Sep 03, 2015 Uncategorized Comments Off on 'We'll Wrest Power From PDP in Kogi' [interview] (allAfrica.com)
Before the primary of the All Progressives Congress which threw up Abubakar Audu as the governorship candidate of the party for the Kogi governorship election, Senator Yahaya Nicholas Ugbane spoke on how the party will end the Peoples Democratic Party’s reign in the state and why he wanted to succeed Governor Idris Wada.Excerpts:
You have contested the governorship election in the past on the platform of the PDP why did you ditch the PDP for the APC?
This is not the first time I’m coming out. In 2011 I contested for governorship of Kogi State on the ticket of PDP. It was on the eve of the primary that we had subterranean influence. Subterranean influence in the sense that a level playing field was created and then something extraneous emerged somewhere to alter the equation, then you regard such emergence as subterranean and because of that I had to withdraw voluntarily from going into that primary because it was no longer free and fair. This time around, the same thing that prompted me to come out in 2011 – that innate desire to serve the people of Kogi State – to offer my services to the people – to do things that will improve their lot and to do things that will give them sense of belonging and make them feel that yes, they are from Kogi State. I will do those things that will improve and help the state in terms of infrastructure and, socio-economic development etc. So, those burning desires have always remained in me.
It is being said all over that the governor the state needs is somebody with a wealth of experience. Why do you think you are the right person?
Let me pick it up from when I was a commissioner for education. I was the commissioner that established the Kogi State University, got the VC in position and the first set of admissions and so on. I’m happy today that the institution is growing and waxing stronger. Now, if I am the governor, the only state university will be massively funded. I will make sure lecturers are well motivated, students are encouraged by having adequate facilities to enable them concentrate on their studies. We will provide facilities that will make them compete with students from other tertiary institutions.
Secondly, education generally, it is not only about the University. You also have the primary education and other institutions. We will make sure teachers are given their dues. We will make sure their salaries are paid as and when due. We’ll make sure that teachers are encouraged to give their best to students. So, that will form very key area of our priority. Yes, I worked in the Ministry of Youth and Sports. In fact, it was during my time that the youth and sports ministry was established and then, there were no desks and chairs, it was a business man from Central that brought a chair for me.
That didn’t deter me from performing. I was there and we conceptualised the stadium project because all work without play makes jack a dull boy. So the stadium project has seen the light of the day. From there, I was moved to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. I had to follow the then governor to UK to discuss about Obajana Cement Company and that was done. Now you can see that Obajana Cement Company is one of the biggest in sub-Sahara Africa. From there, I came to the Ministry of Agriculture and made sure that farmers got input promptly. For instance, there is no point getting fertilizers in August when most of the crops must have been done, so time is very important. Apart from that, we removed the middlemen coming in to hike prices of inputs and in the end make it very costly to the end users; the farmers. If I am the governor, I will look into all these areas and improve upon them. I will bring added value to existing things.
Somebody had said that he was the only serious contender on the APC platform and that the rest of you were just pretenders and jokers.
I don’t want to join issues with my other aspirants. Who is a joker or who is not a joker will be determined by the electorates. The delegates will speak and when they speak, we will know.
What is your opinion on the lingering quest for power shift in the state?
Well, the issue of power shift is an issue that has been existing in Kogi State. Now, APC as a party has to put its acts together and make sure power is wrestled from the PDP. It is when power is wrestled from PDP that we can now decide where power should shift to. I said this because I believe I am in the position to wrest power from PDP for the APC. When that is done, where the power goes to will be determined by the party caucus. Power shifting is not done by an individual.
If you are the governor, how will you manage the state, considering the dwindling allocation from the Federation Account?
It is not only Kogi that is experiencing dwindling revenues from the federal government. As a former banker prudent financial management is key. I will make sure financial resources accruing to the state are properly managed for the benefit of the people
While you were at the Senate, you had some issues with the EFCC, can you tell us the situation of the case now?
You see when you are in a political setting; allegations are bound to fly up and down. You have done this, you have done that. It is left for you to clarify your position. It is a basic principle in law that he who alleges must prove his case beyond reasonable doubt and until that is done, you are assumed to be innocent. Now, the case they brought was that some of us – legislators influenced the sighting of solar projects in the whole country, that we brought the contractor that did the work and so on. There were lots of fanfare and mudslinging in the process. Now, the case went to court and on 26th of June, 2013, Justice Oniyangi gave a very great judgment; he said he couldn’t see the link between the allegation and the lawmakers. He said the lawmakers were not part of Tender Board that gave out the contracts. And that he did not see any company owned by any of the lawmakers. He didn’t see their involvement and so he struck out the case. I have a copy of the judgment and if you are interested, I will give it to you at the appropriate time.
What is your view on the leadership crisis in the National Assembly?
I don’t know those things you have noticed that are happening at the National Assembly. I hope you are referring to the fracas that took place in the House of Representatives and so on. Somebody referred to that fracas as body politics. In other words, some people that is so impatient. Those who cannot wait to express their feelings sometimes allow temperament to take over the proceedings and that is not fair. Having said that, what happened in the National Assembly was not new to politics. In Taiwan and other places, in North Korea, exchanges of blows are things that happen from time to time. Even in Britain, there was a time there was hot arguments, the Labour Party members and other parliamentarians had hot exchanges of words but it is not something that should be encouraged, it shouldn’t happen. What is required is legislative tolerant, having understanding of each other. I think we are growing. Our democracy is moving and I hope with time we will get things sorted out properly.
President Muhammadu Buhari has assumed power for over three months now, do you think his approach to governance satisfies the yearning of Nigerians?
You are asking me to assess my boss. Now, as a great admirer and supporter of our president, Muhammadu Buhari so far so good, he has done very well. You see, what is worrying Nigerians is that to them, change is like switching on the light of electricity in your house. Change does not come overnight and before you can effect change, you must understand the situation properly. You must understand it deeply and not just scratching it on the surface. I think our president has started in the right direction. He is doing well. He wants to unearth the underlying problems before proffering solutions and I think Nigerians should not interpret change to mean a kind of switch on and off situation.