“I want to be remembered for restoring peace to Kaduna. The unity that I knew we had is no longer there.”
Isa Ashiru was in the Kaduna State House of Assembly for eight years, he was also a member of House of Representatives for eight years. In 2014 he attempted securing the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC), after defecting to the party from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but lost to the incumbent governor, Nasir El-Rufai. He is now the PDP’s candidate for next year’s contest.
But there has been some controversies surrounding his educational qualifications. He speaks on this and why he thinks Kaduna people will prefer him to El-Rufai, next year.
You tried to run in 2014, you didn’t get the ticket. But now, you have the ticket, what makes you think you can make it?
I’m sure you’re a believer, I’m also a believer, and I know that power belongs to nobody but the Almighty God and that is where I’m heading to. I’ve prayed, gone round the state and visited my constituents, statewide, when I say constituents, I meant the whole state. They welcome the idea, they promised to support me because they know me and I know them. I know their challenges and I’m sure my team and I can provide the solutions to their challenges, taking into consideration the fact that I’ve been in the state since birth. Having served for 18 years in the state civil service, I related closely with the different tribes and sections of my society so they know me, I know them and know what they want, so I think I will be in a better position to deliver the deliverables.
What are you bringing to the table that is different from what is available today?
First, I want to be remembered for restoring peace to Kaduna. The unity that I knew we had is no longer there. The state has been balkanised according to religious and sectarian lines. That was not what we left in 2007. If I am able to achieve just this in my first four years, I will bow down and thank my God for giving me the opportunity to reunite my people irrespective of tribe and religious differences. So in terms of what I am bringing on the table for my people, I have my blueprint which I will unveil at the appropriate time and I will avail you the opportunity to get copies to go through and ask questions and I’m sure I’ll be in a position to give you answers then.
Talking about restoring peace, one of the greatest challenges to peace in Kaduna has been the issue of the Shiites and their leader, Sheikh El-Zakzaky. How do you intend to address it?
Well, the issue is that of approach, no human. You must allow room for dialogue, bring them to the table, discuss with them and highlight areas of challenges, then provide solutions to the challenges. So, as long as you are determined in what you are doing, I assure you that we’ll get out of this quagmire. Besides, every Nigerian has been guaranteed the right to worship in accordance with the constitution of Nigeria.
Away from what you will do or not do, some persons believe you are parading fake educational qualifications. Is that true?
Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity. Your paper is a national paper and widely circulated, I am sure that was why you took the pains to come and hear my own side of the story. I commend The Sun Publishing for this rare gesture.
Having said that, you see, when you’re in politics, you should prepare for the worst especially when it comes to the issue of contest. There are people that believe in God and these people believe that it is only God that gives power. But some lack this belief and therefore find it difficult to absorb the shock they received during the primary.
The story about my certificate is unfortunately emanating from both within and to some extent outside the PDP. I’m not surprised.
Prior to the primary, there were insinuations that some persons were recruited to join us as moles. So what is happening now appears to confirm the insinuations.
Sorry for the digression, back to the certificate issue, whose certificate are you carrying?
The truth is, I am carrying my certificate. I attended Kufena College from 1975 to 1980 and Kufena College will outlive all of us. I challenge anybody that has any issue with my papers to go to Kufena College, it is there, go and verify. WAEC as an institution is still in existence, it has not been scrapped, so they can still visit WAEC and verify the documents I gave to INEC. I contested four times and won with the same certificate, nobody raised an eyebrow, so why now? Why now? I will avail you the opportunity of seeing the documents, they are here before me. Look at them (he brings them out) and ask any question you want to ask.
There is also the issue of the serial number on your NYSC certificate; you claimed to have served in Borno, but there is a Kaduna number on it. How did that come about?
That is why in life when you don’t know something you ask questions. When you ask you will know. But in a situation where you have doubt regarding my document and you did not approach me or the appropriate quarters for clarification; I’ll leave that to you. But since you have asked, I will respond.
I was posted to Maiduguri for my NYSC; I had my orientation in Maiduguri and was posted to Monguno as Corps Liaison Officer. I was going in and out of Maiduguri with complaints of corps members. I became seriously ill, so I approached my then director, Mr. Onwuasoanya; I remember his name because he told me that it means death is not afraid of anybody. Since then I retained the meaning in my head. When I was sick I wrote to Mr. Onwuasoanya that I prefer to go back home to continue my service because of the state of my health, and he accepted.
That was how I was redeployed to Kaduna to finish my primary assignment. That is why the code on my certificate is BO/KD /the number. NYSC office is here in Kaduna and they have documents relating to my service, the year I served, 1989. If you cannot get the confirmation, proceed to Abuja, the records are there.
There is this insinuation that you may be using your father’s secondary school certificate, how about that?
This is another lie. On the secondary school certificate, they are querying why I have Ashiru Mohammed. My father died in August 1975, he could not have been the one that went to Kufena College and spent five years to get that certificate. But I will explain. During the Local Government election, one of my candidates had a similar problem. He was disqualified because it is a state election management board. On seeing that, I knew they could use it against me. I approached Kufena College, and this is the letter from the school (displaying it) to show that the certificate belongs to me.
This whole thing started shortly after our primary because in all my documents I went to the High Court and got them certified. So when I saw this other certificate, I knew it is new. They got this document from the net; it is not from WAEC or the school. They approached the principal of the college, asking him to give them information about the other document they got from the net. The principal told them he can avail them opportunity of accessing my document but that he wants a letter of authority. He told them, one of my juniors, Senator Baba Kaita, just left the previous day with his own certificate. But that he (Kaita) wrote requesting for it. So the principal ask the people too to write to access mine. He now added that, ‘but the Ashiru you are talking about was my senior in school. When he was in Form 5, I was in Form 2. He was the person that renovated that mosque you are seeing.’ He told the guy who paraded himself as an Army Major from the Defence headquarters, with two others in suit. So they left and said they would go and write and come back. But he told me they are yet to return up till the time I am granting this interview.
Looking at your WAEC result, you had just three credits, how did you qualify for an ND programme, since the requirement is five credits?
Yes, I did not fulfil the requirements of gaining direct entry but the school had an internal arrangement for gaining admission and that was what qualified me. I was there for Pre-ND after which I got admitted into the National Diploma programme. I had a three year programme not two. I went for my HND and I did my NYSC.
After that I had a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing before proceeding to the Bayero University, Kano for my Master’s programme. They never knew I had a Post Graduate Diploma, because they are also asking how I could go for a Master’s programme with an ND.
But you were dismissed from service or did you resign?
I retired in 1997 to join politics fully. I am a pensioner, I receive my pension. I left the service honourably. As at the time I retired, I was on Grade level 10 but due for promotion to 12. Before I went for computation of my benefits, because I was due for promotion, I also pursued it. I got the promotion without arrears. So another letter was sent to me, saying it cancels and supersedes the earlier one which had shown I retired from the ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, on Grade level 10.
See God for you, look at the comment on the letter as the officer then minuted ‘Typist, please, issue retirement notification as per approval on page 1318 to cancel page 117.’ Did they say issue letter of dismissal? The one on page 117 is the earlier letter which approved my retirement before promotion. So the letter that cancels the earlier one is the one they are saying was for dismissal.
On a final note, you are about to face a brand, El-Rufai, in 2019. What is your message to Kaduna people?
Never to forget history, Governor Nasir El-Rufai was elected into office about three and half years ago. If he has fulfilled his promises, they are in a better position to tell the world, if he has not, God has given them the power to decide. They should decide their future. Power belongs to Almighty Allah. If God and Kaduna people can make El-Rufai governor, the same God and people can also make me governor of Kaduna State. Besides, with what is on ground, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We shall triumph and everybody in the state will be happy for it.