By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari says the inaugurated 5,700-hectare Hadejia Valley Irrigation Scheme in Auyo Local Government Area of Jigawa, will significantly contribute to Nigeria’s quest for food security, job creation and economic diversification.
Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s spokesman, said Buhari spoke at a state banquet after the inauguration of several projects executed by the Federal Government, the Jigawa State Government and the Malam Alu Farm Project, on Tuesday in Jigawa.
Malam Alu Farm is a private enterprise, championed by Farouk Aliyu, a former member of the House of Representatives, from Jigawa.
The president 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 over-all 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 Gov. Badaru Abubakar under the slogan of “Farming is a Business”.
During his one-day official visit to Jigawa, the president visited four local government areas to inaugurate projects.
Apart from the Hadejia Valley Irrigation Scheme at Auyo, the other projects are the Birnin Kudu Specialist Hospital, Malam Alu Integrated Agro-Allied Farm, Birnin Kudu, and the dualized Unity-Pentagon-Fanisau Road.
At the farm, the president unveiled a 50.3-metres flag pole, described as the tallest in the country by Aliyu.
The president also had an aerial view of some of the road infrastructures, bridges and places affected by the flood disaster in Sept. 2022, which affected many parts of Jigawa.
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 devastation with regards to loss of lives, destruction of farm lands and public infrastructure, today I am able to personally see the extent of 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.
‘‘The Federal Government has provided relief materials largely in form of foodstuffs through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs during the period of the flood.
”However, 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.
Buhari commended the governor for his resounding achievements in the State, noting that he didn’t expect anything less from the man nicknamed “Mai Calculator”.
He said: ‘‘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 Gov. Badaru has been known for which earned him the nick-name “Mai Calculator.”
The president also felicitated the citizens of the State for unprecedented developments they had witnessed over the years.
He noted that the projects inaugurated during his state visit were ‘‘only the tip of the iceberg”, adding that only one out of about 18 new general hospitals was inaugurated.
Buhari expressed delight that each of the 30 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 Farouk 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,’’ he said.
On the 2023 General Elections, the president restated his call on Nigerians to remain peaceful.
‘‘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, entrenchment of the true principles and ideals of democratic governance in the 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,’’ he added.
Earlier, at the palace of Emir of Hadejia, Alhaji Adamu Maje, 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 would complement the existing 44 blending plants in the country.
Gov. Badaru had 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 said.
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, is expected to boost food production and cover the rehabilitation of Hadejia Barrage.
He added that the intervention also covered rehabilitation and expansion of Irrigation and Drainage systems covering a net area of 5,780 hectares; and 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. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Vincent Obi