Hon. Isah Saulawa is a youthful presidential aspirant on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) platform. The Katsina State born politician in this interview speaks on sundry issues including the preparedness of Nigerian youth to govern the country. ANDY ASEMOTA met him.
Insecurity in the country is still a challenge. If elected, what will you do differently to combat it?
My take on it is based on my training in the military as a National Guard, not as a soldier. From my experience and the way I was trained in military institutions here in Katsina for my basic National Guard undertakings, I was the general squadron leader of the intelligence of the National Guard at that time. I was reporting directly to Major General A. G. Bello, who later became special adviser on security to then Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
That experience has given me the background to appraise the current insecurity in the country. If I am given a chance to govern Nigeria, I will not lose one single soldier except if it is destined that the soldier will die but the way Boko Haram members are killing soldier is something else. Do you know the cost of producing one soldier? It is quite enormous. So, we should respect the individual dignity of that soldier by changing the pattern of the war.
I believe all soldiers should be redeployed from Sambisa forest and kept at a distance base. I am talking to you intelligently now. Military intelligence, soldiers that go without uniform, my kind when I was in the service, will be deployed and put in the society of those Boko Haram and the areas where Boko Haram are active for intelligence gathering. Soldiers from a distance base can only move in to hit targets based on correct information. Today there is not enough intelligence gathering which the soldier will use to fight Boko Haram.
So, it is difficult for the soldiers to identify his enemy but their enemies know them and the soldiers have become the easy target and they are killing them massively. When I come to power, if the youths agree to prove that we are not lazy and elect me as President, I am going to make the military and Para-military intelligence to go into the war secretly. That is why I want to be given this chance to fulfill the promise APC made to bring Boko Haram to its kneels within one year.
What are your chances of getting the ticket of PDP and winning the forthcoming general elections?
As I have told you, I am a young man; I have not stolen Nigerians money, I don’t have N12m right now but I have the capital assets which I will sell to generate the money to purchase the form. If giving the chance, I told you I was one of the presidential campaign coordinators for Katsina State under Goodluck Support Group (GSG). People of my age, young men, who coordinated for him as presidential campaign coordinators under GSG in other 35 states are there supporting me.
So, I have a structure abandoned by former President Goodluck Jonathan because since that period he has not been in contact with us and we now see it as a vital platform to come together and to politick together. That is why I am very proud that I will spend less to win the forthcoming election.
I have a structure on ground in all the 36 states and they are working for me right now to see that we obtain the presidential ticket. I am also using this opportunity to solicit the support of Gen. Babangida and former President Jonathan to generate the money to buy the nomination form because we don’t want to ask Nigerian youths to start working hard to buy recharge cards as Buhari did for us to get nomination form and at the end of the day failed the youths.
Babangida and Jonathan have been encouraging youths they never called us lazy rather they are always promoting and lifting our morale. I have the record where Goodluck Jonathan said during his campaign that he would remain committed to promoting the interest of Nigerian youths and I am following his footsteps that is why I am calling on leaders to help us as they have been assisting Youths and others in this country because we, the young ones, are the machinery this country is using to move all sectors of its economy forward.
What do you hope to do differently from APC administration if given the opportunity?
I don’t want you to be calling APC government an administration, APC is just a gang of Buhari supporters running the affairs of Nigerians.
Why do I say so? A government that could not form its cabinet until after six consecutive months, about 180 days, is that an administration?
My government, if it comes to power, in the Eagle square during my inauguration, I will announce my cabinet and right now as I am making consultation before the primary election of our party I have started picking my ministers, ambassadors, permanent secretaries, directors and advisers through consultation with people.
I am assembling the talented youths whom I know can perform better than Buhari’s minister, ambassadors and others because we have not seen any dividend of what they have promised us rather as people are saying APC is All Promises Cancelled not All Progressives Congress as they call their party.
What is on your take on Nigeria’s education sector and unemployment which have direct impact on youths?
I will offer free education right from primary school up to university level. I can vividly recall when I was young and often visit my uncle at Bayero University, Kano, Justice Maikaita Saulawa, then a law student, I saw how students were well catered for as undergraduates and on graduation my uncle came back home with a car. That really encouraged me to study more but unemployment forced many of us to join the military.
My administration will train Nigerians Youths towards self employment and will not hold back what government should do to tackle the prevailing redundancy. I am quite ready and I assure Nigerian youths that, for example the members of NYSC, immediate they complete their youths’ service they will have two years to serve in the public service full salary. After that, they will decide whether to continue to work in public service where they were deployed or be empowered to be self employed.
How are you going to implement that?
NYSC members will teach for one year in primary or secondary schools and immediately after their service year they will be posted government ministries, departments and agencies for two years.
My apologies go to the youths who are being dumped after their NYSC programme. When I come to power we will ensure that after the youths complete the programme they are empowered to be self employed through disbursement of no less than one trillion naira from our resources to start their business activities. Before they are given the resources, some of them will be sent to Australia, France China, Canada and even some Africa countries for industrial training in managing worthwhile activities and nation building.
My government will assume office with plans and strategies to move the nation forward unlike the present administration that spent its first six months without cabinet, spent three months in hospital, expended another nine months on accusing PDP of wrong doings and another nine months in arresting PDP members while those like Amaechi that defect to APC are saints.
Besides that, my government will assume its responsibility of financing the education sector.
The only way you can develop Nigeria and indeed Africa and fight corruption is to make education free. To enthrone free and qualitative education, the building block is the primary school level. I will start with the deployment NYSC members to only public schools to lay a solid foundation for secondary schools and universities.
The corps members that will be deployed to public primary schools will only teach English language and Mathematics while other subjects will be taught by the permanent teachers in the schools. That policy will ensure that our pupils are well groomed in the two basic subjects necessary to for them do well in either sciences or arts later at secondary school level and at tertiary institutions.
One of the advantages of my policy on education is that both private and public primary schools and even secondary schools would boast of the same quality and parents would not have to spend beyond their resources to sponsor their children and wards in expensive private schools.
Studies have shown that the policy will give parents massive relief and that one of the reasons corruption strives in both public and private sectors of the economy is the exorbitant fees of private schools being shouldered by many parents.
What are your plans to boost the power sector in the country?
This generation will not develop except we are able to significantly increase the mega watts of electricity available in the country. So, a sizeable percentage of the nation’s budget should be earmarked for power generation in every geo-political zone of the country.
The state of power supply in the country is quite unfortunate. For too long, power generation has been nothing to write home about. Every zone will have a power plant managed by a reputable company. When they poll their power supply into the national grid, there would be massive increase to change the pattern of expansion in power generation and distribution necessary for the growth of the nation’s economy.
What are your views on President Muhammadu Buhari’s advice after his assent to the Not – Too – Young – To Run Bill that youths should wait till 2023?
President Buhari didn’t realize the implication of the Not Too Young To Run Bill until had made the mistake of giving it his assent too early. He could have delayed it until after 2019 elections but has already signed it. His remark that youths should prepare their mind against 2023 is at best for the youths in the All Progressives Congress (APC). The youths in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) cannot abide by an unconstitutional statement of Mr. President. The law has given us the opportunity to contest and that is why even on my bill boards, it is clearly written there to send the message to young people that they too can contest.
The potentials of Nigerian youths are great but the youths are not given the opportunity to explore their potentials and that is why I am coming out in the interest of young, talented and hardworking Nigerian youths. I believe if you help a single youth, you are helping at least four people -his male and female peers, his parents and children.
What do you make of the N22m nomination and expression of interest fees for the presidential form in PDP?
The party is very lenient about selling the forms for the president race. Even before we asked for a review of the amount, you know, PDP being a party for the masses, its National Working Committee slashed the fees of its presidential aspirants’ forms to N12million. It is no longer N22 million.
Are you comfortable with that?
Yes, I am comfortable with that because if somebody can drop his price from N22m to N12m, I think he is merciful but the only issue is as a young man who doesn’t want to be seen as lazy as Buhari had labeled us; I have to work harder to generate the N12m. I am doubling up all efforts to source the N12m even if it amounts to selling one of my properties, I will sell it to sacrifice that N12m to see I become the President of Nigeria in order to save nation’s youths from the prevailing circumstances.
It’s not easy but if I were lazy I would have been asking people to send recharge cards to me as Buhari did to afford the APC presidential race form. I am not that type, my party has not trained me to request for recharge cards from Nigerian citizens so that I can buy presidential nomination form.
In 2004, Buhari mobilized us as youths; I was heading the youths at that time. I mobilized FCT youths as FCT chairman of United Nigerian Peoples Party (UNPP) under the Congress of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP). We joined hands together to promote the presidential ambition of Buhari by organizing mass action against President Olusegin Obasanjo’s tyrannical system of governance at that time not knowing that Obasanjo was a nice leader compared to how Buhari is ruling this country and I don’t believe that Obasanjo is corrupt.
So, I am saying sorry to Obasanjo because he really tried in bringing Nigerians out of communication darkness by introducing GSM. Apart from that, Obasanjo solidified that nation’s financial system through his able governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Charles Soludo.
Can you shoulder the challenge of mobilizing the electorate across the nation in support of your ambition?
It is easy for me to mobilize Nigerians, sell my ideology to them and advise them to come together in the interest of our common good. Almost all my messages are sent out through social media and that was why we held North West Social Media retreat recently in Katsina. It had re-invigorated our youths to embark on massive campaign for the success of PDP.
I am very sure that through social media, I will oust the government of General Muhammadu Buhari. I am confident that I will oust the government of Muhammadu Buhari. I will retire him from politics; youths will take care of him, let him go back to Daura and take care of his cattle while we take care of his affairs.
What is your reaction to the said destruction of your bill boards in Katsina metropolis?
My reaction to this development is an appeal to our youths to remain calm and be wise because no amount of intimidation from the ruling party will prevent me from focusing on my cardinal goal to serve Nigerian populace and I see the destruction of my bill boards as part of the ploys to derail my vision.
The state government is not pleased with seeing an opposition bill board standing by the strategic Nagogo Road, quite close to the GRA Roundabout and a walking distance to the state headquarters of the police, the DSS, Customs and the old Government House among others in Katsina metropolis.
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