Kogi will cease to exist if FG begins deduction of bailout loans – WADA
After the disruption and the controversies that ended the primary in which you emerged candidate, what are the efforts to reconcile other aggrieved aspirants?
With reference to the very transparent primary election held that day, I mean everything was going on well, except for the rain that fell. Of course, no election material was destroyed and after the rain the election process was continued and voting was completed. From the 10 boxes, about seven and a half boxes of ballots had been sorted, then, the unusual thing happened. Gunshots boomed from everywhere to the arena, but luckily where the counting was done in the arena was fully secured. Subsequently, the two boxes remaining were made available for counting.
Of course, when the commotion was going on the agents went away with the ballot papers in their hands, which they were told to return in the morning. The ballots were added to the ones retrieved from the scene by Governor Ahmed Fintiri-led election committee. The hoodlums could not access the arena because of the heavy security, and then the ballots were counted in the midst of security agents, INEC monitoring team, and of course, the final result was declared. Even with all that happened the election was almost perfect, even though no election is perfect in Nigeria today.
Coming back to your question, almost all the aspirants have endorsed the result and the process as free and fair and they have issued a joint statement, addressed a press conference to endorse my candidature, except for Alhaji Abubakar Idris. He is the only one who has not accepted the result. I have been hearing that he wants to go to court. I am not sure about the situation. To the best of my knowledge, Senator Dino Melaye who rejected his appointment as Director-General of the PDP campaign was due to his tight schedule and I can confirm to you that he is working with the party. It is worthy to note that out of all the 12 aspirants who contested with me under the platform of PDP, 11 have endorsed my candidacy because they believed that the primary was free, fair and credible.
Dino Melaye is a prominent figure in the PDP and his rejection of the DG of the campaign organisation should not be misunderstood for a crisis of any form. As I speak to you, all is well with all the aspirants who contested the primaries, except one. That is the beauty of democracy and that shouldn’t be misinterpreted to be a crisis in the party.
There is a reconciliatory committee set up by the elders of the party now. With that, sooner than later before the campaign and elections PDP will bounce back as one solid entity.
What efforts have you made to reach out to Abubakar Idris?
A lot of efforts have been made to reach out to him and his father, who is also my father. I learned that Baba is standing his ground. I don’t know, I can’t confirm. These are rumours.
Does it mean you did not make a personal effort to reach them or their doors are not open to reconciliation?
There are certain things that are better let off the pages of the newspapers at this stage so as not to jeopardise the peace process. But I assure you that we are making a lot of efforts, we are making progress and at the end of the day, I believe they will see a reason why everybody must work together in the greater interest of the PDP and Kogi State people. Alhaji Ibrahim Idris is the leader of the PDP in the state and I believe his interest is to see that PDP wins the November 16 governorship election.
Suleiman Idris, another son of Alhaji Ibrahim Idris is your associate. Is he being positioned leadership if you win the election?
I don’t know what they mean when they say Baba’s son (Suleiman) is taking up the leadership of the party in the state. PDP is too big for this type of unreasonable talk. The mischief is the creation of the APC. I have been on this project for two years and we started together. Imagine that after voluntarily leaving the job I have been doing to pursue this election project, could I have done it alone? We have been working together. I should have my team. You need people to work with. Politics is never done alone. Baba’s son is one of my supporters in this project. He is just somebody who is in alignment with a candidate he has been working with. That is all.
What are your economic plans for Kogi?
As you can see in Kogi State today, nothing is working. From common salaries payment that is not regular, paid in percentage or not paid at all, to infrastructure decay. I have to declare a State of Emergency in all sectors of the economy if we have to make Kogi work again. Where salaries payment will not count as an achievement but seen as the rights of the workers. Constant payment of full salaries, not in percentage; where infrastructure will receive attention as a top priority. Every sector will receive attention. Look at the state capital, Lokoja, no roads, nothing. The way Lokoja is, you can imagine how other places will look like. Every sector will be reviewed towards finding immediate solutions that will make the state a bit better.
I think we are in trouble in Kogi State with the squandering of the N50b bailout loan. We have to think out of the box to see how we can increase the IGR position of the state. Of course, Kogi State should be an oil-producing state. There is a crisis surrounding the oil-producing states of Kogi and Anambra States. We will ensure that the Federal Government recognises Kogi State as an oil-producing state. That apart, as we speak oil is not even the main driver of world economies. We must have a way of interfacing with the private sector. ICT technology now rules the world. We must provide enabling an environment for the private sector to thrive in Kogi State to jumpstart the economy. We are hearing that the Federal Government is working on the process of making sure the states start paying back the bailout loans from next month. What that translates to is that the monthly allocations to the state from the Federation Account will deplete, which makes the situation more critical.
With the experience on the day of your primary, are you worried about violence on Election Day?
If you heard the INEC resident electoral commissioner, he stated categorically the likelihood of resort to violence. That statement is clear enough if you look at what is happening in the state under this present government. From their desperation, it is glaring that APC wants to win at all cost, knowing that Yahaya Bello has failed woefully but because some bad deeds must not be exposed.
Not that I would want to visit violence for violence but we cannot sit down, fold our arms and our voting rights are violated. We want all our votes to count, and I am imploring INEC, security agencies and the Federal Government to ensure that our votes count. Another four years for Yahaya Bello, Kogi State will cease to exist in the comity of states. We are educating our people that the people turning guns against themselves are their fellow human beings.
We are educating our people that the election is not worth the blood of human beings. We are preaching peace because that is the only route to a free and fair election. But we will not sit down and watch them killing our people, snatching ballot boxes.
Do you suspect any of your co-aspirants as having a hand in the gun attack of September 3, during your primary?
PDP does not have the capacity to carry out that magnitude of violence. The gunshots were too professional.
Even though there is no proof, the best thing I can say is that the thing is too sophisticated. Of course, Kogi State is a violence-prone state and there is nothing too much for some people to do because they stand to benefit from the disruption of the PDP governorship primaries.
So my conclusion was that persons of power and means, not PDP, carried out the attack.