Jigawa State Governor Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar recently spoke to some journalist in Dutse on sundry issues. MURTALA MUHAMMED was there and reports.
What is your government doing differently from the previous administrations in the state?
Since we came into office, we have managed to shrink spending. For example, the budget for Government House has shrunk by 70 per cent. Hospitability spending and virtually all other expenditures of the state have shrunk.
Contrary to what used to happen in the state when some people used to charter flight amounting up to N20million every month, we do not charter today. We do not spend close to one quarter of that amount.
I came from the private sector and know that for us to change the situation of our people, we have to change the economic dynamics of the state. If you check our internally generated revenue (IGR) profile, we are generating little or nothing. It is nothing to write home about; hence we are making effort to change the unfortunate situation.
We are also looking at enhancing our IGR through taxation. We must ensure that necessary taxes are collected and properly remitted to government coffers, unlike before now, when many people defrauded the state.
We are trying to change the economic dynamics of Jigawa State by creating a sustainable environment for businesses. We believe the only way to do this is through agriculture, where we have comparative advantage.
We have invited Dangote, who is doing massive rice production in a part of the state, while others are into tomato production.
We also believe in empowering people, but the structure we inherited is not sustainable. Our major focus is to create a local economy that will in the near future support the state.
Have the opposition political parties been cooperating with your administration?
It will interest you to know that I am the only governor who still left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairmen of local governments in their positions. When I came in, I told them to continue with their work, contrary to the expectation of even members of the opposition.
Again, I am the only governor that has not accused my predecessor of embezzlement. There may be allegations here and there, but you cannot say somebody stole when there is no proof of the allegation.
Unless the law court declares someone guilty, you cannot do so on the basis of hear-say.
Also, I inherited N16million only from my predecessor. We met huge liabilities, with too many works in progress in a shrinking economy and in a shrinking oil prices.
I have continued with the projects on ground. I don’t believe in initiating new projects and abandoning the ones that were started with my predecessor, because we are working for the good of our state and our people.
I rather complete the projects and let somebody take the credit than lose the people’s money or allow the resources to waste.
With the sharp drop in monthly allocation, how have you been meeting up with payment of workers’ salaries?
Jigawa is a civil service state; once salaries are not paid, the groundnut seller in town will quickly feel it, but we have continued to pay salaries, despite the shrinking resources.
As soon as we came into office, we plugged some holes through which people were siphoning money from government. Through the biometric exercise we conducted, a lot of ghost workers were discovered, meaning that some people were making themselves rich every month by collecting salaries of workers that did not exist.
The state government supported some local governments last month to the tune of N226 million for them to pay salaries, to show you how bad the situation is.
People say the only place where life exists in Jigawa is Dutse. How do you intend to extend this life to other part of the state?
That is not true. In the 27 local councils headquarters, we have streets, roads and businesses. In fact, there are more businesses in Hadejia than Dutse.
Contrary to what some people said, I am the only one that comes to the office around 9:05 a.m. except I am not in the state.
What is the status of Dutse Airport?
As I said, I have continued the projects that the previous administration started. But what I do not subscribe to is a situation whereby the state government will pay for 60 passengers three days a week at N27, 000 per passenger to support traffic development.