As the 2023 general elections draw closer, President Muhammadu Buhari has restated his call for all citizens to remain peaceful.
He emphasised that understanding and tolerance, (especially given the nation’s ethnic and religious diversity) are key to having free and fair elections.
President Buhari made the call on Tuesday during his official visit to Jigawa State where he commissioned some projects executed by the federal government, Jigawa State and Malam Alu Farm Project, a private enterprise championed by Honorable Farouk Adamu Aliyu.
‘‘Despite some of the challenges that continued to test the process of our democracy, I strongly believe, we have witnessed in the last seven years, the entrenchment of the true principles and ideals of democratic governance in Nigerian Polity. This has been one of the hallmarks of this Administration.
‘‘I must emphasize that tolerance and understanding are vital to the conduct of free elections,’’ Buhari stated.
During his one-day official visit to Jigawa State President Buhari visited four local government areas to inaugurate projects including the Hadejia Valley Irrigation Scheme at Auyo, Birnin Kudu Specialist Hospital, Malam Alu Integrated Agro-Allied Farm, Birnin Kudu and the dualized Unity-Pentagon-Fanisau Road.
At a banquet in Dutse after commissioning the projects, the president said the newly inaugurated 5,700 hectares Hadejia Valley Irrigation Scheme in Auyo Local Government Area of the State will significantly contribute to Nigeria’s quest for food security, job creation and economic diversification.
He urged the host community to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the gigantic irrigation infrastructure, saying ‘‘It will be a small part in our overall quest to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.’’
He also charged the Jigawa State Government to sustain its commitment to the Agricultural Sector, acknowledging the success of the Cluster System introduced by the present administration of Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar under the slogan of “Farming is a Business”.
The President also had an aerial view of some of the roads, infrastructure, bridges and places affected by the flood disaster in September 2022, which affected many parts of Jigawa State.
He used the occasion to express sympathies for the flood victims, promising more relief materials to them.
‘‘While I was previously briefed on the scale of the devastations with regards to loss of lives, destruction of farm lands and public infrastructure, today I was able to personally see the extent of the damage.
‘‘Flying from Auyo through Kafin Hausa and some parts of Miga, Jahun, Kiyawa, Dutse and Birnin Kudu Local Governments, I was able to have an aerial view of some of the affected roads, infrastructure and bridges.
‘‘Even though the Federal Government provided relief materials largely in form of foodstuffs through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs during the period of the flood, I want to assure the Government and People of Jigawa State that more relief would be provided through the National Committee that was set up by the Federal Government,’’ he said.
President Buhari commended Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar for his resounding achievements in the State, noting that he didn’t expect anything less from the man nicknamed “Mai Calculator”.
‘‘I have seen the State Publication of a compendium titled “Against All Odds” which documented the progress and achievements recorded by the Governor over the first six years of his administration.
‘‘I was truly amazed by the extent of projects and programmes executed across all sectors.
‘‘I was amazed because of the limited fiscal space that we have faced over the years across all the tiers of Government – but then I recall the financial prudence Governor Badaru has been known for which earned him the nickname “Mai Calculator”.’
The President also felicitated the citizens of the State for the unprecedented developments they have witnessed over the years.
He noted that the projects commissioned during his state visit were ‘‘only the tip of the iceberg,’’ adding that only one out of about 18 new general hospitals was inaugurated.
He expressed delight that each of the thirty constituencies in the State would soon boast of a full-fledged secondary health facility.
He urged the State government to sustain the reputation of the State with one of the highest road networks in the country.
On the Mallam Alu Farms in Birnin Kudu, the President described it as another commendable project which perfectly aligns with the administration’s agricultural transformation agenda.
He commended Honorable Farouk Adamu Aliyu for championing this wonderful project, saying:
‘‘I believe it will also significantly contribute to our objectives of economic diversification, food security and job creation.’’
‘‘We hope to see more such private sector led large agricultural projects, especially with the enabling environment provided by both the State and the Federal Government.’’
Earlier, at the palace of Emir of Hadejia, Alhaji Adamu Abubakar Maje, President Buhari promised to look into the requests of the State Government on the availability of fertilizers and other farm inputs to boost local agricultural production.
The President said Nigeria and Morocco had an existing agreement on fertilizer production, which will complement the existing 44 blending plants in the country.
The Governor of Jigawa State told the President that the State would remain grateful to the Federal Government for several completed and ongoing projects in the transport, education, health, social investments, agriculture and security sectors.
‘‘Since your administration, we have never seen it better in the life of Jigawa State,’’ he said during the banquet in honour of the President.
‘‘We cannot thank you enough for food security, especially the Anchor Borrowers Programme. Today we see farming in Jigawa as a business and some farmers in the State are among the richest in Nigeria,’’ he added.
Governor Badaru also lauded the President for his intervention to the States of the Federation for the payment of salaries, provision of infrastructure and during the COVID-19 pandemic, running into trillions of naira.
He said from the Paris Club Refund to States alone, Jigawa State received a total of N43 billion.
‘‘With your intervention, we were able to do all the projects we promised the people. All these monies kept us in government and I can beat my chest and say that I have adequately delivered and done well for the people.
‘‘Whatever we do in Jigawa State we owe it to your magnanimity and your support and this support is across all the States and party lines,’’ he said.
On the Irrigation Scheme, the Minister of Water Resources, Suleman Adamu explained that the intervention, expected to boost food production, covered the rehabilitation of Hadejia Barrage; rehabilitation and expansion of Irrigation and Drainage systems covering a net area of 5,780 hectares; and the rehabilitation and concrete lining of 2.86km of the main Feeder Canal.
He recalled that President Buhari flagged off the commencement of works at Hadejia in 2018, under the Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING) Project by the Ministry with the support of the World Bank.
‘‘This is an endeavour that first received Federal Government attention way back during the Shehu Shagari Administration, but with no appreciable progress through successive administrations, until now.
‘‘For sure, today’s event is a clear demonstration of Federal Ministry of Water Resource’s commitment towards the implementation of Mr. President’s Agenda to transform Nigeria into a strong and virile economy by lending support to his efforts in effectively harnessing the nation’s abundant natural, human, and especially water resources,’’ he said.
The Minister listed the main beneficiaries of the full components of the TRIMING Project as basin stakeholders, irrigation and drainage entities, water user associations, farmers, and villagers in the Project areas.
According to him, the following River Basins (RB) in the country are covered by the current phase of the Project: ‘‘Sokoto-Rima RB, involving Bakolori and Middle Rima Valley Irrigation Schemes, and the rehabilitation of Goronyo and Zobe Dams.’’
Others are Hadejia Jama’are RB, involving Kano River and Hadejia Valley Irrigation Schemes; the rehabilitation of Tiga and Challawa Gorge Dams, Hadejia Barrage and Ruwan Kanya Reservoir.
The Upper Benue River Basin Development, involving Dadin Kowa and Guyuk Irrigation Schemes, as well as the rehabilitation of Dadin Kowa Dam are also beneficiaries of the current phase of the project.