We drive Buhari’s food security agenda with crops entirely grown through biological processes — Ahmed

By Jimoh Babatunde

Saliah Ahmed, managing director of the Benin Oulen River Basin Department, after crossing paths with President Muhammad Bukhari on a non-existent PTF, entered into an agreement with Bukhari, and this was purely grounds for the President to approve his leadership of the River Basin Administration. In this interview, Ahmed talks about his mandate.


In his mission

As managing director, the Owen River Basin, I'm almost halfway to power. I have been working for about a year and eight months out of a four-year tenure, and the influence of our policy is manifested. The mandate of the Benin Owen River Basin Development Authority is to manage and conserve water resources in order to use it as a source of raw water for drinking water, irrigation, and flood control.

The management of the river basin development, under my leadership, thanks to its annual budget, has provided a number of rural communities with water through the sources of the borehole. In the past two years, in our drainage areas, Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, and Delta North, we have flooded over three hundred wells.

Some of them are equipped with hand pumps, some with solar pumps, and others with generator pumps, but overall, we have more than eighty percent success.

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This is on the one hand. On the other hand, our support for agriculture was a phenomenon. We have an integrated farm model at our headquarters in Benin City and a land area of ​​sixty hectares, through which over the past six months we harvest crops grown as a result of fully biological processes without the use of fertilizers or chemical fertilizers.

In my own small way, we have an impact, and we have the opportunity to do more. We are building a dam that will give water to Otuo and the surrounding area to Icão. The dam will give water to more than 200,000 people. This is the main project that we do. The project is slow, but we are sure to finish it.

On the importance of a river basin for agriculture

The idea of ​​a river basin in Nigeria was conceived about 40 years ago, and now it is relevant, especially with the decision of the Bukhari administration to make agriculture the basis of the economy.

In order for agriculture to flourish, you need water and land, and these are the assets that the Benin-Ooulin basin has for managing water resources. We have dams, irrigation and infrastructure, land in different communities. River basins are the fulcrum around which the agenda of Bukhari agriculture is woven. And in the Benin Owen river basin, we are doing everything possible to use our water resources with our lands to ensure national food security.

We are also creating jobs in accordance with our Young Graduate Empowerment Program, through which we attract young men and women back to earth with the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria. They should see agriculture as a business in which they can invest their future, and, of course, the income is generous. Yes, the federal government's agricultural agenda can only survive if the river basins do their best, and they do their best to help the agenda.

About problems as Managing Director

The beauty of challenges is that they create opportunity. A distinctive feature of a leader is to be able to solve problems and extract the best from them. For example, so far I have not worked in the public service.

Thus, getting used to the methods of the civil service is a serious problem, and also tries to work within the framework of the rules of the civil service, which are usually a little slower than I am used to in the private sector. But, in general, I was able to navigate in all of this, adapting to the rules of the civil service, and also so that civil servants understand my vision, share their vision with them and force them to buy it.

On the relationship between river basins and the Ministry of Agriculture

River basins are actually better located in the Federal Ministry of Water Resources because the structure of the river basin is located around the rivers, and each of the 12 river basins in the country is created around the areas they cover.

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For example, in the Benin-Owen Basin Administration there are two large rivers, from which it takes its name, from the Benin River, which means Edo and Delta, and the Owen River, which means Ondo and Ekiti. You remember that the ministries of agriculture and water resources were one. It was split into two because of the huge operations, but there is synergy. I think that both ministries work together, aware of the fact that we are one government.

Based on the assumption that northerners are more susceptible to the river basin than southerners

This is not a completely wrong view. I think that in the southern part of the country, for whatever reason, the impression could have been created because of our higher precipitation intensity, we have a longer rainy season, and we also have a higher precipitation intensity, and we there are rivers that flow all year long, unlike the northern part, where they have a short period of precipitation.

What I do is that in the south, due to our high rainfall over the years, we have never seen the need to use water resources by building dams to manage water. In the northern part of the country, realizing that they live in a semi-arid part of the country, where there are fewer water bodies, they, as a rule, control their water more by building large dams. These dams contain water, which allows them to access water year after year. Thus, in this sense, this concept is not inappropriate.

I think that consciousness is now catching up with Southerners, that we also need to use our water resources more than what we did, that irrigation is still important, and building dams can help control floods and erosion, which destroy southern Nigeria,

According to his alleged political flaw

I did not perceive the political posture of "Siddon". I was very active. In the period of my influence, I remain a very active participant in affairs and aggravate political views. I was a follower of President Bukhari and for many years of my attempts and failures, my faith in him never hesitated.

I am glad that after so much effort, he finally got the opportunity to take a picture to provide leadership to this country, and I am sure that the results will very soon begin to manifest. I am confident that under his leadership Nigeria will flourish. The pains that we experience now are necessary for us to celebrate the achievements that are around us.

If, for example, the government wants to stop the importation of rice into our country in order to stimulate local production of rice, tomatoes, and aquaculture to meet our nutritional needs, you can imagine how much foreign exchange we’ll save. I think this is what our president is talking about. And if he brings them to the end and regardless of the pain right now, the results will manifest. So everyone said, I'm still very politically active. I do not aspire to any political service, but this does not mean that I have no political views.

In the next political step

I wanted to be a deputy governor with my leader, Emmanuel Arebesola, with whom I worked in the governorship in 2007. Our enterprise was not crowned with success, and we needed to reorient ourselves, and this is what I have been doing for many years. I maintained my political contacts, and that was how I was appointed Managing Director of the Benin Oullen River Basin.

About the ability of the national chairman of the APC, Comrade. Adams Oshiomhol, deliver PMB in 2019

I think his appointment was met with great joy from the party. The battle ahead is not an easy one, but the Oshiomhole is fully in line with the bill. He has everything he needs, the strength to lead the party to victory.

I have absolutely no doubt that he will fulfill the responsibility entrusted to his shoulder.

He is always intellectually minded and, being a governor and very successful in Edo and the famous trade union leader, all that is required to lead the party can face opposition and explain what the government is doing and what the government intends to do and lead Bukhari to another victory.

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