Thursday, August 27, 2015 9:14 am
Dr Uba Sani was the spokesman to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and he is the current Special Adviser to Kaduna Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai on Political Matters. In this interview with journalists at his office recently, he spoke on the wrong notions among some members of the public about El-Rufai’s policies of change and development. He also spoke about reasons for the ongoing land recovery exercise, ban on begging and hawking in the state as well as the concluded plan to transform the education sector. FEMI ADI covered the interview session.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s resolve to demolish and recover government properties is creating a lot of tension in Kaduna state. As the Political Adviser to the governor, what is the true situation now?
I think the issue of recovering some lands that belong to schools and hospitals in the state is a very straight forward one. You will recall that during the campaign, Malam Nasiru El-Rufai promised he was going to make six things his priority, namely education, health, agriculture, infrastructure, security, youth and women empowerment. These sectors are the most important issues for this government. That is the reason that when he assumed office, we believed education, which is the bed rock of any society, should be given full attention.
So, he decided to first of all create an enabling environment for our secondary school students in the state. To get a full picture of the situation, we went round all the secondary schools and even some primary schools too. You see, government’s effort was to ensure that our children have the best education this time around. We realised that the first thing we needed to do was to give them a very conducive environment. Though the government has started making positive impact in many other areas, nobody is talking about them. People were busy making a lot of noise on the demolition. I expected people to commend the government on some of the things we have started doing, that are positive when it comes to educational development in the state.
What are some of these things you are talking about?
As I speak to you now, nobody is talking about the move by the government of Nasiru El-Rufai to provide all the junior and senior secondary school children in the state with free and customized tablets (computers). The tablets will have all schools’ syllabus, WAEC past questions and answers, text books ranging from English, Mathematics, and Sciences to Social studies and so on. Again, nobody is also talking about free uniforms. They are not talking about the free education that this government has introduced from primary to Junior Secondary School. They are not talking about the free feeding for primary school that we are about to start. We realized that the state also needs quality teachers; so after providing them with these things, they need to have quality teachers and in doing that, the government has decided to send the teachers for training and increase their salaries, which will be one of the best in the country.
Besides that, when we visited some of the primary schools in the state we discovered that in most schools pupils sat on bare floor, during school hours. No chairs, no tables. But as I talk to you now, we are working hard to see that all the primary schools in the state have chairs and tables when they resume in September. Most importantly we have recorded tremendous success in the area of security in the state. Before we came on board, cattle rustling were rampant. There were mysterious politically-motivated killings in many parts of this state. Now crime rate is going down seriously. Insecurity has been reduced to the barest minimum because you now have a leader who is more sensitive to the problems of his people. You now have a leader with viable solutions to the challenges of insecurity in Kaduna state. Many of our so-called critics of Governor El-Rufai do not want to comment on insecurity because they would have no concrete criticism to make.
What specific challenges did you discover while going round Secondary schools in Kaduna?
If you visit most secondary schools in Kaduna state today you will see private houses almost attached to school dormitories and some people also built their houses right inside school premises. In our days, we excelled because we had a conducive learning environment.
Are these problems in both private and public schools?
No. All these anomalies happen only in the public schools. You cannot find it in private schools, and we are therefore determined to clear this mess. Taking all these things into consideration, the governor promised that he was going to provide all these facilities and create a conducive environment in our public schools to give the children of the poor a sense of belonging. The Governor’s idea is to provide equal opportunity for the children of the poor to excel in life by having qualitative education in Kaduna State.The governor promised that he will make sure the children of the poor have the same facilities in their public schools as obtainable in the best private schools in the country. That has always been his dream and his manifesto during the campaign and he is set to achieve that.
So, he decided to take this tough decision. It was surprising when people were complaining about the demolition at the school in Zaria. The truth of the matter is that we have been to the school and if you go there you will discover that some people just went into the school premises and erected buildings of all types; without minding the negative effect that their action would have on those learning in that school. Obviously, the danger is that you cannot restrict the influx of visitors to the school premises at odd hours, because of the people living in the premises. This kind of thing does not happen at the private schools because they regulate entrance into the school premises and that gives the children enough time to concentrate on their studies. Now, we are saying enough is enough. Remember, it is not just about the governor but his determination to support less-privileged children in order to have access to good education.
But as the governor tries to achieve this, very few but vocal people have embarked on campaign of calumny, trying to discredit the governor by misinforming the general public about the good intention of the governor. They deliberately refused to mention the reasons behind their actions. Take for example, the issue of Alhudahuda College in Zaria. Even before the governor took the decision to demolish those houses, some of the ex-students of that school led by people like Hakeem Baba Ahmed had once gone to the media and complained about the massive encroachment of the school premises. The same thing happened with Rimi College, Government College etc. The people of Kaduna have complained severally in the past but none of the past governors had the political will to do the right thing, to save the children of those schools. It was so because none of them took education as their priority.
The public is somehow confused that those opposing your government policies are members of your party, the All Progressive Congress, APC. What would you say is responsible for this?
I think anybody whether in APC or any other party who decides to attack the government’s intention in implementing this programme that is purely aimed at helping the children of the less-privileged to have good education, may be basically because his children are not even schooling in this country not to talk of being in the public schools. All these people making noise, I can bet that their children are not in public schools. Their children are in private schools; some are even abroad, so they don’t care about what happens to the children of the poor. They are only talking because they want to score cheap political points but I am sure that the general public has understood their agenda and nobody will believe their stories because they have nothing to lose; but we have, we are in government and we have responsibility to help the poor and the less-privileged and we know what our people want and the government of Nasir El-Rufai is ready to provide those services to the people.