Mallam Dauda Lawal was born on 2 September 1965 in Gusau, Zamfara state. He bagged a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.Hons) Political Science from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1987 and earned a Master of Science (M. SC.) in Political Science/International Relations from the same university in 1992. Until September 2017, he was Executive Director, Public Sector Group, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, a bank he joined as a manager in 2003. He spoke on his governorship bid in an interactive session with the media recently.
You have been a member of APC for just a few months and you want to become governor, leaving behind the people who have labored to build the party in the past years. Why should the APC give you a ticket and not any one of their long term members?
After I retired from banking, I set up my own business and was happily pursuing it until I started getting calls from delegates, traditional rulers, youth and women representatives, representatives from people with disabilities and religious groups including members of the APC, asking me to come and serve the people of Zamfara. The reason for the clamour is simple; from the first day I started earning money, a part of it has always been put into the service of Zamfara people. I helped make hospitals better; I have built classrooms and provided a conducive atmosphere for learning. I have built even roads in Zamfara. So, people were of the opinion that if as a private citizen I can do all of that, then it means that as a Governor, I would do even better.
To be honest with you, for a very long time, I resisted their calls because you all know how politics can be. I am not a professional politician, but a private sector person, but in the end, I looked at the situation of my people, and essentially needed to answer these calls so that we can collectively work to build a better state. Many of those that called me to serve are long term members of the APC for so many years, so they know what they saw in me. However, this is not to dismiss the importance and contributions of dedicated party members. I believe this is a joint effort and this is something that we will succeed at, collectively. In the end, whether I joined APC early or late, the purpose of politics is development and progress and I am very glad that so many people think I have what it takes to deliver.
Why did you choose APC?
First of all, President Muhammadu Buhari continues to be an inspiration. Our President is passionate about Nigeria and its teeming poor. Despite coming into office during very challenging times, he is steadily steering the affairs of Nigeria in a direction that will ensure we have a better future. For the poor, for example, programs like N-Power and TraderMoni are lifting people out of poverty and allowing them to become self-sustaining. Look at our progress in agriculture for example.
He is setting a solid foundation and I am confident, working together to ensure he returns for a second time will put my state with a better chance of beginning to journey back to security, safety and prosperity. In short, I decided to join APC because I looked at all the parties and I felt that of all of them, APC aligned best with my passion for service and since my decision to run is not about party politics but service politics. APC focuses a lot on the people, and that is my passion. Therefore, there could only be one choice for me — the APC.
What is your relationship with the current governor of Zamfara, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari? I know him very well and we have a decent relationship. But it is important we look forward to the future. The issues facing Zamfara are huge. We need a candidate that has the requisite skills, knowledge and service orientation to rescue Zamfara from the precipice. Give the children and citizens a shot at a better and decent future in which they won’t be in a perpetual cycle of poverty and insecurity. We want to become the leading state in Nigeria. With the resources at our disposal, this is not a pipe dream but it does require proper planning and the harnessing of all that we have by a leader whose first and only reason for seeking office is service to his people. I am that leader.
What do you feel about the current Commissioner of Finance anointed to become the next Governor by the current administration?
Just like his boss, I know him well and he is a young man. But again the focus is now on Zamfara people and their future. It is about providing leadership and service to a community on the verge of total destruction. My track record for service to the people of Zamfara, even when I was a private citizen, speaks for itself.
What are you most passionate about in Zamfara?
Security is my first priority. Without security, every other aspect of our lives cannot fall into place. The insecurity in Zamfara today is fueled by poverty, under-development and a general feeling of hopelessness. A large chunk of the crime in our community is perpetuated by us and by that I mean our people, our children. We are the perpetrators, we are the victims. A community this ravaged cannot survive, so we need clear plans and policies for reversing all of the ills in our community and giving our people better options. We will work in collaboration with the Federal Government to ensure Zamfara State is given high priority in matters concerning security while educating our communities and providing them with the learning and skills they need to lift themselves out of poverty.
What is your economic blueprint for the state?
Part of the challenge here is to bring back those good glories in terms of reviving the textile industry, if we are able to revive the textile industry which used to be the largest employer of labor in the state and there will be a value change in that regard because if the textile industry is working the ginneries will also be functioning. We have about 10 to 15 ginneries in Gusau which are idle now because the textile is not functional. So you can imagine if the textile industry is functioning it means all those 15 ginneries and more will be functional and that will provide employment for the people as well as revenue for the government.
Not only that, looking at the value chain there, even petty traders in terms of people that sell food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, will also benefit which will increase business activities and there will be money in circulation. The transporters will be transporting finished goods from Gusau to other parts of the country. We used to do that, taking finished goods from Gusau all the way to Lagos, Kaduna, Funtua as well as Kano. You can imagine if the textile industry is functioning, the Gusau oil mill will come back to production and that is another area that will provide employment and engage people.
So there will be business activities which will take people’s minds away from crime. So what we are trying to do is bring back those values to engage people to do what is right. I told you Gusau used to be the second largest commercial city in the North outside Kano and it is not impossible to go back to those days. All the state needs is a leader that will direct them rightly, then you can imagine where their destination will be.
How will you engage the people in Zamfara if you are given the mandate of Governor?
To start with, we will take responsibility, we will serve and we will work with everyone closely. These three things are important if we are to deal with the enormous challenges facing the state. Things are so bad that if care is not taken, soon our communities will not be habitable. We won’t be able to live, literally in Zamfara. So it is time for us to come together, work together to salvage our state.
You have spoken passionately about the youths of the state. What role will they play in your government if you are elected as the next Governor?
Those who made me seek for this (governorship) office are the youths because they have seen my modest contributions to the society, most especially in the area of education. So they are at the forefront in trying to convince me to go into this process of politics. So I am doing everything to carry these youths along because they are the future of Nigeria as well as Zamfara state.
Zamfara State is blessed with a lot of natural resources but activities of illegal miners are also prevalent in the state. How do you hope to tackle this?
You know by law, the Federal Government is in charge of mining. Our starting point will be engaging with the Federal Government to see how we can work together to take care of the resources buried under our soil. The sort of engagement that will create viable industries in Zamfara, create employment at wealth without damaging the environment and polluting it. We remain a largely agrarian community, agriculture is important and you know I am sure that food security is critical particularly in helping to mitigate conflict and violence. So yes, we will work closely with the Federal Government to bring in credible investors, domestic and international to sustainably exploit our resources but we will do it responsible. My promise to the people of Zamfara is that if they trust me and give me this mandate, I will in four years, turn around the fortune of this state, insha Allah. There will be a solid foundation laid for growth, for development for peace.
What is your agenda for the women of the state?
What we are doing right now is to make sure all women are part of the activities we are doing and want to do ranging from education sector and not just that, even in terms of small and medium business enterprise, we will empower women. It is an agrarian economy that has served Zamfara and there are so many things you do within that sector that can empower them. At the local level, even people that sell akara need little capital, or people who make local soap and so on, they are people who must be empowered. Women are very prudent when it comes to business, one can rely 100 percent on women, so in everything we are doing definitely the women are part of it, we are mindful of their contributions to the society.
What if you don’t get the ticket?
I will work with whoever gets the ticket to ensure victory for our party in the Governorship and Presidential elections and even beyond the elections. This goes beyond one person and his desire to serve even if that person is me.