By Bilesanmi Olalekan
Senator Ibrahim Hassan Hadejia is the immediate past deputy governor of Jigawa State. Hadeija is one of the first-time senators elected to the National Assembly to represent Jigawa North-East.
He is the deputy chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Account. The senator, in this interview, speaks, among other issues, on his time in Jigawa Government House.
You have worked with two governors in eleven years. If given the opportunity again, who would you wish to work with again among the two governors?
You are talking about management style of these two distinguished personalities and which one suits me the most while I worked with them? Well, former Governor Saminu Turaki gave me the opportunity to serve my state for the period I served with him as deputy.
I became deputy to Saminu in 2001, that is, completing the remainder of his first term and then fully completed the second term with him. I returned as deputy to Badaru. I completed a full term with him, making it a full two terms mandatory as enshrine in the Constitution. However, I think Turaki is not strong on processes and procedures of doing things. He is not that thorough.
I was the third deputy to work with him within one and a half years. For Muhammad Badaru, his administration was completely different. He is performance-driven. It was fantastic working with him. I think that is the difference between those in the private sector who find themselves in public service.
The orientation is different and delivery, certainly, will be different, too. That is exactly what happened in the case of Badaru. If not for constitutional limit, if given the same opportunity within the same circumstance, I will gladly serve Badaru again as deputy. There is no definite constitutional role provided for the deputy, so, it is important you to know your principal well enough before getting into office so that you can have mutual respect for each other and personal relationship.
It is that personal touch that would sustain both of you till the end of the term. A friend who was a deputy governor in Bauchi once sought my opinion on how he could manage his boss then. The governor wanted to give him the education portfolio. I told him that beyond the portfolio, the important thing was to enjoy the confidence of his boss. Once the two of you are on the same page, there won’t be friction. You don’t need portfolio to function properly. Your functionality depends on your principal.
I also told him if you and your principal were in different camps prior to the primary leading to the actual election, there is bound to be suspicion even when the two of you are now working together. So you must do everything that makes him trust you. Badaru and I were together from the inception till he picked the nomination ticket of our party. He was even ready to support me to become the party’s candidate. That is how close we were. I enjoyed working with Badaru as his deputy.
In fact, I wouldn’t mind, if not for constitutional limit, to return as deputy than come to the Senate.
Until you became deputy governor in 2001, little was known about you. How did you get into politics?
I was never in politics until I became the state attorney general. As a matter of fact, I was not interested in politics until Saminu dragged me into partisan politics. I was into banking in Lagos when my name was mentioned to Saminu to be the state attorney general. I was not really keen on being in government which was why we had to meet severally before I could agree to come over to Jigawa. Even at that, when my name was mentioned at the State House of Assembly for clearance, I didn’t go because I never discussed with Saminu that I had accepted. He even had to call my father to prevail on me to accept the appointment. Meanwhile, he had travelled out of the country when the House mentioned my name to come for clearance. I didn’t go until he returned from his trip, and we discussed before I went to the House. It is not as if politics is bad, it is the practitioner that makes it bad. I have always been a private person.
How true is the claim that your rich background contributes to your disposition about politics
Well, partly true. But that does not mean I am not a man of my own. My father made a name for himself. I am also making my own now. My lack of desperation, as you rightly pointed out, is due to my pedigree. But more than that, it also depends on you as a person. You don’t need to have a pedigree to be decent and honourable. Yes, my father may be comfortable, but that does not mean one should not chart his own course. When I left government in 2007, I was quite busy all through till I returned to government in 2015. I am a certified security consultant. I made quite a chunk at that time.
It is like you are gradually climbing into national prominence through the Senate. After the Senate, what is the next for you?
The answer to that question is with God. Only He can determine the fate of anybody. That said, I must add that I never planned wherever I found myself in life. All where I have found myself was not planned. If you check my trajectory, you would see that events just happened. I never imagined I would come this far. And that’s because plans for the next place I would be are never a planned work. It’s God that directs me. And that is why I don’t consider any position a life and death matter, never. It is not about if I don’t get it, the world would crash. No, I am not cultured that way. If I don’t get it, I move on. Desperation is not in my dictionary. I have never felt level of desperation for any position.
Politicians are known to promise all sorts of things even when they know that such promises are not realisable.
(Cuts in) I am not that kind of person. I am one of those who have capital no in their dictionary. I have never promised what I cannot deliver. Those who are close to me know that the moment I tell you I am doing something, I will definitely do it. Once I am able to accept your invite and time is 10, know that I will be there exactly that time. That is why some people have stopped inviting me to functions because they know I don’t play with time.
That is why I tell people that my job is to make laws, laws that would be beneficial to my people and everyone. I don’t have executive powers; however, whatever projects from the federal government that I can bring to my people, I will do everything to ensure they get to my immediate community.
You have been in active politics for roughly 20 years. What, for you, is the sore point since democracy was ushered in 1999?
I think the sore point in politics for me would be the way we practice internal democracy. It leaves much to be desired. How candidates emerge is very important, it is even more important than on the day of the actual election. And this awkward process, in my view, has discouraged quite a sizable number of good people from participating in politics.
In most cases, it is most of the time selection at the primary instead of election. That is why even after election, the tribunal, Court of Appeal and even Supreme Court is still adjudicating about pre- election matters. That is one of the reasons I support electronic voting. Pre-2003, there was no election, they were just writing results. Results were just being written and they announce.
But I think we are evolving. We are not where we used to be in 2003. And because the process is improving by every election cycle, the calibre of contestants has also improved. You know during the last election, the number of voters that came out to vote for Badaru during the governorship election, even when it was postponed twice, was far more than the presidential election. I think party managers must change their perceptive about internal democracy. That is the first thing we must improve upon. Without internal democracy, there would continue to be more election matters at the tribunal.
Former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, once admonished people not to marry than what their income can cater for and provide education for the children. What is an elite like you doing to ensure that this message sinks?
I think the word there should be affordability. Followers just do what comes to them their mind, no matter what you say. I know a cook that has 4 wives and 15 children. How he wriggles out of it I don’t know. That is why you have a lot of almajirai on the streets because there is no capability to take care of the children. They procreate without the economic wherewithal to bring up the children and even empower the wives.
I have always had passion for women education even before I came to the Senate. Once you are educated, your mind is liberated, you think better. So even if you end up being a second or third wife, with your education, you are able to look for job or go into business or trading. And this brings me to the issue of drug abuse which, of course, results to violence in the home. Our youths, not all, these days are into drugs. They consume all manner of drugs. And that is why you have violence in terms of beating their wives in such homes.