By Bashir Bello & Abdulmumin Murtala
Former Governor of Kano State and incumbent senator representing Kano Central,
Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, in this encounter, spoke on why Nigerians cannot
have the desired change they want to see.
This was as he said Nigerians are not doing the right thing to elect the right leaders from the ward level to the top to bring about the leadership that would change the narrative of the nation.
The Senator also said ahead of the 2023 general elections, common sense should prevail on the choice of who becomes the President as quality leadership should be the watchword.
The Senator while reeling out his achievement in the last one and half year in the National Assembly, said his top priority is human development and social justice, which centers around empowerment of citizens especially downtrodden, improved education, health, portable water, and roads among others.
Way out of Nigeria’s leadership challenges
There is one challenge I refer people to, it is when they understand it that they will comprehend the reality. Presently, it is being said that we are up to 200 million in population as Nigerians.
Is that correct? But do you know that all of the elected people in Nigeria, councillors, chairmen, state assembly members, governors, deputy governors, senators House of Reps members are only 11,000 in number? Now, there are 84 million voters in Nigeria and they are not able to produce 11,000 capable representatives. We are not talking about 200 million but 84 million eligible voters but you cannot vote 11,000 Representatives that you will comfortably go back home and sleep.
Let me give you a very quick prescription. Each and every one of you here belong to a ward. What interest have you shown to elect the right councillor in your ward? What role did you play to make sure you vote the right chairman in your local government?
What role did you play to make sure you get the right assembly member? What role did you play to make sure you get the right governor, Senator, House of Reps member and President? Everybody is talking of only 37 people, we kill ourselves because of those 37 people, 36 governors and the President. If you take out 36 persons out of 11,000 what will remain? We have 469 National Assembly members to checkmate just one person, Mr President. Don’t ask me how it will be done, but we are 469 and we have had times when Presidents did as they wished.
If 469 of us fall on the same page even if the president is a devil he will have no choice but to do as we wish. So the ball is in our court.
So, for you who wants a road or a school in your community, ask yourselves the role you have played in electing your representatives. The solution lies in all of us becoming politically conscious.
We talk about the North and whenever we do we make reference to late Sardauna.
Yes, they had done their bits. Sardauna, if you like, was the governor of the entire North now having 19 governors. We are now having 19 Sardaunas. In the past, Sardauna covered all of the North. He would work in Bida, in Adamawa, in Ilorin, in Kebbi, in Sokoto in Taraba and all the jurisdiction of his government.
Today, the Kano state government is not concerned about what is happening in Jigawa. And Jigawa is not aware of what is happening in Kano. Kebbi is not aware of what is happening in Sokoto and Sokoto is not aware of what is happening in Kebbi. Kwara has nothing to do with Kogi and Plateau has nothing to do with Benue.
Every state is now on its own in the 19 states of the North. Tell me, how will one voice emerge from the North? There has to be leadership.
For instance, late Yusuf Maitama, if he spent the whole day talking, a man from Bauchi would not feel concerned because he saw him as being from Kano, whereas when he was minister his responsibilities covered the whole North. So, my vision is that until and unless we share common goals we will never get anywhere.
On 2023 and zoning
To the best of my knowledge, there is nowhere in the constitution of the All Progressives Congress, APC, where the issue of rotational presidency is mentioned.
As far as APC is concerned there is no provision but it is there in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The PDP constitution says the presidency will rotate between North and South. But the APC constitution does not have such clause. It is left open.
However, I always say that there is the constitution of common sense. People have to reason. Let me give you a good example. The issue of six geopolitical zones is not written anywhere in the constitution of Nigeria. But today in Nigeria there is nothing you will do without considering zoning because people will say you are mad. It is not there in the constitution, it is common sense and discussion.
Let me give you another example. It is not written in the constitution either that if today I become a presidential candidate, my running mate must come from the South. But if today I become a presidential candidate and I announce that my running mate is from Bauchi, wouldn’t you say I am mad? Because of this, I always believe the guiding principle is fairness and justice for all among all our diversities.
There has to be balance. I always use the word ‘balance the equation,’ maybe because I am a Mathematics teacher. In balancing the equation you try to take interest of every sector not just one person. Make sure justice is done.
My belief is that there is no one state in Nigeria that you do not have hundreds of qualified presidential candidates. There is no state in Nigeria today that you do not have hundreds of capable persons that can lead Nigeria.
If you kill yourselves because it has to be your townsman or it has to be your tribesman or it has to be your religion’s man, what value has that added to your life? Obasanjo was president, did that change the life of the Ogun state person? Jonathan was president, did that change the life of the Otuoke person? Now Buhari is President, did that change the life of the Katsina person? No! So why do we kill ourselves that it has to be my tribesman or religion?
So, all we are saying is: Who is it not where is he from? It is the responsibility of you and me to canvass for who it is and we look at antecedents.
His relationship with Ganduje, Kwankwaso
My relationship with Governor Abdullahi Ganduje has been very cordial. As a former governor, as a former public officer, I knew Ganduje long before he became governor or I became governor.
I was a permanent secretary in the government when Ganduje was a commissioner under the military administration, at the heart of government at the Cabinet Office.
There was no commissioner in that government that I was not interacting with. The Cabinet Office is the engine room because every ministry had the Cabinet Office as its melting point. So I had interacted with him in that capacity, we knew ourselves.
Now, he is a governor and I am a former governor and a serving legislator of the government of APC, we interact very well. During the campaigns, didn’t you see us? There was nowhere he went to that I did not go.
You may not be seeing us regularly now because you sent me to Abuja and I am busy representing our people there. In short, my relationship with Ganduje has been very cordial.
The same thing applies to Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; we are in good relationship. Our political differences have not, and will not affect our relationship. I have never defected from one party to another because of him.
When I was in APC, Kwankwaso joined the party and then, I left, not because of him but because of the leadership of the party. The same thing when I was in PDP; I later left, not because he joined the party.
I spent N6.6bn for construction of water processing facility, first in West Africa
Every government has its own priority. When I was governor, I spent N6.6b to build the largest water processing facility in West Africa here in Kano. Another governor would spend money building flyovers, that was his priority. None of us was wrong because at that material time, that was what he sees as the need of the society.
There are representatives of the people from all nooks and crannies of the country. It is their duty to tell the government what their problems are.