“What I will do differently is to work closely with my party to attract development to my senatorial district. And this will only be possible if I work closely with my party leadership”
Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senatorial Candidate for Kaduna Central, Mallam Uba Sani said his party will emerge victorious in the state.
The APC chieftain, who is also Special Adviser (Political Matters) to the Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, contends that the governor’s achievements will earn him a second term.
In the last few months, you’ve been going around your senatorial district, seeking their support towards your senatorial ambition; how has it been?
The response has been overwhelming and humbling. Kaduna Central is a political fortress of the APC. The people are unwavering in their support for us. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been struggling to make inroads into the zone, to no avail. What we have been doing is to consolidate on the people’s support by assuring them of a brighter future.
We are determined to change the face of the zone through quality and effective representation. This is important because for some time now the people have been victims of poor, ineffective and unresponsive representation. From a senatorial zone that was the envy of all, it became a reference point for how not to represent a people. People of the zone saw the diminishing of opportunities which hitherto were taken for granted.
What reigned supreme was grandstanding and the abuse or denigration of leaders, who are selflessly working to positively change the condition of the people of Kaduna State and Nigeria. They did not stop at that. They deliberately sabotaged the Kaduna State Government’s efforts at attracting investments and getting loans for the development of critical infrastructure. A clear example of what really happened was when the state government wanted to borrow $350 million from the World Bank to rehabilitate and build new hospitals in Kaduna, to rehabilitate and build new schools-both primary and secondary schools in Kaduna; and to also build some infrastructure, I mean roads and other amenities for the common man and woman. Kaduna State was the only state that was denied the opportunity to access the loan, simply because those people in the senate decided to look at their personal interest instead of the overall interest of our people in Kaduna State.
The loan is not about Mallam Nasir El-Rufai. It is about the nine million people of Kaduna State, and for me, that was what really made people to come out openly to support my aspiration. They believe I am better equipped and positioned to restore the glory of Kaduna Central Senatorial zone.
If you win the election what are you going to do differently from what the person there currently is doing?
Our senatorial zone is populated by APC and everybody knows that. And if you are a member of the senate representing a particular constituency which you are also aware has over 80 to 90 percent of the people as APC members, surely the first thing you need to do is to work closely with the APC government at the national level. It is about serving the people, not the advancement of personal interest. So for me, what I will do differently is to work closely with my party to attract development to my senatorial district. And this will only be possible if I work closely with my party leadership, the leadership of the senate, my state governor and the president of the country.
You are also the Political Adviser to the Governor of Kaduna State and you just said you were very convinced that El-Rufai will win his election and Buhari will win his election. But that appears to contradict the opinion of some people who believe that APC had not done anything in the last three years to deserve re-election. What do you think?
Most of the people thinking that way are either naive, mischievous or probably are unwilling to tell the truth. We are all in this country. Some of us as I said earlier had worked with the previous government; we know where we are coming from. And I can tell you clearly that when President Muhammadu Buhari was elected, we know the state of the economy. The country was almost going down completely, in terms of the economic situation.
Our international image was in tatters. Investors had taken flight. Corruption had become a way of life in governmental circles. Insecurity had enveloped the country. The Boko Haram took over many local government areas in the North East and hoisted their flags. In major cities of Nigeria, rumours of possible terrorist attack remained the daily staple. Life in Nigeria had become sheer nightmare. Many people were already predicting the possibility of Nigeria becoming a failed state. That was the situation President Buhari inherited.
Since assumption of office, he has been working assiduously to clear the mess left by the previous administration. He has degraded Boko Haram, arrested the drift in the economy, restored investors’ confidence and is implementing a well-conceived social investment scheme geared towards giving succour to the underprivileged in Nigeria. Restoring security remains one of the president’s biggest achievements. I can tell you that for some of us who travelled from Kaduna to Abuja by road during that difficult period; it took us three to four hours to get to Abuja because of multiple checkpoints created by the deadly activities of Boko Haram. People could not even go to mosques and churches to worship God. Going to the market or any crowded area was like a death sentence. Nobody knew where the next bomb would go off. It was a horrible situation. But today we can all heave a sigh of relief. Normalcy has been restored. But challenges remain. Terrorism is a scourge which must be fought continuously until it is wiped out.
Other security problems are also being addressed or tackled with all the force the government can muster. Progress has also been made in the area of fighting corruption. EFCC has been reinvigorated. Investigations, arrests and prosecutions have been stepped up. Campaigns are also being carried out to create awareness among the populace on the need for zero tolerance against corruption. The revelations coming out of EFCC’s investigations are mind boggling and scary. EFFCC has continued to harvest successes. They have over 737 convictions. That’s the highest number ever in Nigeria. And for me, when we look at it clearly, it shows that the level of impunity in the past was very terrible.
Let’s go back to Kaduna, what will Governor Nasir El-Rufai be campaigning on in the forthcoming elections?
I have worked for three and half years as the Political Adviser to Governor El-Rufai. I am conversant with the vision and mission of the government. I know its programmes/ projects and the level of implementation.
I know where challenges lie. I am close to the people at the grassroots and I have interacted with them. So, I am in a good position to tell you what is on ground and the shape of things to come. Sometimes when I read some stories or comments on the Kaduna State Government in the conventional and social media, I just laugh. Either the writers are ignorant or misinformed on the situation of things, or they are down right mischievous. Let me state without fear of contradiction that Governor El-Rufai’s achievements in the last three and half years are unprecedented.
The governor took some radical decisions which previous administrations refused to take in order not to ruffle political feathers. The governor brooks no nonsense when the interest of the common people is involved. The opposition of the few self-centered elites does not bother him. Once the people are happy, he feels fulfilled. The policies and programmes of the government have impacted on the lives of the downtrodden and they have openly been celebrating the administration. They have vowed to defend the administration and renew its mandate. El-Rufai’s achievements are key selling points. He is set for a landslide victory in 2019. We have done our calculations. We are very confident.
There’s this issue that keeps recurring in Kaduna State: the issue of ethnic or religious crisis. What’s really responsible?
Since 1992 Kaduna State has witnessed many ethnic and religious crises. It is quite unfortunate. We are sad about it because Kaduna State, and Kaduna city in particular, is like a miniature Nigeria. It is a place people love so much.
However, in its attraction lies its contradictions, just the way it attracts lovers of development, peace and progress, it also a place for conflict entrepreneurs. In fact the government of Nasir El-Rufai, in its wisdom, took a bold step to get to the root of the perennial conflicts that have for long been arresting the development of the state. His modest efforts have unfortunately been politicised by some people.
Let me tell you, the one that just happened recently wasn’t really a religious crisis. A misunderstanding between two people in a market was hijacked and put to murderous use. People descended on each other based on rumours and unfounded claims. That is why there are so many versions of what led to the crisis. So you can see that there are people ever ready in Kaduna State to profit from crisis. People should always make extra efforts to get credible information on what is going on so that we don’t mislead the people. We have a huge responsibility as leaders and clerics. We must use temperate language and desist from actions that would put a spanner in what holds our people together.
Beyond admonishing our people to tow the path of peace, the El-Rufai government is determined to end the reign of impunity as far as ethnic and religious crisis are concerned in Kaduna State. Henceforth, conflict entrepreneurs and their foot soldiers would be treated as criminals. Deployment of religious sentiments will never deter the government from discharging its responsibility to the people. All the people involved in the crisis will be prosecuted. The law must take its course.
What’s your response to the Muslim-Muslim ticket?
I sincerely believe that we have reached a stage in this country where we should lay more emphasis on one’s competence and ability to deliver, not really where one comes from or the religion he or she professes.
I understand why we hold on so much to issues of diversity or balancing. As far as I am concerned, the fact that people believe that it is only when someone from their area is in office that they can get a fair deal is indicative of the failure of governance.
A leader with a sound governance agenda/template should be able to deal with all manner of persons fairly, equitably and justly. We must move to new grounds and change the way things are done in our state and country. Governor El-Rufai is committed to that. He chose Dr. Hadiza based on her competence and record of outstanding performance in the healthcare sector. She comes from a family that is really a model of religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence. Half of the family are Muslim, while half are Christian.