He is one of the front line governorship aspirants under the platform of the People Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of November 2nd election in Kogi state. In an interview with journalists in Lokoja recently, he bared his mind on his ambition. OYIBO SALIHU was there for Blueprint.
There have been numerous calls across Kogi state for you to contest in the forth-coming governorship election. How true is it?
Thank you very much, you are very right. For a while now, I have been under serious pressure from our people who are urging me to contest for the governorship seat of kogi state. For me initially, it was not a matter to take seriously because of the fact that my father was a former governor of the state but interestingly, the pressure kept mounting on a daily basis. The reasons they gave were such that cannot be brushed aside. The truth of the matter is that we have a peculiar situation in the state at the moment. The situation we have found ourselves as a people demands that every one of us must be patriotic to salvage the situation. The prevailing situation is so sad that any right-thinking person with a milk of compassion flowing through his vein must respond to offer his own quota and bring our people out of what our people have found themselves. I have given the issue a very serious thought as a bonafide and patriotic citizen of kogi state and I have decided that in the interest of our collective aspiration, there is need for me to respond to the massive call of our people to provide quality and purposeful leadership for them. At the moment, our people are suffering, they are stranded, hopeless and dying on a daily basis as a result of poor leadership. As someone that has been privileged to understudy leadership very closely, I believe that I possess the requisite experience, the administrative capacity as well as the understanding of our people to be able to provide them with the kind of leadership that will return smiles to their faces at this critical period.
How about the blackmail by some people that your family is trying to build a political dynasty?
Yes, it is normal for some people to make such insinuation but I can assure you that the present situation that we find ourselves in kogi state has nothing to do with personal or family interest. If you know me very well, you will understand that I am not someone that likes to play to the gallery; even when my father was the governor, I was hardly seen pushing for relevance. Now the juncture at which we are is such that the foundation of the state has been badly destroyed. It is such that the unity existing between the ethnic groups have been threatened. Civil servants are suffering; pensioners have been subjected to all manners of frustration leading to unprecedented number of deaths. The underlying structures for a sustainable socio- economic development of the state have been totally bastardised. So for anyone to link my aspiration to personal or family affairs is uncalled for. I understand the sentiment of such people, but one thing I like to tell you is that I will be doing the people of Kogi state the greatest disservice if I fail to yield to the repeated calls to join the governorship race. Also those who know me can attest to the fact that I am not the desperate and over-ambitious person. But we have come to the point where we have to sit down and determine our future and the future of unborn generation. It is in the light of this agonising moment that it has become imperative for all well-meaning Kogites who have genuine interest of our people at heart to yield to the call for a selfless service at this period. In the last few years, no state in Nigeria has attracted bad publicity like kogi state on account of directionless government we have in place. So, if God has endowed me with the capacity to turn things around for the good of the people, will it be right for me to turn down this call because of a sentiment factor or reason?
Looking at the challenges ahead, particularly now that the Peoples Democratic Party is in the opposition, how prepared are you for the race to Lugard house?
Let me say quickly that preparation for this kind of assignment is in the hands of God. It is God that crowns kings, so we are relying on God to support us in this aspiration to deliver our people. We are relying heavily on God to give us victory. Like I told you earlier, the suffering of our people at the moment in Kogi state has no party, religion or ethnic affiliations. Our people have seen the other side of the coin and I believe in this coming election, they have made up their minds on the party that can serve them better. The PDP has a history that is incomparable in service delivery and purposeful leadership. So, as I have thrown my hat into the ring, believing God that if I am able to secure the ticket of the party, together we will establish a participatory system that will turn the situation around for the good of our people. Essentially, I will tell you that the battle is not mine, it is that of God who will in turn propel the will of the people who are already desirous of a positive change.
Your father, His Excellency, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, is a key player in Kogi politics. What value do you think his position would bring to bear?
Definitely, it is going to have a positive effect because my case is going to be like a needle with a thread that cannot be easily lost. If my father served the state and he is still able to maintain his integrity, relevance, popularity among the people of the state, then one should expect that such a person cannot and will never allow his son, if given such a rare opportunity, to jeopardise his hard- earned reputation. His advice and counselling anchored on his wealth of experience will definitely be an added advantage.
Kogi state in recent times has a negative perception under the APC- led administration. How prepared are you to turn things around?
There would be a difference between me and other contestants. You cannot give what you don’t have. We are in this mess in kogi state because power has found its way into the hands of people that never expected such position of responsibilities. Leadership is not about the numbers of certificates but it is about the capacity to galvanise and mobilise both human and other relevant resources for the betterment of the people. So leadership fails woefully if it has no capacity or ability to do this.
What are the immediate things you think your administration would do to revamp the economy if elected?
God has been good to us in terms of natural endowments in Kogi State. With over 27 solid minerals resources in commercial quantity, if given the opportunity, the immediate task on my administration will be how to harness all these solid minerals for the betterment of our people. We will create a conducive environment that will attract the massive influx of investors. We shall create industrial zones and also try and give tax cuts to investors to enable them stabilise. By so doing, the economy of the state will flourish while thousands of our unemployed citizens could be gainfully employed. We shall take holistic look at the case of the events of the last few years, particularly the reforms in the civil service. We intend to revisit, re- engineer and restore the dignity of civil service in the state. We shall ensure that we return the civil service back to the glorious days where each worker will find fulfilment in his career while at the same time make sure that ministries and parastatals perform their traditional and legitimate responsibilities. To the pensioners, we shall strive to ensure that their welfare is no longer taken for granted. On employment generation, we intend to create the platform through our viable policies that will ensure massive job employment for our teeming populace. Similarly, it is our desire to ensure that Lokoja, the state capital and every local government head quarter for that matter, receives positive attention. We shall revisit the master plan with the view to plan the city to be among the best in Nigeria. We shall also take advantage of the tourism potentials of the state including the confluence of River Niger and Benue to rebrand the state as well as generate more revenue.