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‘I’ll Keep Riding Bicycle As Long As Corruption Remains in Nigeria’

| August 12, 2012 More

Bauchi โ€” A retired civil servant in Bauchi State, Dr Sani Waziri, has vowed to keep riding bicycle until Nigeria tackles corruption. The widely travelled former director, who once served as project manager in Kuwait, tells Weekly Trust his reasons

Tell us briefly about yourself

I was born in 1947 at Unguwar Malam Goje, close to the Ajiya mosque in Bauchi. I started my elementary school at Shekal, Bauchi in 1955 after World War II. I was also at Kings College Lagos as well as Saint Finbarr’s College, Akoka Lagos. After my secondary school I got a scholarship to study Accountancy in England at diploma level between 1967 and 1969. From there I went to Gordon Allen College London as well as School of Business and Accountancy. I finished my certificate and diploma courses and returned to start work at the Nigerian Port Authority Lagos as an Accountant.

In 1959, I left my job to participate in the Nigerian civil war as a volunteer. After the war, I got another scholarship to go to the United States of America in 1970 to study General Agric at South West University New York where I spent three years. Then I went for my Master’s degree for two years and finally PhD. My first degree was in agriculture, second degree on Entomology in 1976 and then PhD. All the programmes centred on pest control, veterinary and crop protection and were sponsored by the Nigerian government during Gowon’s era.

After my studies in the United States, I got employment with the agriculture ministry in Kuwait. So I left for Kuwait in 1979 to start work as project manager in charge of pesticides and crops. When Nigeria heard nothing from my end, they looked for me and asked me to come back home to repay the scholarship they gave me. I therefore had no choice than to come back and work for them. I actually started thinking of paying right when I was in Kuwait until it became almost late. So I returned to the agric ministry in Lagos as a junior staff on level 08 in 1980 before they changed the system which enabled me to rise to the level of a director. I retired after putting 25 years in service.

Presently I am on my own. I am still into research on pest control and crop protection on consultancy basis. Others I do on advisory basis.

Since you started working in Nigeria, have you tried leaving the country again?

Yes, I wanted to go back to Kuwait to work but Allah did not decree it. When I returned to Nigeria I actually wanted to pay them and go back because they pay well and they are not corrupt compared to us. Here we have the resources and the money but sincerity is not there. In Nigeria when I started working I was being paid 720 pounds, and I started before learning the job up to the time I became a director and retired in 1992 at the age of 60.

In Kuwait if they see that you are a Muslim and praying on time they will take you for a friend. The old and the young, men and women thought the religion is theirs alone, so they like people they see practicing ‘their’ religion. At our mosque in Safat I was the one looking after the mosque.

What about your pension? Is it enough for you? Again why are you riding bicycle unlike your counterparts?

Forget about pension because when I retired the salary was not even good. Even the 70,000 we are collecting came after their so called salary increment. As for riding bicycle, if you go to developed countries, you will see professors riding bicycle, they don’t even have a house of their own let alone a car. Sometimes even your salary cannot buy you house or car, unless you collect loan and finish paying. So riding bicycle is the simplest form of transportation; no smoke, no noise or anything. If you go to Germany or China, you will see that bicycle riders have their own separate lanes. And you will see bicycles in almost every house you see.

In my case, corruption and indiscipline is the reason why I will keep riding bicycle until Nigerians change their ways and stop corruption; until they stop embezzling state funds and the common man begins to enjoy the resources of this country before I can think of changing this mode of transport. If not I will continue riding bicycle or even trekking until God knows when.

I don’t think I can raise a million naira to buy a car. In fact where is the money when the common man continues to suffer due to corruption? But if corruption is tackled I may think of looking for money to buy a car and even maintain it without encroaching into someone’s rights. However, as long as corruption remains I will continue riding my bicycle.

Have you ever owned a car in your life?

I have not. But there was a time I was given one which I later gave to my friend who needed it more than me. So instead of selling the car I gave it to him believing he can maintain it. I have 10 children (seven girls, three boys) and a wife and I am the one fending for their education and other needs. I don’t want to die and leave them without education. For instance, here in Bauchi the children of late Yakubu Wanka are well known because he educated them. So I will also want to educate my children and train them instead of driving a car. I want my kids to be God-fearing and respectful. I have so far married off three girls and they have all been educated; some are secondary school leavers, some diploma holders and some degree holders.

Why won’t you buy at least a motorcycle to ease your work?

Motorcycle is not easy to keep. Even the money to buy fuel and do repairs is something else. And it is not good for the environment due to its emissions. In Louisiana, USA, if they see you riding a bicycle they will know that you are concerned about your health. Here in Bauchi, I ride my bicycle to places like Gwallameji, Polo ground etc. But if the journey is far, I keep my bicycle and join commercial vehicles. When I return I continue using my bicycle.

While I was working I had so many cars under my control because I was the director in charge of pest control. But life is not permanent. If we educate our children, it will be a form of mmortalizing ourselves. Some of my children today have committed the Holy Qur’an to memory.

What do you want to see in the nearest future with regards to government?

My prayer is for our economy to be improved with bubbling industries and jobs for the people, stable power supply and for things to be cheap. Above all, I want a situation where corruption will be eliminated or reduced to the barest minimum. If the government is ready to have honest leaders like Buhari things will change for the better.

Apart from America, Kuwait and England which other countries have you visited?

Apart from Eskimo and some few other countries of the world, there is virtually no country I haven’t visited. Right when I was a student in the United States of America, I started going on spraying of crops with insecticide, and they were using planes to do that. You will see a farm that has virtually all types of animals and crops. At that time, whenever I had some money I travelled out to some countries because things were cheap back then. I have been to Germany, Russia, Spain, Egypt, India, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, Congo, Kenya, and Uganda. I have some classmates that we still communicate with from Chad, Sudan and other African countries, I have been to most of them; the same thing with most of the countries in Asia and South America. Saudi Arabia, I have been there four times for hajj. And I started travelling our right when I was a student. Once I had money I will go the countries’ embassies and they will give me visa, I will then by ticket and board the plane, the same thing continued when I started working and earning salaries. But sometimes the countries I visited were on official duties. I love travelling because there is knowledge in it.

What is the way out?

Our leaders need to reduce their greed, selfishness and for the people to vote in credible leaders just like other serous countries are doing. Nigeria is blessed with both human and material resources but unfortunately people can hardly feel the impact. Our leaders should know that if they fail to address insecurity they will one day be affected by it directly or indirectly.

The North should also tap into resources so that we can provide jobs to our teeming unemployed youths. The common man should honest be honest and resist corruption. If we do this, we would make progress.

Category: Bauchi State News

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