In this interview with SUNDAY ISUWA, Rijo Shekari, a fellow of the Association of Certified Accountants, United Kingdom, and a Commonwealth Scholar, speaks about why he wants to represent Kaduna South in the National Assembly, the killings in Southern Kaduna amongst other issues
Why do you want to represent Kaduna South at the Senate in 2019?
My reason for aspiring to be the next Senator from Southern Kaduna is for three things: First of all, I feel the sense of urgency to be involved in the political scene because I am tired of complaining. I believe that for a young man approaching 40, haven spent over 13 years in the private sector, it’s high time I also contributed my quota to the public service. Secondly, I’ve travelled all over Southern Kaduna and I must confess that I am not happy with what I see. Not only in Kaduna but in Nigeria, most places have gone ahead of us despite mineral resources and potential, we are still lagging behind. Imagine an entire local government like Sanga not having a bank? Now tell me, how can you have economic activities without a bank? It’s one of those issues affecting economic development I intend to deal with. And the third issue is that as a legislator, one of my roles is to make laws for the good governance of this country especially those that affect my people directly. For example, some governors have said that the killings in Southern Kaduna are done by foreigners outside Nigeria and I am yet to see any legislator, even from Kaduna State, come up with a bill for border control.
Thus, if I get into office, these are some of the issues I am going to pursue. Also, I intend to push for bills that will improve the standard of education in our higher institutions and the country at large. It is unfortunate that among the top universities in the world, you can’t find a single Nigerian university. And the universities are supposed to be grooming grounds for our future leaders.
How do you view the politics of Southern Kaduna?
Yeah, concerning the politics in Southern Kaduna, unlike other places, we have many learned people and the area has a lot of political awareness. From 1999, Kaduna South Senatorial District, which is part of Southern Kaduna, has not had a Senator that returned to the red chamber for a second term. This really shows that the people of the area are conscious and politically aware. But one of the problems I see is the gerontocratic nature where politics is controlled by the elderly instead of them to be advisers and groom the young ones. There is no platform where the younger people are given opportunity. These people actually started young, but they don’t want to give the younger generation a chance. For me, the present structure needs to be diluted. I have told people that for me, younger people must join politics and cover the age long gap so that our children will have a better life.
Southern Kaduna has been facing series of attacks for a long time and there is no sign on sight that these attacks will stop. What will you do to end these attacks if you emerge senator?
For me, I believe that government needs to merge words with action. I have visited most of these communities that were attacked. You could see grief in the eyes of the people. This is something that the government needs to tackle fast. For every attack, all we get from government is condemnation but the killings continue. When these killings were going on, the communities made several calls but there was no help from the security agencies. They always show up at the scene after the attackers have left. And another thing is that even suspects who the community apprehend and hand over to the police, you won’t hear about them again. The main thing that the government needs to do is for them to merge words with action. Secondly, we need to call a spade a spade. Whoever is caught in this act should be named in the public. Again, people who have been elected by the people to represent them should stand in defence of their people. They should speak for their people. Even in the past, only few people get relief materials after attacks. Again, all stakeholders must come together and address this issue. Whether we like it or not, we have a diverse community. And these leaders must come together in a non-violent manner and address this issue. People must come to the table and say, this is what we want and it stands. Government must play a leading role in this. Because from what we have observed, people don’t take responsibilities of anything. Some just visit traditional rulers, they don’t interact with the local people, they don’t even know how they are feeling. If you do not feel what the people are feeling, then there is no way you can proffer solutions on it.
If you emerge senator, what other things will you do for the Southern Kaduna people?
I thank God that I have worked in the private sector for a while, I am a chartered accountant and a common wealth scholar. Thus, these have helped me to get some experiences and it always gives me an opportunity to network with people. In Southern Kaduna, one should be able to bring in ideas that can improve the living condition of the people, thereby committing the economic growth of Southern Kaduna to the map. Imagine a local government that doesn’t even have a commercial bank? How will economic activities of that area grow? How will people have access to funding for trading? These are things I intend to address. Secondly, Southern Kaduna is largely a community that is based in farming. For me, I strongly believe that it is high time we came together and harmonised the entire value system. From sourcing of funding to production of crops through coordination in other to have a value chain for farmers to get value for their products and the young people too to be gainfully employed either in farming, trading, packaging and all that. For example, people from outside are no longer interested in ginger seeds. They are now more interested in ginger powder. Thus, why don’t we have the warehouses that collate these ginger, why don’t we have companies that produce ginger powder? These are some of the issues that are in my mind. Most of our leaders don’t have the willingness. They have the ability to make these things happen but they don’t have the willingness. We will need a coalition to create value for our society. How much does it take to open a finance company? Less than a N100 million. Why can’t five people come together and get this done and ensure that these monies are loaned to people to start up their businesses and get farming inputs? These are some of the issues I intend to address. Finally, on the issue of education, we have to ensure that our society is liberated from the shackles of the old. The issue of primary and secondary education is also important. We must make sure that no gap is left in our society. We have to create a level playing ground.
What is your advice to the youth and the entire people of Southern Kaduna?
Southern Kaduna people are very interesting people. We have been blessed with everything. Be it climate, soil, land and every other thing you can think of. Our people are very educated. We have many professors and retired military officers. But all these have not translated into prosperity and peace in Southern Kaduna. What I will want the people to do is that let’s begin to change our orientation, our mindsets and realise that anything you conceive in your mind, you can achieve it. These are some of the things that have been driving me to contest for this office. This race is not about Rijo Shekari, it is not about the youth, it is not about the elderly and women; this race is about the soul and prosperity of Southern Kaduna.
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