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Why Nigeria needs Dankwambo as president – Nafada

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Gombe State Commissioner for Information, Hon. Umar Nafada, speaks in this interview with TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE on the Ibrahim Dankwambo-led administration and the clamour for him to contest the 2019 presidential election. Excerpts:

 

What’s your take on the recently concluded elective national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)?
From the look of things, the PDP is becoming stronger and stronger. From the convention that took place, members tried to ensure that all differences were resolved. All issues causing challenges within the party are being taken care of by ensuring a transparent convention. Looking at the way it was conducted, you will agree with me that people are beginning to understand that members of the PDP are getting united unlike what happened in the past when due process was not followed in terms of electing officials of the party.

Now that everyone is a witness to what happened at the just concluded convention, where things were done in a transparent manner, it shows that the PDP and its members are willing to ensure that we are united and once unity is achieved, we can truly face the so called ruling party.

Gombe State is one of the two PDP states in the northern part of the country; do you think the popularity and achievements of Governor Ibrahim Dakwambo can still retain the state for the party in 2019?
The answer is yes. I don’t think there is any opposition in Gombe looking at the level of political activities that have taken place in the state since 2011, especially if you look at the margin of the votes given to the PDP and that of the opposition parties in Gombe State.

PDP is the ruling party in Gombe State, and from the way things are going, I don’t think there will be any opposition that can overpower us as far as the PDP is concerned because we are united. We are one PDP and all members of the party are willing to ensure that we win the next election come 2019.

If you look at the way the All Progressives Congress (APC) is doing things in Gombe, you will understand that they are not in any way united. They are fighting each other and that makes them to be in disarray. And how can a party that is in disarray be able to face the ruling party which is the PDP? Although they have the federal government but at the level of this state, I don’t think there is anything they can do because most of them that are in APC today were former PDP members.

In fact, some of them could not add any value when they were still in the PDP. At the end of the day, they just moved out of the party. So, there is nothing to fear. I don’t think they are going to win in 2019; it will never happen in Gombe State.

Governor Dakwambo recently promised to pay N56,000 minimum wage if approved by the federal government; how easy has it been for him to manage the state’s resources in view of the numerous projects so far completed and the low statutory federal allocations accruable to the state?
We all agreed that all over the world there is economic meltdown, which eventually caused the economic challenge especially in African countries and Nigeria particularly because of our sole dependence on oil. That is basically the cause of all the problems, but despite that, Governor Dankwambo is a chartered accountant, an accountant per excellence. He is someone that has the experience of serving in higher capacities.

As a matter of fact, he had worked as the Accountant General of the Federation and he actually worked with three different presidents. He worked with the former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan. Based on that, you will agree with me that this is someone that has a very good financial background and who can manage resources to achieve the desired goals and objectives.

The governor as I am talking to you now has paid workers salaries up to date. Civil servants are paid as and when due. He is such a financially disciplined person and this factor has made it possible for him to ensure that the salaries of civil servants are paid as and when due as well as embarking on several laudable projects.

Can you tell us some the projects?
An example is the construction of the international conference center. We have seen a befitting edifice that was constructed by the present administration which gulped close to about N5 billion. The state government has taken delivery of the project from the contractor after its successful completion.

He didn’t stop at that; he went to establish health institutions because the major priority of this administration is education. That is the major priority of this administration and that is why the governor has embarked on establishing higher institutions across the state in order to fill up the gaps.

He established the College of Legal and Administrative Studies in Nafada, College of Nursing and Midwifery in Duku, College of Education in Ileye, and to sum it all, the establishment of a brand new university which is the University of Science and Technology which has just been established.

The state just got the certificate from the National Universities Commission (NUC) but the structures and everything that are required were on ground even before even securing the certificate for establishment of the university. So, you can see that this is a governor that has the people and the state at heart and the people of Gombe are reaping from his wealth of experience and knowledge. Dakwambo has been practicalizing all that he has studied while he has also taken advantage of all his educational qualifications to manage Gombe State resources.

If you look at the federal allocation that comes to the state, Gombe is the second to the last on the list of the states. The state’s allocation is about the least in the federation but that doesn’t stop His Excellency from embarking on different projects.

The governor has also constructed more than 500 kilometers of roads across the state capital alone while the government has connected many areas and states like Yola, Adamawa, Bauchi and Maiduguri. He has embarked on agricultural revolution in Gombe State by supplying agricultural implements, farm inputs, training of farmers and assisting the farmers with loans.
A group within the PDP is urging the governor to contest the 2019 presidential election. Do you think he has what it takes to lead the nation?
The answer is a definite yes. Presently what Nigeria needs is someone that has a good financial and management background.

If we decide to elect someone without a solid financial background, it will be very difficult for the person to turn around the economy of this nation. It is just like what is happening now, the president, Muhammadu Buhari is someone that is committed, but so many things need to be done to ensure that the economy is revived.

Unfortunately, the government is saying that we are out of recession but go round the town with a questionnaire or have interviews with the people; you will see how people are suffering. A bag of rice is how much now?
They are emphasising on farming now, but at the end of the day, how much is a bag of maize because what we are growing in the country is not sufficient to feed us. All the boarders have been shut, making prices of available food items in the country to go up.

This indirectly is affecting the masses, but if we want to have a leader that has vision; a leader that has financial and economic background; it is someone like Dakwambo that we need to be put in place, so that he can turn around the economy of the country.

I just listed some of the projects that have been achieved by his administration in Gombe State despite the small allocation that comes to us. Look at how this man has been able to manage the scarce resources to actualize our dreams in Gombe State. The constitution has stipulated those who are eligible to contest and to be elected or to be voted into the office as president, and as far as I am concerned, Dakwambo is eminently qualified.

So far, how would you access the Buhari administration?
In some areas, I can attest that he has done well while he needs to put in more efforts in some areas. Actually, more needs to be done in the area of the economy. He needs to revive the economy. His economic team should be beefed up because the economy is still sick and something needs to be done.

In terms of security, those of us from the North are happy with the federal government for its interventions and establishment of North East Development Commission. These are very good initiatives embarked on by the present administration.

But, there is the need to do more work because so many things are not working in line with expectations of the people. In some cases, it’s like the APC has failed the common man. We need to address the issue of hunger and diseases. These are some of the issues bothering Nigerians across the states. People hardly take three square meals because of high cost of foodstuffs. So, the government needs to do something either by importing to support locally produced foodstuffs or any other means of ensuring food security.

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Politics

My plans for Oyo State, by Obisesan

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A former commissioner in Oyo State, Chief Lowo Obisesan, is a lawyer who is aspiring to govern the state on the platform of the Labour Party. In this interview with SUNDAY ADEBAYO, he speaks on why he is in the governorship race

 

As a successful business man and a barrister, what informed your interest in politics?

Actually, I am a lawyer like I earlier said, and the way things are going in Nigeria politically am not really happy about it and have not been so happy to attach myself. Some good friends and I weighed the options of joining politics then and felt it was better to wait and join at a later time. If you believe that politics is what everybody should get involved in why don’t we join the rest? And that is the reason why we find ourselves in the mist of politicians.

 

Why your choice of Labour Party instead of the major ruling party?

You know for the mere fact that some people are doing certain things in a particular way and that thing is not right does not mean we should join them. I was once in ACN that eventually fused into APC, but when I discovered that things were not done in the right way in my state I decided to let go of the party. Also when you consider other parties particularly PDP you can see that PDP is the type of the party where grabbers are many and people like that don’t have the interest of the people they want to govern at heart, but how to enrich themselves at the detriment of the innocent people of the country and particularly my state and you can see the way things are now. PDP brought us into this problem. We thought APC would bring us out of the problem, but look at what we are suffering today. The fear of God is not in the mind of these people that we can refer to as the leaders of the society.

 

What are the things you are going to do differently from what others have done to make Oyo State a better place?

I am going to do so many thing that will be quite different from what others have done and part of those thing is what I have said that you should have fear of God.

Without god fatherism it is usually difficult to win election. What’s your own view on this?

I don’t believe in that. I don’t share the idea and the principle because the issue of god-fatherism led us into this problem. A god father will push you and support you. When you win he wants to control you and will never let you deliver. But I have a lot of political leaders and mentors who are principled.

 

How would you analyze the Senator Abiola Ajimobi government?

Senator Ajimobi is my leader, my brother. He was my Oga and I can’t say anything about his government for now.I am grateful to him. People know me as a lawyer and but for Ajumobi I won’t be known in politics. When I was first made the Commissioner of Establishment and Habitat, I will never forget what he said about me. He said ‘you are honest and straightforward and to cap it all you have the means but you didn’t steal money in government. I will never run him down because God has used him for me sometime and if anything is wrong with the way he is running his government our people will decide whatever they deem fit when the next election comes.

 

What will be your main agenda if you eventually become the next governor of Oyo State?

Our economy needs to be improved considerably. If I tell you what I have found in line with what my leaders have been discussing ahead of 2019 people might steal it. So I won’t say it. If God says I will be there I will make sure that I work properly on the economy.

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Osun State deserves better deal –Ogunbiyi

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Dr. Akinade Ogunbiyi is the Group Chairman, Mutual Benefits Assurance and a well-grounded innovative scholar, In this interview, he speaks about his blueprint for the rescue mission in Osun State

 

What is your view of the security situation in the country vis-à-vis the herdsmen and other crimes?

It is really sad and inexplicable at this modern age that this is happening in Nigeria. I am sorry to say. I am gunning for a political position, because I am convinced that leadership can make the difference in everything. They will tell you that people are the most important when it comes to factors of production. But, I tell you, it is having the right people, not just people, but the right people. I don’t know how a country so blessed when you see the biblical country flowing with milk and honey, I have not seen any country in the world that fits into that description but God just decided that we won’t have the right leadership.

Fulani herdsmen (or killer herdsmen as they are called), communal clashes here and there, religious war, for crying out loud, we have to talk about what people need. I will be 56 in the next couple of weeks. We grew up in this country. I am a village boy to the core.
My primary, secondary, modern school, my university, everything was in the village. My father’s best friends, especially in my town, Ile-Ogbo, were from the Hausa community. My father was a herdsman. They thrived and they lived in harmony. You find Igbo community; you find in virtually every locality within the South-West.

You say Kano is a no man’s land just as they say Lagos is a no man’s land and you get to Kano in those days and you find every ethnic group represented and they lived as if they were in Umahia or Ile-Igbo. You get to Kaduna, it is the same thing. Is it not the same country? It is all about leadership.

You have leaders who have the capacity to lead well but they choose to do other things. This leadership issue we are talking about, they have the capacity to do the right thing, but they’ve decided to do otherwise.

 

You said your father was a herdsman…

Yes! My father was a herdsman. I grew up to know him as a herdsman. He would go with his friend from Ijebu to Kano and buy herds of cattle, 400 to 600, 1000; the two of them would trek, 90 days, 100 days to lead the cattle down to Oyo. There was no harassment in my locality; they were herdsmen. The three localities that make up Iwo land, Aiyedire, Iwo , and Olaoluwa local governments, we had herdsmen. We never had these issues.

If you come to my farm, about 25 kilometers from my village, you will see serve or eight year-old boys, two of them controlling about 400 herds of cattle. They pass through farms, they know when to stop them; they know when they see virgin land, they know when they see free grazing land.

 

So, what’s the way forward?

This is just political. The day our leaders will come together and say: ‘heck, we are one and let us line up as one these things will end.’ What else do we talk about? We are using ethnicity to divide ourselves. What do you say of India, a country of 1.3billion population; over 300,000 ethnic groups and their ethnic groups are as much as their religious beliefs. It is unfortunate. I can only appeal to our leaders. When people fail to give the deliverables that are needed for the common man to live a decent, peaceful life, they will look for alternative to engage us. This is exactly what is happening.

 

You are contesting on the platform of PDP. Looking at the state of the party as of today in Osun State, how confident are you that is the right platform? Looking at the economy of Osun today because it is heavily indebted, will you still be able to work within that kind of environment?

I will start from the second question. One of the things that spurred me into taking this decision is because of the common man of Osun State. For the past eight years, it has not been what it ought to be. They always say: ‘If it is not broken, don’t try to fix it.’ But as you just said Osun is indebted. We don’t even know how much the debt is. Some say it is N400billion; some say its N200billion.

The government itself said it is N143billion. But for eight years, this is the best that government can give. There is nothing bad in borrowing, the question is, what did you use the fund for? We know that Osun State is heavily indebted and luckily for all of us, there is no hidden place any longer. the Debt Management Office, every month, publishes the statistics.

So, there is nothing that is hidden. Not everybody would ride a car in his life time. Not everybody would build a house in his lifetime. Not everybody would buy bicycle or wear rubber slippers in his life time. But good leadership dictates that everybody must have access to the basic needs of life in order to live a decent life.

Coming back to the platform, I am not just new in politics. I may not have been out there in the open but I have been in PDP from God knows when. I have impacted the party. There are so many reasons why the country is going through what it is going through now. We thank God for the crisis in PDP.

Now, we have the benefit of a standard and which is the standard of APC coming into government. Failure isn’t a bad thing. But for the discerning eye, failure is an opportunity to start all over more intelligently. This is what PDP is presently is.

I was part and parcel of resolving the crisis of PDP in Osun State. Without a peaceful platform, no matter how well meaning, there is nothing you can do. PDP has got its act right especially in Osun. And Osun is like the new foundation the PDP at the national level is going to ride on.

We have learnt our lesson from our mistake. There is nothing bad in failure. It is a man who fails and still fails to rise above his failure that is a failure.

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Politics

Oshiomhole and his new dawn message

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Following his strong desire to inject new blood into the leadership and membership of the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC) the immediate past Governor of Edo State and aspirant for the National Chairmanship position of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has taken far reaching steps to galvanize, mobilize and sensitize all segments of people across the six geo political zones of the country.

This meeting with the elders, leaders and members who form the bulk of what today constitutes the mirror through which citizens of the nation and the world see how the party has fared in managing the collective patrimony and welfare of the people, is not only arduous but also interesting.

Indeed, the challenges facing the APC came to the fore last Tuesday when Comrade Oshiomhole visited the party caucus in the Senate to solicit their support ahead the National Convention of the party. It was an opportunity for the senators to bare their minds about the happenings in the party. It was so touching as the senators lamented how rotten the party has become under the leadership of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

The presence of the entire leadership of the Senate at the meeting showed how important it was to them. And some who are sympathetic to the APC were happy because from the close door meeting, which lasted for over one hour, it was learnt that the senators were not keen on leaving the party but all the want is to be given that sense of belonging. That has given a lot of hope to majority of members of the party who equally see the coming of Oshiomhole as the solution that the APC needs.

And to show the acceptability of Oshiomhole by the APC senators, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, who warmly welcomed Oshiomhole to the House, noted that majority of senators have this optimism that Oshiomhole has the capacity to lead the party at this point in time.

“I know Comrade has been working hard to talk to people about his ambition and I want to thank him for finding time to come personally to meet the APC caucus in the senate. I have known Comrade for many many years. We have worked together at various levels. So I know him very well and his ability to do all he said he wants to do in our party. I know he has the capacity to take up the challenges before us as a party and I have no doubt that he will do well and make APC a formidable party once more.”

Addressing the senators, Oshiomhole was able to touch on the burning issues in the party to the admiration of the senators. He stressed that the current disagreement in the party can be resolved when all parties sincerely come to the table with open minds for discussions. He said: “Today, I have come not only to solicit for your support but to also say that I dream of a political party where everybody will have that sense of pride and even the sense of ownership. I believe Sir, that the very part of our being a democratic voluntary organisation which a political party represents, means that the basis for coexistence has to be mutual respect.

“I believe that part of the challenges we had which are no secret is that the various organs of the party have not functioned in a manner that was anticipated. And I believe that without those organs functioning, we are just a collection of individuals, who can speak to a party when party members at various levels meet, debate and agree on a particular direction and that agreement becomes the party’s position. And when we now speak on issue of party supremacy, it is in the context of a decision that we democratically arrived at in which members of the party, from the “President to the senate, Reps, to governors and everyone is expected to abide by that decision because they are our own decisions. So I am convinced Mr. President, by my background, as someone who has been victim of power, both economic power and political power which pushed me into unionism and someone who has grown to become a governor, I never oppressed any one, I think I have passed through all the stages and I am fairly informed about the challenges of governors and the challenges of a political party.

“I believe Sir, and I want to assure our senators, that given the opportunity to chair our party, there are couples of things we must do differently. We cannot dream of a party in which there are no disagreements. If we have one like that it means the party is not democratic. Even in the military there are some disagreements and agreements.

“So in a genuine democracy, nobody is seen to get everything that he wants but everybody can get everything that we are able to negotiate. And the driver of this process has to be compromise. Nobody has all the monopoly and nobody is bereft of ideas. And I believe that if we approach issues with open mind with open mind we can do business

“I believe that getting support from all of you and all our leaders, that together we can strengthen our party, giving it more positive image, given our members that sense of participation and together we will confront the forthcoming election and remind Nigerians that even if we have not fix all the problems there is genuine commitment to fix them. And again cannot fix in three years what was destroyed in 16 years. This party is capable of delivering and sustaining the change that we have promised.”

Watching Oshiomhole say all these gave a number of Nigerians hope that the APC is back after the problems that plagued the party in the just concluded congresses in some states. And like Oshiomhole said, many believe that with sincerity of purpose and the spirit of sportsmanship, the crisis rocking the ruling party will be over soon.

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