Lamido Gashaka, Emir Zubairu Hammangabdo: My resolve is to make Gashaka an industrial hub
On January 28, 2017, a new Emir, Zubairu Muhammadu Hammangabdo, was installed as the Lamido of Gashaka, after the passage of his father, Alhaji Hammangabdo Muhmmadu Sambo, who reigned for 51 years. Before his installation, the new Emir was the Yerima of Gashaka and a Special Adviser to Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State.
The Palace Watch recently caught up with him to ask some salient questions.
How come you became the Lamido of Gashaka out of the 70 children your father had, and you are not even the eldest?
Well, when you talk about my forefathers’ throne, one point that must not be lost is that Allah is the One that gives the throne to whosoever He wants. It is not about any special quality or consideration, as all my other brothers are eminently qualified for the throne. It is Allah that destined that I take over the throne from my late father, and so here we are. It is Allah’s doing. Seniority is no yardstick for the throne. It is simply about the will of God.
Your late father was on the throne as the Lamido of Gashaka for 51 years. During his reign, there was absolute peace and the major tribes were all happy with him. What structures are you putting in place to ensure the development of Gashaka?
My father did his best and left the stage with a very loud ovation. Now that the mantle of leadership has fallen on me, I am determined to industrialise Gashaka, by the special grace of Allah. Gashaka is the third in terms of landmass in the whole of Taraba State. We have comparative advantage in the area of agriculture, as our lands are fertile, and we have very friendly weather and no security issues whatsoever here. All these I intend to take advantage of. I will do all within my powers to attract investors to this area of the country, get banks to finance projects at considerable and reasonable rates. These structures are already being put in place.
With time, Isha Allah, we will get there. I know what I want for my people and they are very ready to cooperate with me, so that we can make Gashaka a better place for all. The areas where we have good advantage over others, including agriculture, I am already encouraging our famers to concentrate on it, because we have huge potential in the farming of rice, millet, sorghum, cocoa and cotton. During my coronation, I made it very clear that due to the dwindling economy, I will do my very best to make my people take advantage of our agricultural potential to build Gashaka.
As we speak, we are strategising with the government of the day here in Taraba and will be very pleased and grateful, if the media decides to assist us. It is quite an enormous task ahead, but God willing, we shall surmount it. In this area of the country we also have a lot of mineral resources. And we shall do our very best to make sure investors take adequate advantage of this area of the economy.
In the area of tourism, we have the Gashaka-Gumti National Park (GGNP), which was gazetted from two game reserves in 1991 and is Nigeria’s largest national park. It is located in the eastern province of Taraba and Adamawa to the border with Cameroon. The total area covers about 6, 402km. Much of the northern GGNP is savannah grassland, while the southern part of the park has a rugged terrain characterised by very mountainous, steep slopes, as well as deep valleys and gorges, and is home to mountain forests. The altitude ranges from about 457 metres (1, 499ft) in the northern flatter corner of the park, up to 2, 419) metres (7, 936 ft.) at Chappal Waddi, (the Mountain of Death). It is Nigeria’s highest mountain in the park’s southern sections.
It is an important water catchment area for the Benue River. There is abundant river flow, even during the markedly dry season. Enclaves for local Fulani pastoralists exist within the park boundary that allow for farming and grazing. I have taken time to shed light on what we have here, so that investors can come and take advantage of them.
How are you coping, knowing that your salary might not be enough for you to take care of all the responsiblities that accompany the position of being the Lamido of Gashaka?
Well, money is not the main consideration of being Lamido of Gashaka. The position calls for huge sacrifices that I am ready and willing to make. When one’s people repose the highest degree of confidence in him, the very best one can do is to make sure the people are never disappointed. Immediately I was called upon to take up this position, I told myself I would do all within my power to justify this confidence.
As a traditional ruler, most people know you have very big task ahead, and if you encourage them to come along with you, they will in turn do their best to make sure you succeed. So, whatever you want, people are willing to do their best in ensuring things work, especially the farmers. In essence, all one needs do is to provide leadership, which I am presently trying to do. In terms of finance, I must say, things are not very easy, but I am trying to build on my father’s legacy. He did quite a lot while he was on the throne.
What worked very well for him, as the Lamido Gashaka, was his ability to unite the people of these areas, and there was no discrimination of any sort. Everybody belonged to him— Christians, Muslims and what have you, and he made sure they were all united for a common purpose, the good of Gashaka.
He lived virtually all his entire life for the people. Whenever anyone had a problem and ran to him, he made sure such problem(s) were solved. I, therefore, need a lot of prayers, and I am ready to work very hard to succeed.
Your family has played a major role in Taraba State since its creation in 1991. You had sisters, who were at different times commissioners, and brothers who held very high offices in the state, including yourself. You left your position as a Special Adviser to become the Lamido Gashaka.
This is a rare privilege for one single family. What would you say is special about your family?
First, my family is very popular with the people down here. My father, before his ascension to the throne, was a politician. And while he was a politician in those good old days, he did very well for his people. It is, therefore, not surprising that his children have decided to follow his footsteps into partisan politics. He was a member of the Northern House of Assembly. He was also a councillor. So, we inherited partisan politics from him, if this answer satisfies your curiosity.
How do you intend to handle politicians who would want to use you in the future? For instance, when they want votes, they come to you, as an Emir for assistance. And once they are elected into office, they might begin to breathe down on your neck…
Well, you must first and foremost be very accommodating as an Emir. Two, you must be very firm in the decision you make and make sure you are on the side of your people; it is because of them that you are the leader. Three, you must be loyal to the government of the day. Once you do all these, I am sure you might not have any problem with any political office holder.