Hon. Bala Sani Yahaya represents Ingawa Constituency at the Katsina State House of Assembly where he chairs its Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. In this encounter with MUAZU ELAZEH, he bares his mind on governance in the state and the recent moves by the Assembly to amend traditional council law, amongst other topical issues.
What is your assessment of the Shema administration?
Without any fear of contradiction, Shema has performed creditably well. The indices are all there on ground for everybody to see except those whose only concern is to play politics with every issue. Take road construction for example, the state government has succeeded in opening the state through the construction of roads which cut across the length and breadth of the state.
In the area of school building and provision of both teaching and learning materials for the educational development of the state, the administration of Governor Shema has earned a good mark for itself. You see the story is basically the same in the area of water supply, health and agriculture where the Songhai initiative and other laudable policies and programmes are being executed with a view to engendering food security and self-sufficiency in the state. There is hardly any area that has not received dividends of democracy.
Katsina and indeed the north are predominantly agrarian. How best do you think government and relevant stakeholders can strengthen agriculture to enable it leverage socio-economic development in the face of uncertainty over oil?
A lot has been said about revamping agriculture which we all believe is not only necessary but long overdue. We have to revamp agriculture even if not for the dwindling fortunes from oil but to ensure food security because as it is often said, no nation can claim to be secured if it depends on other nation for its food. So the question is how do we strengthen agriculture? I had the privilege of leading a special committee on agriculture sometimes back.
The committee made some far reaching recommendations that we believe will assist and help in developing agriculture in Katsina State for example. Among the issues raised was the need to accord top most priority to dry-season farming because it supports the age-long idea of all year round farming.
First of all, we have to provide sufficient earth dams, tube wells and wash pumps. Once we do this and provide improved seedlings and fertilizers, we will be able to motivate our farmers into producing a lot for both domestic use and commercial purposes. I strongly believe that we have all it takes to give agriculture all the deserved attention and once that is done, we will develop more than the stage we currently are in…
How comfortable are you with the attention accorded to agriculture by the Katsina State government?
I cannot say I am comfortable because I know a lot still needs to be done but with the little resources the government is handling and the commendable efforts it is doing to reposition the sector; I can say the government is doing well. But having said that, we must not fail to state the obvious which is that what is being done is not enough. Perhaps when more money is made available, government will accord more priority to the sector.
You chair the Local Government and Chieftaincy Committee of the Katsina State House of Assembly. Only recently, the Assembly passed a resolution supporting the move to restructure the emirate council in the state. Why is the move coming now?
Well let me first of all say people misunderstood the motion which was sponsored by the member representing Malumfashi Constituency, Hon. Abdullahi Ibrahim Mahuta. The motion seeks the review of laws that concerns the traditional institutions in the state. The idea of ceding 7 local governments to Daura was merely raised by the sponsor of the motion as a suggestion in the cause of his explanation of the motion. It was not the decision of the House to cede 7 local governments to Daura Emirate.
It was the decision of the member who sponsored the bill and the Assembly has not taken a resolution on that yet. The member suggested that some of the local government that falls within Katsina Zone should be merged with Daura Emirate so that the emirate will have 12 local governments as opposed to the current 5 which it has.
The member categorically stated that it was his opinion and not the resolution of the House. The House never resolved to cede the 7 LGs to Daura.? My committee was mandated to, within three months, study the law, conduct public hearing on the law and come up with a favourable amendment.
What then is your personal view on the motion?
Well I believe there is need to review some of these laws. So if we legislate to give the traditional ruler additional powers, I think it is a positive development.
Your committee oversees local government and chieftaincy affairs in the state. A lot of people believe the local government election is long overdue. What is delaying it and why is the Assembly not compelling the executive to conduct LG polls?
You may recall that the Assembly recently called on the executive to organize for conduct of elections so that this care taker committee will cease to exist. In the process and in response to our call, the executive brought a bill seeking amendment to the electoral law for which the Assembly has already passed into law for the governor to assent. I think that is the last step before the conduct of the election and I strongly believe that very soon the election will be conducted.
What have you done in terms of attracting development to your constituency?
Essentially my responsibility as a member of the State Assembly is to support the enactment of laws that have direct bearing on the people on whose mandate I am at the Assembly specifically, and the good people of Katsina State in general. So my contribution to the continued growth and development of the people of my constituency can best be understood from the perspective of the roles I play in discharging the task of law making for which I am at the Assembly in the first place.
Having said that, I must state quickly too, that I have supported the presentation of motions that bothers on issues that are central to the development needs of my people. In a more specific term, among my numerous supports to ensuring development in Ingawa Constituency is the presentation of for instance, a motion for the construction of an earth dam in the southern part of Ingawa Local Government Area.
You see, agriculture is the mainstay of my people and to foster all season farming, there is the need for construction of dam. As I speak to you, money has been voted in the 2013 budget for the construction of the dam. I am optimistic that work will soon commence.
Additionally too, I have strived to ensure effective representation by making myself readily accessible to my constituents, listen to their individuals and group complaints with a view to finding solutions to them… I have been contributing in my little way to supporting the development of education in the constituency. Without meaning to engage in self praises, I have been able to within a reasonable limit; contribute to ensuring sustained development in the area.
What is the number of bills or motions you have sponsored so far and how has this impacted the lives of the masses?
Well, right now, I can’t say how many of those bills or motion I have sponsored. But one thing is that I have either presented or supported the presentation of different motions must of which are geared toward ensuring development of not only my constituency, but the state in general…