Hon. Usman Kagara
Former Rafi Local Government Area Chairman of Niger State, Hon. Usman Kagara, spoke with journalists on the political situation in the country and Niger State in particular. Aisha Wakasopresents the excerpts:
As 2015 draws close, what is your take on agitation for Northern presidency?
Recently, former President Olusegun Obasanjo set the agenda for Northern presidency rolling when he called on Jigawa State governor, Dr. Sule Lamido, to take a shot at the presidency in 2015. Personally, as a Nigerlite and Northerner, I feel that we Northerners are the most qualified people to determine who among the governors in the region should contest for the highest seat in the land.
I strongly share his view that the presidency in 2015 should come back to the North. This will be in the interest of fair play, justice and unity of this country. But the fact remains that we need a candidate with a good credential, sound knowledge of the problems facing the country and we need a candidate that can serve as a bridge.
When I looked at these criteria above, I come to the conclusion that Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, Niger State governor is the most qualified. Sentiment aside, he is a person with an admirable profile and he is the leader of Northern governors. If we are to go by the old nomenclature, one can say that he is the Premier of the Northern Nigeria or the Governor-General of Northern Nigeria because he is the Chairman of Northern States Governors’ Forum.
I feel he should be given the required support from the North. And above all, if one can say the governor of Jigawa State should contest as the president, then why not that of Niger State. This man is governing the largest state in Nigeria because Niger State is the biggest state in Nigeria as far as landmass is concerned. So, I think it will be fair in 2015, if the current governor of Niger State is considered for the office.
Beyond the rhetoric, what factors qualify Governor Aliyu for the number one position in the country?
Without being sentimental, Governor Aliyu’s position as the Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum puts him in a good stead. By virtue of this position, he has better understanding of the problems, the security and economic problems of the Northern region and the country by extension. Currently, he serves as a bridge between Southern governors and Northern governors; he is also the link between the presidency and Northern governors.
Among the Northern governors, I can confidently say that he is the most experienced. He rose to the peak of his carrier in the civil service. He retired as a federal permanent secretary. He has held many leadership positions and when you talk about qualification, I think only few governors can compete with him because he has more than enough qualifications to lead the country.
So, if a Grade two teacher could be called to lead the country and we have those with vast experience, then we are not being fair to those with qualifications like Babangida Aliyu.
To me, there is no point for him to nurse senatorial ambition come 2015. That would be a minus for him, Niger State and the entire nation. We need to have someone like Dr. Mu’azu Babangida at the federal level this time around as the President.
But the body language of President Goodluck Jonathan has shown that he wants to go for another term in 2015. Don’t you think he should be given the chance to go for the second term?
You see, people always forget that it is God that gives leadership position. Remember that President Jonathan never dreamt of becoming even the governor of Bayelsa State, not to talk of becoming vice president and then the President of Nigeria but as God will have it, he is now governing the country. He promised not to go for another term and everyone believed him. The same thing happened with Governor Aliyu at the Niger State PDP primary election. He was not an aspirant but as God would have it, he became the governor of Niger State.
So, if someone will use this backthrow method, you will not be afraid of the incumbency factor. If Jonathan says he will contest again, it means that he haS forgotten what God can do.
Aside this, I have the conviction that Governor Babangida Aliyu can become the next president. Mind you, governors are now the determinant factors of who is to become the president of the country. At party convention, governors have absolute control of their delegates.
I don’t think the president can count or recognise 10 national delegates from Niger State. He does not know them and it is the governors that know their delegates. So, if the governors decide to give their support to a particular person that they want to become the president, I tell you, they will defeat the president if he is going to contest, moreso, this presidency has not met up to the expectation in the past years.