From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Ahmed Ibrahim Aruwa is a seasoned banker who has made up his mind to run for the governorship of Kogi State in 2019.
In this exclusive interview, Aruwa said though, he is yet to pitch tent with any political party, he has already formed political structures in the 21 local government areas of the state to help in prosecuting his gubernatorial ambition.
As a stakeholder in Kogi politics, how would you assess the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello so far?
Running an administration can be difficult sometimes, but whatever you are doing in this life, it needs some improvements. The state as it is now, needs some improvements. As a government, there are some challenges and it is when one gets there that he can see these challenges. But for me, looking at some parameters, I think there is room for improvement of the State.
Kogi State as it is today is riddled with financial crises; from ghost workers to backlog of salary arrears of the civil servants. As a financial expert how do you intend to handle the situation if you become governor?
The first thing I will do is to work on the budget; the question I will ask is, do they have a running budget? Yes because anything you are going to do for a state, you start with a budget, budget gives you a broad base picture of what you plan to do in the coming year. And in so doing you have to look at your various income sources, how much are they, and where and where do you expect to get the funds from, apart from your normal income sources. Would you want to go to the financial institutions to borrow? If you want to take that decision, you now have to weigh the other side; the expenditures. And looking at the expenditure, it is a wide thing; you have to do your sources and application of funding, where are you getting your sources from.
For example, in budgeting for a state like Kogi, you have to look at your taxation; what is the tax policy in the state like? Are you having an efficient tax system, is there a whole lot of tax avoidance or tax evasion? You have to look at any corporation or organisation that is involved in evading tax, block it and send a bill to the state House of Assembly to make a law to prohibit tax evasion. Then look at the people that are trying to evade tax and look at where to fill in the gap to encourage them not to avoid tax payment because avoidance of taxes is allowed in law.
If you ask me, one agenda I will do for Kogi State is employment creation. You use different parameters to achieve this goal. One of the major areas of employment creation in Kogi State is asking people to go back to the farm. And you organise it in a very beautiful setting because it is not just about asking people to go back to farm, but what do you want to achieve from it.
APC is the ruling party in Kogi State, so on which platform are you going to contest in 2019?
At the moment I am watching the political atmosphere keenly. So what we have done is that we have formed ourselves into a group called Aruwa Network for 2019. This network has state committees, local government coordinators and wards committees. In the next few days or weeks we will come together to deliberate which political party to pitch our tent with. As I speak, 11 other political parties have approached us, but we are watching them because we have solid political structures on ground. So it is from our meeting that we will finally decide which party to pitch tent with.
At the time the Supreme Court pronounced Bello as the substantive governor of Kogi State; many people expressed reservations and worries over the judgment. What was your own feeling then?
One thing about leadership is that God ordains it. No matter your riches, no matter the amount of wealth that you command, if God does not give you, you cannot have it. So it is like God had made it that Bello must take power in Kogi State at that time, It was only ordained by God that he would rule Kogi State.
Well, you are seeing it as God ordained, but other stakeholders are seeing it as a dangerous precedent set in the state and Nigeria in general. What will you say to this?
Anything that God does should not be questioned. As far as I am concerned, no matter how anybody wants to look it, if God does not allow it, there is no way it could have been possible. Going forward, I believe that the entire people of Kogi State should look at what is happening and make a good choice; they should forget about money politics, they should keep their ears to the ground, and look for quality leaders, individual who are time tested. We have them in Kogi State. It is not all about money and money. Of course, the Igala people have numerical advantage and they can do a lot with that, and that was what they did during Prince Abubakar Audu. Though the incumbent governor came to power through court process, the Kogi people have spoken, but God spoke. And that was why the people went for Audu because they believe he was credible. But it is human for the people to go to the poll to vote, it is left for God to decide. So I believe that this time around, it is like a bitter pill, the people will look out for who is merited to be their governor.
How are you going to tackle the issue of non payment of salary in the state?
It is quite sad, but I believe that something can be done. For me, my cardinal objective is to eradicate unemployment in Kogi State. First I will try to talk with the workers. It is an aberration for workers to have worked for 30 days and at the end, he cannot go back home with something, what will he tell his family? I quite sympathise with workers in Kogi State. But I hope and pray that government will do something about it. But for me, I will approach the matter with all sense of sincerity. As a banker I was paid 23rd and 24thof every month. And that is what I am going to introduce in the state if given the opportunity.