There's a wide gap between critical stakeholders in this country - Prof Hafiz Abubakar, (Ex Dep Gov Kano state) - Paul Ukpabio's Blog


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Sunday, 8 November 2020

There's a wide gap between critical stakeholders in this country - Prof Hafiz Abubakar, (Ex Dep Gov Kano state)

Former Deputy Governor of Kano state Professor Hafiz Abubakar is sad about the multiple issues that has arisen from the wide disparities between the leaders and the led in the country. Just like the youths, he is taking time to take stock and note where we all have gone wrong.

At the beginning of the #EndSARS protest, the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology, held its 44th conference and AGM in Lagos, and Prof Hafiz Abubakar was there to declare the event open, after which he had an interview with Paul Ukpabio, sharing his feelings about youths, Nigeria and food security as it concerns the north and the entire country. 

Prof Hafiz Abubakar has gone down in history as one who willingly walked out of the perks of office as a Deputy Governor, holding his dignity high instead of being associated with what his mind did not conform with.

Do you think the youths have a right to hold the #EndSARS protest at this time?

The right to peaceful protest is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Where do you think that the youths got it wrong in the Lagos protest where it is alleged that armed soldiers opened fire on the protesters?

By my training as an academician I can only speak to facts. I am therefore ethically constrained to apportion blame.

Is it possible that a fifth columnist has infiltrated the youths and now the protest could be discredited?

There is evidence of hoodlum’s infiltration which calls for caution to halt the slide into anarchy. 

The youths have called for review of salaries of top government workers such as senators, governor’s house of reps member, is this possible?

I fully support the call for the review of salaries and allowances of all political and public servants in the country. There are multiple issues arising from the wide disparities. They need to be addressed urgently. 

Your advice for the youths at this time and your advice to the federal government too 

My advice to the original organizers of the protest is to calm down and stock-take the situation before charting the way forward.  As for the Federal Government, they should act responsibly in a transparent manner to address the issues raised by the youth before it's too late. 

It was Nifest 44th Convention and AGM recently and you were there to declare the event open. Naturally food sufficiency came to the fore burner, how prepared is Nigeria?

Food sufficiency in Nigeria is still a mirage. Although we have good policies that seeks to promote it, critical gaps and lack of understanding the pivotal role of other stakeholders in the agricultural food value chain has over the years dwarfed progress in the right direction. The Agro-Food Value Chain has three major components, consisting of production, processing and finance and marketing linked in a chain, which explains the strong interdependence. For quite some time our agricultural policies and programmes have concentrated on number one which is production at the expense of the two other critical components hence delaying our journey to food self-sufficiency as a nation. 

Apparently there has been mass motivated programmes targeted at agriculture in time past like Operation Feed The Nation, wouldn’t such a programme be necessary at this point in time?

I agree with you we need a new programme with the same spirit like Operation Feed The Nation but with a total paradigm shift. In the food value chain, production is at the beginning of the horizontal chain while processing is the centre and finance and marketing is at the end of the chain. To achieve Food Security and Sustainable Economic growth we must recognize and accord processing that central role as is provided in the Food Value Chain. This is a universal concept, tested and trusted. The application of this concept after the Second World War is responsible for the economic growth of Europe and USA and the Soviet Union. Nigeria is endowed with agro and food resources to lead Africa in securing ourselves, the continent and as global players. Regrettably, our political and bureaucratic leadership lack the understanding and will to follow the directions that will take us to the land of prosperity. 

Recently also Nifest became chartered, with this what advantage do you see in Nifest?

The signing into law by President Muhammad Buhari on the 16th of October 2019 the Act establishing the Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology is a welcome development, long overdue. It simply means Food Science and Technology is now recognized by law as a Profession. It will begin to generate more interest by our youth to join the profession like other older ones like Engineering, Law and so on. It will stimulate development in the processing component of the value chain leading to wealth creation and economic prosperity. It will engender trust in our food product exports especially by the international community seeing that our Food Value Chain is now being regulated more and is driven by regulated professionals. These benefits are not exhaustive. Overall it an additional stimulus to Wealth creation and Economic growth.

Kano has always been the centre of commerce in the north of Nigeria. At present what relevance can you say that Kano has in contributing to the agricultural development of the country?

Kano remains the center of commerce for the North. A position it gained Pre-Colonial Nigeria. It is endowed with a huge flat arable land, fertile soil, a mix of good climate and medium rainfall pattern. Furthermore, Kano is lucky to have the largest water reservoir in the country with 15 Dams and an active surface water holding of well over 3.5 Billion cubic meters. This, places it at an advantage position for both wet and dry season farming. Consequently agriculture contributes to more than 60 % of the states GDP.

There was a time that Kano state was known for her groundnut pyramids, can the state make a comeback with the groundnut pyramids?

From the facts stated earlier, Kano has the potential of re-creating Groundnut Pyramids, Rice Pyramids, Tomatoes Pyramids, Sorghum Pyramids, Sesame Pyramids and a host of other Food Commodities Pyramids. However, what we need now are more Oil mills, Rice mills, Tomatoes processing plants and so on, as a matter of paradigm shift. The emphasis should be to make food available, adequate in essential nutrient content, and affordable by the low income and the poor. This is the correct road to a food secure and prosperous nation.

What was it like being the Deputy Governor in Kano state though very religious but also open and accommodating to people from other parts of Nigeria.

(Laughs) On a serious note, it was a great honour and privileged for me to serve my state as Deputy Governor. I owe a debt of gratitude to the present Governor HE. Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and his Predecessor HE Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso for the opportunity. I didn't contest for the position. They consulted and invited me from the University. It's a great and life time experience. I learned a lot about my state, people, my country and the realities driving our nation. I can comfortably say there is a very wide gap between critical stakeholders in this country, that is the Academia and Politics and the Political Leadership at all levels.

Most Northern leaders started out as teachers, and you are one too?

Yes. I am one. And I am not only one but am the son, grand son and great great son of teachers. So 
my wife is a teacher, my eldest son is a teacher. My daughter is a Teacher. So you can deduce from that.

Do you miss the classroom?

I didn't allow a gap to miss it. As Deputy Governor I continued supervision of my PG (PhD) students. 

There was a time that there was a paucity of educated people in the north of Nigeria but today it’s a different story, tell us about the silent revolution going on in education and agriculture sectors in Kano and viz a viz the north

Kano was lucky to have a visionary leader at inception in 1967 and that was in the person of Late CP Audu Bako of blessed memory. He laid a World Class foundation for Agricultural and Educational development. Many of his successors built on that. 

What motivated you to education at an early age and inspired you to be a professor?

My grandfather! As a pioneer student of Food and Nutritional Sciences from Kano State, I was motivated to get to the top. I thank God for fulfilling my dreams. I am the first Kano state unregenerate to become a Professor of Food and Nutritional Biochemistry: The first in Bayero University Kano. 

How did you get into politics, was it deliberate?

I was a follower of political activities since childhood. The Great Nationalist and Champion of the poor Mal. Aminu Kano of blessed memories was our neighbor. We came from the same clan, ward and local government in Kano.

In Nigeria, people don’t resign from public offices even in the face of whatever, perhaps because of the perks of office. Is dignity bigger than the perks of office?

I came from a dignified poor family of Ulamas (Teachers in Islamic theology). Decency was central to our bringing. For me, l continue to thank and pray for my deceased parents who have inculcated in me to cherish ones dignity over all world attractions.  So, yes, for me dignity is bigger than the perks of office. 

You also aspired to be a governor in Kano state, is the zeal to serve still there hot and burning?

Before I answer you let me give a little background. When I resigned my position as Deputy Governor on the 4th of August 2018, I rested for only two months receiving well-wishers, counseling my followers, reflecting on my experiences and thanking God. I wrote and requested for my reinstatement to the University. It was approved and I resumed duties as a Professor to my department on the 1st of November 2018. In the University I held the position of a Head of Department, Deputy Dean ,Pioneer Dean of a Faculty, Pioneer Director of a Centre of Research and finally Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics) of Bayero University. I was called to serve my people from that seat as Deputy Governor. Currently am serving as a Visiting Professor at the National Universities Commission, Abuja, crisscrossing the country offering my service for the development of University education in our beloved country. It is clear from the foregoing that am willing to serve my country in any capacity at all times.

Tell us a few of the things that you hope to do differently if you get into such office to serve?

I will look into how I handle some of my relationships with peers, bosses and so on differently.

Who have been your role models?

My role models have been Mal. Aminu Kano, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa , Sardauna of Sokoto of blessed memories. 

Any regrets so far?

No regrets at all. 



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