WHEN A GOVERNOR SHOULD LISTEN TO HIS CITIZENS
By Y. Z. Yaú
In 2018, the Jamaare Local Government of Bauchi State suffered a devastating flood that destroyed not only farms and houses but also the central market. There was a Government in Bauchi State but it did not respond to the crisis. Those who died as a result of the flood ended up with mere flood statistics. The descendants of Dilara took it calmly and in their strides. They consulted among themselves and prayed to God to answer their prayers and God in his infinite mercies, answered and wiped their tears: the federal government through the Ecological Fund responded with an intervention to mitigate the effect of the flood. In a three-part initiative, the Ecological Fund financed the making of a new drainage network in the town and promised to rebuild the market that was destroyed by the flood. The third aspect was the dredging of the river so that the flood can be reduced if not altogether eliminated. The state government was to contribute counter funding. It did not and last rainy season, the flood came back with more vengeance and for the first time in over 50 years, the flood got into town, occupied and destroyed many houses. Several people, mainly farmers and their children died in the waves while crops in farms that were completely submerged were destroyed. The loss to the community was shuttering. Again not a whimper of sympathy from the state government.
Over five years ago, the Federal Government as part of the ecological intervention decided to upgrade the power sub-station which serves more than four local governments to improve the electricity supply in the area. A major new sub-station was to be built on the understanding that the State Government would do the civil works while the Federal Government does the engineering component.
The Federal Government delivered its part and to date, the State Government has not delivered its component so the project remains uncompleted.
What does the frequent flood tell? While flood in itself is bad, what it reveals is that if the water can be controlled, agricultural production can be improved to raise the national food production capacity. After all, already along with the Hadejia wing of the Hadejia-Jamaare Rivers basin, this area is perhaps the largest rice production belt of the country. Stabilization of the flood plain of the Jamaa’re river is therefore a project not meant for the benefit of the Jamaare people only. It is to improve national food security and farming resilience in the country. It is thus in the national interest.
The flood plain of the Jama’are river is not only a fertile agricultural area but also a natural ready-made laboratory for agricultural research that will improve agricultural systems and practices across the country. This was the consideration that led to the siting of the Faculty of Agriculture of the Bauchi State University in Jama’are, to leverage this natural laboratory for research, experimentation and teaching. Of course, Jama’are people will benefit from agricultural extension services, agricultural advice from experts, improved skills and knowledge for the farmers and uptake of research outcomes to address agricultural, livestock and horticultural issues. It will also benefit from the usual town-gown interaction that a university made possible. But above all, however, the state and the country as whole stands to gain in enhanced agricultural production, livestock production and development of horticulture. The foresight of the Committee that searched and selected the site of the Faculty of Agriculture must be commended for their deep sense of patriotism and adherence to professional ethics.
The Faculty is already on the ground with hundreds of students and over 100 academic and non-academic staff engaged in academic activities in the college. Academic activities have stabilized and a sense of synergy between the campus and the host community has taken shape.
Suddenly there are rumours making rounds that the state government is planning to relocate the Faculty to another place for the takeoff of the Federal College of Education that the federal government recently decided to establish in the town. This move to relocate the Faculty that was sited based on clear reasons of functionality and leverage, not only smacks of the politics of blockage but also totally lacking in appreciation of the considerations for the setting up of both the Faculty of Agriculture and the Federal College of Education in Jamaare. It certainly does not show consideration for the deep patriotic thinking that has gone into siting the faculty. But this apart, there is also the argument of justice and fairness that has led to the establishment of the Federal College of Education.
Jama’are is one of the oldest local governments in the state, established in the first wave of local government creation in the country. Jamaáre Emirate is a foundational emirate, resulting from the Dan Fodio Jihad and not a recent political creation of some politicians. Of the four emirates in the state, until 2014, it was the only one lacking in any institution of higher learning. Even when the Faculty of Agriculture was established, the Emirate was nowhere near the others in terms of the number of higher institutions. It was to promote both equitable educational development and the spreading of educational opportunities across the state that reinforced the rationale for selection of the site of the Faculty of Agriculture as well as the establishment of the Federal College of Education in Jamaare.
It is difficult for the people of Jamaáre not to read the purported attempt to remove the Faculty as one more instance of deliberate discrimination against people who are known for their peaceful disposition. For all the deprivations, they have never taken to a protest. Not that they do value their rights nor that they cannot fight for their right. They believe that what you do not get in peace will not necessarily come in violence. They live in the humble Fulbe spirit of not giving to showing pains or pleasure. When last Monday they met from all corners of the Emirate at the Jamaare central mosque and led by the leadership of the scions of the Dilara dynasty, the community has taken this attempt to disinherit them calmly and resorted to prayers, in the hope that as usual, Allah will ensure that justice is done. As a peace-loving community, we take solace in our patience and trust in our density.
It is still not late for the Bauchi State Governor, Kauran Bauchi to dispel these rumours and assure the people of Jamaáre, and indeed the whole country (which stands to lose from this move) that what is theirs shall remain theirs. They will embrace him with brotherly love and in that spirit, we hope that Kaura hears our humble request, for his heart to take flight into the hearts of Jamaáre people who would warmly embrace him in eternal gratitude for acting as a true leader who treats all parts of his constituency equally. We are waiting and watching.