Bishir Yakub Abdulbaqi is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Katsina State, who has been steadfast in contributing in strengthening any political party that had given its presidential ticket to Muhammadu Buhari since 2003. In this interview with ANDY ASEMOTA, he speaks on the chances of the party in the forthcoming elections.
When did you begin you journey in
ventured into politics since 1999. I had been of course with APP, ANPP, CPC and APC right now. I have been playing roles at all levels, particularly at the national level.
What inspired you into remaining loyal to any political party Mr. President identifies with?
I think I am motivated by my true believe that President Muhammadu Buhari is a person that will lead us to a vision that will put Nigeria in the best state and to compete in the comity of nations. That is basically why I remained where he is and why I continue to contribute because I believe there will be light at the end of the tunnel under his leadership.
Over three years into APC-led administration, can you give insight into ability of the government to deliver on its mandate?
If we look back at the previous administration, I think that will actually make us to appreciate the current position where we are because there was a statement by former Minister of Finance, Dr. Okonjo Iweala, which declared that with the way that government was going, within six months the country would not even continue to pay salaries. So, at inception, Buhari administration really meant the economy in a bad state, which the President also acknowledged saying the economy was really in a deep hole he never thought was that deep before he assumed office.
So, he continued to struggle to make sure he stabilize it and at the same time we had two negative in our GDP when he said we were in a state of insolvency but we were able to get out of that with his commitment in agriculture, foreign investment and of course stabilizing the security of the country allowing people to do more business and also allowing other countries to appreciate our position.
What do you make of the achievements?
With this development, I just want to advise that people should be a bit more patient because we have started seeing the light. We should be a little bit more patient as more things are yet to come under Buhari’s administration. My advice is that whatever people are thinking, we should be steadfast and people should think wisely and vote for President Muhammadu Buhari so that we will achieve the desired goal if we allow his administration to continue.
Are you eyeing political position in the forthcoming elections?
As an APC stakeholder in Wakilin Kudu 1, Katsina Local Government Area in Katsina State, my position on that is I am now more involved in contributing in strengthening my party for the forthcoming general elections and I am doing my best at the state level in particular and also at the national level whenever I am involved in any issue or any committee. I am in the system but I have not really made up my mind on any desired position but as things unfold, things can change and something may come up.
What is your reaction to issues pertaining to issuance and collection of PVCs?
A voter’s card is what will give the right to anyone to vote in a democratic setting. So, it is a very important tool and my advice to anybody who is yet to collect his or her own is to make effort to do so and those that are yet to register should make more effort to beat the deadline and make sure they register.
The general issue of voters’ cards and registration also lies with the processes. So, I hope that INEC will look at what is going on: the number of people that have registered, what is the level of PVCs collection and the number of PVCs being processed so that they will at least know whether they can have more ways of speeding up the processes so that people will not be disenfranchise in performing their civic responsibility. So, I will advice that we have to look at the other side of the coin for a possible faster process so that every eligible Nigerians will enjoy their right to vote.
Talking PVCs, what have APC and other stakeholders being doing in that area?
At all levels, particularly at the state level, our party has been making efforts to sensitize its supporters to ensure they collect their PVCs because failure to do so will allow anybody to get into any office he or she did not merit. That is why we as a party have been doing very well in educating the citizenry to obtain their PVCs and make sure they vote in the forthcoming elections.
Some people have been complaining about issues of dividends delivered by APC in the past three years. What is your take?
Looking at the critical level, it could easily be seen that some new things have been introduced. For example, on issues concerning agriculture, the administration has assisted in alleviating the problem of improved seeds and fertilizer. The government is trying its best to make sure that many poverty alleviation programmes are adopted in the state and Katsina citizens have really benefitted from the poverty alleviation programmes.
So, bringing it down to the state and local level, I could say that people have seen positive change from what obtained in the past and we can see it also in our production level in agriculture which has so skyrocketed that even the price of foreign rice has become so low as almost the same as that of locally produced rice. If there is not such effort, nobody could ever believe that with the way we depend on eating rice that such a thing could be achieved.
I think everybody could see the development in the health sector; most of the Primary Health Care clinics are being rehabilitated even in remote areas so that patients could be treated there, which is a good development that was abandoned before now. Also, at the state or secondary level, most hospitals have been rehabilitated and equipped to treat different ailments.
We have seen development also in education. More schools were built and existing ones were renovated and teaching aides were supplied. Katsina State is even witnessing more successes in SSC examinations compared to the previous years. So we can see development in education as well.
Also, on roads, there are many roads that were constructed to open up villages so that farm produce will not be wasted but moved to towns and be sold. That is development because that could improve the GDP of any country and we have seen that.
What is your reaction to the assertion of some APC stakeholders Governor Aminu Bello Masari deserves a second term?
In life, if there are developments and you could see them, everybody will want to see more of it believing that if the government continues, more goodies are likely to come. People will benefit and definitely they will want to see more of benefit so that more sectors could be improved upon. I believe this government is serious in handling what the citizens want. I think it is the right government to continue.
What are the chances of the APC in 2019 general elections?
As a member of the APC and a stakeholder, I can see that the party having done its best to achieve its mandate in terms of political economy, security and international politics. Anyone could see that the party is really moving forward and that is in general terms. Specifically, with the recent by-elections in Kogi, Katsina and Bauchi States where APC won all the seats, it is another pointer that the party is strong.
It seems to be appreciated by Nigerians, you could see wherever he attends a function or otherwise, you will see a lot of crowd openly trying to appreciate him and you will see that the crowd is really happy seeing him. That is an indication that he is a true leader and people are really interested in following him. I don’t think he may have any problem in the upcoming general elections in 2019.