Columnist Opinion

On proposed Federal University of Agriculture in Gombe

As part of efforts to have a federal tertiary institution in Yamaltu/Deba Local Government Area of Gombe State, a Bill to establish the Federal University of Agriculture, Dadin Kowa, was introduced in the House of Representatives. Sponsored by Hon. Abubakar Yunus Ahmad Ustaz, the draft legislation was first presented on the floor of the House during the 8th Assembly.

 

Due to the efforts made by Hon. Ustaz, the Bill was passed during the 8th Assembly and transmitted to the then Senate for concurrence. But it got stalled in the Senate for two years up to the end of the 8th Assembly.

 

However, almost immediately after the inauguration of the 9th Assembly, Hon. Yunus Ustaz dusted the Bill and requested the House to recommit it to the Committee of Whole for consideration. He rallied round his colleagues for their support.

 

His request was granted and the 9th House considered and adopted it once again in February, 2020. Today, the Bill is on the threshold of history. Going by legislative practice, one chamber alone cannot pass a Bill conclusively and forward same to the President for assent. It has to go to the other chamber for concurrence.

 

Therefore, the Federal University of Agriculture, Dadin Kowa Bill was forwarded to the Senate for concurrence since February, 2020. It went through first reading in the Senate in June, 2021 and appeared for second reading on the Senate Order Paper and subsequent concurrence on December 15, 2021. But that did not happen until February 9, 2022.

 

What now remains is for a clean copy of the Bill to be produced by the National Assembly bureaucracy, after which it will be transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent. Once the president appends his signature on the Bill, it becomes law, and the Federal University of Agriculture, Dadin Kowa is fully established by an Act of Parliament.

It would be recalled that during the second reading of the Bill in the 8th Assembly, Hon. Yunus Ustaz said it was to provide for the establishment of Federal University of Agriculture, Dadin Kowa, Gombe State to make a comprehensive provision for its due management and administration, and for related matters.

 

The lawmaker articulated his debate on the Bill, informing his colleagues that it was imperative to have a Federal University of Agriculture, Dadin Kowa so as to boost the agricultural sector in Gombe State.

 

He said the university, when established, would not benefit only the immediate community or Gombe State but also the entire Northeast region.

 

He noted that the government would not have to spend much on putting infrastructure for the takeoff of the university as the bill seeks the conversion of the already existing Federal College of Horticulture, Dadin Kowa to a university of agriculture.

 

Also, he said, the college has the required manpower, both academic and non-academic staff, with professors teaching in the institution, hence there are adequate teaching staff to metamorphose to a university. Hon. Ustaz Yunus was able to convince his colleagues with his argument, and they unanimously approved the passage of the Bill for second reading.

Thus, the Bill was referred to the relevant committee of the House, after which a report was submitted to the 8th House, considered and adopted. The Bill was then passed for third reading.

 

After going through all this, it is therefore preposterous and laughable to now hear some political jobbers making frantic but futile efforts at giving someone else the credit for the initiation and passage of the Bill.

A recent write up suggested and gave credit for the passage of the Bill to Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje, when he knew nothing about the draft legislation until it got to the Senate.

 

As it is today, the Bill carries the name of Hon. Abubakar Yunus Ahmad Ustaz and not that of anybody else let alone Goje. While it is true that every Bill in the Parliament needs the support of all lawmakers irrespective of where they represent, that a lawmaker supports a Bill does not make him its sponsor.

 

If Goje supported the Federal University of Agriculture Dadin Kowa Bill in the Senate, he did not add any value to it even as he was not the only person to do that. Truly, Hon. Yunus Ustaz was a signatory to a letter written to Goje by some concerned Yamaltu/Deba elders, against the claim by the mischievous writer that it was written by some traditional rulers. In the said letter, they brought to Goje’s attention the issue of the Bill for the establishment of the Federal University of Agriculture, Dadin Kowa.

 

This is part of legislative lobby, but that does not mean Goje is the sponsor as Hon. Yunus may have also lobbied other senators for the same purpose. For the records, Hon. Ustaz has since his assumption of office as the member representing Yamaltu-Deba Federal Constituency of Gombe State in June, 2015 been working assiduously to come up with this Bill. Let’s tell ourselves the truth. When the Bill was eventually passed by the 8th House, it was sent to the Senate.

 

The likes of Goje were there, yet the bill got stalled in the Red Chamber for over two years until the end of the 8th Assembly. If Goje is truly a lover of Gombe, where was he when the Bill was sent to the Senate then? Even after the Bill was sent to the Senate once again in 2020 by the 9th House, it took long before it was slated for first reading.

 

The second reading was also taken thereafter, and on February 9, the Bill was passed for third reading by the Senate. Again, where was Goje when the Bill was sent to the 9th Senate since early 2020, but it was only passed recently?

 

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