In this interview with the Nasarawa Peoples Democratic Party, PDP gubernatorial, Dr. Mohammed Yusuf Agabi, spoke of how he will turn Nasarawa state from a mediocre state to modern state among the states of the federation, he also blamed the State Governor over insecurity in the state and others. The Excerpts
Nasarawa PDP is traditionally a PDP state, but in 2011 the state lost the governorship to the opposition, what really went wrong.
As you rightly said Nasarawa state traditionally is a PDP state, but you see a lot of things went wrong in 2011, that made PDP to lose the 2011 election. The most critical one as far as I am concerned is the issue of the party members, being suspicious of one another that is one, two the fund that was sent from federal was not properly used for the purpose it was meant for that is two and three the candidate at time apparently was not too worried about the party intrigues, that were going on. So this is a man that just went to his village, sat there, and was not giving instruction to anybody, he didn’t care about what the security men were doing, he didn’t care about what INEC were doing. The INEC and the security issues are the critical issues that you must have to tackle abinitio. If you don’t just do that it mean you are planning to fail, so that precisely were the issues that led to PDP not winning the 2011 election in Nasarawa State, having known that Nasarawa State is a predominantly and traditionally a PDP state
So will you now say PDP has learnt from the previous mistake of the Party?
You know any wise person will always learn from his or her mistake, so PDP has learnt from its mistake. All those loopholes has been closed now, for instance, the relationship between the PDP and the security agents has been smoothen, the relationship between PDP and INEC has been smoothen, aside from that PDP too has been able to look inwards to ask themselves what were really their problem that made them to lose their 2011 governorship election in the state. So all those problems have been identified and everybody has made a vow, and determined to make sure that the work together, for the success of the party come 2015 general election. So people have actually been able to learn from their mistakes, they are ready and prepare to change.
What are the specific areas that you will look upon if elected as the Governor of Nasarawa State come April 11 2015.
You know Nasarawa State, is one of the poorest state in this country, is actually yearning for a number of developmental strides. Nasarawa State is backward in the area of health care delivery, Education because they don’t have a kind of competitive attitude, you know right from the primary to tertiary level in Nasarawa State, as we all know Nasarawa State is an agrarian state, but because the government doesn’t care to give attention to all this areas, you can see that so many things are going wrong, instead of we exporting our products, people are importing products to Nasarawa State and this also is compounded by the issue of insecurity in Nasarawa State, and if today you are able to solve the issue of insecurity in the state, it means virtually all the problems in Nasarawa State has been solved. This is because one of the serious issues in Nasarawa State is the issue of security. Government is also trying to use that as an advantage in so many areas, but I think they cannot get it right this time around. The state is lacking in so many areas, particularly like I have mentioned, such as in the area of Agriculture, Education, Health care delivery and others, the area of developing their capacity internally, so all those area are the areas that will take my attention in my first one hundred days in office. But I think of paramount is the issue of security in the state, by the time we are able to tackle this security issue in the state, virtually all other things will fall in place.
Prior to the coming of this government, Nasarawa state used to be a peaceful state, however since this present took over, the State has turned into a killing fields, as a son of the soil, if elected how are you going to tackle this issue and what could you say is the reason for the insecurity in the state.
Just like I said earlier, the issue of insecurity is a major problem in the state, and as far as I am concerned, the government in power today used the issue of Insecurity in the state, to its own advantage of dividing people so that they can rule them. The concept of divide and rule is what they are using that is one, the second thing is that there is a lot of suspicion among all the tribes in Nasarawa State, so what we need, is to bring all the senior Stakeholders, in a round table conference for everybody to be able to come out, and sincerely say what are their problems and what can we do to be able to collectively resolve, all this problems, because it is impossible for one person to say he has solution to the problems of insecurity in the state. All they needed to do is to genuinely gathers all the stakeholders, in Nasarawa State, and let everybody come out and speak the truth so that we can have the basis for reconciliation. Where there are problems, everybody should be able to come out and sincerely say what those problems are and then what is the way forward. Unless and until we do that, we cannot solve the problem of insecurity in the state.
Aside Nasarawa being a food producing state, the state is also blessed with solid mineral; however it seems as if this sector has been relegated to the background by successive government and even present government. If elected as the State governor how are you going to turn the table to ensure that the state generates revenue from solid minerals and others.
The issue of increase in Internally Generated Revenue, you do know that my profession is accountancy, I have a ready prepared blueprint of how revenue will be increased in the state, for instance if you are talking about solid minerals, you know solid minerals is a capital intensive project and the state government certainly cannot do it alone. So if you are able to recognise the fact that you cannot do it alone, it also means that you will have to bring partners that will partner with the state, so that you can now have a ratio of what the state government will contribute, and what the partners whether local partners or foreign partners will also contribute with the hope that you will now be able to successfully and comfortably the revenue of the state. We should be able to take advantage of our proximity with the Federal Capital Territory, by the time we do that certainly we have basis of creating more revenue for the state, and as a finance man professionally I tell you I do believe that there are lots of internal leakages in the state in terms of reportage of what has been generated either consciously or unconsciously. So what I need to do is look at that area of leakages and find a way of blocking them, so that the state will have more revenue to play around with it.
As this elections approaches near, one thing you have to contend with is the governor as he has the power of incumbency within him and you know contending with him is not a child’s place, will you now say you have the people by your side, are the people of Nasarawa state yearning for you and do you have their acceptance.
That is one thing going for me, the acceptance of the people, the Nasarawa people are solidly behind me, the resources of Government notwithstanding, yes he has the resources of government, but you know Tanko Al-Makura by his nature is somebody that is tight fisted and everybody knows about that record, myself before even coming to government, I have always be a man of the people, and I will continue to do so. The people will see developments physically and also the people will be happy that they are associated with my own government by the grace of God. So the issue of whether he has resources with him is not what bothers me, am not perturbed by that. I know that the Nasarawa people are ready to vote me in, they have done it before and definitely they will do it this time around.
Just like you said earlier, that Nasarawa State is an agrarian State, how do you intend to boost the Agriculture sector in the state?
you know what is important generally is for you to be able to give people hope that you are always there for them, so by the time you are able to provide farming implements, tractors equipments, fertilizers, at the right time, then the people will be okay. But you see when people are suppose to farm in July, and you are not brining them fertilizers, until August, on what basis will that be to them, so you have to be able to identify this people, is to only be there for them the time the need you. So all that the farmers will require will be made available to them even before the raining season come, people are always there waiting to go to farm. The best thing you should do to this farmers is to provide security, that anybody that goes to his or her farm will go healthy and come back healthy, not the kind of the present situation where we have serious security situations, by the time like I have told you if the issue of insecurity is solved, the issue of farming and providing farming implements at the right time will now solve all the problems that we are talking about.
Ahead of the March 28thand April 11 General election, what is your message to the people of Nasarawa People?
My most important message to the people of Nasarawa is to the civil servants, whom the Government has taken care of him for a very long time, every day, every month their salaries are being cut, people are not being promoted as at when due, and when they are promoted commensurate financial support will not go with it. So it is just a pity if they want to continue with this kind of government. You see being a finance man all you need to is to make a projection for yourself, what do you have to do state to generate revenue from the beginning of one month to the end of that month. You can now prepare your budget, all that is for you not to tamper with the salary of your staff, by the time you do that you won’t have a very weak civil service. Anybody that has a weak civil service the person is not prepared to govern, because if you want to have a very vibrant governance, you need the support of civil servants, but these are people that are not being supported by the government in power, so what business do they have in seeing that the government returns to power, they should prepare to go with the people whom himself almost all his life has been a civil servant. He knows where it pinches them. So, the answer is already there for them. Secondly people should be able to conduct themselves peacefully during and after the election, there should not be able any violence. They should not take always into their hands. Where they know they are going to be disenfranchised they should speak out.