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North East govs need to be put on their toes – Yobe Dep Gov

Weekly Trust : You were among the dignitaries at North East Economic Summit in Gombe. What were the issues your state presented at the forum?Engr.…

Weekly Trust : You were among the dignitaries at North East Economic Summit in Gombe. What were the issues your state presented at the forum?
Engr. Abubakar Aliyu: Actually I had the privilege to represent my boss at both  the North East Economic Summit  in Yankari, which held  last year and of course this year’s  summit in Gombe State. He asked me to attend and look into the things we promised to accomplish during last year’s summit in Yankari and see how we can advance the partnership.
When we gathered at the summit, I realized that there are things we needed to collaborate and do together as a sub-region, especially where we need collective support from Mr. President. Also, certain roles are to be handled alone by the individual states. To be frank with you, almost all the resolutions in Yankari were left dormant and there was no any framework to keep the six participating governors on their toes as regards to the implementation of the last summit’s resolutions.
What do you think is responsible from this lukewarm attitude about the resolutions?
Actually,  it was lack of follow-up. There was no coordination between the secretariat of the Summit and the individual state governors; there were no desk officers in the various states to be liaising with the secretariat and to advise their state governors on what to do. And even those things that were outlined in the score card of the Summit are things that the individual governors were doing on their own, some of them had even predated the Yankari summit. For instance,  Yobe State convened the first socio-economic summit in 2008,  but it was included in  the  scorecard that it emanated after the Yankari summit.
Would you now say that not much has been achieved from the Yankari summit?
The last economic summit in Yankari was not as successful as this year’s, but it was good, because it’s just the beg inning. In everything one starts, you have to conceive the idea, make mistakes and learn from the mistakes. Yankari summit was successful because we started it, we were able to convene and talk though we didn’t do anything much,  but it was okay. It’s obvious that you must learn how to crawl before you walk and now we have started walking. I advise that we should have a frame work, a kind of body that can articulate all we have discussed in the summit and come up with a blueprint, a document which can serve as a strategic development plan for the region. Second,  we need to come up with something similar to Niger Delta Development Commission, but  I am not saying that ours should be owned by the Federal or State governments; I mean something similar because we still have the Northern Nigeria Development Company.
We need something similar to be headed by a senior citizen who enjoys a lot of respect from everyone in the sub region. Someone who can knock at the doors of the chief executives of the states and the door gets open for discussion. Someone who can go round to put them on their toes and who must have an  expert  team under him to study all the submitted reports in education, infrastructures, agriculture, health and research for proper planning.  At least this will ginger up the interest and commitment of all stakeholders in the sub-region.
What do you think can strengthen the partnership and unity among states of the sub-region?
We already have a  good idea, what we need is proper planning and not to  be in a hurry to execute it. It’s important that when you plan,  you  abide by the plans. North East governors should have a platform like the Northern Governors Forum that can be meeting  regularly to appraise what is coming out of the prospective commission in the region, and to discover the economic advantage that the individual states could harness for collective gains. For instance, we have the Turkish International School in Yobe. That investment should be extended to other states and should have more campuses across the sub-region, so that children would have quality education through government interventions. The same should be applied to other areas like infrastructure. Like I earlier mentioned, Chad Basin and Upper Benue Development Authority have been underutilized for a long time. Before now, a lot of people were generating a lot of income from the activities in those areas. Let’s look at them and see where they have problems,   so that the past glory can be regained. The body should keep us abreast with all the potentials abound in this sub-region. In this country, lack of continuity with policies and programmes is our major problem because, once there is change of government, no matter how good and important a programme or policy is to the community, it will stop. So, continuity in programmes and policies is paramount, therefore, a law should be enacted from the federal Government down to the states to safeguard and protect ongoing programmes and policies. We should not allow those policies and programmes left by predecessors to be tempered with,  no matter the change of government, and by so doing people would appreciate the continuity in governments and other institutions.
Brilliant ideas have been discussed at the economic summit. What have you brought home to Yobe State for implementation?
We are taking the communiqué home and the secretariat would produce document  for the governors to study the recommendations and sweep into action. And we would have a certain body that would look into the results of the summit for onward planning. Already, we have started talking about dredging River Yobe and we have given some money to partner with Chad Basin. All these things would be studied with careful plannings, because with proper planning, everything is possible. Look at what Audu Bako did in Kano State. He  constructed about 25  dams in Kano State within a short period of stay in office, look at the result now.
The report of that summit is documented and is what we would use in preparing our annual budget. We spent over N50 billion to construct   roads, we have finished almost 700kms and the remaining 300kms that made up the 1000kms as promised are now ongoing.  Schools have been upgraded, qualified teachers were employed and portable drinking water has also been provided. Governor Ibrahim Gaidam has given 65 per cent fertilizer discount to farmers in the state;  chemicals and insecticides were also  given out to farmers free, and we have been regular in paying our counterparts funds to IPAD, FADAMA, etc. We have done very well at state level, but our main concern is how to collaborate in certain areas to push the North East economy together.
When the North East governors collaborate in roads construction, linking all the six states, movement of goods and services would be timely, effective and efficient. And we can even raise some tollgates to be generating revenue for the states.
Many presenters at the summit attributed the backwardness of the North East to education. What is your comment?
North East professors and doctors were part of the early brains of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and other institutions in the country.
Considering that, we have elite  and educated minds at an  early stage,  but the region has not benefited much from their knowledge and wealth of experience.
So, I don’t think our problem should only be tied down to education because, if those people could come down and dedicate themselves to developing the region, the transformation in agriculture, education, and infrastructural development is going to be enormous.
The host governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe state insisted while declaring the summit closed that action, action and action is what every governor is supposed to take home and I have seen reason in it, because without action all the beautiful ideas discussed will not take us anywhere.
 What areas can the governments’ partner with individuals to boost the North East economy?
As governments,  we are not supposed to be venturing into business. We will only allow individuals to come in with small, medium and large scale entrepreneurial ventures, because  government has no business in doing business. We will create the enabling environment by providing security, infrastructure, openness and transparency in the budgeting processes; looking at some areas we can give tax exemptions on certain businesses to allow investors to come in.

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