Let’s allow young people assume positions of authority – Dr AbdulAzeez

Dr Faruk AbdulAzeez is an elder statesman at age 83. A medical doctor-turned politician, he was a strong member of Shehu Musa Yar’dua political movement who held several  positions under the People Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview with OYIBO SALIHU, he speaks on sundry issues as it affect the nation.

How would you compare Nigeria in the past and   Nigeria of today?

Nigerians then were happy and ready to sacrifice a lot for the development of the nation because the potentials were physically  there for them to see, but the challenge I am having now is that the same country that used to be strong economically with strong security architecture and all sectors functioning is today bedeviled with serious security challenges that seems to be above the government. Our economy today continues to nosedive while many Nigerians can not afford three square meals because of near collapse of businesses .At 83 years, I feel totally disappointed with the current precarious situation of our dear country because I and notable others who are supposed to continue from where the late Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello the  Sardauna of Sokoto, Chief Obafemi Owolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikwe and others left failed to take the country to the promise land because we have made choices that are not in the best interest of the country. God gave us the opportunities to move the country to enviable height but along the line, we lost it on the basis of poor leadership, ethnicity, religion and outright lack of focus on the side of our leaders.

What is the way out of this?

First and foremost, every Nigerian leaders should have a rethink and do what the constitution says. Secondly, we should all shun corruption and other vices that are retrogressing the development and advancement of our country and we must ensure that we return the country back to its former life where we make policy statements for other African countries as it was.

What unique leadership quality do you see in Governor Yahaya Bello that can propel him to the next level of leadership of this country?

Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello is a young man, focused, enterprising who believes that he must do what God wants so that he can be successful. Bello is that type that stands by his decision especially whenever he is on the right track. For instance,  we all knows that Covid-19 pandemic is a global problem, but Governor Bello is not a medical doctor, unlike many who believe that covid-19 pandemic is a big problem in Nigeria, he stood his ground and remained firm in his decision. Bello agreed that though Covid-19 is a problem in some places but in Kogi, it is not a problem and would not waste people’s money to chase shadow. More worrisome was other health challenges that kill daily that  were abandoned by the government while much attention was set on the pandemic that has no place in the country with several billions of dollars committed to it. I was very glad when Bello said he does not want to take advantage of a disease that does not exist and do things he should not do as a governor. He refused to unduly cripple people’s business by locking them indoor for a disease that does not exist. He made a medical valid point when he said a disease that has only one per cent mortality becomes a problem in a country where infant mortality or maternal health is a big challenge. So for that reason, Yahaya Bello made a right choice and today even Nigerians have seen where the federal government went astray.

Currently, the country is facing a lot of challenges ranging from security, economy, among others. Do you think with these  challenges Gov Bello can make impact if he becomes president?

Of course, he will not only make impact, he would address all these challenges because he is among the best this nation has today.  Before he became governor, Kogi State is noted for being notorious for kidnapping, armed robbery, farmers/ herders crises, cultism in tertiary institions among other vices, but within his first years in office, he resolved all the challenges and the state stopped being the epicentre of criminal activities. Only God knows the magic he used to surmount those challenges. Today, Kogi is one of the safest states in the country. 
In Kogi state, Governor Yahaya Bello has taken three steps. In the state, there exists three major ethnic groups: the Igala in the east, Ebira in the central and the Okun/Yoruba in the west. Before Bello came, it was a battle between these three ethnic groups and within six months of assumption of office, the governor united the groups by ensuring that political positions and project executions are shared on the basis of equity and fairness. This measures he took put an end to issue of marginalisation and lack of inclusiveness in the governance of the state. If he can achieve this within a state, it is something we should all be praying for to have opportunity to replicate that for the whole country.

It is a fact that ethnicity is not a factor in building a country. Governor Bello jettisoned ethnicity and follows the right ways by bringing people of different background to his government to showcase their worth in governance. He also has the interest of the country at heart and one of his major priority would be the welfare of Nigerians just like the way he did in Kogi state. He often says that every responsible indigene of the state must work hard towards achieving a peaceful and secure state where investors would be willing  to come and invest their money. 

Governor Bello has also displayed his commitment to the youth and gender equality. I know many people would be wondering why he would have woman as SSG. It was because she has something to offer. His youth and women empowernment programme has no rival in this country. The record are there to verify. He brought several agricultural programmes that gave youths and women sources of livelihood and that was why the issue of youth restiveness is none in the state. He has also invested vigorously on health by ensuring that his health projects touches the three senatorial districts of the state.

The governor has also displayed that he has the capacity to maintain law and order in all parts of the state and if we give him that opportunity at the national level, he would make tremendous success in the area of good governance. So, if Yahaya Bello decides to contest for the presidency in 2023, I at the age of 83 years  would support, vote for him and also encourage people that has influence to vote for him. There is need for us the elderly ones to allow the youths to display their worth in the governance of the country. This is the age of technology and you cannot talk of technology without the youth.

How would you rate APC government in terms of performance in the last six years? 

Let me tell you that there is no government in this country that has succeeded. I have been active in politics and I am 83 years old now and no longer active in politics, but I have shown interest now with the current development because there is a promising young man who might make the difference by taking us out of this mess that we are in, if they did not pull him down.