Dr. Jamil Isyaku Gwamna, an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain and the MD/CEO of Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO), in this interview, bares his mind on some salient national issues. MARY AMODU met him
What is your assessment of current political activities?
When it comes to politics, every nation is unique and the uniqueness of such politics depends largely on the political actors and the political characters that they exhibit. In other matured democracy, after election, it is governance and nothing more. And as far as their system dictates, election remains the final democratic verdict for any candidate and such electoral decisions through the ballot is highly regarded in high esteem.
This is not the case with some of our politicians in the country. Election in Nigeria is gradually becoming a mere democratic exercise that can only be respected if it works in your favour, and if not, the court becomes another electoral means to them. This is the main reason you find out that after elections and even the swearing-in ceremony, there will still be tension because the politicians will do what they know how to do best by heating up the polity to get public sympathy even when such matter is still before the tribunal. But as you know, most of the tribunal rulings have come to an end so there is calm and the lawyers and even the judges can now relax to take care of themselves while the politicians are looking for loopholes from those in power.
I am not against legal resolve to secure one’s mandate if you feel you have been short-changed, all I am saying is that everyone has a duty to play less politics and allow the atmosphere to be calm so that governance can take the front-burner in the scheme of things.
Are you worried that our politicians are already discussing 2023 rather than settling down for the serious business of good governance?
It is part of the nature of the kind of politics we play in the country. Once politicians lose out during elections, they run to court and when the tribunal doesn’t go in their direction, they begin to plan for the next elections with issues of zoning and other internal and external calculations cropping up. It is not wrong to plan but politics should not be about power but about governance. Those planning have their rights to plan but as far as this administration under President Buhari is concerned, it is time for governance and we all must support him to bring us more of the change that we have been witnessing since 2015.
What magic is APC using to remain relevant?
The APC has been able to endear itself to Nigerians because of the Change mantra and as you can see the country is being reformed for the future as against the old order when leadership was about how much you can dig out for yourself as a leader. When you run people-oriented policies and programmes as a government, the people will rally in your favour because you are taking care of their welfare. Like I do say, three groups top the list of those who need a lot of supports to keep the nation going: the farmers, the teachers and the youths and women. To the best of my knowledge, majority of the policies and programmes by the Federal Government have been targeted at this class of Nigerians. The Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, the N-Power, school-feeding and a lot other entrepreneurial trainings to arm the youths and empower the women are meant for the farmers, teachers, youths, women and children. So, if this set of people support Mr. President just as he is caring for them, don’t you think the people have every reason to be on the side of Mr President?
But there is concern that APC may collapse once President Muhammadu Buhari leaves power
Well, this is part of the strategies that most opposition leverages on to create confusion but we in the party are wiser than that. This only substantiates my point earlier that some politicians are after power and not governance. This is 2019 but the calculations, permutations and political mathematics of 2023 is already taking the centre stage. These are the kind of public debate that the opposition could sponsor to destabilise governance but I appreciate Mr. President for being focused and committed to the wellbeing of the people of Nigeria from North to South and from East to West. President Muhammadu Buhari has not come to play politics and he is showing that in every move and that’s why he has become the darling of Nigerians in present day discourse especially for his leadership style.
I wouldn’t want to give in to such permutations as raised in your question but what I am certain about is that Mr. President is the leader of our party APC. The APC under his leadership is united and we all are behind Mr. President and the unity of the party is now stronger than ever.
As a businessman, what is your take on border closure by federal government?
It is good! In fact, what is not appropriate is the fact that Nigeria was almost becoming a home for all sorts of goods and even the ones we have comparative advantage in. Many of these neighbouring countries are just not complying with the trade rules. This is because under the trade rules in the sub-region, it is not allowed to export what you have imported; but as you know many of the rice and cloths and other sub-standard goods are dumped in Nigeria through these countries. Benin Republic for instance is the second importer of rice in the world even when their population is not up to Lagos and Kano put together, so the question is where is the rice going to if not Nigeria? I commend the government in that regard and even the customs for enforcing such directive and raking in more revenue for Nigeria.
If we don’t protect our border effectively, our farmers will suffer. Today under this administration, many Nigerians are now patronizing home-grown produce like rice and others. This is the way to go. Eat what you produce to empower the farmers and create wealth in rural areas. So I commend Mr. President for the political will to tell the world that it is no longer business as usual.
In your own opinion, what does the recent trip of President Buhari to Russia portends for Nigeria?
First of all, let me say this clearly: whatever Mr. President does must elicit opinions definitely because we are practicing democracy. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion as our constitution stipulates. If he hadn’t gone, you will still hear opinions in that regard. So it’s not the trip that should generate the opinions but the gains of such trip to the country. Russia has been known for its military might in terms of weaponry and with some of the security issues on our hands, I think one of the major gains of the trip will be targeted towards securing more weaponry for the military to tackle pockets of insecurity to guarantee peace throughout the nooks and crannies of the country.
Since the opinion is based on the benefit of the trip, I can assure Nigerians that Mr. President is a genius in negotiating in favour of Nigeria.
What is your take on the latest World Bank rating on ease of doing business that shows some improvements for Nigeria?
It’s heartwarming that everyone is seeing the result of good governance. The global rating that saw Nigeria moving up by 15 places from the previous 2019 spot and also we were recognized as being among the top 10 most improved economy in the world is a testimony of President Buhari’s sincere investment in ensuring that his promise of improving the Nigerian economy is being kept alive and burning.
If the rating had come from within the country some persons would have indicted the government and claim that the rating was influenced but since its coming from such international body, then you will agree that we are on track as a nation and people. We owe a lot of gratitude to all the supporters of Mr. President and this shows that better days await Nigerians with Mr. President at the helms.
Do you subscribe to the view that we need to reduce the number of political parties in the country?
One needs to understand that political party is a key route to democratic entrenchment and good governance when properly harnessed for the purpose it exists. The number of political parties Today has created the space for Nigerians of all categories to exercise their right in a manner that truly befits democracy and this is commendable. However, the 91 political parties or so, must be reviewed to ensure that we don’t abuse democracy in any form. Many of these parties do not have the structure to function beyond elections and that is a threat to the purpose of political parties. Many voters get confused because of the number of parties on the ballot and in the end are forced to unconsciously choose candidates of the party they may not know. So, there is need to review down the number of political parties in the country.
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