Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, a Gombe state governorship aspirant on the platform of All Progressive Congress (APC), was former commissioner of Finance and community development in 2003. In this interview with HENRY TYOHEMBA, he bares his mind on the upcoming APC Congress and the ineffectiveness of PDP administration in the state.
Why do you want to be governor of Gombe?
I want to be governor for obvious reasons. I want to be governor because I have the belief that I have garnered enough experience in life, age, administratively, socially and whatever to take on the issues that are real challenges to the people of Gombe and the people of Nigeria. If you look at it critically, you will find that many people just go into governorship, may be for that name or for the purpose of that office but personally, I have the conviction that I have the power to turn around the fortune of Gombe in order to impact positively on the lives of the people because of my antecedent in business and governance.
How do you think your party can defeat PDP?
Well, it will be a very big challenge. In fact, if you do a critical postmortem of 2015 election, you will know that APC has all it takes to get the governorship of Gombe. We won 75 per cent or more for the president in Gombe; we won four out of six positions in house of representatives, we won two out of three senators and we won 10 out of 24 house of assembly seats in Gombe State, and even in the governorship that people are generally talking about that APC has failed, in Gombe metropolitan where most of us are, we beat the governor with all the manipulations he was able to do. Close to 90,000 votes in Gombe metropolitan to the extent that even the polling units, where the governor was casting his vote had to be scattered so he could claim that it was a controversy, but eventually, in other places, he was able to buy and connive with the security agencies in order to claim victory and I know, that even till date, from the electoral officers, the police commissioners and to other security agencies, they are still facing trials and investigations for the deals they made. So, if we gather all the experiences that we had, knowing fully that APC started from zero, with all the security agencies behind him, we still had the courage to face him. So now that we are in control, at least at the federal level, the security agencies and INEC have organised election in such a way that you would never have chance again to manipulate and the people are up and doing. There is no way that we cannot deliver in the forthcoming elections in Gombe State.
You are not a Gombe man, you are not likely to know the level to which PDP is estranged. I will ask you to go and see what is happening in Gombe and who and who are in charge of what is happening in the state, but for sure, with the level of achievement APC was able to record in the 2015 election, from zero to close to 70 per cent, I believe we have the capacity and ability and we shall deliver by the grace of God and take over.
APC congress is coming this week. How ready is your party to conduct the congress?
I can vow for anybody that is within the polity to go and check the system. In fact, the result of this congress is because of the resolve of the president and even the party itself, to go by the spirit of the constitution, otherwise, people would have said continue. In fact, there was that position but the president came out to tell us that the position is clear and he goes by the details of the constitution and that is why the national executive committee and voting committee resolved that we should go for polls and we are going for polls and believe me, there is no way anybody can hinder this because there is a resolve of all the party followers to produce credible candidate that will lead this party for success, both for the president and for all the elections in Nigeria.
There are some rumours that Mr President has already endorsed someone to be the chairman of APC, what is your take on this?
I don’t believe that. The president is a democrat, he is a product of democracy and anybody in the party is free to contest whichever position he aspires for.
What do you think will make Nigerians vote APC again?
APC came to the leadership of Nigeria at the time that people were disappointed with the performance of PDP for 16 years. Nigeria was being run like a private enterprise and certainly, God made it possible for Buhari to come and be president on the platform of APC. APC came with manifesto, which manifesto for the presidential campaign, was principally meant for fighting corruption, restoring security and developing economy. And, as far as I am concerned, the president has delivered on all reasonably to warrant that he goes for the second term so that he can add more up to the level of Promised Land. What he initiated, he will be able to deliver more. So based on that principle, I believe people still have faith and confidence in APC.
What is your plan for the people of Gombe?
This is not something that I can just mention to you in 10 to 20 minutes, because Gombe State comprises of close to 4 million people with 11 local governments and with people of various structure. The governance is all about delivering service to the people, service in form of good quality education, quality healthcare, developing manpower and human capacity in order to improve on the social standard of the people. I have a plan and I have developed a manifesto which I have been able to circulate to the people and believe me, if we follow through it one by one, be it on infrastructure, education, health, agriculture and be it on industry or general commerce, there are ways and means by which we can turn around the fortune of Gombe State in order to improve on the social lives of the people. And I believe if I am the governor, I will be able to motivate and improve on the capacity of the people that are around so that we can move to the Promised Land and deliver on all the things that are important.
What do you intend to do in the area of youth employment?
Well, my experience personally is in business and I believe elsewhere in the world, government is supposed to provide opportunity to the private sector in order to expand so that the economy will grow and by so doing, it absorbs the youths by form of giving them employment. But this is not what has been done in Gombe and I don’t believe with their approach that it will be done. So, for me, I will prioritise engaging or attracting private sector to come and set up industries and give all facilities and support that are needed for us to give good engagement to the teeming youths and the population of Gombe State.
2018 budget is yet to be passed. As an accountant, what do you think is delaying it?
Delaying the budget is more or less a political issue than accounting or professional issue, and I don’t want to delve into the issue of legislative-executive relationship. If you think that is the issue, I think more of it lies in the way people may be expecting. People talk of budget, yes but mind you, the budget is not cast in iron steel. Even if there is a budget, there are ways and means by which governance is done.
Budget is just a guide and it has not stopped the president from performing his duties, but there is still need for the national assembly to do the correct thing because the budget was submitted in October and we are in May. There is need for us to really deliver on this so that the anxiety and wishes of the people would have been taken care of.
How do you assess governor Dankwambo’s administration?
You see, PDP has failed woefully in Gombe. Up till this moment, despite close to N300 billion received by the state from federal allocation, you cannot present a concrete project worth N6-7 billion that has been completed in the seven years that Dankwambo has been governor in Gombe. You have to prioritise on what really impacts on the lives of the people before you deliver on it for you to be successful in terms of administration.
Go to Gombe, you will see a conference center. If it was me, at the time that conference center was initiated, what we needed was for us to beef up our security so that our people will run their lives in comfort. The structure there was unwelcome, it was built in an environment that has no security. N6billion has been spent and the project is to be completed. Who will go and hold any conference in Gombe when there is no security, power and the environment is not economically stable.
If you move out of that, go and look at what they call international Motor Park. Everybody knows that for you to cite a motor park opposite a tertiary institution that is of university standard, a federal college of education cited opposite a motor park, making it a meeting point for all parks in Gombe is wrong. It will lead to security challenges coupled with the social problems and other problems that accompany them. I don’t think Gombe needs a centralised motor park and the wasted money in doing so.
The primary school that Dankwanbo attended (which I also attended) is just about few meters away from his family house. It has not been completed for seven years now and almost opposite it, there is a ward which, up till now, doesn’t have a primary school. So, tell me where he delivered?
In terms of performance, Gombe always comes behind in recent years; no improvement. The social standard of the people, teachers and of the schools is below zero and that is why anywhere you go, you will find out that Gombe State is about number 32 or so in whatever. So, if you build structures and you do not improve on the welfare and quality of teachers; you do not improve on other aspects that you need in order to package and move forward all together but put structures that you think are only needed in the classroom, because you want to give contracts in education, then you are making a mistake and that is what Dankwambo has done in education. Former governor, Danjuma Goje has tried to improve the standard education by providing a university in Gombe and the university is there, having close to 17,000 students. Now, Dankwambo is setting up a university again where there is funding of Gombe state university that has been in existence since the Goje era up to this moment has been eroded, so how could he operate and deliver on that.
Look at the college of education in Billiri, the polytechnic in Bajoga, college for legal and Islamic studies, none of them is operating at the level that people would like to see education getting on to in Gombe State. So, where else, as far as I am concerned? If you are talking about infrastructure, there are still about 50 out of 114 wards in Gombe that are not accessible by roads.
Do you have any message to APC leaders for upcoming National Convention?
I have a clear message and that message is that we should remain focused, operate by details of the constitution and be the true democrat that we are so that we can produce credible, resourceful, reliable and strong party leaders that will take APC to success in the coming 2019 general elections.
Your final advice to Nigerians as 2019 election draws near?
My advice to them is to tolerate one another, be patient and understand the details and principles of democracy in a way that whoever emerges to be the leader of Nigeria will carry on and move Nigeria forward to the next level.
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