Wednesday, August 21, 2019 8:14 pm
Abubakar Ibrahim is an aspirant for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP ticket in the forthcoming Kogi State Governorship election. In this interview with Richard Elesho he speaks on his aspiration, parentage and agenda for the state.
Q: You are a new entrant into politics and you are in the Kogi State governorship race. Why did you not consider starting from a lower office?
A: Governorship yes. Over the years I have seen my state go down in terms of human capital and infrastructure development I mean here we are faced with a state where salaries are not regular. Some haven’t been paid ranging from 5 to 30 months, not to talk about the pensioners that have put in more than 35 years of their lives serving a state.
The educational system is in bad shape with arbitrary sack of teachers and lecturers in our institutions. The health and infrastructure are all going down the drift.
Should one just sit back and say this is how it’s meant to be? No. I believe somebody has to come in and effect that change. If that is the case I decided to offer my self in order to change the narrative and people a better life. When you throw your heart in the ring, you must go for a position where you can meet all these needs, and that’s why I am running for the governorship of this state.
My foray into politics is not about me. it’s about the people of Kogi State. It’s not a hunch or reflex action. It’s a product of deep reflections that took place over a long period of time. I have been worried about the pathetic turn of events in the state and the need to halt the drift. I am not going to be an accidental Governor
Q: Can you tell us in specific terms what you will do differently from the current administration?
A: First things first, salaries shouldn’t be an issue. Salaries should be paid frequently as and when due. It shouldn’t be something someone will be waking up to think about, “would I or would I not be paid this month ?” If you have worked for it, you have earned it, so it has to be paid. Part of the things i will do differently is to ensure that workers get a good welfare. I will also ensure that the educational sector gets a boost and a deserved attention. There is a saying that if you think education is expensive try ignorance. We don’t want to risk that. So you have to get the educational and health sectors back on track.
Of cause there are other sectors like job creation, youth and women empowerment, roads, agriculture and so on that need immediate attention. They will all be worked on and brought back to life and improved on.
My economic vision is built around agriculture and the vast solid mineral potentials of our State. The two are my areas of core competencies and I hope to bring that to bear. I have achievable plans which will be unwise to real out here. Salaries payment shouldn’t be a brainer. Under me Ir will certainly not be.
Q: They say politics is a dirty game. One wonders what other motives draw people like you into it ?
A: You see life is what you make of it, so also politics. If you want to make it dirty, you get what you want. It will be dirty. If you want to play by the rules, you can play by the rules. You know there are rules so why shouldn’t one play by the rules?
I really don’t believe that politics is a dirty game You know politics is everywhere. You play politics even in your house and in your day to day living or interaction. it’s how you look at politics that determines if it is clean or dirty. Besides, if we keep saying its dirty who says you can’t clean it up? If you say because its dirty you are going to stay off it then when the dirty politicians get into office you don’t have a say. But if you can come in and change the narratives I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t. There is no rule that says because everybody goes to one end you too have to follow.
Q: Talking about politics being dirty in term of violence, it is also costly and the amount of money involved. How prepared are you especially in the area of electoral violence?
A: It hurts to say this. But you can never be prepared in terms of violence because protection belongs to God. One thing you do know for sure is that the people own the mandate and they have seen that we are not getting anywhere under the present administration. Our state is headed for a wrong dieection and people are fed up with the situation of things. So if people are determined and you say you are going to use violence, how many people will you kill or maim? So with regards to violence, I believe it will be curtailed by the law enforcement agencies and the people. Right now I am certain our people are tired of the violence. Why don’t we give them jobs rather than guns? That is what we are bringing to the table.
Q: Your father is a former Governor who served two terms. There is an allegation you are his stooge and he is the one seeking a third term through your aspiration. Besides, there seems to be a great disorder in your family as many of your brothers are in different political camps. What do you say to these?
A: Ok let me start with the first question that my dad is trying to bring me through the back door. I have heard it many times that my dad is looking for a third term. Let me say categorically it is not true. My dad is not looking for any third term. But I, Abubakar Ibrahim is looking for a first term. Secondly our people are not that shallow minded not to distinguish between a father and a son or a daughter. We have different destinies. I conceived the aspiration of wanting to run for the election my self. I told my dad the way I told other stakeholders in the state. At my age, I am above 50 years. People are not being fair when they describe me as a stooge.
That my dad has been governor before shouldn’t mean I can’t be governor. I am a Nigerian and citizen of Kogi. I have the required educational and other qualifications to vote and be voted for. My political activities are now only legal, they are part of my foundermental human rights.
Now if you talk about creating political dynasty i am sure you have met families where the grandfather is a lawyer, father a lawyer and son also a lawyer, so too in the army, so too in politics.
In the advanced countries we look at the Bush family the senior Bush was the 42nd president of the United States and his son, George Bush jr was the governor of Texas. George Bush the 3rd was a Senator. After he left as president Bush jr became the 44th president of the US. Now in-between 42nd and 44th was just one president, Bill Clinton and his brother became the governor of Texas. Nobody looked at that as a dynasty. You look at the Gandhi, in India, the Kenyatta family in Kenya… coming to Nigeria we have the Saraki or the likes of Tinubu being a former governor and the wife being a senator. Until late, the governor of Abia state and the son being a speaker nobody saw anything wrong in that. Even now in Kogi we have a situation where two or three sons of former governor Audu are also contesting for governor; We also have two brothers including a former governor in the race. They are not accusing them of dynasty. Why is my own different? So why is Ibro so spectacular?
But let me tell you the truth about this. Nobody has ever found me wanting and so help me GOD, nobody will. I have not been found wanting even with my fellow human beings. Now people say my greatest problem is being IBRO’s son. If that is my crime I am proud of it. That is all about that on the dynasty issue.
Now back to my brother supporting another candidate. That is the beauty of politics. Nobody says you can’t have it anyway it’s really about choice, interest. Have you not seen a family where the husband is in a different political party than the wife? For example Sen. Ahmodu Ali was our former PDP National Chairman and his wife was in a different party. She even contested for senate in a different party. That didn’t stop them from being husband and wife. No. Also the late Abubakar Audu and his former wife contested for the governorship office in the 2011 governorship election. It’s really about interest.
Q: What are your concerns about the election?
A: All my concerns will be that it should be free and fair. At the end of it all, may the best man win
I want you to understand that it is not about Abubakar Ibrahim. it’s about KOGI STATE. My political activity is not about Ibro family. It’s about the Kogi people. It’s about getting our state back on track and improving standard of living of our people.
Q: If you don’t win the primary, will you accept defeat and be willing to work with the winner?
A: Yes, absolutely. Why not? it’s not a do or die. May the best man win as long as he is coming to improve the well being of our people. I don’t have any problem with that. I keep on telling people it is not about me. It’s about the people, the Kogi people, our people. Let the process be free, fair and let the people decide. I will be cool with the outcome.
Q: What advice do you have for the delegates?
A: My advice is that they should do the right thing. They should come out and vote according to their conscience. This is their time and it’s not about grumbling. it’s about exerting their right to elect the right leadership that can meet the yearning and aspirations of our people. They should come out in their it numbers and vote.
Q: In one word, how will you describe the current government in Kogi State?
A: Pathetic. That is what it is in one word. It’s pathetic.