You have just picked nomination forms to contest the governorship of Yobe under PDP…
Yes I have purchased both the PDP expression of interest and nomination forms to contest as governor of my state, Yobe; as governor of my state, as you can see.
You have been a civil servant for years; many would expect that you would retire to a quiet life…
I would have wished to, but the challenges facing my state are not what I would gloss over. The problems of Yobe State are too well known. Statistics from the Central Bank of Nigeria, the United Nations Development Programme and the National Bureau of Statistics in 2012 all scored Yobe as the lowest in all development indices in the country.
We are least developed educationally, we record the highest child mortality and maternal mortality rates in Nigeria and rank among the top three states in absolute poverty rating. Our very low school enrolment and high dropout ratios are absolutely unacceptable in a knowledge driven world.
Our neglect of and systematic destruction of the environment in a world that is geared towards sustainable development around a balanced ecosystem is a strong cause of worry. Neither the school system nor the health care delivery system is functional. Little wonder our people are yet to know of, talk less of enjoying the benefits of a strong social sector service delivery.
Water and sanitation provision remains a mirage and that explains partly the prevalence of all manner of water-borne diseases with attendant costs to lives and property. Add this to the current insurgency, which has destroyed our economy and traumatized our people and the incompetent emergency response to all these by the state government, Yobe State in all materials particular is but a failed state.
So there would be no justification for me to pretend that things are okay and live a quite life.
I am one of the movers for the creation of Yobe State; go and check the history and this is not the kind of state we envisioned when we pressed for the creation of Yobe. So I see it as a duty to come out and provide leadership that would make Yobe belong in the comity of well governed states.
I come from a family of public servants. In my public service career I rose to the highest level having served as a permanent secretary in three key ministries that traverse the length and breadth of the country both in terms of personnel composition and structural presence, which are the ministries of education, health and the office of the Vice President of the Federal Republic.
But would you say are the problems peculiar to Yobe?
It is increasingly being realized that the source of our troubles in Yobe State is the failure of governance to address the needs of society; or better still the failure of political leadership to deliver on development. So we the stakeholders have realized we must jointly and severally come together to arrest this situation before we all get consumed by it.
But PDP has been losing Yobe since 1999. Did you consider this before aspiring to contest on the platform of the party?
I am in the PDP because it provides the right ideology for me to translate my dream of affecting the lives of the people of my state positively.
You are well aware of the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan who is the leader of the PDP in the country. The transformation has touched all sectors of the Nigerian economy. It is my hope to contribute to the overall success of the transformation initiative by contributing my own quota from my state.
What would be your focus as governor?
I am being propelled by the burning desire to change the state of affairs in Yobe State and improve the living conditions of our traumatized, abused and pauperized people. Our peace loving, hardworking and proud people have never in known history been so subjected to dehumanizing living conditions than they are today. Only a committed, patriotic, exposed, focused and visionary political leadership can effectively bring out our people from the brinks of the precipice. It is due to this that I submit myself to bringing about that kind of leadership.
In my entire service career I came out without blemish. I have a proven record of probity, discipline, respect for law and order, integrity and above all a team spirit that will bring to bear, if elected, in the running of my government business. Yobe State which today has been turned into the personal fiefdom of one man must be rescued and be placed in the hands of competent people with the capacity to confront the challenges facing the state head long. To achieve this, I am in close contact with political soul mates across the state with whom we are putting a programme of action anchored on the PDP manifesto and the federal government’s transformation agenda that will address sector by sector all the requisite policy issues and the directive principles of government. The policy documents would be unveiled when I must have emerged as PDP flag bearer.
In addition to competence, probity, team spirit and integrity I am also bringing guts and courage to take Yobe to greater heights. Surely we are in unusual times and our approach must be such that will be in tandem with the demands of the times.
While strictly being guided by democratic ethos and ideals, we shall give Yobe State, if given the chance, the kind of purposeful leadership that will restore our core values of integrity and discipline in service through strong and purposeful leadership.
I will also focus on training and retraining of the workforce especially the civil service based on human and capacity building and the reorientation of the civil service to give it purposeful leadership.
I’ll review civil service rules and procedure and set up a pension commission to take care of those that worked and have retired and add to the social welfare of the people by supporting the elderly.
Being from a royal background and aware of the central role the traditional institution plays in ensuring stability to community, I will assign roles to the traditional rulers and expose them to play such roles and improve the conditions of their lives.
I will create development areas without prejudice so as to bring development closer to the people.
The rivalry in Yobe PDP is well known, what are you doing to ensure it does not escalate to a level where the opposition could take advantage of it?
No doubt tempers may flare and nerves may stretch in the course of wining the ticket of the party, but I want to believe that such is for the love of our people and dear state.
I will like to seize this opportunity to call on fellow contestants on the platform of our great party to always play according to the rules of the game. We must eschew violence and the use of intemperate language. We must reign in our respective supporters and give each and every one his/her due respect as we pursue and seek the mandate of our party men and women in the next few weeks. Such is the hallmark of a good leadership.