Inuwa Waya Why I Want to Govern Kano

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Malam Inuwa Waya retired as a general manager at NNPC after over 30 years of service, to pursue his ambition of becoming the Governor of Kano State in 2023. He talks to Ibrahim Shuaibu about his plans to run on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and his dreams for the state

Why did you resign from NNPC to join the 2023 governorship race in Kano?

I have been inundated with questions and queries on why I decided to voluntarily retire from my very important and prestigious position in NNPC to come into partisan politics and to chase what, in some people’s opinions, may not be possible or realisable. But I know why I decided to quit, even though I know it is not easy, especially having reached the climax of my career. I have been in NNPC since 26 August 1991. I can tell you that the corporation is the most credible and transparent government agency you can ever think of such that anyone who found himself in such a place would rather want to continue to stay till the last day of his retirement. Because of the level of transparency and accountability, NNPC is the only surviving agency among other corporations established almost at the same time. Think of where the National Electricity Commission, National Electric Power Authority, Nigerian Airways, Nigerian Postal Services, and Nigerian Railway Corporation. Except the Railway Service that until recently was resuscitated by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Government, others are now history. But NNPC is still there and waxing stronger and with the enactment of the Petroleum Industry Act, the corporation has assumed a new dimension in terms of more accountability, more profitability, and responsibility to justify shareholders’ resources and, who are the shareholders? So, when I realised I have been part and parcel of all this progress, it is only fair to ask why you are leaving the corporation this time. But as I said, I am happy that I left the NNPC in an excellent position. President Buhari has done extremely well to reposition not only the NNPC but the entire oil and gas sector. And NNPC, being the driving force, has set the center stage for this reposition.

Again, I realise there is a time for individuals to come and the time to leave the stage to the younger generation.

With all these reforms already taking place which are designed to increase the commerciality of NNPC, remember NNPC is no longer a corporation it is now a limited liability company that is why it is called NNPC limited. So you need to realise as a senior and management staff that these changes will usher in a rebirth of the corporation and it is only fair for those of us who have been there for long to step aside to allow the younger generation to take the mantle of leadership and deliver it to the Promised Land. That is my sacrifice and I know it is not easy but we just have to do that if we want the corporation to stand and to compete with other notable oil and gas limited companies in the world. Like Petro-brass in Brazil, Petrol Nass, Saudi Aramco, and the rest are all public companies, but on their own. So the NNPC will have to operate at an international level which needs young, talented, agile, and viable staff to carry the company to the international level. In my view, we need to understand that society and what we do is changing and that we must come to speed with the dynamism of global development.

I am not sure if I’m going to be governor because there is no degree of certainty to prove that, but my sacrifice to resign from NNPC is more important to me than anything else. I believe the issue of becoming a governor is in the hands of God, even when you say it is in the hands of the people, you must also acknowledge the hands of God because we have several examples where many wishes have failed. Prince Audu won the election but died before the result was announced. We have another case in Zamfara where APC was elected and the Supreme Court returned the ticket to PDP. Thank God the state is back to APC. I am not out, technically speaking, because I want to be governor, but for a purpose.

Can you tell us the kind of leadership Kano State requires at this time and what will you do differently if elected to govern the state?

First, we have to understand that we are elites and most of the lifetime achievements of elites are limited to what they have done during their services in mainstream civil or public services. And when they finish they come back home to help their communities because, in the course of their service, they have been introduced to several aspects of developments across the globe with interaction with the high and mighty in the world. So when they return, some of them will start lamenting about what is happening in the country and become armchair critics. Because at that time they felt it was too late for them to join the league, thinking politicians will harass and intimidate them since they are not in the mainstream. Politicians see people like us as endangered species, as far as they are concerned. They believe you have all that it takes to develop society, then they begin to block you, using legal, illegal, and supernatural means. But one should not be a coward or intimidated to retract from the step being taken. You have to be brave enough to break rank and instill yourself in the system to contribute and make a meaningful impact in the larger society. That is why people like us have decided to pick up the challenge and sacrifice to go into politics. The two years that I have left in service to retire from NNPC is now enabling me to understand the nitty-gritty of the political process and I imagine what would have happened if I were to wait until one month before retirement, as provided by the electoral act, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere. The mere fact that people like us are joining politics is already unsettling the political class. It is making them sit up and do what is right. That is a big plus for me knowing full well that my involvement has gingered the political class to begin to think of probity and accountability.

Now, on what I would do differently, already I am a member of APC, so I believe in the party’s manifesto. And what I will do is to align myself with the party because, for now, I believe in it. I believe in what the president is doing by carrying out the objectives of the party and that is why the president usually challenges his critics to show where he has violated the constitution. President Buhari is my hero and I see him as a role model and he was the major reason why I joined politics. The intent to join the political class was because of President Buhari. I support what the federal and Kano State governments are doing as APC governments. What I’m going to do differently depends on whether or not APC changes her manifesto, but for now, I fully support what the APC government is doing both in Kano and at the federal level.

Can you state clearly what your developmental agenda for Kano will look like if you become governor in 2023?

My concern is education, because I realise that we could not develop because we don’t have quality and functional education. I realised that our major challenge began from lack of education and that is why I commend the policy of free education being implemented by the Kano State Government. The policy of free and compulsory education is commendable and we need to support it. But the challenge the state will face is resources to sustain the system because schools will no longer charge any fee and that means the government will need to find alternative means to sustain the system. For me, I have decided to assist the government on the policy of free education with the provision of instructional materials, uniforms, and the like, especially to children of the less privileged. I do this in public schools in the state. We introduced debate and competition in the schools to encourage scholarship and we dish out gifts to best-performing students. Again, we have an issue of drug abuse in Kano, which is also largely due to a lack of education. This unfortunate act has led to school dropout and resorted to insurgency and terrorism. If I become governor, I will build more schools, rehabilitate existing structures and ensure that teachers are not only well paid but qualified enough to provide the services they are employed to do. There is no time for criticism because I don’t want to be an armchair critic, the very reason I joined the race in the first place. I understand when one is in power you understand the situation well and you hope it will be better, but when you leave the government you begin to criticise. Every government wants constructive and not destructive criticism. I will not do politics with education because I believe it is not about a given quota system or federal character but the need for the immediate development of your environment. We would take education for development not for business. Training of teachers will be paramount.

There is division in APC in Kano, how would you circumvent this situation, and given the complexity of Kano Politics, why did you choose to contest the highest political post and not the most achievable post?

To start with, I’m not a novice in politics. I remember when we were in secondary school in Rumfa College we used to visit Mallam Aminu Kano to see and learn how he addressed his political disciples. We cultivated that habit and that created an impact in my mind that one day in the future I will take full part in politics. When I graduated from college, I began several movements in politics and it was because of my involvement in politics that attracted the interest of the then governor of Kano, the late Abubakar Rimi, to employ some of us to work in the research unit at the government house, set up by the late Dr. Bala Muhammad. Our responsibility then included administering a questionnaire to the public to sample public opinion about government policies and activities, whether or not the public is satisfied. I did that for a few months before I moved to the school of preliminary studies preparatory to my university education. When I was there, I was a student representative, later the speaker of the assembly, and then became president of the student union. Similarly, when I was at Ahmadu Bello University, I was the president of the Society of Law Students for a while, Secretary-general Kano State students union, and a member of the Progressives Union. So with all this participation over the years, I don’t think you can refer to me as a new-be because of my 32 years in NNPC. And the kind of challenges I went through in NNPC, especially in the hands of the politicians and how I survived it before my retirement will tell you how resilient I am.

I was harassed, intimidated and they made all sorts of threats to frustrate me out of the system because that is their stock in trade. They want good people out of the system. I have had advice from people who rather asked me to return to university because to them politics is a dangerous game. They simply don’t want you to join them and to hold them accountable. I have been abused by the media and they even plot against me with a dangerous petition setting me against my employer, alleging that I’m in public service but sponsoring political activities in Kano. Unfortunately, they have forgotten that I am a Lawyer and I’m doing that in consonance with the provision of section 40 of the Constitution that allows every individual to pursue his or her interest and to participate in trade unions and political parties for the protection of their interest. And this section was consolidated by the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Chief Gani Faweyinmi, Chief Balarabe Musa, Alh. Kala Gazali against INEC and Attorney General of the Federation. Justice Uwais, CJN, as he then was, declared in clear terms that it is obvious that the public service rules prevented civil servants in partisan politics but those civil service procedures can never be accepted to be inconsistent with the position of the Constitution and, if you check, these civil service rules are directly in conflict with the provisions of the constitution. This was the reason the Supreme Court, according to Justice Uwais, decided that the civil service rules are null and void because of their inconsistency with the Constitution. I had a legal opinion while in service and for my management to understand the situation even before my retirement. And what the Constitution did was to reinforce the political jurisprudence of man as a political animal. We know some people believe the political activities of a state are their exclusive right and they have to determine who plays the game, forgetting that parties are simply an amalgamation of interested persons coming together to form an entity. So I’m not a novice, I have legal rights, and the reason why I’m joining the race is to protect the interests of the poor and I will not fall into any intimidation or harassment by any politician in this era. With crisis in Kano APC, people may want to know where they belong.

The crisis in APC is normal because everyone gets more interested and you begin to see a rise in alignment and realignment. I’m also in alignment with some groups and as far as I’m concerned APC in Kano is one. As far as I’m concerned Abdullahi Abbas is still the chairman and the current executive of the party is the recognised leadership of the party. Where you have splitter groups that want to bring about conflict because of the protection of their selfish interest, then you know it is about who gets what, where and time. So in politics, you use a sledge hammer to kill a mosquito sometimes.

For me, I’m in politics to sanitise the system to make the system more accountable and more reliable. We would continue to campaign against violence, using children of the poor, who the politicians have denied education, to foment crisis, using daggers and machetes.

I have told the youths and challenged them to tell any politician who asks them to take drugs and carry dangerous weapons against their opponents to bring their children to lead the fight. By the time you begin to ask the political class to bring their children to campaign and cross opponents, you will notice that in no distant time this violence would be eliminated. No politician would allow his child to participate in violence but they can use the children of the poor who they fail to offer education. You don’t need to kill any opponent to win if you are worth what you claim to be. We should allow people to determine the right candidates.