Alhaji Abubakar Udu Idris, immediate past Head of Service in Kebbi State, is the governorship candidate of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) for next year’s election in the state.
In this interview with OLANREWAJU LAWAL in Birnin Kebbi, he expressed disappointment with the outcries trailing the Muslim-Muslim ticket adopted by the All Progressives Congress, noting that what Nigerians needed as leaders were those that would solve challenges of insecurity, poverty and dwindling economy bedevilling the nation.
What prompted you to join the PRP after your tenure expired as the Kebbi’s Head of Service?
I had a close relationship with members of the PRP when we were in the Bayero University Kano (BUK) in the 80s. Thereafter, we were formally invited to join the party by Professor Attahiru Jega. He is somebody we respect a lot, somebody we felt has the capacity to bring political change in Nigeria. Again, I joined the party because of its principle and ideology. Thirdly, I joined the party because PRP is not owned by any individual or group of people.
Why do you think the electorate in the state would cast their votes for your party in the 2023 election?
I believe very strongly that the electorate will votes for us because the other political parties have failed them both at the state and at the national level. People are just tired about the way the country is being run. I was in the government and I knew how the society is supposed to be governed and what is happening today is contrary to what we knew the government for.
But many would say you were also part of the government in the state before your tenure expired as Head of Service?
Yes, you are very correct. There is one thing people don’t know; as long as you don’t control the person in power, there is a limitation to what one could do. You can only advise and there is no law in Nigeria making one’s advice biding on the person in power.
Many people believe that a technocrat like you shouldn’t have joined politics, but rather, be neutral and be advising those in power. What is your response?
You see, a lot of my colleagues have decided to do that in the past and they failed woefully. As long as you are not in control of power, there is a limitation to what you can do to change the reality on ground. We believed by joining politics and political party, we can made a lot of difference.
In Nigeria politics, the influence of money and the popularity of a political party matter a lot in winning elections. How prepared is your party for this?
In the past, money used to have such influence, but the situation has changed now. In fact, the Electoral Act has solved most of the problems except the use of money to buy votes, which is very difficult. And the EFCC is trying to tame this, because we have seen what had happened in Ekiti and Osun states and how the EFCC was able to tame the situation. Because, most often, they used security agencies to disperse the crowd so that an individual could thumb print some ballot papers, maybe in the comfort of their rooms. And at the end of the day, you will hear different results being declared contrary to the record the electorate had. But that case has been dealt with decisively by the Electoral Act.
One of the political parties picked two Muslims as presidential and vice presidential candidates, a development that has generated a lot of outrage in some quarters. What is your view on this?
Let me say this, I have travelled across the world, I can tell you that there is no country where people have religion in their mouths and have the devil in their hearts like Nigeria. On this issue of Muslim-Muslim ticket, tell me if there is any president from the prime minister, Christian or Muslim, who has ruled this country that promoted his religion. Except the current Vice- President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, there is no record in the history of Nigeria where a pastor or imam became a president or vice-president.
This idea of Muslim-Muslim ticket or Christian-Christian ticket has never been the problem of Nigeria. What an average Nigerian want now is security, peace, employment opportunities and equality before the law, fighting corruption, improvement of our economy. That is all what Nigerians want at this moment. Even if we are going to be buried inside one grave, are we going to be judged at the same level? No! What concerns me about that? In monotheism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, they came through holy individuals, Moses, Jesus and Prophet Muhammed. And all of them told us that they were sent by God and we believed them. Now, tell me, you and me, who sent us? Nobody sent us. God did not send me to vote for Muslims or Christians or Judaism. Would God judge me because I voted for a Christian or a Muslim or traditionalist? No! Like I said, you cannot be a good Muslim or a good Christian, good Judaist except you believe that Almighty God is in charge. So, if we all believe that God is in charge, God can make us all to be Yoruba, or to be Igbo or all of us to be Hausa or Fulani. At the same time make us to be all Muslims, Christians or Judaism. But He didn’t. Was it not mentioned in the Bible that only people that would be saved are those that have seen the light? A disciple of Jesus Christ asked him, how could I be saved? He said by obeying the commandments. It’s only in Nigeria that you will see that few people are living by the faith they are practising. So, our religions did not prevent us from committing all sorts of crimes. It is in Nigeria that people steal money and use it to build churches and mosques, and go to Mecca and Jerusalem. A good Christian will be good for a Muslim; a good Muslim will also be good for a Christian in our society. There is no time in Nigeria that Muslims and Christians have clashes over issues of morality, righteousness, honesty and sincerity. Somebody like me in Kebbi State would not bother about whoever becomes the president of this country as long as he is doing the right things. I don’t care whether he is a Muslim or Christian. All this noise about Muslim-Muslim tickets are just to deceive gullible Nigerians.
Why do you think the electorate in Kebbi State are ready for change?
I believe they are ready for change because I have been here throughout my life, throughout my career. From what we have seen, from what we are hearing on ground, from our society, coupled with the number of people who are joining our party, I believe they are ready for change.
In the past sir, many governorship candidates or their running mates usually cross over to the ruling party with their supporters shortly before the election…
Absolutely mine will be different. Like I said, we are part of the society, we know our people and they know us. I didn’t join the PRP to contest initially, but to effect some changes. Along the line, our party’s members asked me to contest. No amount of money can influence me. In fact, if money could influence my decision or change me, it would have changed me when I was in government. I have been in government for quite some time, yet I resisted all attempts. You see, this issue of corruption is prominent in all aspects of the society. But I can assure you that majorities of Nigerians are honest and trustworthy. The fact that few are corrupt – and that fact is well known – does not mean all Nigerians are corrupt.
What if your godfathers traditional rulers or those close to you ask you to drop your ambition and support another governorship candidate?
To the best of my knowledge, our traditional rulers in Kebbi State are the most educated, exposed and enlightened in this country. And they are apolitical. But one could not deny that there are some mischief makers out there. I don’t have any godfather who could be used to lure me to drop my ambition. And I will never leave PRP.
What are your views on godfathers in politics?
If you are somebody who is contented with your life, you don’t need a godfather. But those who are eager to have so many things in their lives are those ones looking for godfathers. Though, moneybags and godfather are two different things. A godfather is a political leader who many politicians crave to have. But the moneybags is someone that will be bankrolling one election at a price. Certainly, every politician is looking for godfathers but we don’t have moneybags in PRP.
So what are your plans for the people of Kebbi State if elected governor?
Number one, having been in public service for a long time, in the first 100 days, I will restore government as the institution that people will have respect for. Secondly, we are going to restore the integrity of the civil service because they are the ones that would be implementing the programmes and policies of the government. Thereafter, we shall attend to the needs of the people such as rehabilitations of all the dilapidated boreholes across the state, rehabilitation and power supply in the towns and villages. And water supply will be adequately looked into, especially water supply in Yauri town. Again, we are going to tackle Koko-Mahuta Road, because that road is linking a whole zone. In fact, that road is linking four local government areas in Zuru Emirate in the state. So, we would address that as well as fast track the construction and take off of the Law School in Argungu.
Again, we are going to address education and improve on our economy. We shall address the lapses in teaching and learning environment. We shall recruit more teachers, train them and give them teaching materials. We shall also address the issue of health problems by employing more health personnel and construct more hospitals and healthcare centres.
How would you strengthen the security measures in the state?
Aside from restoring the government as an institution and civil service integrity, the next thing is to restore security. Whether we like it or not, security is the cornerstone of the people’s survival. Without security, there couldn’t be development. The Federal Government security agencies will be used effectively, coupled with the local security contents to tackle insecurity. We shall work closely with them. The main problem of our security is the failure of our intelligence. No matter how trained our security agencies are, the local people knew themselves and the terrain. As a child in Birnin Kebbi, I grew up to know that whenever there is a visitor, the host would inform the village head. So, at the local level, everybody knows each other. So we need to inculcate the traditional rulers to address our security challenges. There should be synergy among the security agencies, traditional rulers, religious leaders and the communities so that we can move ahead in the area of security.