By Levinus Nwabughiogu
Governor-Elect of Katsina State, Rt. Hon. Aminu Bello Masari, a former speaker of the House of Representatives in this interview gives an insight into what the people of Katsina should expect from his administration. Excerpts:
My experience as opposition politician
It is really an experience for somebody to contest election in a party that is in the opposition, especially because of the way we see opposition in this country. I believe that the opposition should partner in the development of the democratic process in a country.
Unfortunately, in some quarters, people in opposition party are seen as enemies and not as partners. So, my experience, since I joined the opposition in 2009, is that for you to be in the opposition, you have to be very patient, persevere and also to be steadfast.
Once you have an idea which you believe in, you should remain constant and consistent and in the end, God will definitely be with you in terms of succeeding. So, my experience has really been mixed in the sense that the ordinary person wants change all the time, but the powers-that-be always want to maintain status quo. The worst situation is the lack of level playing ground. But we have seen how the simple introduction of card reader made it almost impossible to inflate votes, and this has made a little difference. Really, with the right leadership in the right place at the right time, Nigeria will get it right.
What to expect from me as the Governor of Katsina State
If you passed through our campaign office, we said our project is Restoration 2015 for Katsina. What are we restoring? Traditionally, Katsina is known for investment and producing highly educated and technically sound people. So, our main area, our first target, second target and third target is education because today in Katsina, the public schools, based on last year’s performance in WAEC, we could not get three percent. If you take the entire Katsina indigenes, whether they live in Lagos, Abuja or anywhere outside the state, 45,800 of them sat for WAEC and only 4,500 of them got five credits and above in Katsina where the first middle school in Northern Nigeria was established.
In Katsina where the first generation, second generation and third generation including the President-Elect were products of the Katsina Native Education Authority.
We were the first to open an education account in the UK for the training of our people. But today from 1999 to 2014, we have presented over 255,000 students for WAEC. What did we get out of that? Only 32,000 of them got five credits and above in 15 years.
Teachers and classrooms
During my campaign, I was able to travel to all the local government areas in the state. We have 34 local governments, I slept in 27 and in each local government and I made sure that I did not follow the tarred road. What did we see?
60 percent of our primary schools have either their roofs blown off of or the windows are down or the doors are down or no floor. On the average. A classroom is housing about 97 children. What are we talking about? There is a district that the District Head told me that in the whole of the district, only one child has gone to senior secondary school. The rest dropped out because there are no teachers, no classrooms. It is a terrible situation. There was a time we presented over 17,000 students for WAEC and all we could get was only 370 who passed. We cannot continue like this.
Your relationship with other contestants
We have done very well and have already passed that stage. Nine of us contested the primary and all of us worked for the success of APC in Katsina state. The preparation for the Presidential and National Assembly election, as well as the governorship election, , each of us was involved and they all brought in materials and their physical presence into the project.
Even though APC was announced as the winner of the election in the state, the other parties are from Katsina and we will offer a hand of fellowship to them too. We are going to be magnanimous, we are going to be leaders. We are going to provide leadership and not rulership.
We have no problem in carrying along anybody who has the interest of the people of Katsina at heart. Our key word here is the people and not about skyscrapers. It is not about a road that will not go anywhere, but to develop the people and the people will develop the land.
Our expectation from the president-elect, General Mohammadu Buhari
We are not meeting with Buhari on the platform of the political party alone. We have a long standing relationship and now, we have a political relationship. That Buhari is from Katsina State for us, is a plus and that plus depends on how we manage it.
We want Buhari to be a Nigerian leader. We don’t want Buhari to be a regional, zonal or provincial leader. We want him to be a Nigerian leader that will leave a legacy of positive contribution to this country and that is the basis on which people elected him.
So, we will help him to maintain and improve on those qualities that the people of Nigeria see in him. We will never do anything that will tarnish his image, his reputation or his standing internationally and nationally. When we go somewhere and say I am from Katsina, we want the doors to be open. So for us, it is a plus.
What my new position means to me
If you know me well, I am a normal person. I don’t look at things in such a way that it will carry my mind off the direction.
We have promised, we have pledged and we have prayed that God will give us the opportunity to restore the honour, dignity, prestige and integrity of the people of Katsina state and this is what we are going to work for, we see it as a challenge. I am not here not make a new name.
As Speaker, I was given presidential treatment anywhere I went in the country. I am here because we believe that without executive power, you cannot make any meaningful contribution to development in this country at this point in time.
That is why I have decided to come back home and see how I can repay the debt because I am a product of public institution. So, I cannot be there and watch the public institutions where 99 percent of our people started from crumble. If you are having 20 percent pass from Katsina State, where will Katsina be in 20 years time? It means we will be nowhere in the scheme of things in Nigeria.
There are some states in Nigeria that if they stop going to school, it will take us 30 years in Katsina to catch up with them.