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Governor Lamido told me in Dutse that his Commissioner for Environment is a woman and referred me to her to get the details of what she was doing with the mandate he gave her. The search for the lady took me to Kano on that Saturday. When I entered the property I was directed to as her Kano home, two things made me believe I was in the wrong place. My first impression was that this was a botanical garden and not a living abode. Secondly I was welcomed by a man and not a woman.
The gentleman served me tea and as I was about to apologise for my intrusion, he politely told me the Commissioner who was given notice of my coming would soon be with me. She walked in and the gentleman bolted out, leaving his wife with a complete stranger! As a Christian, I remembered the Biblical story of the Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. So there are still homes in Nigeria where there is solemn peace and trust? I asked myself.
Dr. Hassana Hussaini is a certified physician. As the Jigawa state Commissioner for Environment, she treats environmental issues with the clinical precision of her chosen field – medicine. She told me that the health of all of us is dictated by the kind of environment in which we live. She praised the efforts of the governor in maintaining a green and clean environment, saying such an environment meant good health for the citizenry. She said there is an environmental committee which has provided public conveniences in the state headquarters and all the local governments of the state. The committee has also tackled and is still tackling such unhealthy practices as defecating and urinating in public all over Jigawa state.
There are public toilets all over the state which are serviced by solar powered boreholes, a new innovation that has revolutionalised the lives of the rural populace in Jigawa. Already, 27 communities in Jigawa have been supplied with electricity using solar energy. Three more communities will enjoy the same service before the year runs out, I was told. In each selected community, more than 60 house holds are beneficiaries while the whole community benefits from the centralized street lights, Mosque lightening and solar bore holes.
The solar energy project also provides the rural communities with solar enterprise lock up shops. The shops are given out to local entrepreneurs who use them as business centres while paying back some monthly token to government to maintain the infrastructure. The facility has opened opportunities for barbers, tailors, battery charging station operators and others taking up the shops to service the community on a daily basis. They are fully engaged self employed citizens who would without these opportunities have strayed into crime. Furthermore, Primary and Secondary students in the rural areas of Jigawa also now have the luxury to study at night like their counterparts in towns and cities.
From all indications, Lamido is blazing the trail in renewable energy in Nigeria. He remains un-credited, but the fact is that he has set the template for the ongoing “Light up Nigeria” project launched in Abuja last year by the President, a couple of years after Lamido’s programme had started producing positive results. In what looks like a copy cat, the President said at the launching of his project last year in Durumi, Abuja that it is aimed at using renewable energy to get electricity across to rural communities in 36 states of the federation especially communities not connected to the national grid.
The Jigawa government has also ventured into jethropha plantation, a new source of renewable energy that is unknown to many in Nigeria. Already, 600 hectares of lands are being processed for the same project. The statistics just kept flowing from the Commissioner as I sat there gazing. She must have read my mind because she soon suspended reeling out the statistics to reassure me than the government’s environmental agenda did not happen per chance. It is, she said a product of careful planning. According to her, the government is working on a policy document which has fashioned out a step by step strategic plan to make the best use of the environment.
The amazing thing about Governor Lamido’s massive investment in environment is that it has neither impressed the federal government nor even the international community that is very concerned about global warming. If it did, the federal government and the international community should have assisted the state in funding. Both Lamido and his commissioner told me that no assistance has come from anywhere so far. This is certainly not the best way to encourage a governor whose performance in a field that affects all of humanity is very stellar.
Regular readers of my column know that I do not spare northern governors and they must be wondering why the new found love between me and Lamido. The fact remains that I do not spare our northern governors because most of them do not also spare we their hapless followers. They even go to the extent of dooming our lives. But Lamido is a northern star and his achievements are verifiable. Any reader who doubts me should take a trip to Jigawa and confirm.
Lamido to me remains a model for northern governors to emulate. We are unfortunate to be confronted here with the gloomy reality of less governance and abundant gluttony up north. Look at the almajeri system which northern governors have allowed to thrive without caring about the dangers of such a system for the development of the region and the security of the country. Governor Lamido has not only abolished it, he has made primary education free and compulsory. This is another topic for another day.
For now, I cast my vote for Governor Lamido and Dr. Hassana. As a Nigerian and a northerner with deep attachments to the old Kano state, I can dare say that they have made me proud.