Dr Mohammed Jibrin Ahmed is an aspirant for the forthcoming governorship election in Kogi state slated for November 2, 2019 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview, the veteran politician who has consistently vied to lead his people as governor since 2003 marshals his plans to make Kogi a great and modern state through egalitarian leadership and much more.
What antecedents qualify you to be governor of Kogi state?
First and foremost, I am a prince from two royal backgrounds in Ankpa local government area of Kogi state. I am the Magaji Gari of Ankpa town and this title was bestowed on me by the first Ejeh of Ankpa. I was born on April 16, 1965, also in Ankpa. I attended the famous Local Education Authority Primary School at Ankpa and Exams Success College Lagos before proceeding to the Institute of Journalism. I also attended the University of Ado-Ekiti. I hold a Masters degree in public administration and management and a PhD in public policy and administration. I have at various times delivered lectures on several topics, mostly on good governance. I am a private person to the core and have been very successful in the construction industry. I have built many infrastructure facilities for many states of the federation. You can call me a friend of journalism as it is one of the professions I hold dear to my heart. This is humbly who I am.
You have since 2003 contested for the seat of the governor of Kogi state but failed. Why are you confident to make it now?
I think I will be glad if in the final analysis, I am referred as the Abraham Lincoln of Kogi state. I believe every leader has his own flaws and my flaw is that I have consistently contested for that coveted seat severally for the sake of the love of our bastardised people. I lost not because the winners are better than me but because I am different. But I can assure you that this time round, I am going to win and you can take that to the bank.
You would agree with me that the major problem that has retarded our growth and development as a people and a state is basically that of leadership. The founding fathers and patrons of our state both alive and dead would be utterly disappointed with the retardation of the development of this state simply because of the absence of a purposeful leadership. A time comes in the life of a people when tribal, political, and religious considerations are put aside and the best among its people with the ideas to salvage what is left of its promise is elected to transform and lay the needed foundation for its development. Kogites, that time is now and I believe that I shall make the needed difference to put our state back on the path of greatness. With me Kogi will fulfill its promise.
What is the current state of affairs in Kogi?
Place side by side by its potential and promise, this potentially vibrant state is a disaster. Our state has endured through the painful sacrifice of its people. This potentially great and highly endowed state has not shown the signs of reaching its peak; the journey to reach its greatness has not even started because of the absence of a dynamic leader. What do we have continuously as leaders? They are the representatives of vested and rent seeking godfathers who have wrecked the state bare and in the process left our people in the state of anomie. Our state today is in dire need of a leadership that would translate our vast potential into reality, into development in its physicality, one the people can see; I am that leader.
What difference would you bring to the administration of kogi state because you always say you are the difference?
I would fight the symmetric and asymmetric warfare of our people and most importantly introduce a new type of politics dispensation in this state and that is the difference. Our people have a dream but what is detrimental to the fulfilment of that dream is poor leadership. I believe that I am that leader that has the ideas and the driving vitality to make Kogi fulfill the dreams of her founding father. I would be committed as your governor to best practices in governance characterised by discipline, ethical behaviour and dedication to excellence. With the economy of the state in distress and clearly in a state of emergency, my plans will give the state the needed lifeline to resuscitate our ailing economy and get our people back to work. I am confident that when my development plans are implemented, they will deliver the goods to the good people of our state. My plan is geared to the redirection of the state on the path of greatness and economic development. Kogi people will in the first 100 days of my administration have a breath of fresh air
What is your blueprint for the state?
My blueprint for the state is centred on the people. In arriving at this plan which I term plan for the redirection of the state for uncommon growth and development, I put together a team that represents all the core segments of the Kogi society, the academia, the civil service, our revered traditional institution, market women, students, etc in the spirit of inclusion. After careful and pragmatic diagnosis of the problems of the state, we formulated policies that are workable to solve the problems of our state. We also took cognisance of the fact that our people desire development and are ready to take the bitter pills to achieve it. Our plan is one we know the Kogi people will take ownership of because our people appreciate and recognise a good leader when they see one. The plan is geared towards a new dawn for kogi state. It is nchored on four pillars of development – agriculture, infrastructure, entrenched knowledge economy, social investments.
What are you going to do about the huge debt of the state?
Yes, our state owes huge debts but the type of leadership we have had is one which does not tell our people the truth about the right figures of the indebtedness of our state. Our plans took into recognition the huge debt owed by the state because our state has been plunged into debts by succeeding administration with nothing to show for it and I can assure you that our plan sets out the need to review all documents to know the exact financial indebtedness of the state and make it known to our people within the first 100 days of my administration. Though we are not on a vengeance mission, those who stole our patrimonies would be called to account.
What is your position on the payment of the arrears of the backlog of salaries and pensions of your workers?
The immediate payment of the earned and accumulated salaries of our workers and pensioners will be our starting point as an administration and we will pay the backlog within our first 100 days because a worker deserves his wages. Biblically and Koranically, owing a labourer is satanic and I believe we should strive to make Kogi God’s own state and this should be the way to go. Our social safety nets will not succeed unless we hold our people dear to all governmental policies and programmes. One such example of such safety nets is the social security safety nets for the elderly. With this plan, we hope to build a state where our young people strive to serve the state as the state would be there for them when they become tired and old.
Can you highlight your four areas of intervention?
The agricultural sector is one that has the capacity to feed our people and make life meaningful for the ordinary folks. This sector when handled technologically has also the potential of eliminating joblessness in our state. My plan took into cognisance the fact that Kogi is essentially an agrarian state. In order to create sustainable food security, create employment opportunities and initiate agricultural revolution to create wealth and poverty alleviation, our approach in this state must change from the present focus on farming and agriculture as a government based social services to a commercial and private sector driven approach which is now called agribusiness. My government would help to steer the changes to this direction through a radical departure from our old approach to a pragmatic and approach to agribusiness revolution.
In furtherance of my pact with our people to enhance the economic and industrial revolution of our dear state, my administration would revisit the commercial and technical viability of all abandoned projects with a view to reactivating them. This includes our vast networks of roads, and our flagship tourism assets. I will then introduce infrastructural projects that would be strategic in advancing my industrial revolution.
To survive and thrive in our global economy, we agree to see our brilliant minds lead in the promotion of our sustainable development. Our administration would pay attention to research, teaching, skills development, creative arts, strengthening tertiary institutions as well as educational entrepreneurship. We will create the Kogi knowledge zone in order to achieve this.
The other plans for our people have a long term period of achieving them but social investment is one which we shall start implementing from day one as the people are the cornerstone of our administration. Our greatest resource remains the people. Late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo once said human beings are the measures of all things. Only a healthy and enlightened people can drive sustainable development. My ideology remains that no individual in society should be left behind and everyone should be supported to live their dreams to the fullest. This will be the fundamental responsibility of my government that will be pro-people. The delivery of free and qualitative healthcare is a cardinal social responsibility of my plans.