Ibrahim Oyewale interrogates the Kogi State governorship candidate of the United Democratic Party, Abdulrazaq Emeje, on pertinent issues affecting the people of the state concerning the governorship election on November 16
Who is Abdulrazaq Baba Emeje ?
I hail from Ojofu-Ayangba Dekina local government area of Dekina-Bassa Federal Constituency of Kogi State. I am 46 years old, married and a father of two.
I am a mechanical engineer by discipline, a London Business School executive certificate holder, a self-employed entrepreneur and shareholder/director/board member of a number of corporate entities with hands-on experience in several spheres of the Nigerian economy spanning over two and a half decades. I also happen to be a very long-standing member of the Abuja and Lagos chambers of commerce, Nigerian-American chamber of commerce, Trade UK, Shippers Council of Nigeria, Kogi State Chambers of Commerce, Kogi State Farmers Association, Kogi State Cashew Producers, Jathropha Producers Association of Nigeria, amongst others.
What inspired your decision to contest the 2019 Kogi State governorship election?
My decision to run for the office of the governor of Kogi State in the forthcoming 2019 gubernatorial elections on November 16 is anchored on a few parameters.
First, I have always had a burning innate passion to impact lives positively, no matter how little I can. This, I have done virtually all my adult life within the confine of my personal ability and resources.
You will agree that for such individual yearnings, getting into the position of governance exponentially increases your ability and resources at your disposal to touch lives positively in every possible way.
More so, if you may, we would all agree that quality, purposeful and people-oriented governance as well as leadership has always eluded us generally as Nigerians, and Kogi State in particular is not left out. So much more could be done to alleviate her already depleted fortunes both human and material wise.
Therefore, in my capacity as a candidate for the Kogi State gubernatorial election on the UDP (United Democratic Party) platform, we have a clear understanding of needs of the state meeting with the yearnings and aspirations to set things right and change the narrative for the good people of Kogi State.
What level of consultation and acceptance across stakeholders and various interest group have you achieved?
When it comes to the politically savvy elite youths of Kogi state, who are very much in the loop of goings on in the state, penetration and buy-in, has been very successful. Team Abe ’19 has no doubt won their hearts already with the lofty visions and mission overview presented thus far, which is clearly evident from the aggressive followership growth we’re witnessing now.
Definitely, we also have the larger body of the youth demography, which we have known from the onset would be a harder nut to crack as it surely requires more concerted effort to make them understand clearly the depth of the prevailing catastrophic situation on ground in Kogi State and also to make them see the best way to jointly turn things around for the mutual benefit of us all as a state.
That is why we are emphatically drumming it into their ears that “the state is actually in your hands to make or mar depending on how you expend your voting rights”
“Quality votes beget quality leadership and vice versa.”
“Sell your votes, sell your future and right to meaningful existence and sustenance.”
Things are clearly so bad that they are beginning to read between the lines for the first time and concur.
We all know the story of our helpless civil servants and pensioners. For us, this has been the easiest group amongst the stake holders to hold meaningful and strategic meetings that have experienced very laudable progress.
Being a shareholder and director of an entity, which is in the process of empowering thousands of Kogi State farmers into accessing funds from the federal government NIRSAL initiative with over N750 million of N2 billion initial phase target accessed and disbursement currently in process, with so much more value added proposed product and services in the offing, we certainly have wormed our way into the state farmers’ community who have equally indicated its willingness to come on this momentous journey with us.
How much of the Kogi people, geography, resources and politics will you say you know?
Prior to and after the emergence of our then nascent democracy, I had, in the course of time, built a reputation of reckoning both in the business and social cycles of Kogi state as well as the FCT where I have resided for over 27 years. In the process creating a highly appreciated and sellable brand. Concurrently, I proficiently delivered several worthwhile key state projects statewide, arming me with a lucid acquaintance of the nooks and crannies therein.
With my wealth of experience derived from much long engagement in successfully exploring and harnessing business opportunities relative to our state’s enormous endowment with both human and natural resources, I am definitely equipped to deliver good and efficient governance to the great people of Kogi State.
How can ethnic, religious and cultural diversity in the state be harnessed as an advantage for the peaceful and economic development of the state?
In all honesty, diversity across all lines, be it ethnic, religious, cultural and or any other lines is a wonderful blessing and should never be a clog in the wheel of progress anywhere in the world, Nigeria or Kogi state in particular.
Rather, we’ve always had different schools of thought mostly emanating either directly or indirectly from those responsible for failed or bad quality leadership hypothesing diversity in these contexts to be cause of our inability to forge an amiable socio-economic development path for the society in a bid to defray attention from their lack of intent to deliver the much desired dividend of democracy to the governed.
I stand tall to unequivocally maintain that, with the right leadership and governance in place, issues pertaining to these so called diversities will be a thing of the past. Let us not forget that in this same country and state, we had all coexisted in peace harmony and tranquility prior to our present state of destitution and squalor foisted upon us by the quality of leaders running our affairs of which evidently we, for not seeking to run earlier, also have a very sizeable share of the blame if not more of it.
As a youth, will you say the youths in governance in Kogi state have done well?
Much more could have been achieved as it stands today. We are not into the politics of criticism for the mere essence of it. There’s so much we want to correct in that light, therefore ours is and will remain decent and constructive criticism if need be in the course of our journey to Lugard House to right the obvious wrongs in the best interest of our state and her citizenry.
It is pertinent though to reiterate that so far, the incumbent of today apparently has not scored a pass mark and that is the general perception showing from the overall performance rating thus far.
We have taken valuable time out to research and come up with areas we realise needed to be looked into and improved upon or totally overhauled to achieve an ardent people-oriented progress driven all inclusive human capital empowerment socio-economic developmentally savvy government of, for and by the people.
How will you rate the incumbent governor and how can you beat him at the elections?
No government has ever been termed perfect. There are always areas where successive governments do outstandingly well, perform averagely or even fail woefully relative to its policies as well as other underlying factors be they based on either interests or uncontrollable instances.
Therefore, in rating any government we should always critically look at the global picture of its performance rather than fixating on just some of the indices involved.
Be that as it may, I have already stated our take as well as the general perception of the incumbent’s performance rating so far. He has performed poorly.
It is also worthy of note to emphasise here that in governance, though buck stops with the head, every member of government has a share of either applause or responsibility for the eventual overall performance of that government.
This is very apparent in other climes with more advanced and structured systems where public servants voluntarily resign from office when they see things going wrong, or for erring in performance during the course of their terms in office. Some even get to resign in the event of embarrassing situations unconnected to the job.
Unfortunately, our people in government or do I say our system up until now has not matured to that level.
With regards to how we intend to actualise our worthwhile sojourn to Lugard house, our strategy is kept close to our chest, but we can assure that you will see them clearly as they are reeled out in the course of time.
Yes, we do have our manifesto, vision and mission statements, it is out there already.
Is salary payments a measurement of good governance?
Not at all. Salary payments have never been and cannot be included in the parameters for measuring good governance. It’s just like saying constitutional monthly allocation release to the states by the federal government be considered a measure of good governance by the federal government.
Payment of salaries to public servants at the end of every month is a given. It shouldn’t even come up in the first instance.
I make absolutely bold to say that our country Nigeria is most probably one of the very, very few countries if there exists any other, where such happens. So far our research hasn’t shown us any, but we will keep at it.
Government by nature is centered on improving the overall welfare of the people. So how do you explain how the very core of responsibility of governance does not get paid wages for protracted period of time?
We are not oblivious of the ghost worker issue and do not say it never existed. But once again, we maintain it could have been handled a lot much better to avert the monumental afflictions the larger majority of genuine public servants and pensioners have had to put up with all these years.
What are the cardinal points of your campaign?
Our campaign cardinal points are:
I. Aggressively sensitising the electorate across the entire demography of the society that, only they can turn things around for themselves by making sure to perform the constitutional duty of voting and voting right, not selling off the very fulcrum of a meaningful existence, sustenance and brighter future to some political fraud at next to nothing and live with the consequences for another arduous 4years.
II. Peace, unity, harmony and tranquility, which are deeply entrenched in the founding principles of our beloved mother land and have been so polarised by the deliberate divide and rule antics of our current crop of leaders, will be another major thrust of our campaign. Rather than instigate and sustain violence, we have been and will continue to encourage peaceful campaigns and eventual elections by our teeming supporters.
The electorate especially the youth are being convinced that no well-meaning leader or politician will encourage violence no matter the circumstance. We will do all in our power to bring this dialogue to the fore even with our fellow contestants and their supporters, the federal government and security agencies, as it will never be in the interest of the people, whose already depleted fortunes we want to turn around for the better.
Violence and desperation in politics become something of the past only when we imbibe the true spirit of patriotism and selflessness in pursuance of the delivery of qualitative governance to our down trodden populace putting aside the prevalent despicable do or die, winner-takes-all approach for a more purposeful all-inclusive result-oriented governance irrespective of party, religious, ethnic and cultural divides.
III. What we intend to do and how we intend to achieve these set goals have been exhaustively chronicled and made available to our supporters. In the course of this last lap of our campaign, we shall present our “Abe 19 Kogi developmental Road Map.”
What will your victory at the polls portend for the people of Kogi state?
Victory in the polls, which God willing, is certain portends restoration to every Kogi citizen out there.
We all know restoration to mean returning an asset to or even beyond its initial state of immense value from a current unattractive and unacceptable desolate or decrepit state.
Therefore, by the time we assume office, Kogites know theirs will be to brace up for the reward of making the right decisions with their constitutional rights, their votes, and voting wisely this time.
What would be your core priorities in the first 100days in office?
The plan is to hit the ground running.
We shall in the immediate instance move to resolve the salary payment issues of the state. It is being given utmost priority by our think tank and we have been studying the situation and already deliberating on a most logical timely way to deal with it permanently. Of course we will need the input and cooperation of the labour members themselves because we must admit it is such a thoroughly complicated matter that would be tough nut to crack.
With that out of the way, we could then redirect our focus to other pertinent issues to be dealt with.
With that out of the way, we could then redirect our focus to other pertinent issues to be dealt with.
Tackling the current safety situation in the state is also another issue of utmost importance to us. In fact, that will run parallel to the workers’ salary issue. We all know that Kogi right now is a kidnapper haven. We will liaise with the Nigerian Police, the military and paramilitary forces, all other security agencies to make Kogi State safer. Without safety, we cannot achieve our dreams for the state, lofty as they may seem.
We have also mapped out a series of worthwhile projects in the immediate, medium and long term in the interest of the state and people and looking at the contemporary financial situation of the state have gone ahead to begin talks with investors both local and international to come in and work with the state to achieve these invaluable initiatives for mutual benefits both to them and our state.
Of course, we were only able to think out of the box and get this going as a result of our years of experience and networking and successes in business, both locally and in international climes.
We can confidently tell you that, come our 100th day in office God wiling, we shall be proud to show you our score card as it relates to all of the aforementioned.
We shall in the immediate instance move to resolve the salary payment issues of the state. It is being given utmost priority by our think tank and we have been studying the situation and already deliberating on a most logical timely way to deal with it permanently