In this interview with journalists, a governorship aspirant in Gombe State, Gen. Sylvester Andrew Audu (retd.) spoke about his ambition as well as issues that will determine who becomes the next governor of the state. BEATRICE GONDYI was there for LEADERSHIP
May we know why you want to be governor of Gombe State?
Please, point of correction. It is not why I want to be the governor of Gombe State; you see, politics is for the people. The people thought it wise and asked me to come out and vie for the governorship seat of Gombe State and that was why I said point of correction. It is not me that want to impose myself on them or force myself to become governor but the people of Gombe State are saying I should come and vie for the governorship seat of the state.
For me, it is not just about anybody coming out and saying I want to be this or that. This is because politics belongs to the people; so the yearning of the people is about what they want, not what I want. Let the people ask you to come out to vie for something that they believe you can deliver.
Granted that people prevailed on you to vie for the seat; if you win the election in 2019, what would be your focus?
You see, I will practise politics of inclusion; everybody will participate in my administration by the grace of God. It is not going to be a one person thing where I will say I will do this or do that, or I want this or that. No. It is going to be an all inclusive, people-oriented governance. The people will determine what they want and I will just be the one that will implement their wishes and desires which will enhance the speedy development of the state, especially in the area of human capacity development. I will use everything within my power to develop the state. I will deploy equity and fairness in the distribution of people-oriented projects and ensure a civil service that is vibrant and motivated because the civil servants are the bedrock and the engine room of development in any society whether state or federal.
And of course, I will lay emphasis on areas of priority. If you look at education for instance, where you have so many young youths with various degrees that have not been utilised, so we must tailor that education sector very well to what we need so that everybody will be relevant to society and meaningfully contribute to the economy. Education must be seen to be rewarding and it is for the betterment of the society. And if you can have education and the society is not benefiting from it there is no need for that education because education must contribute to the society otherwise it is useless.
Therefore, we must guide the education sector and its development where everybody will have a stake. I tell you, everybody needs to play a role in the development of Gombe State and that is why I said politics of inclusion must be adopted, not the politics of exclusion as being practised today.
You have emphasised so much on ‘my people’. May we know what informed them to ask you to run for the governorship seat of the state?
Well, the best answer must be from them, but to my mind they must have seen one or two things that I have been able to do. During my campaign, my message will not be that people should vote for me. No. I will never ask my people to vote for me but ask them to vote for whoever they think will give them what they need. Last time they voted and they have seen the outcome; so they are coming back now to say ‘we didn’t allow you the last time but we want you now to come out and run for the governorship seat of the state’; because they feel that I am the right person for it.
I am a detribalised person and our call in the military is service to humanity, we can be posted anywhere to serve. And we served with the fear of God, yet we are not religious bigots; we gave everybody a chance. I don’t have a pre-conceived idea about people or a particular tribe of people. I give equal opportunity to people to prove your mettle. I will give you a chance to prove who you are and I will treat you accordingly.
Have you been involved in any humanitarian service during or after your military service?
Of course, yes. The whole military service is a humanitarian service to my people, state and the nation at large.
You see, various people have come and requested for one form of assistance or the other and you know that real success is when you do something good and you leave it unadvertised. I feel a little bit shy advertising the good things I have done because I did it for God and let God alone commend and reward me. But I know I have done so much for individuals, communities, various groups and organisations and my idea of success is when you do something good and you don’t advertise it, your reward will be in heaven.
What are your chances of picking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket among the giants and moneybags in the race?
(Laughter). I don’t know what you mean by giants and moneybags. Is it the Goliath and David type? Anyway, every citizen has the right to aspire to any level of elective post and that is the beauty of democracy. When you look at the issue of Goliath, and David, a nobody. Goliath was a giant, a distinguished and strong. He was known all over the place, but David , an unknown entity, came out victorious in their battle for supremacy. But in politics you don’t look at sizes, potentials and so on. We look at the person who fits that role and the people will make the final choice. The people came to me to tell me their desires if I become governor and I said it is good. And you know that when many people run they are providing the electorate with more choices to choose among the aspirants.
Of course, the PDP is a party that has been re-organised since after losing the last general election at the federal level. That was done and still going for best results. This time around, we should allow the people to make their choice then we will have and enjoy the beauty of internal democracy and it is that internal democracy that is the main stand in any political party. And so we should allow the people to choose who they want because they have reasons for their choice.
Everybody should be given the opportunity to play the game according to the rules; so whoever that emerges from the party will be supported by the other aspirants to win the election for the party come 2019.
What is your take on the agitation by your people for power shift to Gombe South come 2019?
You know everybody has the right to present his or her opinion on any issue and that is one of the fundamental human rights as enshrined in our constitution. But personally, I don’t subscribe to that as every election has its own guidelines. Every indigene of Gombe State constitutionally has the right to vie for any elective office, so everybody must be given that opportunity and not restricting to a particular zone because you have not produced a governor before. That’s why I emphasise politics of inclusion which requires that there should be equity. To the best of my knowledge, Gombe South has not produced a governor or a minister since the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999.
We are just coming into the political arena and we are assimilating what has been happening and then we try to lend our voices to say we should practise politics of inclusion because when you have politics of exclusion then we have the dissatisfaction that is pervading the land today. And once you exclude some people then they can take up arms because I believe that if you interview some of the Boko-Haram boys about the current insurgency in some parts of the country today, you will find out that there is a grievance and so when such grievance is addressed then you have a peaceful atmosphere to play politics but when there is lingering grievance it may degenerate like it is happening in many parts of the country. And if you interview some of the Fulani herdsmen, may be, they have a grievance that has not been addressed; likewise every part of the Nigerian community.
The moment grievance is allowed to linger then you have disaffection. I ask government at all levels to look at the grievances no matter how small they may be. So, when you look at Gombe South in 1999 nobody came out like in 2003 for the governorship seat, but in 2007 I can say yes, but then every period and every election has its own game plan.
We are asking that among those that are coming out from all zones looking for the governorship, let the best emerge, not from few elements or few representatives of the people but the best that will give the people what they want so that Gombe State will be taken to the level that God has destined it. You see, we are small but very compact, organised and have governors that have preceded this moment. They have played their part and I believe that everybody should be allowed to play his own part at the right time. And I believe the time has come for the best to emerge as governorship candidate of Gombe State.
What are the chances of your party in Gombe State?
I think you should be asking for the chances of other political parties not the PDP. The Peoples Democratic Party has come to stay in Gombe State, so it is not by magic; we are basically a PDP state and Gombe South is the home of PDP and Gombe south is the fulcrum of the entire state. And by that I mean whoever that Gombe south votes for, that is the winning governor. For the APC, we never underrated our opponents, but we know that PDP will be the people’s choice come 2019.
The former governor Danjuma Goje had his eight years in office as a PDP governor and the present governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo will complete his eight years in office next year as a PDP governor, so PDP administration has laid a solid foundation for the development of the state and the people are behind the party.
However, every election has its own ups and downs and we pray and emphasise that there must be internal democracy in the party in the selection of candidates for every elective office and be mindful of some of the devices of our opponents. The moment we have internal democracy in PDP in Gombe State and at the national level, no party, no matter where they are coming from, will defeat the PDP in next year’s general election.
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