Only APC members benefited from Sokoto palliatives – PDP chieftain
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party in Sokoto State and a former Special Adviser on MDGs to the immediate past administration in the state, Kabiru Aliyu, speaks to ANIMASAHUN SALMAN about the performance of Governor Ahmed Aliyu’s performance in his first 100 days in office, among other issues
Only recently, while celebrating his 100 days in office, Governor Ahmed Aliyu reeled out some of his administration’s achievements. What is your take on this?
For me, when governors celebrate their achievements after their 100 days in office, it is more traditional than the actual achievements. It is just that it has become traditional. Some governors only target to achieve some things within the first 100 days, after which they will abandon work because nobody will query them thereafter and request their scorecard. Even those with nothing to showcase also celebrate it. It is not something special to me.
Here in Sokoto State, the governor has said he did this and that; yes, some of these claims are true, but some are just tricks to make the celebration more successful. The target was the celebration itself, nothing else. If anything is worth commending in 100 days, is it because he cleared the refuse within the metropolis? Is that the only thing to do? In terms of water, he has not been able to achieve water supply even within the metropolis.
He has also not been able to achieve success in terms of education and health. I hope just as he was able to achieve success through the removal of refuse within the metropolis, he would have been able to at least impact education within the same metropolis as well as health and water supply, these are critical issues. I am saying this because I have come to realise that the governor is more interested in developing the metropolis than the remaining 21 local government areas in the state.
There are talks that the state has not been fortunate to have a governor that will work from the Government House in Sokoto, and not from outside the state. It is alleged that former governor, Aminu Tambuwal and the incumbent, Ahmed Aliyu, always travel out of the state at the slightest opportunity. What do you think about this?
People are only looking for a scapegoat. Governor Tambuwal was only always away to Abuja or any other place when the need arose. His travels were not dictated by his desire for the trips but based on the needs of the state. During my principal’s tenure, he (Tambuwal) only travelled to Abuja or any other place in the interest of the state or to pursue some other state matters that could not be done here in Sokoto State. So, his being out of here was usually due to the business of the state and in the interest of the state. Even the present governor travels a lot, which I also believe is in the interest of the state.
As we talk, I am sure the governor is not in the state. So, what do you say about that? No governor can stay in a state for one month without travelling. Their office requires such, especially during the period when there were many security breaches in the state and he had to go out to consult with other stakeholders such as the President, the Chief of Army Staff, National Security Adviser, among others. All these were to ensure that something tangible came the way of the state and he (Tambuwal) was able to achieve several successes which are results of his trips, and that is what the incumbent continues to enjoy. They are currently reaping where they didn’t sow. Tambuwal sowed those things they are reaping now in the state.
There is a strong belief in some quarters that the incumbent administration has changed the face of the state, especially the metropolis. Do you agree with that?
I said that earlier. Yes, he has done something when you look at our roads. That is what I can see. But out of the 23 local governments, you cannot concentrate on only two local governments and leave out the rest without any development project. It is only in Sokoto South and Sokoto North local government areas that I know the roads are being repaired and a few other things are being done. For me, concentrating on two out of 23 LGs and claiming you have achieved something is not right.
Recently, the state government while reacting to allegations by some civil servants of illegal deduction from their salaries, linked the previous administration to the matter, saying it was about a loan being deducted and with no remittance of same to the financial house. What is your take on that?
That excuse does not hold water at all. If it is true, the government should have apprehended those who should have remitted such money because if the money has been deducted as claimed, then somebody must have taken the money. It should not take any serious challenge to fish out those behind the deduction instead of deducting it again from the salaries of workers whom the government has already paid. Why not go after those who stole the money?
The excuse does not hold any water. It does not even make any sense. Somebody took the money which someone else had paid and then you are still deducting the same money from the salaries of innocent workers. Of what interest is that and what injustice is that? Those who stole the money are part of the present government and are untouchable. The government should look for another excuse. This one doesn’t sound too good. It even shows that the government is either not serious or it is in collaboration with those who might have stolen that money being deducted twice.
The Federal Government recently gave state governments some money as palliatives to cushion the effect of subsidy removal. How do you suggest the government go about managing the fund?
I can’t suggest it because I have seen where those palliatives have been distributed already. The one somebody told me was taken to their community was rotten maize and one plate or a measure of rice that was given to a family of 11 or 12 people.
It is either the palliatives are so meagre or the government is not even serious and taking us for a ride. How can you give one measure of rice or two to a family of 15? Also, if they go to a community, they will select those who are pro-All Progressives Congress. They will ask the APC chairman of the ward or the community who will give them the names of those who are APC supporters. So, it is an APC in-house matter, and no PDP member I know is represented in that distribution process.
If truly palliatives were distributed, then they were entirely given to APC members and people like us do not know who and who benefited unless we get information from the APC ward chairmen. I challenge you to go and find out if there are other persons from other political parties apart from APC members who benefited from the so-called palliatives. In fact, as a PDP member, I have not even seen it with my eyes but for those who are APC members and who are still complaining that the maize given to them was rotten and that it must have been stored for 10 to 25 years. One of them showed me a sample of the maize. It was so bad that you could not even feed your animal with it.
At the federal level, how would you rate the administration of President Bola Tinubu so far?
I think the best way to describe this current administration is that of excruciating poverty. Everybody seems to be crying; everybody is suffering. You see, one point that has devastated the country is the sudden removal of subsidy because it has affected the cost of goods and services in the country. There is nothing that has not been affected negatively as a result of subsidy removal.
Secondly, the decision taken by floating the naira has put pressure on the dollar such that our naira has become so low that a dollar now goes for over N1,000, and this has also affected our neighbours’ currencies, talk of Cefa which is commonly used in Niger Republic, Benin Republic, and Ivory Coast. It has affected us in terms of trading. So, for any commodity coming from those countries, the prices have also increased.
Our purchasing power in those countries has become very low. You cannot go there to buy goods again. The only thing is that they will come and buy our goods because our currencies have become so low. Even the ECOWAS sanction on Niger, which should’ve been to our advantage, is not so because the Niger people cannot come and buy goods because our border is closed and those who try to cross are harassed every day. The advantage of making the sales has been eroded.
I will tell you in a nutshell that there is nothing to write home about the APC-led administration in this country. Expect poverty, poverty, and poverty. Many people have lost their jobs because their organisations cannot manage the wage bill, especially the small and medium companies in the country.
Take for instance, I am a farmer, and all those who produce rice, onion, and millet among other dry season farming cannot do it again. This is because during dry season farming, we need fuel to power our pumping machine, and because of the cost of fuel, I can tell you that many people have decided not to engage in such farming this year. Some of them are lending out their farms and some of them are selling them. Many people who used to take some of my land couldn’t come this year. One-third of my farms are uncultivated this year, and I can’t cultivate all the land.
So, agriculture has also been affected by the untimely subsidy removal of petroleum. Look at the health sector, the cost of drugs, an appendix surgery that used to go for like N10,000 or dialysis that used to be around N12,000 has increased by over a hundred per cent and the purchasing power of people has reduced. People who earn N100,000 should know the amount is equivalent to around N30,000 before, and the prices of foodstuffs have increased up to three times compared to before.
A lot of people have shifted to traditional or alternative medicine. Just take a trip to those who are into alternative medicine, you will see how many people patronise them. Just a few days ago, my neighbour’s wife died of excessive bleeding following a miscarriage. I learnt she couldn’t afford hospital bills and her husband took her to traditional medicine practitioners who gave her some concoction to stop the bleeding, but I learnt that in the process, her whole body got swollen before she eventually died.
These are some of the things we are seeing because we live within the communities. None of his aides will talk, but this is the truth. People are dying due to many factors, including the inability to buy medicine or go to the hospital or because of insecurity. If we are the kind of country that takes statistics of the dead, we will know that the rate at which people die in this country is alarming, but nobody cares. They don’t care.
If you were to advise Mr. President, what would you tell him?
I will advise him on security matters. I will tell him to order the military and police to go all out to tackle the bandits in their hideouts. We should stop the tactics of waiting for an attack before we mobilise security to the location by which time they would have left or returned to their hideouts and the military will just go there and return without any success.
Then, after some days, there will be another story of another attack, and soldiers would be called upon; then it will take some hours before they reach there, by which time, again, the bandits would have finished their dastardly acts and return to their hideouts. This hide-and-sick pattern is sickening. We do not have to wait for them to attack before we go after them. We have the superior power. We have airplanes, and military jets, among others that we can deploy to bombard them. We can use the local security intelligence system to know the exact location where these bandits are, bomb them, and send the military to block them and cut off their roads. Let there be no breathing space for them. Let nothing go to them, block access to their feeding, and let them die of hunger. We must put a stop to the hide-and-seek security game with bandits.
In the area of palliatives and cushioning the effects of subsidy removal, there are categories of farmers that should get the fuel at subsidised rate, if that is one of the things the government will do to help farmers, small-time or big-time. Find them and know their places before finding a way to sell the fuel to them at a subsidised rate. That is the only way we can sustain food security, and if we don’t do it like that, we are going back to where we were coming from, where we will have to import rice and everything, and that will put more pressure on our money as we will need more dollars. So, the aim of floating the naira by the CBN has been defeated, and you will have to use dollars to buy rice which we can produce locally.
Someone who does not own a car, is struggling with public transport, and yet you say he should buy fuel at the same rate as one with five cars, it will be too much for the person. Now, many people can’t travel by air, yet the roads are insecure. How do you expect us to live? Life is so hard that someone has to tell Mr. President that enough is enough. He should do something very fast.