Dr Tim Nda Diche is a governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi state. In this interview with TOPE SUNDAY, the former commissioner for agriculture in the state speaks about his aspiration, his mission, and other issues.
The number of the aspirants contesting for the governorship seat is swelling up everyday. Why are you also aspiring?
I have always told people that my passion to govern state is borne out of passion and love to serve, to see a state like Kogi moving forward more than what it is now. It is my plan to it from a land of potential to a land of opportunities, economics, social and general opportunity for the state. My passion to run for this governorship is to grow and make Kogi state work better in order to create development and prosperity.
The state has been in a bad narrative recently. How do you intend to change this?
All these narratives have to be changed. All these narratives are covered in my mission for the state both in terms of development and prosperity. Start from development, one of the narratives of Kogi state is that it is always a potential state, it is close to the FCT, it has mineral resources, it has human resources. But it is not working, that is the narrative that I want to change.
To bring concrete development in terms of roads, schools, hospitals, so many things that can make the state work better. In terms of prosperity, all these narratives that come as a result of non-payment of salaries, non-payment of pension, lack of motivation in civil service, all those will be covered in my prosperity mission. One of my core cardinal missions is Welfarism. Staff welfare, human welfare, prompt payment of salaries, training for human development, payment of pension and even creating prosperity in terms of empowerment, employment, appointment, and creating self actualization for our people will be my focus as the governor of Kogi state.
The incumbent is a member of your party, and a number of other aspirants from the party have also declared their interest. How confident are you that you will clinch the ticket?
As a party man, we are going into primaries and I can assure you that I was a founding member of the APC in Kogi state in 2014. It was on its platform that I contested for its governorship in 2015, and lost to late Prince Abubakar Audu. In the same party I became a commissioner under this present administration. Also, I contested for the House of Representatives ticket last year. It is in the same party that I am contesting for the governorship for the third time. When it comes to popularity to choose, I am very popular. I can assure you that my programmes and prosperity are more popular than any other aspirant. My perseverance, patience, maturity is unparalleled in this part than anybody, and my years of experience of service for APC are unequal. So, I don’t have any threat especially the array of aspirants that are coming in. I have gone miles away from them, before they can achieve the popularity I have gotten since 2014, it’s going to take awhile because they are just starting; and for that I don’t see it as a threat. For the governor, we contested together in the time past, so he knows my qualities, my worth; I have worked with him as a commissioner. Now, everybody has their aspirations to choose, everybody is going to be judged by his past, present and future. This primary is going to be a huge surprise to all.
You served and also contested with the incumbent governor in the past. At what point did you fall out with him?
I did not fall out, my resignation was voluntary, it was very mutual, it was based on personal commitment in the project I have ahead and what I chose to do and the position I found myself then. I told him ‘Your Excellency, I want to resign to face y business and go back to face my future political ambition.’ There is no fall out between myself and the governor. I have respect for him, we are still friends despite the fact that we are contesting on the same platform. This contest is a family contest, if he wins definitely I am still an APC member and I will support him and if I win definitely he should support me.
How would you react to the endorsement of the governor by the state leadership of your party?
I won’t say there is reality to that statement because at the moment the case is in court. We all know that presently in Kogi the APC is factionalised. We have the Adi-led group and the Bello-led group. The Adi-led group is in court and the court has not yet decided the case. That is the position; there are two factions at the moment till the court pronounces judgement. That is why aspirants like us are clamouring for direct primary so that no one gets this ticket tomorrow and the court now rules you that the primary is not genuine. We have seen cases of Zamfara and River states; it is very bad not to see the future in terms of the legal credibility. As aspirants none of us know where to go because of the faction in the party, we are just doing our general politics in the state; none of us has gone to declare in any of the party office in the state even Bello has not gone go declare. So, you can see the confusion.
Will the crises in the factions not serve as a clog in the will of progress at the end of the primary election in state?
Kogi state is for APC and its people love APC. The only thing that Kogi people want is that they should bring out a credible and acceptable candidate. I can assure you that after the primary election, anybody that emerges will be supported by other aspirants depending on how the candidate emerges. It must be free, fair and credible. In the general election, APC will deliver Kogi state because what I am seeing in PDP, I don’t see any credible opposition that will come against us if we are able to get our candidate right through direct primary election.
Are you convinced that APC has done well enough to be re-elected?
Yes, the party has a good programme for the state that should enable our people to reelect the party in the next general election. APC has more human direct programmes and plans for the state, but at the helm of affairs it depends on who is executing the document. So, it is now between the person and the party, I can have document and constitution yet someone may come and not operate on that constitution. It depends on the executioner and the document, so for the document which is what I am following now, we are sending APC to go and execute. Who is going to execute the document is what they want to choose now.
Recently, traditional rulers went to Aso Rock and reportedly asked the president to support Governor Bello. Don’t you see this as a distraction to your aspiration?
Not at all, the traditional rulers got it wrong here because their constitutional role is not to be partisan. It is for them to take care of all of us as their children because all the aspirants are their children. To me, what they did was wrong, all aspirants are supposed to be endorsed by them; they shouldn’t prefer one person to others because even as a governor you are an aspirant at the moment. So, we are all equal before the traditional rulers, so I condemn what they did. These are one of the causes of crises between politicians and the political stool, let them stay off politics and for God’s sake, this is not even a general election. This is a primary election and it is only the members of the party that are allowed to participate. What they have done is embarrassing to the dignity of the traditional stool in Kogi state.
As your party goes to the primaries in the state, what is your message to the national leadership of the party?
The APC national working committee should be strong enough in leadership by doing the right thing to avert embarrassment for the party. Before the primaries, they should be fair and just to everybody, so that this primary is conducted in a fair manner so that no aspirant will have ill-will against the party. They should look into the legal aspect of the primaries than anything else and that why we are pushing for direct primaries because if you discover that you use indirect primaries in a factionalised party structure in the state then we are legally naive.
Going through your manifesto, I observed you have interest in agriculture, what really inspired that?
Unfortunately, in this country, we know the truth, we say it but we don’t act it.
When the present APC government at the national level wanted to diversify the economy into agriculture, it was an excellent policy direction because in agriculture you can create employment, generate revenue, development, industrialisation.
This is a huge sector, it is a sector that can develop our state, luckily enough, I was the commissioner for agric in Kogi state and I saw the huge potential in this and I can assure you that 1, 000 commercial farmers will be brought out and I have decided with my prosperity agenda agriculture is a huge success.