Katsina State has set up export processing centres for the products in which it has comparative advantage. In this interview with journalists, the state commissioner for commerce and industry, Honourable Abdulmumini Abdullahi, said the state is set to reap bountiful harvest from the initiative. KAZEEM AKINTUNDE was there for LEADERSHIP Sunday
The impression the ordinary man out there has is that commerce and industry is not a priority of the Ibrahim Shema administration in Katsina State, and that that is the reason not much has been achieved in this key sector. What is your response on that?
Nothing can be farther from the truth. This is a sector into which billions has gone to underscore the fact that it is a major priority of the administration. The government also established 52 cottage industries, utilising the vast mineral deposits in the state. These are made up of 28 paint cottage industries and 20 chalk cottage industries set up at the total cost of N135.79 million. A total of 555 youths were trained to work in the industries; 332 youths are engaged at the paint cottage industries while 223 youths work in the chalk cottage industries.
On commerce, four fertilizer blending plants have been constructed at Batsari, Maiadua Safana and Bakori at the cost of N117.96 million (including equipment, laboratory facility, logistic and the training of 100 staff). Government also disbursed N100 million interest- free loans to about 6,000 traders and artisans under the Small Trades Special Credit Scheme. It is distributing N106 million under the Youth Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises Loan Schemes. A total of 3,218 artisans and SMEs are to benefit.
A census of SMEs in 28 trades was conducted in selected areas of the three senatorial districts and a total of 11,229 of such enterprises were registered under the first phase: 2,835 in Daura, 4,377 in Katsina and 4,017 in Funtua senatorial zones. The census was meant to guide the government in planning intervention portfolios for the SMEs.
The state government has spoken so much about giant strides in the area of human capital development but which critics say is a fluke. What is the situation really?
It is unfair to say the Shema administration's achievements in human capital development are a fluke. The facts speak for themselves. N96.05 million was spent by government to train 50 youths on high tech welding at the Nigeria Naval Engineering Training College, Sapele. More than N301 million was spent on the construction and equipping of Youth Craft Village in Katsina. The centre offers training in 16 different trades and train 2,000 youths annually.
The Katsina State Crafts Village is located within the vicinity of the state National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) camp located in Barhim, one of the suburbs of Katsina metropolis. Established in 2009 by the administration of Governor Ibrahim Shema, the centre is a one-stop-shop for youth skills acquisition in a broad variety of areas including computer and GSM phone repairs, pottery, woodwork, tie and dye, wrought iron, welding, auto repair, blacksmithing, photography and film production.
It is against this background that the Youth Crafts Village enrolled 48 youth from each of the 34 local governments in Katsina to train in their respective fields of interest. The youth are resident, feed and given allowances for the duration of their respective programme (6 months- 1 year). 2,374 indigenes of the state were assisted to secure employment in federal establishments. Solar powered mobile barbing kits were issued to 500 youths at subsidised rate.
The kits were procured by the government at the cost of N21.5 million. Over 2,000 people, including women, benefited from the Local Quarry Operations Support Programme (compressors, drilling accessories and explosives were distributed) in nine LGAs (Bakori, Faskari, Matazu, Safana, Batagarawa, Jibia, Mashi, Dutsi, and Sandamu). The programme cost the state government more than N5.58 million. Over 4,397 youths were trained on various skills at the upgraded 10 Basic Apprentice Training Centres in the state.
The government has spent N197.150 million to construct and equip the three new Basic Apprentice Training Centres at Batsari, Kankara and Danja (N141.917 on construction and N55.23 million on equipment). Some 417 persons trained by the BATCs were offered loan under the Youth Entrepreneurship Loan Scheme. N30 million was released to the Agency. N10.43 million was spent on the repairs of vocational schools destroyed by rainstorm. About 2,110 other youths were trained under a special vocational training and attachment programme known as Katsina Youth Empowerment Scheme.
Eighty per cent of the trainees were absorbed by their master craftsmen. N27.72 million have gone into it in the past two years. Some 2,246 people were trained under Agricultural Vocational Training at the six schools located at Kafinsoli, Tashar Nagulle, Tambu, Daudawa, Gidan Kwakwa and Layin Minista. I can go on and on to tell you that the Shema administration has delivered in the area of human capital development more than state governments across the country to the shame of critics and applause of the people of the state.
What about job creation, this is a very important segment of the economy?
The government is doing so much in the area as well. For instance, it contributed N200 million under NAPEP's Multi- partner Microfinance. A bank also contributed N200 million, while NAPEP put in N40 million to empower 847 groups in the state. N361.29 million was issued to the groups on loan. More than 1,000 jobs were created in partnership with a GSM company. N124 million was also disbursed to 73 groups under the NAPEP Village Economic Development Solution Programme.
What impact has your government made on economic development of the people, land administration and the environment?
The sum of N500 million was set aside as microfinance fund to serve as seed money for the mega microfinance bank which came on stream in December 2009. N88 million is going into the establishment of the bank with branches in the 34 LGAs. N20 million was paid as compensation to land owners affected by the establishment of a Container Dry Port in Funtua. We have set up export processing centres for products the state has comparative advantage in. We are also pursuing the development of clusters for SMEs in specified areas along trade lines.
We have reviewed the master plan of Katsina, Daura and Funtua in line with the pace of development in the three cities. The state government paid over N590 million as compensation for the land acquired for various projects. Over N130.35 million has been spent on ecological projects. The sum of N290.77 million was expended on special environmental sanitation programme across the state while 320 projects gulped more than N281 million under the Local Environmental and Economic Empowerment Programme (LEEMP).