Abdurahman Kawu Sumaila
Hon. Abdurahman Kawu Sumaila, elected on the platform of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), is the Deputy Minority Leader in the House of Representatives. On Saturday, February 9, he declared his intention to contest the Kano State Governorship election in 2015. In this interview with Nkiruka Okoh, he explained why he is aiming for plum job. Excerpts:
You’ve publicly declared your intention to contest the governorship of Kano State in 2015, what informed your decision to contest?
Glory be to God almighty, as I said we, together with all leaders at all levels in Kano came together after making the decision that I will contest for Kano State governorship by the special grace of God. And this decision is as a result of our desire for change as leaders and politicians to move our people forward by finding cure for the illness that has befallen us. This is the reason why our people think we can contribute our own quota by coming out.
You talked about an illness befalling the state; what illness?
As of now, nobody is saying well done; I am satisfied with what is happening in Kano. There is a high level of mistrust between those who have knowledge and those who don't; between leaders and the led, between the haves and the haves not, young and old people. So, this is why we are searching for the way-out by coming together and putting all hands on deck to finding a common ground; a middle ground for the people so that they will begin to feel and know that our state of Kano belongs to us all and we are suppose to make every effort to make it work for all and the future generations.
So what are the things you’d bring to the table if elected as governors?
The most important thing for us is how to restore the trust that has been lost between leaders and the led by providing good and purposeful leadership that will go in-line with the thinking and expectations of the people. That is, to be consulting with them- the ordinary people of Kano on any issue that affects them.
Not that because you are a leader or governor you become dictatorial and assume that you know it all and begin to push things down the throat of the people forcefully. Our religion has thought us that everything that has to do with the people is all about consultation and seeking for their advice and opinion at all times. Therefore, we will adopt a new method of governance by bringing all those whom God has blessed with every kind of knowledge and wisdom closer, to enable us formulate government policies and programmes on the principles of consultation and respect for one another.
That aside, what tangible plans do you have for Kano State?
If you observe, what is happening to leadership at all levels now is that, this mistrust between leaders and the led, if not corrected, there is nothing you can do or achieve. Now, people don't really believe that leadership has any impact on them and also the leaders don't believe that the people have or can make any impact on them. Therefore, you have to find a situation whereby everybody will agree and accept that Kano belongs to all before you can build anything.
We will try to find ways of changing the thinking and perception of the people about governance. This, we will give more priority than anything else by changing the way things are done and how people see government. By God's grace, everybody will contribute their quota but so long as we keep going like this, the difficult situation we have found ourselves is greater than the issue of providing water, electricity, good roads, health care and so on.
How did everyone agree that the situation must be corrected?
We all agree that no matter how much water, electricity, good roads etc that we have or provide for the people, we will use it for the progress of our people. In so many places, things have been provided but nobody is benefiting from them because people's attitudes are not in tune with the way their thoughts should be to see the importance of these things. Government now symbolises falsehood, lies, and betrayal. There is failure in providing leadership that will show to the people that they are real and genuine to the extent that the people at the grassroots level and the leaders will accept them and agree and respect what they do. So, I think this is the major task that is ahead of us as a people.
Recently, I read in the news that in Chicago, United States, they had 49 incidences of shootings in just one month. This is a place where there is light, water, good roads, health care and all social amenities and a social system that is working but they lack values, good values that will teach them that taking another’s live is bad, dangerous, inhuman and ungodly. So, if this can happen in America, a country that is always struggling to provide job for its people, then how can we bring back people's thoughts, attitudes and perception to be on the right thing to the extent that the little we have, we can make judicious use of it for all?
But Kano people believe you are perhaps too young for the job?
I don't think this is an issue at all. For example, the late Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Rimi was 38 years old when he became the governor of Kano and Jigawa States at a time when things were not as easy as they are now. Now, we are in the digital age, where knowledge is at your finger tips with computers, internet and the social media. Remember that was the first time Nigeria had the presidential system with governors with full executive powers and from that time till now, we have learned a lot.
Also, Alhaji Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya was a governor at 38 years. In fact, Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso became governor when he was a little over 40 in 1999. Saminu Turaki was 38 and now I am 45 and from now to the time that the elections will be held, I will be 47 years old God willing and how old was President Barack Obama when he was first elected in 2008? This is the leader of the world so to say. What we are talking about now is bigger than age- whether old or young- but who is real, genuine and capable that can fill the vacuum? And who can bring about effective government in Kano.
You’ve declared your intention on the platform of ANPP while the process of opposition merger is still on. Is that not a contradiction?
There is no problem at all. I am in the merger committees that are discussing and by God's grace, there won't be any problem; we will merge and from that time, there will be no more ANPP but up till now, I’m somebody elected on the platform of ANPP. And we don't have internal crisis, I don't have the right to leave the party based on the provisions of the constitution until such a time that the new party is registered by INEC.
But isn’t it too early to declare for governorship?
The reason we declared our intention this time is not far from the fact that we need, and our people need real change. And do we wait until the eve of elections? No! We can't have the change in a day or at the eve of the elections. We need to know people and people need to know us well. We must be very familiar with ourselves and understand them and the kind of difficulties they are facing as a people to the point that when we come as a government, we will be fully equipped with the knowledge of what our people are facing, not that we will embark on an emergency arrangement when it is six or three months to election and when you win election, virtually everybody that comes to you must be introduced because you don't know the people you are supposed to lead.
But this will give us more opportunity of knowing Kano the more and it's people in all nooks and crannies of the state, meeting with the media to the extent that our people will really know who they should vote for. So that people won't vote for people that don't really know who they are, what they stand for and their ways of thinking. We are already discussing with people, associations, labour unions, women groups, youths, etc. This will afford them the opportunity to ask us questions and learn from them because we are students who are seeking knowledge at all times.
What call do you have for the people of Kano State?
They should know that we must come out as a people to free ourselves from this bondage. Things have gone from bad to worse. Our economy is in shambles; our values as a people have deteriorated. Nobody respects the other. Kano is known for not just commerce but also Islamic scholarship. From Kurmi market, people travel to Tripoli in Libya and Gao in Mali for business and scholarship. People of Kano are islamically educated since over 700 years ago. We have writings of great people of Kano who wrote about their interactions with Libyans, Egyptians and so on.
So, we want to bring back that lost value, to respect people and let them know that things they have left or abandoned is what brought us to where we are now. We should respect each other's knowledge and not be looking at them and saying that they are illiterate. UNICEF had defined literacy as the ability to read and write and over 700 years ago, our people knew how to read and write, using Ajami in Arabic. So, we must go back to those values and merge it with the western education. But now, we are like an upstairs; we have left that which we inherited and have gone to pick another one which we do not really know. Now, it is time to build a kind of bridge between the two so that our people will be satisfied.