“Prior to the election of 2015 in Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai promised the people of Kaduna State that there was going to be a change. Change for good.”
Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Ben Bako was a teacher, a television producer, erstwhile commissioner of Information in Kaduna State and now one of the spokesmen of Isa Ashiru campaign organisation. He speaks on the party’s readiness to sack El-Rufai next year.
Why do you want Kaduna people to vote for your candidate, Isa Ashiru?
He is the preferred candidate for so many reasons. We have over 90 political parties in the country today. Kaduna State is the cradle of civilisation in Northern Nigeria and Nigeria by extension when it comes to administration. Before now, people from other states have come to Kaduna to borrow from administrative, strategy and governance as well.
Yes, between 1999 and 2015, PDP led Kaduna State from Ahmed Makarfi to Namadi Sambo to Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa (late) and Alhaji Mukhtar Ramalan Yero. We had four governors in a span of 16 years and they have left enduring legacies in Kaduna State. When we talk about infrastructure development, human capital development, promotion of peace and peace building, job creation and wealth creation at the same time are some of the areas PDP left its step in the sand of time.
Development has more than one definition. To many, infrastructure development is development they want. To others, human development, to some it is capital development and to some, it is peace which is abstract because you cannot touch it but you can feel it. So, looking at all these and based on what we have witnessed in the state since APC got the chance to lead, I think my principal Isa Ashiru, remains the preferred candidate. He has been part and parcel of history I relayed earlier. His participation in the history of the previous 16 years has equipped him of what it entails to provide leadership for the people of Kaduna State.
People in the state are seeing your party, PDP, as being unserious because you have been quiet. Is that not dangerous for the party trying to battle an incumbent who has everything at its disposal for free?
That was very exciting question. You see, election is not about noise but strategies. What noise is the APC making? It is the blame game. Tell me one statement APC will make in their campaign without referring to 16 years of PDP? So, can we call that campaign? We are talking about issue based campaign, but the APC is not doing that.
But then, yesterday is important in history and talking about the issue based campaign, in your view, which area is APC not doing well?
Okay, in 2014, prior to the election of 2015 in Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai promised the people of Kaduna State that there was going to be a change. Change for good. He talked about creating job opportunities. He talked about making Kaduna grate again. He has talked about reforming the educational sector for the good of all. He talked about fighting corruption. These were premises upon which the people voted him. As it is today, I am putting him on the scale of the items I have pronounced, which of them has he delivered satisfactorily?
Is it the reform in education where he claimed that the children of the poor including his children will go to public school because he would have upgraded and reformed the public schools in such a way that nobody will take his child to private school? As at today, how many of his children attend public school either at primary or secondary level? None! Tell me one of his commissioners’ children that are attending public school? What people expected was that, he was going to reform education probably the curriculum content, not to go and paint the classrooms or change the roof and paint it in another colour and come out to tell us he’s reforming education. Over 22, 000 teachers were sacked and recruiting another huge number at the same time, what do you call that?
But the governor said he recruited about 25,000 fresh teachers to replace the sacked ones and in fact, some of the sacked ones went through that recruitment process and scaled through…
(Cuts in) See, I have been teacher all my life. A well trained one from NCE to Grade II and to the University so I know what I’m talking about. Nobody in education sector will do what El-Rufai has done. In the history of Kaduna State, nobody has damaged the education sector like El-Rufai has done and I tell you with fact. You see, if you send away a teacher that has three years of experience whether he’s a failure, the teacher is far better than a fresh first class student who is recruited to teach. This is because teaching is not all about first class you got through examination. No. it is about experience. That you have gone to pack graduates and recruit them at the same time is administrate error. It is a blunder any governor could ever make.
When it comes to employment, you don’t employ everybody on the same day. Recruiting over 10,000 graduates same day or year is not done anywhere in the world because it has administrative implications. What you are saying is that, those 10,000 or more you recruited at the same time will be promoted at the same time. Among them you will also have the conflict of who will be who and who will be what. You must have principal and vice principal and all that. When it comes to their remuneration, does the state has enough resources to recruit people at the same time, pay them and promote them at the same time?
The wisdom in recruitment traditionally has been that, you promote people in batches. When that happens, it will not be difficult for government to pay them their entitlements when they retire. But as it is now, the jargon this governor has done, the impact will not be on him. The impact will be on whoever is going to take over because you will have a size of workforce you cannot take care of their salaries, leave grants and retiring benefits at the same time. Education is not what a quantity surveyor can just take a look at from distance and say it should be this it should be that.
Can you tell us what programme your principal has for the people of Kaduna State?
Even though our principal is just there to rescue Kaduna State, reunite the people of Kaduna State and restore the state to its past glory, our manifesto for Isa Ashiru’s government, God willing, has captured
the health sector. It is simple. We have identified that the number of structure under whatever name we have in the state are more than enough. What we need now is the staffing and state-of-the-art equipment which is currently weak in Kaduna State. We intend to develop at least one comprehensive medical centre that can adequately take care of our people in each of the three zones. It is not about the proliferation of primary health centres in every ward this man is making noise about. So, we have looked at the health sector from a comprehensive perspective and we have come to the conclusion that it is not the proliferation of PHC but rather the quality of services, staffing and equipment.
After the primaries by all political parties, some of your members were aggrieved over the outcome. Don’t you think that was dangerous for the party?
It will interest you to know that ten people picked the nomination form including Isa Ashiru, and all of them knew that by the end of the primary, only one person will emerge. But, before the primary, all of them were committed to PDP, were committed to sending APC out of office in Kaduna State. So, having conducted the primary which was the fairest as far as history of PDP is concerned in Kaduna State, Isa Ashiru emerged. He gave the least money for transport to the delegates, yet, he emerged the winner. It goes a long way to tell you that people are learning and its likely not going to be business as usual because for somebody who gave the least to delegate to emerge as winner speaks volume.
What we are doing now is to have all hands on deck to ensure we emerge victorious at the end of the day. The challenge which I know you will ask is the position of Dr Sani Bello who has pinched camp with El-Rufai or the APC. Well, that was not news as far as Nigeria is concerned because what is obtainable here is also obtainable in the APC. We are talking about Maina who left for APC and we are not talking about the likes of Senator Othman Hunkuyi who is heavyweight that cannot be compared with any of these people that have left. To us, Hunkuyi alone has covered whatever loss you think we have had to APC. Whoever ignores him in the politics of Kaduna will be at his own risk. I say this and I will repeat it anywhere that whoever ignores Hunkuyi in the politics of Kaduna is doing so at his own detriment and we are comforted that we have him on board who is committed to the victory of PDP in Kaduna State. Shehu Sani who is also a strong pillar of APC in the central zone has left the APC.
What is your message to the electorate in Kaduna State before, during and after voting?
Yes, PDP has clear message to the people of Kaduna State. First, every electorate must prepare for the forthcoming election just the way we prepare for Christmas and Sallah. Get what you are going to eat and drink on that day ready in store. This is because we are advocating that people should not just go and vote and then return home. No. they should vote and make sure that they wait until their votes are sorted out, counted and declared before they leave. When the results are declared, they must ensure again that the results are escorted to the next collation centre until you are sure it has been recorded appropriately because the body language of the government and INEC do not suggest we are going to have a free, fair and credible election.
Elections are rigged in hard-to-reach locations like the Creeks and Deserts, what is to be done to prevent this?
No, I cannot tell you what we are doing about that. Thank you.