YOU have been in government for quite some time. You rose to what one can describe as the peak of governance as the Secretary to the State Government in Bauchi State and now you are aspiring to be the governor of the state. What is it that you could not do as SSG that you think you can do as governor?
First of all, being an SSG is different from been a governor; as SSG, you are answerable to the governor, you are under his directives. You know it is different from being the governor of the state.
You served as SSG during the administration of former Governor Adamu Muazu. He has now moved to the APC from the PDP, why didn’t you move with him? Why are you still in the opposition?
Does it mean that because he is my former boss, whatever he does I must also do? I don’t have independence of my own? This is a project that we started three years ago; we have focus to do what we want to do, we want to bring change in Bauchi State, and hopefully, eventually to the whole country. The name of our party is New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP); that new Nigeria is key. So, it doesn’t apply to Bauchi only, but we said for 2019 we are going to focus only on Bauchi. If we are able to win, we are going to transform the state and then other states will see what we have done. We want to make Bauchi State a model for other states to copy, so that by 2023 you will see this same party in other states and eventually one day, this party will take over the country. This is the vision that we have. So, the fact that Muazu has moved to APC, though I don’t know; he has not told me, it doesn’t mean that I am going to move with him. I am Shuaibu Ahmed; he is Ahmed Muazu, so we are two independent-minded people.
What would you say are your cardinal programmes for the state?
First of all, like I have always said, one of the key issues with our state and our country is the issue of corruption; there can never be development as long as we don’t address the issue of corruption in this country. It is the resources that you are supposed to use for development that are being stolen into private pockets. So, the first cardinal point that we want to address is the issue of corruption in Bauchi. As I have mentioned several times, in over four years, there has not been any meaningful development in Bauchi, and a lot of people who visited other states, neighbouring states like Plateau and Jigawa, see what is happening there. There hasn’t been any development in Bauchi State and it is likely because of the corrupt practice that is endemic in the public service of the state. So, we need to address that. The next issue is the issue of poverty alleviation. As I have always mentioned, Bauchi State today is ranked at the bottom three in the poverty ranking in the country. We need to deal with that. The issue of poverty, we need to create employment for our youth; you know. We need to provide means of livelihood so that people don’t go hungry in our state; that is key. And in dealing with poverty, the issue about women and youth empowerment comes into play, because you can’t address poverty if you don’t tackle or create an avenue for the youth and women to get economically empowered. As I have mentioned, one of the key areas we want to focus on is agriculture, because we have vast land and water resources in Bauchi State that aree untapped, less than 30 per cent is been utilised. We need to focus on that, create the enabling environment for people to engage in farming.
Some people have said that you are riding on the integrity and honesty of your late father to seek power. How true is this?
It is one thing to say yes, my father has been acknowledged as one of the honest people that Bauchi State has produced. Yes, I am part of that but I have exhibited on my own, this same sense of honesty and integrity, over the last couple of years that I have been in public service.
I started my public service career as a Special Assistant to the governor; I became a Special Adviser and then served as a commissioner for many years before I became Secretary to the State Government. Throughout that period of service, nobody has accused me of stealing one kobo of public funds.
After that, I became an ambassador, the first ambassador of Nigeria in the State of Qatar and again I finished it without my integrity being brought into question. So, yes, I am proud of the legacy of my father, but I think I have also proved myself to be a worthy son by also following his footsteps.
The Bauchi State governor has repeatedly lamented the fact that there are no funds available for him to develop the state and that this factor accounts for the lack of development in the state. If you are elected, how will you raise money for all the things that you have mentioned?
Well, first of all, I think it is false; it’s not true that there are no funds to develop the state. If that is true, then why are we seeing development in Jigawa or even in crisis-ridden states like Borno and Yobe? Why is it so? Eh? Some of the allocations that these states are receiving; Bauchi State even gets higher than them and we are seeing development there. He has earned almost N300 billion since he became the governor, what has he done with the money? So it’s not true when he says that he is not performing because there are no funds; it’s clearly false.
He said that the wage bill takes chunk of the money…
Is it only Bauchi State that has the wage bill? How much is our wage bill? Go to Kano, how much is Kano’s wage bill? How much is it, compared to what is obtainable here in Bauchi? I am telling you it is not true; what he is saying. And if the wage bill is huge, what has he done about it? There are so many ways of getting revenue, what has he done about it? Governance is about performance. So, before you become a governor; that is why you need to plan. You cannot say you want to become governor of Bauchi State and you will become the governor and then you start bringing excuses and lamentations that you are not performing because of this or because of that. That should not be the case; you need to plan ahead, you need to think. I have my ways of sourcing funds; I don’t want to tell you now because if I do that, then my opponents will know the direction we are going. But I am telling you, there are a lot of ways you can raise money here in Bauchi State.
Do you have confidence in the ability of INEC to conduct a free and fair 2019 general election, especially in Bauchi State?
I don’t have full confidence; I have always said that the only way that the governor will win election in Bauchi is by rigging. I don’t see how he can win in a free and fair election and I have already started seeing him taking actions that clearly show to me that there will be no free and fair elections. Some days ago, the INEC office in Ningi, which is my local government, was cordoned off; the roof was removed in the name of trying to renovate the office, which was not true. Four years after election, you did not think about renovating the office. What do they want to do? They just want to move the INEC office to the police barracks where people cannot have access to. We have heard this story that this is what they are planning to do; even in Bauchi town, that they want to move the INEC office or the collation centre to Army Barracks or Police Barracks as the case may be, and they have started, I have pictures of what they did in Ningi, okay? They have police men guarding the place, they don’t allow people to go near it or even take pictures, but I managed to get pictures of that building yesterday. They have removed the roof, they removed everything; there is no way you can say or you can tell me you are going to put that place back within three weeks. The next thing you are going to do is to move the collation centre or the INEC office to the barracks. So, these are the kind of things that we will not accept, we are going to write a petition both to the INEC chairman in Abuja and the REC in Bauchi, telling him what is happening in Bauchi and to really tell the people of Bauchi that this is what is happening. That we need to stand up; we need to stand up seriously. It is their right, it is their chance to bring positive change to their state and they should not allow it to just go off like that. So, we are going to mobilise people to really stand up and guard their votes.
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