Alhaji Umar Mustapha, an APC gubernatorial aspirant in Adamawa state come 2023, in this interview with MUAZU ABARI, speaks on his gubernatorial ambition, why he plans to send Governor Umar Fintiri into political oblivion and demolish bridges and flyovers constructed by the incumbent governor, if elected governor in 2023.
You obtained APC nomination form to contest for governor but we hear that some of you will soon step down for a consensus candidate. How true is this and who is the candidate?
I obtained my nomination form because it has become incumbent on every contestant to pick his form which is an indication that you are interested in vying for certain political office. Anybody who did not pick the form does not automatically qualify to contest for that office but it is a contestant who has the required followership to win election that people will either be happy or angry with if he picked or refused to pick the form. So the fact that people are jubilating that I picked the form is the beginning of APC journey to Government House, Yola because they know that I will scale through the primaries and end Fintiri’s four years of wasted leadership by defeating him in the general elections and burying him politically in Adamawa politics. On the issue of consensus raised by a former gubernatorial aspirant, I want to say that he has the constitutional right to change position or decide to even contest or not. But the simple fact that he alone stepped down because, may be, he felt he is better to go for the senate. That is his own problem and it doesn’t mean others will follow him. So he should be mindful of his words and realise that he cannot put words into other people’s mouth. He may have stepped down because he felt there is someone better than him or because someone promised him something or, may be, he could not afford the form. We don’t even want to know his reason but that doesn’t mean we will do the same.
All the five contestants are willing to go into primaries. There may be more others along the line, so I’m not aware of any consensus talk. I have not been contacted neither has any of the contestants because we are in touch with each other and we have all put our feet on ground that there is no consensus. If I may ask, consensus for who? The person we are conceding to, what has he done better than us? What has he got to tell the people of Adamawa state that we have not told them? Nobody among us is even thinking about it, all what we know is that we are going into primaries and the party has assured us of free and fair election where delegates will decide. So it is just a figment of his imagination.
Are you not bothered that the issue of consensus if not properly handled may mar Nigeria’s democracy?
Normally, policies are put together for the benefit of humanity but there are those who will manipulate the weaknesses of the policy to advance their selfish interests. Consensus, ordinarily, is not bad but it’s something we should uphold because it is an indication that we have a common goal and found among us a better person to put forward. A consensus candidate is someone you feel is better than you, therefore, you are conceding to him to be your leader. But the reverse is the case here. You will see three or four people sitting down in the comfort of their houses to impose one person of their interest and impose him on others. We are in 21st century and we have all gone to school and acquired knowledge and we also mixed up in society and acquired experience. We cannot be dictated to at this level of our lives. It is either we do the right thing or we don’t do it at all. Nobody will fix us into becoming slaves. Mind you, slavery has been abolished, even if slavery is functioning, black cannot enslave black in the 21st century.
We are not slaves to anybody, we are not going to concede to anybody’s interest. APC is our life and our party, we have spent our resources, invested our time, energies for this party and have done so much to bring this party to where it is today. We will fight to the bitter end to ensure that the right thing is done and for the right candidate to emerge and if anybody emerges in a free, fair and credible primary, we will all support him and the party to victory but the issue of one or two individuals coming together to impose a candidate on us in the name of consensus will not work in Adamawa. It has not happened and it will not happen. Thank God the party hierarchy at the top knows that we are all conscious of that. We are waiting for that singular decision as to whether or not there will be free and fair primaries. It is at that time that we will take our decision and anything short of doing the right thing will not augur well for them and their imposed candidate. If you want us to support your candidate, let’s dialogue, tell us why your candidate is better than us. Let’s reach consensus on our own on the basis of merit but imposition in the name of consensus, nobody can do that to us in Adamawa and if he tries it ,it will be at his own peril.
What will you do differently from other administrations to take Adamawa state to its glorious past if elected governor in 2023?
It is a solid fact every governor will want to wait till the end of the month to go to Abuja to pick up his cheque of the statutory federal allocations. To me, my pragmatic ideas are too big for such cheques which is usually between N4billion to N4.5billion. If you pull out salaries and overhead, practically, you have nothing left and with the little that is available, it is very difficult to embark on any physical development.
So what is the way out?
The way out is to do what the whole world is doing. The world developed because people were sitting down thinking of good ideas and implementing them. Such ideas is that if i don’t have the resources, I will find a way of getting the resources. In our own case, we don’t have the resources but we sit down and fold our hands. Now i want to change that philosophy of life. My first 100 days in office will definitely be a jamboree of running around the world looking for resources. It can be in a form of grants, subventions, interventions and long term loans, etc. I want to have enough money on ground to be able to face the projects that I promised the common man because without resources, you can’t do that. The most important aspect of this is that we must encourage investors. Adamawa has been identified as one of the states that recorded nothing, I mean, not even a dime from any investor in the last four years. So how can we survive? So it becomes a religious obligation on leaders to now go out and change the psyche of investors, make them realise that Adamawa is safe, Adamawa is willing to accept and cooperate with them and that Adamawa is a place to invest. If people from the west can go to Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, among others, to invest despite their turbulent situation, it won’t be a herculean task getting investors to come and invest in Adamawa.
What have you done in the past in your personal capacity despite your international connections and in all the places you worked to attract investment into Adamawa?
I have had relationships with places like that for over the last 20 to 25 years ago and I have been able to convince them in the past, but unfortunately, it is our own brothers and sisters from Adamawa state that always stood against this development. Some of them don’t want this development to come because they felt if you succeed in doing what they have failed to do, it is a slap on their faces. Some felt that why should you be the one to bring this development, if they couldn’t, you shouldn’t while few of them always wanted things done in their own way. They believe that for you to bring investors, you need to bribe them to succeed, you need to roll on their carpet at home for them to bless you before you can make anything out of life and I’m not that kind of a person. I always believe in the philosophy that once human being is educated, he can’t be subjugated. With that at the back of my mind, I refused to be anybody houseboy because if I toed that line, it means that I won’t be able to do what I want to do and what I want to do has nothing to do with my person, it is for the collective good of our people and our dear state.
What is your mission, vision and plans for the people of Adamawa state if elected governor?
I have lined up in my manifesto so many programmes and policies that will better the lots of our people if elected governor which I want to do them differently from previous administrations. Firstly, it will be scientific, secondly, all hands must be on deck and above all, it will be in line with modernity and the objective is for us to accomplish what others have not. Apart from massive infrastructural drive and the priority attention we will give to all the vital sectors of the state, we will also install high sense of discipline in our people. Leadership is a trust and if we cannot uphold the tenets of leadership and be strong enough to believe that He that created us is watching and that we are accountable for our deeds, then the basis of any moral rectitude will have been defeated. So the civil service will be restructured, people will be given their worth and whatever we believe as a government will be done without fear or favour and we will have the guts to face anybody and tell him the truth. In my life, I have tried to restructure my ways of doing things in two different perspectives. If I take a decision to do something, it takes me time to do it, it takes me a lot of consultations and analysis but once I have taken a decision, it is damn difficult for even me to changed my mind. However, if i put my feet on ground that I’m not going to do something, all what you need to convince me is superior argument, give me the fact that is better than mine, pass it through me with superior argument, i will change. So it is easier to change my ‘no’ than to changed my ‘yes’. So I think I have focus and I have prepared myself better to rescue the people of Adamawa state.
You have been quoted to have said that if you emerged as governor, you would demolish all the flyovers, bridges constructed by Governor Fintiri’s administration. Were you misquoted or you actually said it?
Yes! I did say that and I’m standing by that and I believe I will not only emerge as APC gubernatorial aspirant but I will also bury him politically in Adamawa politics but will also send him to political oblivion come 2023. Before those bridges were constructed, especially, the one along Yola there was a bridge there which was adjudged to be the biggest in West Africa. Why did he destroy it?Because he has something better to offer. So I have something better than what he has. So why can’t I destroy it? In a nutshell, that is it. For example, that very bridge around the market is more of a nuisance. You don’t build bridges for static reason, you build bridges to solve problems. These overhead bridges are meant to ease traffic, there is hardly any traffic there but for the sake of argument let’s agree there is, what we have there is just a bit of traffic and hardly do you spend 10 minutes there. So you don’t call that a problem. However, let’s even agree there is. If you pick up a bridge from where he started, ideally, it should go beyond the Investment House so that there will be free flow of traffic, so that those coming from Bank Road can come in and go out of the market without any obstructions and those going to the airport can fly out without any problem, so you ease all these traffic then people will find it easy to move around freely and that is the essence. But u picked up a bridge from where it is and you dropped it in front of the market market, have you solved the problem? The answer is ‘no’. So much so that it became apparent to government itself that if they didn’t close that gate, it is a worthless venture so they closed that gate. Don’t forget that the gate is a revenue earner and this is a state that is scampering for resources, then, you closed one of the sources of revenue in order to cover up your structural blunder. Now two things happened. If you go under the bridge, especially, with long trucks, it is now difficult to negotiate your way in and out of the under bridge, so it has now created new problems.
Secondly, government is all about services, about helping the people and carrying everybody along which means that no human being should be left behind. We should try as much as possible accommodate the interest of everybody. Now some people entered an agreement with Nigerian Airforce and built shops under BOT arrangement. They expected that these shops over a period of time should pay back. Now the closure of this gate have almost rendered those shops useless. Do you know where they got their money to build those shops? It could have been loans from banks and it could have been their life savings. You have killed them, that is what it means. There are people with shops just close to the gate. I understand one lady died as a result of this government’s decision. This is a woman that is making between N500,000 to N700,000 but she couldn’t make 50,000 a month and the shock killed her. So how do you justify this?