Hon. Ahmed Aliyu Wadada (Baraden Keffi), is a two- term member of the House of Representatives, who represented Keffi/ Karu/Kokona federal constituency of Nasarawa state from 2003 to 2011, was also the national financial secretary of the nPDP. He has joined the governorship race and spoke MU’AZU ABARI on his mission and vision for Nasarawa state.
You are a two-term member of the House of Representatives, however, you contested against former Governor Abdullahi Adamu for a senate seat in 2015 and lost. You have joined the governorship race in your state, what are your chances?
Well, there is no law that said because I started as a legislator I must continue with the legislature. I believe as a former legislator I had impacted positively on governance, I brought democracy dividends by attracting projects to my constituency and the state at large.
My aspiration to be the governor of Nasarawa state is not my own initiative, it is a response to the clarion call and we are already on a divine course to reposition Nasarawa state and salvage its people from misrule. If I become the governor, my thinking and my actions will not be detrimental to the yearnings and aspirations of the people because looking at my records, there is no opportunity I have had in the past that I did not use it to impact positively on the lives of our people.
Most people believe you are ex-Governor Adamu’s anointed candidate and political romance between you is to avoid you challenging him again for the senatorial seat. How true is this claim?
Senator Adamu is a political figure you cannot wish away in Nasarawa state and whether or not I am anointed by him, nobody will be running or aspiring to be governor of Nasarawa state without consulting Abdullahi Adamu. If anybody says it is an arrangement it is neither here nor there.
Information making the rounds is that most gubernatorial aspirants are still waiting for Governor Tanko Almakura’s endorsement, has he endorsed you?
You cannot separate Almakura and Wadada because we are one and the same; that is why I did not wait for anybody to endorse me because Almakura didn’t wait for anybody. If he had waited for some people, he wouldn’t have been governor of Nasarawa state today.
He took the bull by the horns and was blocked in PDP, they never gave him a chance and he defected to the CPC, even when the party was virtually nothing and became the governor of Nasarawa state. Though I need Almakura’s supports but I won’t have to wait until he gives me the nod to run for governor.
My not waiting for anybody to tell me to go for it does not mean disrespect or that I don’t need such support. It is the people’s decision and the people have said Wadada go for it.
So, if you are elected governor, will you continue with AlMakura’s policies and programmes?
Why not? The policies and programmes that are people-oriented of course, we will continue with them and those that are not people oriented we will make them people-oriented. I don’t believe in completely throwing away whatever your predecessor had put in place.
For instance, plans for urban renewal of Karu Local Government or Mararaba, we have clearly seen what Governor Almakura has done in Lafia. He has opened up our state capital and this should be applicable to other major local governments of the state.
Before you defected to the APC, you were the strongest voice against Governor Almakura’s administration, now you seem to have lost your voice, is it because of your governorship ambition?
When I defected to the APC and was presented to Governor Almakura, I told him, ‘’I have been very critical of your administration and it has nothing to do being disrespectful, but out of commitment and concern for your government to do better. That today I am in the APC does and will not stop me from criticizing your administration.’’
Ever since, I have taken him on in three key areas of his administration. I don’t play to the gallery but I have criticized in the same manner I used to criticise the government of Abdullahi Adamu, and that of late Aliyu Doma when I was in the PDP. If I have any reason to criticise any administration publicly, I will do so.
What is your mission and vision for the people of the state if elected as governor?
My mission is to unite the people of Nasarawa state for the betterment of all. Nasarawa state, of course, is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious entity. Uniting the people can only be achieved to a large extend when and if leadership is fair and just to all.
Uniting Nasarawa state will mean to create the right atmosphere so that people can work together as one, for the good of the state and for posterity. Doing so will also mean being fair and just in one’s dealings with the people regardless of ethnic, religious and tribal sentiments.
My vision is to reposition Nasarawa state by making it much better than what it is today. The state is endowed with both human and material resources. We shall take advantage of its proximity to the FCT because opening the Abuja parts of Nasarawa state is key to repositioning the state.
What specific projects and programmes do you intend to embark upon if elected?
Nasarawa is an agrarian state, any leader that is not able to transform agrarian state into industrial hub should be questioned, because agriculture is one of our area of strength. Transforming an agrarian state to an industrial state is what is globally practiced or accepted today by contemporary leadership. That means creating the needed agricultural value chain from farming, harvesting and processing to end product.
Once that circle is there, you will achieve a lot in terms of economic development. We intend to create three agricultural clusters in each of the three senatorial zones of the state. Each of these clusters will concentrate on the production of agricultural produce that the zone has comparative advantage over the other two zones.
We will also encourage private sector participation, by using the Private Public Partnership (PPP) modules to attract investors to produce and establish factories/industries that will see to the processing of such produce. This will be applicable in the three senatorial districts of the state, so that if that is done, under agriculture alone we will be able to have three factories in the state that will provide employment opportunities to our teeming youths.
It will also be a vehicle for strengthening and deepening small and medium enterprises, because the small and medium farmers that will be producing such produces will have a factory that will be processing them as automatic off takers. The same company or factory will pay taxes to the government. By doing that, you are increasing your internally generated revenue through agriculture. You will also provide a platform for employment through agriculture and you are also empowering the small medium enterprises.
Looking at the Abuja corridor of Nasarawa state, Karu Local Government Area, we will establish an industrial park there. This will attract major industries and companies from Abuja and other parts of the country to the area.
When you do that, you give incentives like tax holidays for two or three years to industries that will be coming in, and within the industrial park so many things can be done.
For me, we have conceptualized it in such a way that we will establish a movie or film industry within the industrial park. Don’t forget that the Nigeria movie industry actually started from Jos courtesy of Nigeria Films Corporation, so we will leverage on that.
Real estate is another window outside the industrial park that we will utilize for the benefit of the state. It will generate employment opportunities for our teeming youths, create revenue generating sources to the state and provide socio-economic advantages to the state.
Of course, without human capital, development will be fruitless. So, we shall engage Nasarawa state workforce in training and skills acquisition. Likewise, in the area of healthcare delivery, we will look at the three levels of health care delivery system and the most important of all the levels which is the primary health care.
Our primary health care needs urgent attention and if you goggle, you will realise that the country that has the best and most effective health care delivery system in the world is Cuba.
So, we intend to collaborate with such a country and any other country that is doing well to reposition the health sector of Nasarawa state and of course, there are donor organizations such as UNICEF and WHO among other agencies who are available to assist in any programme that have to do with healthcare delivery system. Such agencies will help once you have an effective and contemporary primary health care delivery system that will have impact on the secondary and tertiary levels of healthcare delivery.
In the 21st century, if you don’t have electricity you have very little to achieve and Nasarawa state is blessed with more than three to four non-scientific sources of power generation.
We have hydro which is generated from water and Nasarawa state is endowed with water. In fact, the administration of ex-Governor Adamu started a project in Wamba known as Farin Ruwa Hydro Electric Power Generation; it is still there. I don’t know at what stage the project is at the moment but we have hydro as a source of power generation so we will leverage on that.
We enjoy solar and have sunshine in Nasarawa state so we can use solar to generate electricity and then we can also generate electricity from coal.
Don’t forget that Nasarawa state is endowed with coal deposits in Obi and other parts of the state, so these will be utilized by our administration to improve the power sector of the state and attract investors.
We will explore to the fullest, the abundant solid minerals resources in the state to ensure the emergence of economic activities that will lead to value addition to the internally generated revenue and create employment opportunities for our youths.
I am aware there is a law that only empowers the federal government to take charge of this sector because exploration and exploitation of solid minerals is on the exclusive list of the constitution. But at the moment, constitution amendments are going on, devolution of power has been supported and passed by the National Assembly and I think more than 2/3 of the state Assemblies have also concurred. Eventually, the exploration and exploitation of solid minerals may end up being in concurrent list.
In view of the drop in federal allocations to states and current financial difficulties in the country, where do you intend to source the needed resources to embark on these projects?
I have always been emphatic on state governments looking more inwards than relying on federal allocations. Federal allocations are rights of the states from the federal government because they are federating units to the national government but any governor that relies on federal allocations will not be able to achieve much.
So, looking inwards will be our focus. Besides, Nasarawa state is blessed with a lot of resources and sources of generating revenue, which are laying idle without being tapped for the benefits of its people.
So, we will take advantage of all these to improve the internally generated revenue of the state, the economy and identify additional sources of revenue. I won’t depend on federal allocations to reposition Nasarawa state.
The political elite in the state have been accused of fuelling various ethnic and communal clashes that divide the state, what is your take on this and how do you intend to achieve genuine reconciliation?
Nasarawa state is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious state and our mission is to unite and reconcile the people of the state for the good of all.
So, for us to achieve genuine reconciliation, we must have a patriotic leadership that is just and fair to all irrespective of ethnic, tribal and religious affiliations.
On the political elite, to a large extent, they are responsible. There are some people that are highly myopic, parochial and have retrogressive minds. When they find their way into politics and are convinced that politics is a way for them to make money, they really do not care about the people because they have nothing to offer, instead they whip up sentiments. That is why the theme of my political activities is electorate enlightenment.
I have come to understand that the average electorate at the grassroots is being manipulated, his lack of education and enlightenment are being taken advantage of by some of these myopic, parochial and retrogressive minds that are in politics today.