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INTERVIEW: Why Kwara North Deserves Special Attention In Terms Of Political Appointments And Addressing Infrastructural Decay – ALHAJI KUDU MOHAMMAD

Alhaji Muhammad Kudu Muhammad, a fellow of Institute of Business and Economic Analysts of Nigeria (IBEAN), is one of the stalwarts of the All Progressives Party in Kwara State and a member of the transition committee of the incoming government. In this interview with the Editor-In-Chief of Westernlifenews, BABS-OLURIBIGBE ADEOYE, the politician, who is also a critical stakeholder of the party in Kwara North spoke on what the incoming APC led government would offer the people of Kwara state. He also explained why the zone deserves better treatment in term of political appointments and addressing the infrastructural decay pervading the senatorial district.

Now that the All Progressives Congress is going to form the new government in Kwara State by May 29, 2019, what should be the expectations of the people?

I think the people of Kwara should expect good governance, built on experiences that are private sector driven. During the campaign till date, most of the people that worked with the gubernatorial candidate then and those working with him now as the governor-elect, even the governor-elect himself are majorly of private sector background. Therefore, private sector experience must surely count from the time the new government kicks off. So nothing short of good governance and delivery of dividends of democracy should be expected by the people of Kwara.

How far about the work of the transition committees of the incoming administration, are you receiving expected co-operation from the outgoing government?

To the extent that I cannot speak for the transition committee but as a member, I know that I have not seen anything that should cause any noise anywhere. And where there is need, the incoming government should be able to address it timely on arrival – May 29, 2019.

So we should be expecting smooth transition

By the grace of God, there is no alternative to that.

Going by the figures, Kwara North in the just concluded 2019 elections, gave the APC significant votes, in your view, what was responsible for this?

If you remember, Kwara North wanted to produce the governor in 2019 because the Kwara central had produced governor for 12 years, likewise the south for 8 years, we believed that Kwara North should also do the same. But beyond that, the level of infrastructure decay in Kwara North cannot be compared to any other senatorial districts in Kwara or even any other place in Nigeria. Go to Kwara North and see our public schools, (both primary and secondary), go and see the standard of living there, despite the fact that our people are hardworking, it’s like there’s a grand design to keep the Kwara Northerners under perpetual slavery. The resolve to break away from the shackles accounted for the huge votes that we delivered for the APC during the just concluded elections in Kwara North. The votes could have been more, if we have required number of polling units, the candidate of our party is an individual of Kwara North and there were enough resources to move our people from the scattered village areas to the polling units/centres, etc. However, we thank God and can never appreciate our people and their determinations enough.

The zone was in the media recently on the issue that some certain stakeholders from other senatorial districts are offering the zone the position of speakership, what is your take on this?

I don’t know why people from other zones would be offering what we have not requested. But I know as a student of history that each time, the governor comes from Kwara central, as it were in 1999 and 2003, the position of the speaker, the position of Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and ministerial slot from the state are usually zoned to Kwara North. In 1999, when late Admiral Lawal was the governor, distinguished Senator Ahmed from Baruten was the SSG, and Hajia Amina Ndalolo, from Patigi, Kwara North was the minister, and Hon. Benjamin Yissa also from Patigi was the Speaker of the state house of assembly. This was despite the fact that the ruling party in the state was different from the party in government at the national level (then, the ruling party in Kwara was All People Party, while PDP controlled the federal level). In 2003, when Bukola Saraki became governor, the SSG was slot was retained in Kwara North, late Alhaji Gana from Patigi held the position. The speakership slot was also given to the zone, that was when Hon. Issa Ibrahim Bio was returned from the National assembly to become the speaker of the state house of assembly. When the federal government tried to take the ministerial slot from the zone to elsewhere, the government at the state level insisted that the position must be retained in Kwara North. If you remember, the federal government, appointed late Ms Funke Adedoyin as the Minister, but later reversed when the state government took the matter up and resolved in favour of Kwara North. That was when the speaker, Rt. Hon. Issa Ibrahim Bio later became the minister. If you ask me, in view of devastations economically and developmental wise in Kwara North, which position should we pick. I will rather say, we take the ministerial slot first, follow by the SSG and the speakership position as it used to be. The stakeholders from outside Kwara North senatorial district that are offering the speakership position to us, I want to say, I appreciate their gift or offer but I see it more as politicking and horse trading. There are undercurrents from certain quarters outside Kwara North working assiduously to rob the zone of ministerial slot and the SSG in 2019. And I think at this juncture, men of wisdom from Kwara North must rise up to resist these upcoming injustices. What does a speaker get beyond riding in an SUV car and enjoying the protocol? We had the speaker in 1999, as well as in 2003, what did they change and the level of devastation now is more than what it was then. So the party stalwarts, outside Kwara North should please allow our senatorial district to remain peaceful as it were, despite several provocations. They should stop sponsoring people from the zone against themselves, just because they want to give us the empty shell and take the substance, that’s what I see. To me, many of the people offering, shouting on top of their voices from outside our zone are just offering us Greek gift and I want to use this opportunity to appeal to them, to allow peace to reign in Kwara North. The 24 members of the state house of assembly should be left to decide on who to be their speaker and where he should come from, based on their rules instead of pitching one Kwara Northerner against the other. I don’t think that’s the right way to go.

You said Kwara North should be given ministerial slot, SSG and speakership..

(Cut in) including member of the National Executive of our party. Kwara North is the only zone that is not represented in the NEC of our Party. What is our offence? But don’t you think, you are asking for too much? No. We can’t be asking for too much because there are other positions that can be zoned to other senatorial districts too. In 1999 and 2003, we had the SSG, the minister and the speaker, the central produced the governor and the south had their own positions too.

And you believe the zone can get these slots in this dispensation?

Why can’t we? It is about bringing the formular, based on the weight of the position, and there would be give and take. Kwara is a state of harmony, the governorship position has been decided, the deputy has been decided, so others have to be decided. We have choice ministries, we have choice commission and parastatals, both at the federal and state levels. They should all form part of the package to be shared, according to the formular and percentage votes returned for the party. Politics shouldn’t be like Red Cross.

The new government will be inaugurated in few weeks from now, precisely, May 29, and one of the principal officers to hit the ground running with the governor supposes to be the Secretary to the State Government. Now that you are saying the party has not decided which zone to produce it, what do you think will happen?

To the best of my knowledge, I know the governor appoints whoever he wants as the SSG but our own request is let whoever he (governor-elect) wishes to appoint as the SSG, comes from Kwara North. Kwara North has enough hands that are more than capable to serve in the capacity of the SSG and All others being demanded.

During his acceptance speech, the governor-elect, Alhaji AbdulRahman AbdulRazak made a statement that Kwara North will receive special attention. What do you make up of this?

What he said is that Kwara North deserves special attention and I am sure he must have read between the lines. During his campaign, he went to all the nooks and crannies of the senatorial districts, he saw for himself the ravaging underdevelopment foisted on people of Kwara North, the perpetual denial designed on the people of the zone, and I am sure this must be part of the reasons he made the statement that the zone deserves special attention. In doing this, I want to believe, it is going to be infrastructure revival and appointments, both at the state and federal levels.

In your own view, do you think your party is really ready for governance, concerning the ongoing internal horse trading, and maneuvers?

Yes, we are, because the governor is a man whose eye is focused on the ball. As we speak, I don’t know where he is, but he’s busy going from one country to another, looking for credible investors, he knows who to appoint to what position. The party is also blessed with resourceful members, so I do not see APC led administration having any problem in delivering good governance and dividends of democracy that Kwarans voted for, when we said “O to ge”. I must also add that the debt profile on ground is mountainous, If the governor-elect himself and those working with him are not from private sector background, it would be a Herculean task to drive this state Like you said, most of you that worked with the governor-elect right from the time he emerged as the gubernatorial candidate were from the private sector.

Is there is any special plan by the incoming administration to improve the welfare of the civil servants, in terms of prompt payment of salaries, gratuities and other allowances?

That’s an interesting question. The APC led administration in Kwara state would not have problem in that area. The governor-elect himself firmly believe that “the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain”. He believes not only in improving the welfare of the civil servants, but also retired pensioners. I am equally aware that the outstanding gratuity owed by the outgoing government is in excess of N10 billion. By the time you add the outstanding pension and salaries, you’ll agree with me that it is mountainous, besides other huge and unacceptable loans. But like I said, the private sector experience will make the difference. Already, he’s moving from one country to another, seeking for credible investors with genuine funds to come and invest in Kwara. By this, you expect that the economy of the state becomes strong, as the internally generated revenue will increase. The incoming governor said during the campaign that he would abolish the local government joint account. If that is done, economic activities in the local government areas will pick up and you know the ripple effect that singular action will bring to fore.

Can you shed more light on what you mean that the incoming governor will abolish joint account?

What he was saying is that JAAC will be operating in line with the extant rules. There is no law that says the figures declared in Abuja should be different from the figures that leave Ilorin to various local government areas in Kwara state. Over the years, figures announced in Abuja are remarkably different from what leave Ilorin to the local governments. This is what the governor is talking about.

The incoming governor said after he received his certificate of return that he would be ready to work with anybody irrespective of political affiliations in order to move Kwara state forward. Does the statement mean that his government would embrace members of the opposition parties in his government?

I cannot speak for him (the Governor) but I know that Kwara state is a going concern. The fact that Saraki dynasty has been defeated. And who defeated, is a huge achievement. But who defeated the Saraki dynasty? The Kwarans of course, so Kwarans are the new leaders of Kwara. If the incoming governor said he’s ready to work with people from other political parties, what I understand by that statement is that he is ready to bringing all good hands of genuine Kwarans to come and carry our dear state that is now a damaged goods to the next level.

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