In an exclusive interview with the editor of DAILY NIGERIAN, Jaafar Jaafar, Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, explained issues of securing loans to execute projects, allocation of plots by Kano city walls, his frosty relationship with his predecessor, among others.
Many people are of the view that it was wrong for you to borrow money to execute light rail project in Kano. Why do you think the loan is needed?
Thank you very much for this important question, and for expressing the views of the people. First of all I will like you to know that when you are in a problem like this, it gives you an opportunity to think the best way to come out of it. So it is not the loan that we should lay emphasis on. Because the most developed countries in this world have the heaviest loans on them. However, that does not mean we are looking for loan to offer a social service. Many people are skeptical about loan because perhaps think it is meant to offer social service. If you take loan to offer social service, then there is no material economic value. But in this case, it is a situation where the landscape of the city will change, economic activities in the city will change and this project eventually will pay for itself. After the first phase and the second phase, then we are looking for PPP [Public Private Partnership].
We have tried PPP and its working. If you go to Kantin Kwari now, we are doing PPP, we are changing the face of that commercial hub and now we have the Kano Economic City. So these are things that will change the commercial landscape of the city of Kano. +Lagos is doing it. So what is the difference? If Lagos got revenue, now we have put the machinery to get more revenue, even though we can not get more revenue than or like Lagos because of some advantages Lagos has over us. But as far as commercial strength is concerned, we are just near them. Look at Port Harcourt. Go and ask El-Rufai, he will also start light rail project in Kaduna. He has already gone far. So what is the difference between Kaduna and Kano? Isn’t Kano more commercial than Kaduna?
So if you are talking about loan, supposing the loan is paid eventually, is it not an asset? Will somebody carry the rail and go away with it? Can you estimate the time the asset will finish? Certainly it will be longer than the time to pay the loan.
That is one of the challenges of leadership. When Audu Bako introduced irrigation, a farmer lay in front of the bulldozer and said he would rather be crushed than allow the project to be executed. Then the operator stopped and did not crush him. The police came and removed him, and the work continued. Go and see what is happening today. The channelling for irrigation is now benefiting the people. Their lives have changed.
So if you are focused, don’t be distracted by all these criticisms. Bla bla… you are leaving debt to our children. Ah! Have I not inherited liabilities now? Am I not paying it? So what is the difference now? There is no difference because the person that has some money with the government probably borrowed that money from the bank, isn’t it?
People cry foul that you are allocating plots near the ancient Kano wall. Don’t you think you are desecrating the cultural heritage of the city?
It is to protect the walls. This is because according to the law governing the badala, that is the wall, you have to keep certain distance away from the wall, which we kept. And then the menace of laterite excavation will be checked. And will give a kind of beautification for the city along that line. Kano is a commercial city. Look at Zaria Road, Gyadi Gyadi. People were complaining when the area was allocated during Kabiru Gaya administration. The area was messy, with refuse strewn everywhere, eyesore. But when the governor gave people chance to develop the area, how is it looking today? The same thing with badala. Instead of making the area porous for people to come with their donkeys to demolish the wall and take away the laterite, developing the area and making it commercial line, then it will look neat. So anybody who wants to see the wall will just go behind to see it.
But people are saying that some portions of the wall were demolished to allocate the plots…
No. No. No single portion of the wall will be demolished. There are some metres away from the wall because the wall is under the custody of the federal government. And the representatives of the National Monuments Commission were there.
You mean they were consulted before embarking on the allocations?
Of course we did consult them.
Any hope for reconciliation with Senator Kwankwaso?
Yes there is. The centre (party leadership) has come in to mediate. And I think they are making progress.
As someone who knows Kwankwaso well, do you think the reconciliation is possible?
Well, it takes two to tango. I am ready for the reconciliation, not because of anything, not because of electoral fortune but because peace is better than no peace – come weal, come woe. That’s my belief. And as I have been saying, he may believe it or not – but for the rest of my political life, I can not get a political ally like him. And for the rest of his political life too, he cannot get ally like me.