Abdullahi Hassan, Zaria
Chairman of ‘Double Four’ a campaign support group of Governor Ahmed El-Rufai and Accountant General of the state, Alhaji Umar Hassan Waziri, speaks on how the All Progressives Congress (APC) rout the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna.
‘Double Four’ is a prominent name all over Kaduna State before and during the just concluded 2019 elections. What is it all about?
Let me first of all clarified that ‘Double Four’ is not a project per se, it is more of a political support group aligned with Mallam Ahmed El-Rufai governorship campaign effort under the leadership of Kaduna State campaign council. Perhaps, you already know that the approach to the campaign this year was a unitary type in which APC formed a single structure to campaign for all APC candidates that ran on the platform of the party, from the president down to the lowest level, which the state House of Assembly.
Now ‘Double Four’ movement or support group was founded by me with few other individuals that came together as a sort of alternative platform to support the campaign effort. It was formed following our firm belief that the people of Kaduna State, having recognised his capacity, capability and distinguished excellence in laying a foundation for the development of the state, needs him to run for the second term.
So the only little effort we could do was to form the support group that will sensitise, mobilise and create mass awareness on the significance and achievements of Governor El-Rufai. For somebody like me who happens to be a political appointee as the Accountant- General, a position usually occupied by a civil servant but because of his pragmatic attitude, consciously chose me who has a private sector orientation or background to take over this position, I felt I had a duty to market his candidature because of his zeal, commitment, honesty, passion and transparency in his governance of the state.
Looking at the recent elections where the strengths of the two candidates lied in the northern part of the state, what were the strategies you adopted to get people to accept El-Rufai to return for a second term?
First of all you have to believe in anything you are doing if you want succeed. We have gone through that and believed El-Rufai should be the governor again. It is on that basis we went ahead to create awareness to convince people to come forward and support this government. It is usually easy to sell a good product. El-Rufai is an excellent product. The projects he executed can be seen everywhere. There is no single local government that has not witnessed one or more projects under him, so it is easy for people to believe when you try to sell Mallam El-Rufai as governor of Kaduna state for the second term to them.
At the initial stage, we started by engaging the youths, with a form of trade or skills that we know is easy for unemployed youths to embarked upon and make something for themselves. The journey started three years ago, we started with repairs of mobile phones which you know is in vogue. The response for the skill programme was very limited at the initial stage so we had to advertise to get more people who were willing to start learning repairs of mobile phones, computers and other things. We got a place in Sabon Gari, Zaria, where they could be taught the skills. Having successfully completed that after two months, we now expanded that and recruited about 13 young boys all from my immediate environment in Zaria city. We recruited additional 17 to 21 again. We started by getting people to be nominated by somebody who is elderly, far senior within their home who will testify to the young man’s behaviour and keep to the terms of the offer given to him. We got some trainers who were willing to teach them different skills. We paid for their internship by paying the teachers, though some of the trainers were willing to teach them for free. But we felt if the trainers did not see the benefit they may not train these boys effectively .We paid the six trainers a minimum of N50, 000 per person to teach Iron bending, phone repairs, cable and satellite installations etc. Having spent a lot of money on that, we decided that we shall make it known to my immediate community, that is Kakaki in Zaria city. We invested a substantial amount in the training of these children. That is why; the boys were committed during the last elections because they know that we care for them.
When the campaigns started, one of the earliest thing we did was to start registering women groups, youth groups who are willing to come under ‘Double Four’ for the sole purpose of supporting the campaign of El-Rufai. In zone one alone, we registered more than 2000 different groups and we had toured all the eight local government areas in the zone. Later we moved to other zones. But when the campaign kicked off proper, and the harmonised campaign team was constituted and inaugurated, it was agreed that ‘Double Four’ should concentrate more in zone one that covers Zaria, Sabon- Gari , Soba, Ikara, Makarfi, Lere, Kubau and Kudan local government areas. You know these areas have critical mass of voters in Kaduna State, so the impact of our activities was felt more here. The way we engaged these support groups and the way we engaged them early when the campaign started and physical demonstration of how to help the people through trade made them to support our candidate who has proven to be a good one in terms of effort, delivery and responsiveness to the wishes and aspirations of good people of Kaduna State.
The election has come and gone, with allegations of fraud against your party. Do you think your party will survive the tribunal?
It is normal after elections especially for those who did not win to make negatives remarks. But by my personal assessment as a Nigerian, I am interested in seeing that all electoral processes are credible. For me, 2019 elections were by far the best in terms of preparations and conduct. And from the analyses of the experts so far, the elections have really proven that Nigeria is becoming more sophisticated politically as far as its democracy is concerned. You saw how incumbents lost elections in the just concluded 2019 elections. It is believed that once you start your four years, it is automatic to go for another four years or two terms in office. But look at what happened in some states like Bauchi and Adamawa. People are becoming more conscious.
In democracy, the power resides with people. The people can actually change government if they wish. Leaders have begun to know that you have to deliver before you can be re-elected. Any political office holder must have to really work for the masses if they are to be re-elected.
Some people are wondering how El-Rufai survived the election despite sacking over 25,000 teachers, how did it happen?
Although I am not a council member but an administrator, personally, I think rather than blame the governor for taking that decision, the governor should be commended, that we have a strong leader who saw provision of quality education as first step for development, should be a thing of joy. Most political leaders prefer to go for physical projects like building road from point A to Point B or construction of buildings. But investing in education is not something that can be seen, not in the immediate, but it is one project that will endure.
We all knew that the 22,000 teachers were sacked after failing an assessment test that was meant for primary four pupils. In asking the teachers to go, it means they have no capacity. But government later recruited 25,000 new competent teachers. What is bad in that? Only visionary leaders can take the type of decisions El-Rufai took. He should be commended.
You have mobilised people to vote for El-Rufai, how do you think government can reciprocate to show appreciation to those who voted it back to power?
There is a transition committee put in place already, though it is within the same government. One of the jobs of the committee is to make recommendation like this issue you asked. But in my personal opinion, what I think the government should concentrate more on is what will benefit the masses. One of them is Mass Housing. People will appreciate homes if it is made easy for them to acquire houses. Houses are seen as life time investment. If a policy will be introduced and implemented to make an average person or civil servant to own a house without much stress, the masses will appreciate it.
There are a number of companies who are willing to come and invest in this sector. These houses don’t need to be elaborate or too big like the ones in the GRA. People will appreciate a modest house that cost a million naira. Housing units should be constructed every year for people on certain terms of payment over a number of years. Secondly, is the issue of micro financing. There is no economy in the world that has developed without small and medium enterprises. These are large part of the people. People are willing to work and earn a living, but they don’t have the capital. If micro financing is given the attention it deserves, it will help to stimulate the economy. Some businesses need small capital to run. I can still relate this to what we did in ‘Double Four’ programmes.