Abdulfatai Yahaya is a gubernatorial aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress in Kwara State. He shares his desires and plans for the state with OLAJIDE OMOJOLOMOJU in this interview.
What informed your aspiration to govern Kwara State in the next political dispensation?
The intention is simple. It is a way to align with the current ‘not too young to run’ campaign going on in the country, which targets people like me to be involved in active politics as a young Nigerian. As youths, we know the plight of people, because we are everywhere. It is a known fact that Kwara State is a civil service state, but I have the vision to turn the state around from what it is known for to an industrial one. I so much believe that I can achieve this goal. It is going to be a youth affair, filled with lots of brilliant innovations if by His grace, I become the governor of Kwara State.
What is your political pedigree which has emboldened you to throw your hat into the ring this time around?
I joined politics in 2008. I ran for a seat in the House of Representatives in 2011 on the platform of Democratic Peoples Party (DPP). I contested for the same position in 2015 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). At present, my people are agitating that I should contest for the governorship seat, as they have begun to rally support throughout the whole state.
Personally, I have not made it official, but the agitations and support have been overwhelming, and as a proud son of the soil and the fact that I so much respect my people, I have accepted the call.
Meanwhile, I don’t see this call as a payback for my kind gestures to the grassroots. My humanitarian service has no political undertone. With or without politics, I won’t stop my kind gestures to humanity and the people of Kwara State.
How would you assess the Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed-led APC government in the state?
First, I think I need to commend the present government for the development it has brought to the state so far. The Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed-led government is trying its best. We are all aware of the recession in the country, yet the government was able to overcome all the challenges.
The main fact, however, is that I am seeing beyond him. It may seem that he has done all, but I can see beyond him. He has done well, but I will do better than him. I see myself as the game-changer of the state.
What would you do differently and what are your priorities if you are given the mandate to govern Kwara State?
As I said earlier, I am from an industry Nigerians don’t know much about; I am a miner and I see nobody that loves Kwara State like I do, because settling down at home and investing in my state is a proud development. I have set my priorities; turning Kwara State into an industrial state is one of my plans. Also, security is very important and I am committed to protecting every citizen and the property of the people of the state, because without security no investor would want to patronise our state. So, security would be my first priority. With my experience, I think I would be the best chief security officer of the state, especially with my relationship with all security agents and traditional rulers in the state. I have a blueprint of how to make the state greater and I am ready to take the responsibility.
Isn’t dumping mining for politics a huge risk?
I am not dumping mining; rather, I will expose the people of Kwara to the great opportunity. God has blessed Kwara State with many mineral resources and we must all be beneficiaries by turning them into sources of revenue generation, as this will attract investors and boost the economy of the state.
We have what it takes to run the state from within; we have resources that are far better than oil. We have gem stones, metallic minerals, limestone, among others. Aside all these, we have tourist sites such as the highest water fall in Africa, Owu Fall, that can launch Kwara to be one of the leading tourists destinations in the country and Africa at large. I believe the only way we can experience a great change as citizens is to develop what we have in the state.
Age has become a topical issue as 2019 approaches, with many people expressing the view that the youths, who are clamouring for power, are not prepared for leadership. How would you react to this?
The agitation against the involvement of youths in sensitive positions is very wrong. I can authoritatively say that the youth could be much better leaders than many of the current set of leaders. Many of our leaders today never ran personal businesses before they ventured into politics. Even though I don’t think age should determine anyone’s political aspirations, it is a known fact that many of our leaders came to power at their youthful age and they are still in power till now. So, when do they want youths to take over? Is it when we become 70? This idea is completely wrong and unfair to the entire youth of this nation. We all need to take our rightful positions this time.
Take for instance, the constant attacks by herdsmen in some parts of the country. It is unfortunate that we are still experiencing this problem as a nation. But who are those being used wrongly to cause violence and those bearing the brunt of the attacks? Are they not youths? So, it is time the Nigerian youth, irrespective of tribes or religion, ensured that they are no longer deceived by anyone. We should not allow ourselves to be used by any selfish leader. Instead, we should take our chances now to make the country a better place. It is time for us to all unite and correct the mistakes of our forefathers.
How prepared are you for the task ahead?
I am fully prepared. Aside the fact that I have built a political structure over the years; I have been working towards this for about 10 years now. I started politics in the state in 2008 and I have been able to establish myself in Kwara State. If the structure had not been there, people who I don’t even know and those I have never seen before would not have been agitating for me to contest. I am contesting on the platform of the APC and I want to appreciate our leader, the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, for sustaining the structure of the party.
What is your relationship with Senator Saraki and how bright are your chances of clinching the APC ticket in Kwara State through a free and fair primary?
Senator Saraki and I have a father and son relationship. On my chances of flying the APC flag in 2019, I am confident that the leadership of the party will follow the wish of the people. So, I have nothing to worry about. The table has turned to us and I’m ready to represent my people as well as take them to the next level.
I am happy that Kwara is about to witness what has never happened before, because I have been called upon to serve and I am poised to spread the dividends of democracy to all nooks and crannies of Kwara State. The state is about to experience a new dawn and we are delighted that our great leader, Senator Saraki, is in support of the new wave, because he has also joined the agitation for the ‘not too young to rule’ campaign and this is his state and I am confident that he is a man of his words. He would want to begin the campaign from his own state. The people of Kwara State are delighted with the body language of our dear leader.
Based on your experience in the mining sector, what is your assessment of the industry?
I would say the sector is growing, but there is the need for more improvements.
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