Suleiman: I’ll make Nasarawa Safe If Elected Governor
In this interview with Igbawase Ukumba, the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) governorship candidate in Nasarawa State, Mohammed Auwal Suleiman, outlined his plan for people of the state if elected during the March, 2023 poll
What could be the motivation behind your quest to govern Nasarawa State come 2023?
I want to strengthen the Senior Secondary education because it is the most vulnerable age. It is the age in between parents and the system. The parents cannot certainly deal with more than 40 percent of these children and keep and curtail their excesses. And the system itself cannot deal with 40 percent of them and curtail their excesses.
So if my government comes on board, we will use 28 to 30 percent of our resources in making sure that middle class education is right. Not only getting right, but getting the best out of these children.
How do you get the best out of your child? I was trained a skillful child right from my primary school. I am a professional builder; anything about building is what I can do with my fingers. I have not worked with any government parastatal. But right at 17, I was an entrepreneur. Right at 24, I was a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a company. On my own, I trained myself onto two different master degrees, trained myself to my PhD class and trained 27 children onto degree programmes. So what is the difference? I was privileged to acquire that skill at that tender age. And this is what I will put into people.
We have six departments that we are taking into our administration for people of the state to acquire skills. They include: farming, poultry and fishery, organic charcoal production, tailoring, and building construction. So every child in his Senior Secondary School class will choose where he wants to go in between these six. I am very optimistic 50 percent of them will excell and they will go into university as people with skills, as people with manners, as people with knowledge.
What should the people of Nasarawa State expect from you when you are finally elected into office?
Actively, I did not see 96 percent of the civil servants today as people working. I am terming almost all of them as people under government empowerment. Take ministry of agriculture for instance, we almost have six directors including the permanent secretary before the commissioner and there is director of food production, and for the past one and half decades, where is that one bag of food that a director has produced? That made him passive. That made him inactive.
So what we have on ground; APM and my leadership is to have a productive job initiative. Again, it will not start from someone who has been passive for 30 years. It will not work. It is not sustainable. We will mandate ministry of local government and ministry of agriculture to get a minimum of 10 hectres of land in each local government area and produce what crop is suitable for that land. In the next 20 years, every food that is produced in Nasarawa state, you will get it in abundance.
How would you assess the administration of the incumbent Governor Abdullahi Sule in Nasarawa State?
It is weak and feeble. He lacks strength of leadership character. The only thing I know is that he is constantly paying salaries and gratuities. I don’t see this as leadership because with or without a governor, pensions are paid, gratuities are paid. There are organisations that are not governed by governors, by DGs, by MDs but pay their salaries as and when due.
And overall, we know what pension is. It is What you keep that you take. Now even what they kept is not coming by. Could you imagine a state with more than 10,000 pensioners is giving N100 million. I don’t know how you are going to split it for who.
I know a person who came from Jos, two decades ago, his pension is still hanging. His gratuity is still hanging. What we want is to pay people reasonable money. Cut their resources into four; anybody with N800,000, give him N200,000; with N2 million, give him N500,000; with N10 million, give him N2.5 million. But I get very pathetic that someone is praying for N6 million gratuity is giving N100,000. These are people of 60 years. What would you do with N100 million, may be with fourth wife, may be with 17 children.
There is organised criminal wastefulness in the administration. You are taking N400 million every month as security vote yet there is record of insecurity above the previous months. Then where is the security vote going?
There is also conversion of public property. This is eight months today that the executive chairmen of local government areas of the state were sworn in. For the past eight months, may be it may continue till the end of their tenure, about N1 billion is acrued from the Value Added Tax (VAT) to the 13 local government areas of the state. By law, this VAT is going to the council wards. The council chairman didn’t even have any right to touch this money. It is not a local government resources. It is a resources meant for council wards development.
This is eight months, no penny came to local government chairmen, let alone the council wards. And there is no single project executed by the ward councillors in Nasarawa State till date. That is very very pathetic. And without producing one single culvert, one single borehole, one single feeder road in the name of ward project in eight months, it is a failure. And if your ward failed, the local government has failed. If the local government has failed, certainly the state government has failed and that is why the federal government is failing too. You must allow local government autonomy.
Insecurity is one major challenge confronting the state; how do you intend to tackle it when you are elected into office?
I have told you that early dissemination of information and synergy are very important, but they are not enough. If it was enough, the numbers of crime would not increase by months.
So how do we get it enough? We must design factors. One among is for you to understand the social value of your community. How do they value themselves? If you get the social value, what is their per capita. Is it a community that is able to feed itself. Is it a community that has good drinking water or not. Are they able to go to farm and come back safely. This ought to be censored. If you get that well, you now think how do you enhance their livelihood.
God willing, we are going to fight it with three arms. The first arm is food, the second is job and the third arm is knowledge. We will curtail insecurity by having knowledge. Two, we will discuss jobs and third, we will discuss food. I am not discussing job that my brother will come and say he has a graduate from College of Agriculture and wants to work in Dalhatu Araf Hospital. No, this is not the kind of job I am talking about. It is an employment that you will go to a school, get a graduate that has a 1st Class in a productive field. Tell him to bring his lieutenants from his brothers, including his lecturers and give us a proposal. The proposal will not be more than N30 million.
How much is our security vote? Almost half a billion naira monthly. And you will not get this 1st Class up to ten in a year. If you secure that 1st Class child with five to twenty of his lieutenants and his professor, they will not produce for you, but you will be surprised what will come into your coffers as revenue because certainly, it is an organisation you have opened for them.
Lastly, insecurity has an edge in Nigeria and Nasarawa State because of one strong reason; selfishness and greed. I cannot just understand why someone will be paid N7,000 per month and the principal officer there is stealing N300,000 in the knowledge of that person being paid N7,000 because he is a casual staff. This is greed. This is wickedness. Is he secured? How can a society be secured? Can the society secure him?
How do you view the same faith presidential ticket adopted by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)?
As a Nigerian, I see it as selfishness in the act of APC. As a politician, I see it as an advantage over APC and lastly as a leader, again I see it as weakness. It is only when you are weak that you cut corners. If you foresee the problem of not having a competent Christian faithful in the north to represent his northern Muslims, you make an adjustment. Ahh…Bola, since it is like that let’s get a Muslim northerner, and has become his running mate. The message is, we want to win election. As a politician, it serves them right.
Now going outside the box, credibility, knowledge, proactiveness, transparency, objectivity, fairness and leadership strength are what I view as catalyst for aspirantion. Outside this, faith has nothing to do with leadership.
But are these two people credible? Are they proactive? Because what we have on ground on insecurity, their only thought is to take more people and put into soldier. It is the same Boko Haram boys. The discussion today should be proactive and the proactive should be out of arming the Police because with or without their guns, they are not secured.
A Divisional Police Officer was kidnapped in Nasarawa State. Many paramilitary security personnel were kidnapped in Nasarawa State. Almost 10 Police officers were recently kidnapped in the state. They were groomed in dealing with criminal activities, but they are not secured.
I want to rest my case with one word: I did not understand how they define their leadership in their own terms. Until I do then I will say something in their own terms. But as a leader, I just view APC nationally as epic weakness unit. And as a politician, they will go. They bought their own casket themselves and they will bury themselves.
But as a Nigerian, it is selfishness. It is wickedness. It is just lack of sympathy. The people that do not have the general public at heart. These kind of people that do not have Nigeria at heart should not come to power. We need people who have the capacity, have the strength, again have the knowledge to will the priority. Have the knowledge to will proactiveness. Have the knowledge to will transparency. They have to be careful and they should know that this is the only country we have. We need to not only secure Nigeria, we must keep it safe. We must keep it united.
Do you see the new electoral law addressing the shortcomings in free and fair election experienced in the past electioneering activities in the country?
Your question is precise. The answer is yes comparing it to the past. But if we are to discuss the future, which is the sustainable part of our being, it needs upgrading right from registering people. Their system of registration is absolutely poor. I don’t know how they budgeted for information dissemination. But the people in the village absolutely knew nothing about this; that is the voters card registration. And I couldn’t comprehend why there would be a deadline or closure for registration.
And again I could not understand why I cannot not register today and vote tomorrow. From this month (July) that they will close the voters registration exercise till next year February, there would be almost 10 million people that will be eligible; but they will be disenfranchised.