ones enjoying interventions from the federal government.
Can you shed some light on the Influx of almajiri to Kano?
As I told you, we undertook a survey and found out that most of them are not from Kano. Some are from Niger, Chad, Katsina, Borno among others. The almajiri system is not flourishing in the north east because of the effect of Boko Haram. So, sometimes, you find a trailer load of almajiris being off loaded in Kano. That is how we had such large population of almajiris in Kano. There are a few of them who are from the rural areas of Kano.
Your government recently sponsored 75 children of herdsmen. Why the children of herdsmen alone?
Artificial insemination is only for the breeding of cattle. That is why we decided to sponsor children of the herdsmen because if you sponsor other children, they can abandon the art after graduation because they are not used to staying in the farm and following cows.