Senator Ibrahim Ida is the new Sardauna of Katsina. In this interview, barely 48 hours before his appointment, the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain speaks on his determination to help the less privileged in his constituency. ANDY ASEMOTA brings the excerpts.
What is the motive behind your outstanding donation today to the victims of the flood that ravaged Jibia town?
First of all, Jibia is my birthplace. It is the hometown of my mother, which is where I was born, so anything that affects Jibia affects me personally. Among those who suffered are my blood relations and marital relations. I was outside the country when the incident happened. I was really disturbed so much that I had to prompt my return so that I could go and see things for myself. What I have seen today really defied even my worst guess. I never expected it to have been this bad and when I went there, I couldn’t hold back tears; they just came naturally not because of the weakness of the heart but out of compassion. I could just imagine a child, an old person being in that position at the middle of the night. I mean how he or she would be disoriented. So, really, that was what I went to see. I am happy that people have been responding, the government at federal level also responded promptly, leading to a visit by the vice president. I think it was the best that could happen. The government of Katsina State, led by Governor Aminu Bello Masari was very forthcoming immediately. In fact, I was made to understand that the governor wept over what he saw. So, it showed that a leader could be so compassionate; that means something.
I am also aware that our political leaders: the senators, members of the House of Representatives and other leading politicians have all gone there and each one has really rendered what he could muster and today when I went there, I wish I could do more and I know I will do more definitely.
Already, we are mobilising; there is an association of which I am a member in Abuja and I am the vice chairman, it is called Amana Foundation. It is made up of Katsina people based in Abuja and they are already mobilising resources to assist the flood victims.
I want to thank the press for really bringing this incident to life because they made it a topical issue and that has prompted a lot of sympathy and I call on all those who can assist the victims; nobody should feel that he has to give thousands or millions of naira, anything you can do, anything you can give would be of use to the people.
To the people there, I also hope they would have the strength of character to bear this catastrophe. You can see that I am happy that life has continued there and I am sure before long, by the grace of God and with the assistance that people are rendering, they will be in a position to rebuild their lives to what it was or even better than what it was. You see, in a tragedy, there is always a silver lining in the cloud.
Katsina has just been hit by the demise of the Sardaunan of Katsina. Can you tell us about the former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie, whom you knew?
Alhaji Ibrahim Commassie was an elder brother; Coomassie was a leader who I was very close to. In fact, I saw him about three or four weeks ago while he was in a hospital in Abuja and characteristically, we always argue about things; I know his stature and I know his standing. We agreed that we would continue the discussion. I never imagined it was going to be our last meeting on this earth.
Coomassie was an intelligent, committed, resourceful person and a professional to the core. He was a policeman; he lived as a policeman and he attained the highest pinnacle of his career.
He was helping people without showing that he was doing so. He was someone you could always go to for assistance in any form and he would help. His demise is a big loss, not only to Katsina and the North but the country at large. I went to His Royal Highness to condole with him first, on the loss of one of his subjects. Coomassie and his family have been very close to the Katsina Emirate for generations. I went to condole with the Emir for losing one of the highest members of his emirate council and one of his highest advisers. I went to condole with him for losing a friend because I know how close they were.
So I want to use this opportunity to pray for the repose of his soul and I do pray that at the end of our lives when it’s time for us to go, we will go in peace and when we die, we will all converge in Aljanna.
He was a good man. I think if I were to write an epitaph for him, I would say: Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie, the Sardaunan of Katsina, has come to this world and lived for 76 years but he did such good deeds that would outlive 100 years. He achieved in 76 years, what hundreds of people could not attain if they had lived for 100 years.
He lived a good life, a reasonably long life, a healthy life, a fruitful life, a beneficial life to others and a life worthy of emulation. He touched our lives in a positive way. A person’s worth is not determined by what he has accumulated but by the way he has touched the lives of others positively. That is the best legacy that anybody can leave after he has died.
We learnt you are planning an empowerment programme to bring succour to the less privileged in the society. Can you shed light on the programme?
Yes, I think the society at large has done a lot for us and so we owe it as a duty, as our responsibility, to also plough back. Part of my programme is for Senator Ibrahim Ida Foundation to reach out and within my senatorial constituency. We have identified in the 116 wards, at least 20 people in each ward: 10 men and 10 women. Out of this number, there will definitely be people with disabilities, a total of 2300 plus that will now be given a form of assistance, free of charge.
Katsina Local Government Area being what it’s, has additional slots and as a result, we are now thinking of raising the figure from 2300 to 3000 people including those that are engaged in frying akara and petty traders among others. We are going to give some form of assistance to them free of charge and also help them raise their capital.
In fact, the search for such people was so dispassionate that I have made it a point that anybody that is my blood relation is not qualified because he has me and I have other ways I can assist him. This is only the first phase of the programme but by the grace of God, we are going to continue after the first phase on and on.
I want to assure you that I am making plans to launch it by next Saturday. We will launch it in Katsina here. The emphasis is on women; at least half of the beneficiaries must be women.
We are going to disburse the assistance to the beneficiaries in each local government area and pray that it will be the source of upgrade of their business, trade or other forms of economic activities.
The idea is to help them; I am doing it to dovetail with what the government is doing. I am a staunch APC supporter, Governor Aminu Bello Masari’s supporter and President Muhammadu Buhari’s supporter. So, whatever I am doing now, will reinforce what APC is doing and whatever Masari is doing.
Can you elaborate on the categories of the prospective beneficiaries?
Each local government area will have between 200 to 220 beneficiaries depending on its number of wards. Out of that figure, no less than 10 in each ward should be women and no fewer than 50 per cent of the beneficiaries should be youths. So, it’s a combination of all. That figure must include people with disabilities as well.
Under the prevailing political dispensation, we would like to know your motive?
You see, we have a responsibility to the society. We went to school and we got things free by the grace of God. When we were in secondary school, I paid no fees. I was fed, I was clothed and I have now reached a level where I feel the little I could afford, even when it’s during political times or for political reasons, does not matter. The idea is to help people, whether it is for politics or anything.
If you help a trader, the beneficiary doesn’t care whether you are doing it for politics or otherwise because on the day he is going to vote, he is not going to ask or show you he is voting for you. You are going to do it for the sake of God and of course, politics is coming into it because you are doing it in political times but one thing is certain, I am doing it to assist what the government of the day; what Governor Masari is doing, I am in support 110 per cent. I am in support of what Buhari is doing 110 per cent including what APC, as a party, is doing.
Whether I am seeking any political office or not, it doesn’t matter because the people I am going to give these things to don’t know them but let them pray for the peace and tranquility in Nigeria, let them pray for the good health for our leaders and let them pray for the party (APC) to continue to grow from strength to strength.
Yes, I think the society at large has done a lot for us and so we owe it as a duty, as our responsibility, to also plough back.
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