By ABDALLAH EL-KUREBE
Senator Abubakar Umar Gada was a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and represented Sokoto East Senatorial District during the Sixth Assembly. He lost the bid to return to the Senate during the April polls but recently declared his intention to contest the PDP primary with incumbent Governor Magatakarda Wamakko for the governorship of Sokoto State. He spoke with Vanguard on how improve the legislature and why he wants to govern Sokoto State. Excerpts:
WHAT you think the Seventh National Assembly would portend for the good of the nation?
The good thing about Parliament is that it beautifies the administrative system of democracy. In all other systems, there are the executive and judiciary. It is only in democracy that the parliament is existent. In the Sixth Assembly, we can say that the old hands were there, those who had the experience in legislative business.
In legislative business, the older, the better. The beauty of the National Assembly is the higher turnover in legislation. When new people come to the National Assembly, before they understand the workings, the mechanisms, the spirit and the modus operandi of the system, much time would have elapsed. More so, the National Assembly suffers when people who are not qualified are elected into it. This breeds compromised standards and sycophancy, indolence and inefficacy.
What informed your decision to contest the Sokoto governorship election?
The government on ground that has completely failed the people. If government is for the people and by them, what we have in Sokoto is a complete disaster. That is why I feel that I have a responsibility to woo all patriotic citizens to come together to salvage the state from the rot it has been subjected to. That is again why I am calling on all the people of Sokoto State; friends and associates to come and loose the state from the shackles of inefficiency and calamity.
Why are you going for the primaries with Wamakko whom some observers say you should rather support having come from the same party?
That is the beauty of democracy. If the people of Sokoto State had not lost the trust and confidence in the present governor, the thought of aspiring for the office would not have arisen. But the level of failure is not only unprecedented in the history of the state but is also a tragedy that has great negative impact on our people. No matter how much the remedial measure that would be put in place by any incoming government, it will not be easy because the damage done so far, like I said earlier, is unprecedented.
You can talk about immorality, economy, mal-administration and other facets of the lives of the people of Sokoto state, is colossal. You can see elements of collateral damages on the lives and future of the people. We have no reason to fold our arms and continue to look on as these social atrocities continue if we believe that salvaging lives is a responsibility off all and sundry.
Since the Northwest leadership of the PDP had earlier endorsed Wamakko as its candidate for governorship in Sokoto State, don’t you think you will be vying without the party’s support?
No, no, no! Nobody endorsed Wamakko.. It was a slip of tongue by my friend, which has already been retracted. I discussed the issue of endorsement with the zonal vice chairman, who made that fatal error. He retracted the statement, thereby making it null and void and of no effect whatsoever. Nobody should even make any reference to it because it is not an issue now. It has no position in law, convention and practices.
How are you going to surmount the incumbency factor and beat Wamakko at the polls?
The feelings of the people are palpable. You can feel them. Sokoto people are looking for change. They are ready for change. This is the reality. It is not an imaginary thing. When people resolve to effect a change, what comes after concerted effort is victory incumbency or no incumbency.
Some observers hold that Wamakko has performed creditably in terms of projects and welfare for the people…
Unless these observers are leaving in another world. Or maybe they write their imaginations and then make it known. Otherwise, in which areas would you say that Wamakko has performed? There are so many projects that would enhance economic improvement in the state, which
have not been completed. This is a government which professes in uncompleted projects. Let me give you examples. The Sokoto – Illela road has been awarded for over four years. It is still there
uncompleted. The contractor has abandoned the project and government is doing nothing about it. The Independent Power Project awarded to a US-based company, Vulcan Capital Management in November 2008 at the tune of N3.8bn to provide 30 Megawatts of electricity has been foot-dragging. The project would have been completed in December last year. At that time we read on the pages of the papers that the delay in importing the equipment for the IPP was due to site acquisition for the project, the process of acquiring Letters of Credit and conveyance of the equipment from US. Three years on, why is the project still at that stage? Is it that the Letter of Credit is not yet acquired?
Tell me a project that has economically impacted on the lives of the people of Sokoto State that is completed. None! Are you talking of the over-head bridge, which contract was awarded at the inception of the administration? This too has not seen the light of the day.
Today, the results of our children that sat for the West African Examination Council, WAEC in Sokoto state have not been released. You know the reason? Government promised to pay and it has woefully failed to do that. The rural roads that are being constructed are rather death traps because they are poorly executed. These roads go bad barely one or two months after they are constructed.
Rural electrification projects are also done poorly so much that when they go to commission them, they use generators to light up the place, which goes off when they leave the place. They have deceived so many communities. Go to those communities where the governor has gone to commission electricity projects and see if there is light there.
The governor shouts about workers’ welfare, isn’t it? Now, he is arguing with workers over a minimum wage of N18,000. This governor mortgages the future of these workers in the guise of providing vehicular loans, which runs in Millions but the same government cannot cushion the effects of the harsh conditions of these loans by paying the minimum wage. Take also the issue of State/local government Account. In Sokoto state, local government chairmen virtually have no say in the Federal Allocations to them. They are coerced into executing state government-conceived projects with the councils’ own money. But the state takes credit for it.
What does your blueprint look like for the overall development of Sokoto State and her people?
My blueprint is a Five-point Agenda. These are issues that will border on morality because our youths have totally been compromised, abused and bastardized and no society will develop when its youth are in moral comma. And so, decadence, delinquency is the in-thing in Sokoto brought by the inefficiency of this administration. This we must confront head-on to put it behind us as a reformatory measure.
Secondly, to achieve that successfully, you need an educational policy that will encompass the moral values and the academic so that at the end of the day, you will have an empowered youth, educationally and professionally. That is the only thing that will guarantee meaningful lives for our people.
The third thing is security. The unemployed youth that is characterized by decadence are themselves, hazards. The society will never be secured. So, you need moral upbringing and good education to achieve security. Where people are put on the path of professional pursuit, whatever is their capability is where you go.
Those who go for academic or intellectual capability or whatever, we will help them. The idea is for everybody to be employed. A society is an interdependent component. Much as you need a medical doctor, you also need a vulcanizer; much as you need a professor, you also need a
carpenter. An employed society is a secured society. Security is not something you can go and purchase or what you can achieve by mere declaration. You can only achieve it by attacking the root cause of insecurity. Fourth is Agriculture. Once people are empowered and educated, we can now standadised our agricultural practices and use every opportunity that exists in this world locally and internationally to boost our agricultural potentials. No society can ever have a successful agriculture without meaningful subsidy.
Finally, of the five- point agenda, we are thinking of trade and commerce. Those who are not engaged in Agriculture are commodity traders. Commodity traders need security and a good marketing environment. We shall encourage export businesses. If you go to these developed societies, we have fresh this, fresh that. They are all produced outside the consuming nations.