Shuaib Yaman Abdullahi is a seasoned politician, social entrepreneur and governorship aspirant in Kwara State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He spoke to ROYAL NEWS on sundry issues that affects the state. Excerpts:
Why do you think you are the most qualified to govern Kwara State?
I think Kwara State deserves a bailout. It’s a pity that the state that was created in 1967 as one of the pioneer states created by the military on assumption of office by General Gowon has remained undeveloped while the development pace of others is visible. It is quite sad that Kwara State kept pace with other states till the last 16 years. After that, the state has been a complete disaster and this brings to the fore the Not Too Young To Run bill just signed into law by the President.
I come from Kwara North and I can tell you that looking at the people on the streets and in their villages, you can see that everything is wrong. You can read it on their foreheads that they have not had any dividend of democracy. Look at all spheres of life, the ramshackled things they call schools in Kwara State and compare that with recently created states like Katsina, in the last 16 years; go to Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and even Borno. In spite of the security challenges, go and see their physical structures.
Kwara was created several years before the new ones but what we have in place of good schools is nothing to write home about. In the area of health, apart from the General Hospital in Ilorin that was refurbished with so much money, there is nothing on ground. It is not in the beauty of the buildings that quality health is derived, but in the quality of the medical staff; the number of workers you have in ratio to the number of people that come to access health care.
I have been in the private sector for sometime; I have never had any government job apart from serving on the board of a government company. So, I believe it is a rescue mission and some of us have to take the burden and the mantle. When I was approached by some of our people, I said fine because it is not all about self.
In the private sector, I am doing fine and I can go on enjoying my life, but it has become a duty for all of us Kwarans that have something to offer to come out and offer it and I believe that I can render my own assistance. That is why I am coming out to contest.
One would have thought that a state that produces the Senate president should be able to attract some level of development; but you are telling us that the reverse is the case. Is that not an irony?
That is what Kwarans have woken up to see. We have the rare opportunity of having the Senate president of this country. Ordinarily, that would have attracted a lot of things to Kwara, but it is not in being the Senate president, but being able to play the game according to the rules and considering your people first. It is a public office that puts expectations on you.
We expected that the Senate president, being from our state, should be able to attract so many things to the state.
There is this belief in Kwara that there is an established way of succession; but it appears you are rebelling against it. Do you think you will pull through considering what people call the Saraki dynasty factor?
Let me say this to you; I do not believe that democracy allows for any dynasty. I don’t believe in it, I am not part of it and I believe that democracy is all about majority and how you are able to convince the majority that you are the best man for the job. That is my belief; but there are those who believe that in Kwara, you just have to sit down and somebody points at you as the man. I don’t believe in it and I am not rebelling against any system because I don’t think there is anything like that. I think that belief is for people that are lazy, who feel they need to please one Lord of the Manor; and once you bow towards him, he will reward you with any appointment, whether you are competent or not.
You have used some hard words to describe the past administrations in Kwara, especially in the last 16 years. Is that not also an indictment on APC?
You might be right, because the guys who are there right now are of the APC and I will be running on the platform of the APC. But you cannot say that the APC has failed giving the peculiarities of Kwara State. You just spoke of something that looked like a dynasty being run in the state. I don’t belong to that; but I believe that when the history of Kwara is being written, it will not be written more about the party in power, but more about the people that were in power in the state. I accept that APC is my party and that they fielded wrong people because some of us can do better and show the things that APC is made of and that is why I am here.
You have painted an unsavory picture of things in Kwara in the last 16 years. What are you bringing on board and what do you intend to do differently?
I have always known that part of the problem we have is that we have always clapped for people who do what anybody can do. That is not peculiar to Kwara, but the situation in Kwara is only worse. Sometimes, I say fools can do it. Anybody can spend money. The definition of good governance by our people is not based on competence, but doing what anybody does. You collect some manna from heaven in the name of allocation from Abuja, then you tar roads, build schools and others and the people clap for you.
I want to say that if you give money to even a fool on the street, he knows how to spend it. But competence measure should not be how much you are able to spend, but how much you have been able to create wealth for your people. That is why we have found ourselves in this serious level of unemployment. The leadership believes they must wait for the manna and every month; some characters will gather in Abuja to share whatever is coming.
This is about the only country in the world that spends its revenue and wait for more to come. Our competency should be to look at the economic sector and see how we can create wealth from what we have. How do we get what we want from what we have and how do we create wealth?
There are many countries in the world that have oil. Norway has a lot of oil, but they don’t share their money like that. It is in looking at that neglected side of the economic sector that you create wealth to concentrate on the social sector of education, road construction, health and all that. Until you are able to create wealth, things will not go well. For example, we must ask the question of how those making promises intend to get the money to carry out their plans. They are busy making numerous promises to the people and at the end, nothing will happen and will then say it is because the federation account is down. So, for me, it is about creating the wealth.
Kwara has a huge expanse of land and see the huge volume of water that passes through the state every day. I come from Shonga and I am sure that you must have heard of Zimbabwean farmers. Not even a semblance of irrigation is happening there. For a state that is serious, they will take advantage of the fertile land. The land is plane and it is there begging to be utilised. How much is a bag of rice today?
How will you secure the APC governorship ticket?
I believe in Allah and I also believe that nobody, no matter how high he may think of himself, owns the people. Like Bob Marley said, you can deceive the people sometime, but you can’t deceive the people all the time. We all have our limitations. But those that think they have the capacity to appropriate what belongs to all of us, should know that it is over. They can do so much, but no one can do all things. We are in the game and like every game, you either lose or you win. But in this game, we are almost positive that we shall win.
Having being in the private sector all your life, do you have the grassroots support for this aspiration?
The fact that I have been in the private sector does not mean that I am not a politician. In 2003, I contested for the same governorship with the current Senate president. The people are still there and manipulation has to stop and this time around, we mean it.
But does the zoning formula favour you?
Very much; in Kwara, we have three zones. We have Kwara central, Kwara south and Kwara north where I come from. Kwara central has had 12 years already; Lawal had four years, while Bukola had eight years making 12. For Kwara south, Fatai is there now doing his eight years, while we have not had it at all since 1999. So, it is just the appropriate time to ask for what is rightly ours.
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