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‘I have the requisite skills to rescue Zamfara from the precipice’

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Dauda Lawal. PHOTO: FLICKR

Mallam Dauda Lawal was until September 2017, the Executive Director, Public Sector Group, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, a bank he joined as a manager in 2003. Now, he wants to become the governor of Zamfara State on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC). In an interactive session with the media recently, Lawal said the issues facing the state are immense and assured that he possesses the requisite skills to rescue Zamfara. Kehinde Olatunji reports

Why did you join the APC?
First of all, President Muhammadu Buhari continues to be an inspiration. He is passionate about Nigeria and its teeming poor. Despite mounting the saddle at a very challenging time, he is steadily steering the affairs of Nigeria in a direction that would ensure a better future.

For the poor, for example, such programmes as N-Power and TraderMoni are lifting the masses out of poverty, thereby making them to be self-sustaining.

In agriculture, he is setting a solid foundation and I am confident, working together to ensure he returns for a second time would give my state a better chance of beginning the journey back to security, safety and prosperity.

In short, I decided to join APC because I looked at all the parties and felt that only APC aligned best with my passion for service since my decision to run is not about party politics, but service politics. APC focuses a lot on the people, and that is my passion.

You recently joined APC and you want to be its gubernatorial candidate. Are you not scared older members will move against you?
After retiring from banking, I set up my own business and was happily pursuing it until I started getting calls from delegates, traditional rulers, youth and women representatives, representatives from people with disabilities and religious groups, including members of the APC, asking me to come and serve the people of Zamfara.

The reason for the clamour is simple. From the first day I started earning money, a part of it has always been put into the service of Zamfara people. I helped make hospitals better, built classrooms and provided the conducive environment for learning. I have even built roads in the state. So, people were of the opinion that if, as a private citizen I can do all of that, then it means that as a governor, I would do even better.

To be frank with you, for a very long time, I resisted calls to join the race because you know how politics can be. I am not a professional politician, but a private sector person. However, in the end, I looked at the situation and essentially decided to heed the calls so that we can collectively work to build a better state.

Many of those that called me to serve are long-term APC members. So they know what they saw in me. However, this is not to dismiss the importance and contributions of dedicated party members. I believe this is a joint effort and this is something that we will succeed at, collectively. In the end, whether I joined APC early or late, the purpose of politics is development and progress and I am very glad that so many people think I have what it takes to deliver.

Are you in the good books of the incumbent governor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari?
I know him very well and we have a decent relationship. But it is important we look forward to the future. The issues facing Zamfara are huge, as such we need a candidate that has the requisite skills, knowledge and service orientation to rescue Zamfara from the precipice. Give the children and citizens a decent future in which they won’t be in a perpetual cycle of poverty and insecurity. We want to become the leading state in Nigeria. And with the resources at our disposal, this is not a pipe dream. But it requires proper planning and the harnessing of all that we have by a leader whose first and only reason for seeking office is service to his people. I am that leader!

But it looks like the current Commissioner of Finance has been anointed to succeed Yari?
Just like his boss, I know him very well. He is a young man, but again the focus is now on Zamfara people and their future. It is about providing leadership and service to a community on the verge of total destruction. My track record of service to Zamfara people, even when I was in the private sector, speaks for itself.

What drives your passion for Zamfara?
Security is my first priority because without security, every other aspect of our lives cannot fall into place. Poverty, under-development and a general feeling of hopelessness fuel the current insecurity in Zamfara. Most of the crimes in our communities are perpetuated by us, and by that I mean our people, our children; we are the perpetrators and the victims.

A community as ravaged as ours cannot survive. So we need clear plans and policies for reversing all of these ills in our community and providing better options for our people. We will collaborate with the Federal Government to ensure that Zamfara State is given high priority in matters concerning security. In addition, we will educate our communities and provide them with the learning and vocational skills they need to lift themselves out of poverty.

Do you have an economic blueprint for the state?
Part of the challenge here is to bring back those good glories in terms of reviving the textile industry. If we are able to revive the textile industry, which used to be the largest employer of labour in the state, there is a value chain in that regard. If the textile industry is working, the ginneries will also be functioning. We have about 10 to 15 ginneries in Gusau, which are currently idle because the textile industry is not functional.

So, you can imagine if the textile industry is functioning it means all those 15 ginneries and more will be functional and that will generate employment for the people and revenue for the government. Not only that, looking at the value chain, even petty traders in terms of people that sell food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, will benefit.

There will be business activities and there will be money in circulation; transporters will be transporting finished goods from Gusau to other parts of the country. We used to do that, taking finished goods from Gusau all the way to Lagos, Kaduna, Funtua as well as Kano. You can imagine if the textile industry is functioning, the Gusau Oil Mill will come back to production and that is another area that will provide employment and engage people.

So there will be business activities, which will take people’s minds away from crime. What we want to do is bring back those values to engage people. I told you Gusau used to be the second largest commercial city in the North outside Kano and it is not impossible to go back to those days.

All the state needs is a leader that will direct them aright, and then you can imagine where their destination would be. The state needs a leader that will be able to meet the needs of the society, a leader that will make them to understand the reality of life.

What pattern would your engagement take if given the mandate?
To start with, we will take responsibility. We will serve and work with everyone closely. These three things are important if we are to deal with the enormous challenges facing the state. Things are so bad that if care is not taken, soon our communities will not be habitable.

We won’t be able to live, literally in Zamfara. So, it is time for us to come together, work together to salvage our state. We will not be in government just for our cronies and ourselves. Our government would work together for and with our communities.

Will youths find a space in your government if you become the next governor of Zamfara?
Those who made me seek for the office of governor are the youths, because they have seen my modest contributions to the society, most especially in the area of education. So they are at the forefront in trying to convince me to go into politics. So I will do everything to carry these youths along, because they are the future of Nigeria as well as the state.

What can you say about the activities of illegal miners in the state?
You know by law the Federal Government is in charge of mining. Our starting point will be to engage with the Federal Government to see how we can work together to take care of the resources buried under our soil.

The sort of engagement that will create viable industries in Zamfara, create employment and wealth without damaging the environment or polluting it. We remain a largely agrarian community agriculture is important and you know I am sure that food security is critical, particularly in helping to mitigate conflict and violence.

So, we will work closely with the Federal Government to bring in credible investors, domestic and international, to exploit our resources in a sustainable and responsible way. My promise to the people of Zamfara is that if they trust me with this mandate, I will, in four years, turn around the fortunes of this state, insha Allah. There will be a solid foundation laid for growth, for development and peace.

Women are not always factor into governance. What would your administration do differently?
What we are doing right now is to make sure all women are part of all our activities and what we want to do, ranging from the education sector and even in terms of small and medium business enterprises. We will empower women.

It is the agrarian economy that has served Zamfara and there are so many things you can do within that sector that can empower women. At the local level, even people that sell akara need little capital, or people who make local soap and so on; they are people who must be empowered. Women are very prudent when it comes to business; one can rely 100 percent on women. And so in every aspect of governance, we will definitely involve the women. We are mindful of their contributions to the society.

Assuming APC does not give you the ticket, what would be your next move?
I will work with whoever gets the ticket to ensure victory for our party in the governorship and presidential elections and even beyond the elections. This goes beyond one person and his desire to serve, even if I am that person.


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