Barrister Mukhtari Shehu Shagari has in the past served as Commissioner of Justice in Sokoto State; Minister of Water Resources during the Obasanjo administration and was as deputy governor of Sokoto State for the two terms of the Aliyu Wamakko administration. He has severally contested aspired to be governor of the state and has again set machinery in motion to vie for the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP ahead of the 2019 General Election.
In this exclusive interview with Vanguard, he explains why he should be governor of Sokoto State and how PDP could avoid the past mistakes to win the General Election at all levels. Excerpts:
By Abdallah el-Kurebe
What is your motivation for again declaring to contest the governorship election?
First and foremost, I joined politics because I believe it is the right vehicle to serve my people, my state, my country and also humanity. My motivation is service. I have had the opportunity to serve this state and the country and I did that to the best of my ability. Through that period of service, I did my best and creditably discharged the responsibility given to me. I have garnered experience as a magistrate, as a state counsel, as a private legal practitioner, as a board member, as a Commissioner of Justice of Sokoto State and as a minister, twice in this country. At that time for two years, I was the President of African Ministers Council on Water.
I was also deputy governor for a period of eight years. I am the only person that has this kind of record to have served as deputy governor for eight years in the state. So, I believe I have the experience to give my best as Chief Executive. So, my motivation is service. I want the best for my own people, my state and my country.
During your declaration, you advised your party to be just and not to impose any candidate on the people. Was that in reference to 2015 when the advent of a candidate was perceived to have been imposed on party supporters?
Right from 2007 and even before that, our party, the PDP had been accused of imposing candidates. Principally, it cost us the election in 2015 and we have now told Nigerians that we rebranded and we are rebranding and we are a new political party.
The best way to choose a candidate is either through consensus or through the ballot. So, imposing a candidate will definitely affect the fortunes of our party. I am only advising.
You have contested this position severally. Why should the people of Sokoto State elect you this time around and how differently would you govern the state?
My desire is to serve this state to the best of my ability. I will run an open government. The resources meant for this state will be made public. People will know how much has come in and how much is being spent and how it is being spent. I believe that to create employment anywhere, you have to encourage companies and other investors to come and invest in the diverse business opportunities that abound in the state.
I will look at the critical sectors and ensure that I actually make the difference. Sectors like education, healthcare delivery, infrastructure, civil service, youths and women development, social welfare, and many other sectors, will be touched.
What is your reaction to the complaint that most leaders of the PDP only visit Sokoto at long intervals or during electioneering?
Well, I must say that this insinuation is a political mischief. There is misunderstanding and misinformation on what politics is all about. Politics is and should not be a permanent business. It is a temporary business and even the power you derive from politics is temporary.
When a particular party wins election, if it is not your party, you have now become an opposition. What is expected of you is that apart from politics, you should have some other business you are doing. Unfortunately for politicians, people expect that you must always be there with bags of money to share.
Politics should be about service. Once you are defeated at an election, you are expected to move on with your life until another time. You can visit home periodically. You must have to enhance your political fortunes before you can help others. There is no point staying back if you have businesses to do elsewhere through which you can garner some resources to help people.
Do you think the level of Federal Government’s attention to the state has been as much as it should be?
The people of Sokoto State voted the APC at the state and federal levels based on certain promises. It is up to the people to decide for themselves whether those promises have been fulfilled or not. As far as I am concerned I have a lot of things in stock for the state and if given the opportunity, I will definitely deliver.
How differently should the PDP behave this time around in order to win Sokoto State?
There should be fairness and justice. Aspirants should be given level-playing fields to showcase their potentials. The party must be talking about the real issues – issues of infrastructure, insecurity, poverty, failed promises, etc – not abuses.