On assumption of office on May 29, 2023, the Governor of Katsina State, Mallam Dikko Umaru Radda made a pledge to fight insecurity in the State to the finish. To demonstrate the level of his seriousness and commitment to security, the governor went as far as promising to lead from the front by taking the war against banditry to the doorsteps of the killer bandits in the forests.
Four months into his tenure, we have not seen that happened. But we saw a governor who has the zeal and enthusiasm to bring succor to the poor in Katsina State. He wasted no time in distributing the food relief donated by the federal government. He was physically present in most of the Local Government Council Areas to supervise the distribution, instead of handing over the assignment to his aides who might abuse the privilege and do things their own way.
Much as we commend the governor for his due diligence and empathy for the poor, we hasten to remind him of the most important issues that needs his attention for the state to make meaningful progress.
On top of the list of those issues is security, second is security and third is security. Security is what the people of Katsina State deserve at the moment before anything else. Mallam Dikko Radda has seen how the previous administration handled the security in the state, and the results it recorded are not quite impressive.
From negotiation with the bandits to appeasing their leaders with monthly allowances, to the use of force, none has worked magic in stopping the attacks on innocent communities,kidnapping and raping of their daughters. It’s like adding salt to injury. Instead of making the bandits repent and drop their guns to go back to their traditional life of cattle rearing, they have become hardened criminals who take pleasure in unleashing havoc on the people.
In some local government areas, the bandits are holding sway, imposing levies on the poor farmers as if the country has no law enforcements. Under such circumstance, what could Governor Dikko do differently? There so much he can do.
First, he needs to organise a security summit in the state and invite all citizens with security background, both serving and retired to share their experience, expertise, and knowledge. The outcome of the summit should produce a blueprint for restoring security, law and order in Katsina State.
The next step is to bring all the traditional rulers and other community leaders, including faith-based groups together to get their own perspective on security. Their contributions should be adapted and incorporated in to the security blueprint.
The next group to invite is the youths. It’s time to ask the youths what is their problem, and what do they want the authorities to do? If we don’t talk to our youths one on one, we won’t understand what they are thinking. The youths as the corner stone of the development of any society must be engaged and involved in the decision making process of our state.
After the series of consultations, the next step is to produce a legal framework that will enable the state to implement those ideas from experts, professionals and stake holders.
There is no doubt that the traditional institutions have a big role to play in restoring security, law and order in our communities. But their roles need to be defined, regulated and balanced. Those above 70 years of age can attest to how traditional rulers in those days handled matters of security using both conventional and non-conventional strategies and tools.
There is no way internal security of any state can be handled by a centralized policing system whose personnel know next to nothing about the communities they are being deployed to serve.
For this reason, the governor should join forces with his colleagues in the other 35 states to demand for a state police regardless of how some people feel about it. There is nothing perfect or beyond manipulation.
The State Police can perform better than the centralized police if the governors allow it to work without undue interference. Beside the state police, the local council areas too should have their internal security outfit that will be well trained and disciplined.
To checkmate any possible abuse of state and local police by the governors and local government councils, the State House of Assemblies should make it mandatory for the State to constitute Security Commission whose members will be people of high integrity in the states, including traditional rulers, religious leaders, civil society leaders, youths and women leaders. The same should be replicated in the local government councils.
After security, comes industrialization. It is pertinent for Governor Radda to revisit the seven industrial hubs established by the administration of late Balarabe Musa in 1970s because they came to being after painstaking research and feasibility studies. The industries set up by that administration in the old seven local government areas of Katsina, Daura, Funtua, Kankiya, Dustin-Ma, Malumfashi and Mani were all very viable cottage industries, and still are if the state government can mobilize the locales to produce the raw materials for their sustainability.
With three larger federal government dams, Katsina State is in a better stead to be practicing all-year-round cultivation of crops especially cash crops like potatoes, cabbage, carrot, cucumber, pepper, tomatoes, onion, and other vegetables. This will create jobs for our youths besides creating new agro-millionaires.
In the solid minerals sector, Katsina State is not left behind. The state has a good number of solid minerals like kaolin, gold, zinc, iron, columbite and niacin that can be explored and processed for international markets. The state government should empanel a committee to identify the locations and verify the quantity of these minerals with a view to attracting foreign investors or partners to mine and process them. It can also mobilize local investors to buy shares and become core investors.
Katsina State is doing quite well in education, but there is need to streamline courses that are of greater need and importance to the state such agriculture, engineering, medicine, pharmacy, lab technology, nursing, town planning, education, and business.The four tertiary education institutions owned by the state should review their curriculums to align with these priorities.
In the area of transportation infrastructure, Katsina State needs to have a train service connected from the newly constructed rail line from either Daura or Kano to boost our local economy, and attract new businesses to the state.
There is no how the state can rid itself of criminal elements without providing opportunities for the young people to engage in production. This calls to mind the idea of youth empowerment through skills acquisition and provision of seed grants to start up their businesses. The state government can establish youth empowerment center in each of the 34 LGAs to be funded jointly by the state and LGAs. The products of such centers should be empowered by their communities to set up their businesses.
Women who form a larger percentage of our population should not be left out. The state government should establish Women Development Centers in the three senatorial zones, where women can learn handcrafts. We should develop craft villages for women to showcase their handiwork and help them market their products oversea through the Nigeria Export Promotion Council.
In the area of poverty alleviation, we are delighted to learn that the governor has inaugurated a committee on Zakat Commission. We will advise that the legal framework for the Commission should be produced as soon as possible, and credible persons appointed to serve as its members. Each of the 34 LGAs should be represented on the commission so that everyone will have a sense of belonging.
The mandate of the commission should be to collect, manage, and distribute Zakat proceeds to the eight category of people mentioned in the Quran. The process of locating and shortlisting prospective beneficiaries should be transparent. The commission should develop a database of beneficiaries or recipients to ensure transparency and accountability in the administration of Zakat. No one individual should receive Zakat twice. Those who receive should be able to start an income generating activity that may enable them become givers instead of receivers of Zakat in the coming years.
Revenue generation is one area that Governor Dikko Raddaneeds to be employ creativity and critical thinking to come up with new ideas on how to boost the state revenue because over dependence on the federal statutory revenue allocation will take the state to nowhere. We can borrow a leaf from Kaduna State where the former governor, Nasiru Ahmed El Rufai introduced several tax reforms to boost revenue.
In conclusion, all citizens of Katsina State wherever they may be residing should rally round Governor Dikko Umaru Radda and give him the support he needs to succeed in making the state a role model. We have what it takes to pioneer the change that will liberate our people from poverty, and restore the lost glory of Nigeria as a buoyant economy whose citizens enjoy good life.
Ibrahim Dan-Halilu is an Abuja based Communications Consultant and Public Affairs Analyst. You can reach him by email at [email protected] or via mobile at 08101064449 (SMS ONLY). https://tinyurl.com/Danhalilu