Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa state in a recent interview with selected journalists said his administration is focused on all inclusive governance, the reason for which opposition members are joining his government. MOHAMMED YANGIDA was there.
Your Excellency sir, with the level of defection from opposition political parties into APC, what is the secret?
Thank you very much. For now, I don’t think any person can take the credit for that. I think since we came in, we have been working as a team and have displayed fairness as an administration. We have been very truthful, we don’t have anything to hide. whatever we said is what it is. We don’t deceive people, but say it straight from the heart. I think that has helped us a lot because if I can remember, we kept saying that we are an inclusive government and so we are. We had a record of areas that didn’t vote for us, but because they are citizens of Nasarawa state and we have qualified people from there to hold certain positions, we got to them and gave them the positions; so that is our own definition of inclusiveness. Every time there is an opportunity to discuss the interest of Nasarawa state, we invite people beyond our party; anytime opportunities of intervention comes to Nasarawa state as a result of either the challenges in the economy or so, we have to share with everybody. So, we have indicated in words and action that we are actually a government for all; therefore, if something like people leaving other political parties to join us is considered, we thank God for seeing it, but also on our own part, we believe very strongly that our display of action, attitude and everything is in line with that.
Sir, you have been advising your party to look towards Nasarawa state for the next APC national chairman. How far? Well, when you have advised, you begin to campaign. I think we have gone beyond advice now; we are now campaigning and at the process of campaign, you carry it out at different levels. I have been in contact with all the major stakeholders of APC because we strongly believe that what we are asking for is fair and not too much for the party to do. What we are asking for would actually keep the party together. I will tell you that I have gone far beyond making appeal to the stage of making presentations, speaking with the right people who are supposed to be part of this talk with all the decision makers, speaking with the highest authority of the party, especially with my colleague governors. Some of them who went with me to Abuja recently would tell you that I have been having meetings in Abuja till almost midnight, and it is all connected to that. I have been trying everything possible to ensure that we plead for this position to come to Nasarawa state.
I am saying that I strongly believe that it should come to the North-central and Nasarawa state in particular; that’s why I am swimming fully in it and we have every justification that we are not just saying that for the sake of saying it. APC is actually a product of an alliance between three former independent political parties, former ACN, ANPP and CPC. The two then members of the alliance have all produced the national chairman of the party twice. The only one that has not produced so far is CPC and if you are talking of CPC, Nasarawa state is the only CPC state that went into the alliance, so that’s the justification that we have. But I don’t want to also stop at it. That’s why I keep saying it should come to Nasarawa state because I don’t want people to feel that the person I am rooting for the position may be because of one reason or the other is not the right person, so let it come to Nasarawa state. If you give us in Nasarawa state, you are fair to CPC. Firstly, because we were the only state that was used to join the alliance and then if it comes to us, we would look for the person, but right now we are campaigning for people we know like Senator Umaru Tanko Al-Makura to get the position.
You were among the first set of governors that embraced the National Live Stock Transition Programme (NLSTP). May we know why you choose to do that?
Let me correct that impression! Actually, what people may not understand is that the livestock programme was there before our administration came in May 2019. Before we came in, 24 states had already indicated interest and Nasarawa state was one of those states. So, what I did was align with everything that has to do with the administration of Umaru Al-Makura. Everything Al-Makura started, I didn’t abandon them; NLSTP was one of such. When I came and saw the reality of our treasury, of our security challenges, I became strongly convinced that this would help Nasarawa. There are other states that don’t have to wait for NLSTP like Kaduna and Zamfara states, for instance, because they have the resources and they have gone beyond waiting for NLSTP. They went ahead and started, but when they started, it was in line with what NLSTP has done. We now agreed to develop a site to have an abattoir, schools, police station for the security of the people for different kinds of grass. All these things cost money and that’s what the NLSTP is about to do. Since we don’t have the money in Nasarawa, instead of just waiting until we have the money, I became more interested and more aggressive about NLSPT. And when those who are inspecting the site came, we impressed them more than any other because we are more prepared for it. We became very committed to it and that was why they selected Nasarawa to be the pilot of the three states that were selected. That was what happened.
You raised the alarm that Boko Haram is regrouping in Nasarawa. Please can you throw more light?
Well, I have tried as much as possible to explain what we meant so that people do not get panicked that Boko Haram has moved from Borno to Nasarawa because that is not what happened. What happened was that around 2016, a group called Darul Salam were actually sent packing out of Niger state and they didn’t find any particular place to settle, but Nasarawa state so they came to Uttu first in Toto local government area of the state, a village that Bassa use to be and since Bassa were not longer there, they settled there; that was what happened. They now started to sympathise with Boko Haram, entered into some kinds of agreement with them and started paying allegiance to the sect.
How did you get this information?
We heard it directly from the actual women and children when they were dislodged. They were the people that told us the entire stories. Luckily, Mr President came in very strongly and supported us in the state towards the operation. The police, military, air and naval forces were able to dislodge these people. That’s how we captured their families and brought them here, unfortunately some of them that paid allegiance to Boko Haram started regrouping in some other locations but the police and the military have responded strongly and were able to dislodge them again.
Are they all completely out of Nasarawa?
I will not say yes yet because at times we hear they don’t gather in large numbers like they used to because there were over 3,000 in Uttu, now do we even have up to 100 of them in any particular part of the state? Most likely no, but are they still in Nasarawa state. Most likely a few of them here and there, but may be the majority of their leaders that were fighting have left Nasarawa state completely and gone to other states.