By Henry Umoru, Assistant Political Editor
Alhaji Sagir Hamisu Gusau, a seasoned Administrator, served as the Director of Protocol to virtually all the Ministers of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA in the present political dispensation and retired as Director of the Federal Capital Territory administration. He joined politics soon after he retired and he is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In this interview, Sagir who is so passionate about the need to educate his people, empower them, among others, bares his mind on why he wants to govern his home state, his transformational blueprint for the state, why Jonathan must run for 2015, his respect for Muazu’s style as PDP National Chairman, among other salient issues. Excerpts:
You have been a civil servant all your life. What must have motivated you into Politics and why do you want to govern your state, Zamfara?
First, I want to thank God that I have made a career in the civil service, having served for 28years, having passed through all the ordinances of the civil service, the experiences and the challenges and having reached that far, and looking at my state, one is not happy with the state of governance.
I realised that people like us who by providence are lucky to have gone to school, have acquired some reasonable education, worked in the civil service and acquired also some modern experiences and what have you; I think that it is imperative having made our own contribution in the civil service, we should go up to also see how we can bring about the needed change that the state urgently and desperately needs at this time.
With 2015 around the corner, it affords me the opportunity to also see that this is the right time to join the political train and that is where I am now and I have joined the PDP to realise my aspiration of being the governor of the state come 2015.
What were those things you saw in your people that actually touched your heart and made you almost cry?
There were days I travelled home, went to my state during the work or school hours, what I found were children coming from both sides of the road both primary and secondary school children, some carrying water, some firewood and some begging at the filling station.
Like you rightly said, sometimes I felt like crying.
That for goodness sake, these children should be in the classrooms. Now they are on the side of the road and some in filling stations, some have not even had their bath in the last two months. You could see sand become part of their hair growth, scabies, and various skin diseases. No shoes, even during Harmattan, you see them exposed to the cold, this is unacceptable.
When you now move again, you will see the classroom by the road side again, roof blown off, room is empty, no windows, what you see coming out of those buildings are goats, and other domestic animals and when you go into the town to see relations, then you see them in empathy, hopeless situation, Sanitary condition very deplorable, and you see joblessness.
The men are always sitting down under the shade discussing and by the time you interact with the people, you see virtually everybody with a common diseases that can be treated; it is either they don’t have the money to go to the hospital or the hospitals have nothing to offer them. No medicine, the doctors have all gone away because of the appalling working condition in the hospitals.
You are coming into an environment people may describe as rough and dirty, especially coming from the civil Service background. Do you see yourself as relatively new or think that people will see you as a green horn in politics?
I don’t see it that way. Politics is about interaction by human beings to advance their common interest and like in any mutual interaction or otherwise, you will find the good, the bad and the ugly and your ability to interplay, that is what will keep you in the struggle.
You say politics is about interaction, meaning your interaction with politicians, ministers, technocrats, others as Director of Protocol for many years must have equipped you to where you for going?
Definitely, and that is why I am grateful to the system that exposed me to all these, that is why it is not strange for me to see somebody collect somebody’s money now and the next hour he is raining insults on him or even aligning with the opponents. I have seen it all. So when it comes to my own turn, it will not shock me. I am excited about it.
In Zamfara, PDP is the opposition party, it used to be the ruling party, but in 2011, the incumbent, Shinkafi was defeated. How do you intend to uproot the present government of APC?
First, the ANPP/APC was in government for 12years or there about and the PDP government four years out of the 11years that the APC/ANPP has been in government. Shinkafi’s government was the best in terms of laying the foundation for development in the state, be it in education at the time schools were being renovated and more classrooms were built.
And that was when the youth empowerment started, that was when the present hospital that was named after somebody who did not build it, was built. And so the 11years that the APC/ANPP has been in government, nothing substantially serious that can be described as development has taken place there.
In the PDP, we have seen that in the last three years another opportunity is knocking on our doors and here we are. We found ourselves with an absentee governor and of course where there is an absentee governor, it means there is no governance.
So where there is no governance, it means there is nobody to talk about development to provide anything. No wonder you could see that the level of educational development and infrastructure is nothing. That is the major challenge of Zamfara today.
Now in most schools, you will find only those that teach Islamic knowledge that are in the primary schools as teachers. That is how the situation is as of today. As far as education is concerned, it is zero.
We have the land as our own natural endowment and we have the population and so if we set our priority right, we would have focused on agriculture that will employ the mass of our people. Produce enough food for our people and then produce the one that we will sell to the rest of Nigeria and set up agro-allied industries.
You said the governor is an absentee governor, how do you mean?
He is always on the air, he spends one week in Abuja, two weeks abroad, maybe two to three days in Gusau and then maybe the weekend in his home town in his local government; this is how the circle is. In fact I don’t even know if Zamfara has any conference hall that anything happens. I don’t think. The DG government house resigned because he has not seen his principal or sat with him for 3years. What can be more than that?
This is the general dis-enchantment among the civil servants because where directive is supposed to flow, there is a vacuum and you know when they say executive governor nobody does anything without being directed, so you see there is nothing anybody can do and if the governor is not in town, the offices are virtually closed, they are on holidays.
What is the level of your consultation with stakeholders, leaders and Elders of the party in your state?
I don’t like rating myself, I always prefer to leave that to others. If you had taken time to travel with me in one of the consultative journeys. I am sure you would not be asking me this question, but be that as it may, I have to tell you that I have made tremendous consultations with all the stakeholders, right from the voter, the common man to the elite, to the party men and women and to the elders. I have done that and I can tell you that the prospect is very good and that is what encouraged me to be deeply involved because I have seen that they accepted my message of change.
What is your assessment of PDP National Chairman, Ahmadu Muazu in his reconciliation drive?
Muazu is a round peg in a round hole. I want to thank Mr. President who saw the need and the wisdom to effect that change at the time he did. A lot of problems in this country are avoidable if the right people are put in the right place at the right time.
In Muazu, one is dealing with a professional, an intellectual, a seasoned politician, a seasoned administrator, two-time governor, you are dealing with an urban person, somebody who has built bridges, national and international, somebody who has genuine friendship across the nation, somebody who could walk up to a friend to say, look even if you are not in PDP, please don’t insult our President and the friend will laugh and say it is because of you that I will have to mellow down, that is politics.
Do you think President Jonathan should contest 2015 and if not, why?
Yes, he should contest. First, it is within his right to do so as provided for in the constitution.
You may not see the modest progress or the hard work being put to make things work again. Again if you look at the transformation agenda going on, you will know that there is a lot of progress being made in the agriculture sector and many other sectors.
Look at the railway, it is running from Kaduna toAbuja. when that track is completed, it would bring about economic value to these areas and in other places that the rails have started moving. Look at the Sure-P where thousands of these youths are doing something, no matter how you describe it, they go out in the morning, do something and get something instead of being idle. I think that should be applauded also.
Of course the security challenge that has almost overshadowed the socio-economic gains of the government. But in spite of that, we are still moving. So for me, the President should be supported to complete his term and be given another chance because he has done extremely well given the circumstances he finds himself.