Alhaji Shaibu Oricha is a retired permanent secretary but now serves as director general, Government House Administration in Kogi state. In this exclusive interview with OYIBO SALIHU, he bares his mind on topical issues in the state and advocated the need to give the governor a second term opportunity to enable him execute his good development plans for the state.
The governorship election is just a day away. What are the chances of his Excellency?
I sincerely believe that his chances are very bright with the kind of responses and support that the governor is getting from the people of the three senatorial districts of the state. One can conveniently say that the election has been won and lost. The governor on his part is leaving no stone unturned in reaching out to the people to canvas their support. I want to say without mincing words that all political indices for measurement and evaluation give the governor an edge. For instance, the rate at which members of other political parties are decamping to the All Progressive Congress (APC) is enough evidence about the direction the pendulum would swing. Even as we are talking, not less than 30 governorship candidates have stepped down and endorsed the candidature of Gov Yahaya Bello. So, I want to believe that the project is on course, and will end triumphantly.
By your own assessment, what will you describe as the strength of the governor in this campaign?
Thank you very much. One incontrovertible fact about the governor is his detribalised nature. It is on record that no governor has demonstrated fairness, equity and justice in the governance of the state more than His Excellency. You can see this in the way political patronage and infrastructural development has spread across the state.
This singular act of statesmanship has brought the people together more than ever than before. You will agree with me that in the past, these elements were the instruments that governor’s ability to rise above ethnic sentiments in his approach to leadership and governance of the state is a veritable weapon which nobody can fault.
But some people believe that he achieved little in his first tenure.
Let me quickly say this for the records. In measuring the performance of his Excellency during his first tenure, we have to take note of salient issues. You will recall that the controversy that greeted his emergence as governor of Kogi state made governance practically difficult for him. He had lorry loads of litigations to contend with. He had intra-party and anti-party forces to battle with in APC. He also had a fierce opposition party that had just lost election after several years on the stage to contend with. Similarly, he had a hostile bureaucracy on ground.
Within the first tenure of his Excellency, he put up a dogged fight based on competence and capacity to overcome all these challenges. He worked round the clock to scuttle deliberate landmines geared towards frustrating his administration. Today, we are happy that through hard work and commitment to the unity of the state, the governor has been able to reconcile with all warring parties. Talking about achievements, you will agree that the number one achievement of this administration is the sustenance of peace and harmony among the multi—ethnic tribes in the state. Secondly, the worrisome issue of security has been frontally addressed.
Also, infrastructural development has been evenly spread in such a manner that no pat is marginalised. So, I believe that given another opportunity where there will be total concentration on infrastructural development without the previous kind of crisis, the governor would move the state forward in an unprecedented manner.
The Governor is having a formidable opposition from the PDP in a major senatorial district. What is your take on this?
Well, that is not a strange development in politics. The PDP is not a new political party to the people of Kogi state. I believe that the people have tested the ability and their capacity to meet their yearnings at providing the dividends of democracy for about 12 years before they decided to vote them out of office in 2015.
Therefore, I do not consider the party as a threat at this period; particularly, going by their own internal wrangling and bickering. That their candidate is equally from another senatorial district is also normal but one thing I can assure you is that the people of the Eastern Senatorial District have not only tested the performance of his Excellency, but have also enjoyed an unprecedented cordial relationship with him. The governor has been able to allay the fears of everyone in respect to issues of equity and justice in the last four years. It is the confidence reposed in the governor’s exemplary leadership that informed the frontline role being played by the eastern and western people of the state in his re-election campaign.
The first tenure of the governor was youth – driven, leaving no space for the elders and established political leaders?
Yes, I think you’re right to some extent. Like I told you earlier, the events that surround his emergence compelled a lot of people to initially distance themselves for obvious reasons. But the truth is that soon after the Supreme Court gave legitimacy to his administration, the governor has made concerted efforts to reach out to relevant stake holders across the state.
In fact, I can categorically confirm to you that if not for party politics, virtually all political leaders in the state now have good rapport with his Excellency. This he has been able to achieve through responsible and responsive leadership efforts.
Going by the experience of the civil servants during his first tenure, there are palpable fears that his second tenure may be worse for them. What is your take on this?
That is not true. That assumption cannot and can never be true. The governor is a very humane person and has good intentions for everybody in the state. However, you would agree that one of the most difficult realities about life is the issue of change. The last change in the administration of the state brought about a lot of issues which cannot be discussed on the pages of newspaper. As complicated as they were, the governor has been able, through dogged determination and resilience, to overcome those challenges but I want to assure you and every civil servant in Kogi state that the phase is gone for good. The debts are over and the harmonisation processes are ongoing.
So, what is your advice to the people of Kogi state?
My candid advice to the good people of Kogi state is to embrace a man they have tested, that have seen and conquered for them some institutional challenges. The governor has proved that the wealth of the state belongs to the generality of the people of the state. He has also demonstrated his ability to rise above sentiments. For all these reasons, I am sincerely appealing to the people of the state to rally support for his second tenure in office to enable him pursue and implement all his good plans for the state. The governor has over the last four years established a robust relationship with the federal government. He has also achieved relative peace and security in the state. So, it is my conviction that his second tenure would afford him the opportunity to leverage on his local and international connections to fast-track the accelerated socio-economic development of the state.