Yaman: I Will Run an Open Govt If Elected Kwara Governor in 2023
The Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) gubernatorial candidate for 2023 general election in Kwara state, Abdullah Shuaibu Yaman, in this interview with Hammed Shittu, speaks on his programmes for Kwara people if elected Governor in March, 2023
What are the selling point of your party, Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), to Kwara electorate for the 2023 governorship election?
You see, my critical selling points are integrity, sincerity, honesty and transparency. In the last three years, we’ve witnessed unprecedented deceit and betrayal of public trust. Contracts were awarded without due processes; bills were passed without transparent public hearings; appointments have been made without due diligence and regard to competence and capability. Any manifesto will be meaningless without the necessary ingredients of transparency and accountability.
So, I’m going, to be honest, transparent and trustworthy in dealing with the good people of Kwara State. Having said that, the government I’m going to head will be “our government” and not “my government”. It will be collective and inclusive. Our priority areas for sustainable growth and development shall be security, civil service reform, revenue reform for economic Independence, education and human capital development, road Infrastructure and rural economic development, responsive and comprehensive health care system, agriculture as a pinnacle to sustainable prosperity, private sector and traditional institutions driving security system, tourism and creative economy and youth employment and empowerment.
“The How” to achieve these will soon be presented to Kwarans when campaigns start. Now mind you, the basic principles to drive these are integrity, honesty and transparency. When former governor Abdulfatah Ahmed promised to complete all ongoing projects of Dr. Bukola Saraki, he followed up by completing the Harmony Diagnostic Centre, Aviation College, Kwara State University’s School of Engineering, and all ongoing road projects, among others. That’s integrity. Every month, that government announced the revenue profile of the state and went through all due processes in taking loans. Again, that’s transparency. Kwarans deserve to know how they’re being governed. That was why we saw Governors Saraki and Ahmed coming on air to speak with Kwarans.
What has this government done? Destruction of legacies without establishing new ones.Government of hatred and vindictiveness. Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq (GAA)abandoned Kwara’s logo and identity; was almost vandalising the diagnostic centre; turned the stadium complex into a political arena and abandoned the metropolitan square meant for such activities. This governor is like a prodigal son that devoured the legacies of his father without establishing new ones. Kwara can not afford another four years of profligacy and destruction.
Do you think the manifestos are capable of convincing the people of the state to vote for you?
Time will tell. But what’s sure like death is that Kwarans are tired of a muted and one-chanced governor, a governor that speaks and listens to no one but himself.
What are your priority programmes which you will focus on if you win the 2023 governorship election in the state?
Simple! Security, civil service reform, revenue reform for economic development, youth employment and empowerment and infrastructure development.
What programmes will you do differently if you are voted as the governor of Kwara state?
Our government shall not be just a spending government but one that generates more resources for economic expansion and inclusiveness. We shall be accountable to Kwarans and allow our productive civil servants to offer their best to the state and shall be rewarded accordingly. We shall adhere strictly to Kwara master plans established by the previous governments with necessary amendments to meet modern exigencies. Our government shall be focused and resourceful. We’ll ensure that every part of the state feels the impact of government.
How bright are the chances of your party winning the 2023 governorship election in the state?
Well, God is the maker of kings. In Him alone resides the authority to succeed. But so far, this governor appears to be an orphan. All major actors in his emergence have abandoned him because they have since discovered that he’s a one-chanced governor. Any commander that goes to a battlefront without his battalion is doomed. That’s what GAA is currently doing. So far, we’re praying and working to succeed.
You recently defected from the APC to the PDP, how have you been able to warm yourself to the heart of the people of the state on the platform of PDP?
Let me start by appreciating the leadership of our great party, the PDP, for yielding to the yearnings and aspirations of the majority of Kwarans for equity, justice and fairness in political authority. My decision to join the PDP was not a sole decision. The people of my constituency, indeed the people of the entire Kwara North were behind that decision for those of us who are privileged to have a strong foothold in that region. When they told us that any party that would not recognize the relevance of our constituency, and including our rights as joint partners in the Kwara project, that such a party is no longer welcomed in our zone. We knew that APC unfortunately was no longer interested in the rights of Kwara North people, was more interested in keeping Kwara North under slavery. We saw another party that said ok, we are interested and we know that even in the last election they indeed demonstrated an interest, then our people said we should join.
From this short narrative you can see that coming to PDP was a joint decision, as such I’m not an orphan in my constituency. That means that as we came to PDP everyone is involved with meeting those we met at the party. That has made my work easier. And again, when you have a political system like the PDP, you will notice that unlike APC they are very accommodating. And that is what I’ve been experiencing since we came here. The level of acceptance is amazing.
Now, remember that though I may not have been in the PDP, I’ve always been an ardent lover of Baba Saraki’s political philosophy of giving back to society and helping the needy. Since I returned to PDP, I’ve also embarked on consultations and familiarisation visits to critical stakeholders in the party, including the former house of assembly members, women groups, youth associations and others. These are ongoing.
Don’t you think that the “O to ge”(enough is enough) movement used by APC to sweep away the PDP administration in 2019 is still much around to be used by the present ruling administration in the state in the 2023 election?
I am happy you asked this question. But in answering you, I will say I wish you had gone out to interview the core elements of that movement and hear from them to judge by yourself. Truth is, O To Ge died the day GAA became the governor. The moment he became the governor, he had achieved his ambition and that was it; all other people who sacrificed what they had, both great and small, became inconsequential. We were working for a man to fulfil a personal ambition but we didn’t know. The moment he became governor, his body language was that of “I don’t need you again”. He forgot that he will still come back four years later, he forgot that a tree does not make a forest. Now, to more specifics. Remember I was part of that movement? Why did I leave? Simple: I left because I soon began to see the deceit behind that movement as people called it. I saw a man who was only not ready to be a team player but also abandoned the promises made to the good people of the state. We had promised to pay civil servants a living wage and make them what they truly deserve; the engine room for the state’s development. Today, GAA has contracted almost all their services to consultants. He has made our civil servants redundant than ever. Again, we promised Kwarans a transparent, responsive and inclusive government. What do we have today? A government that directed civil servants to sign an oath of secrecy and a government that awards major contracts under the table. I saw a man who was more interested in turning governance into a family affair rather than the growth and development of our state.
Didn’t we see these traits before the election? We didn’t see it all. Remember, the strategy then was for each of us to focus everything we had on our areas of strength. Remember it was a fierce battle. You don’t take on a formidable political establishment like that of Saraki and take it lightly. So, we concentrated on our areas of operation and even if we noticed one or two flaws in our flag bearer then we would have thought they were things we could sort out after the normal battle. But like I told you, this man deceived all of us.
So today, in the O To Ge movement, where is Akogun Oyedepo? Where is Lai Mohammed? Where is Senator Gbemisola Saraki? Where is Saheed Popoola? Where is Cook Olododo? Where is Senator Makanjuola Ajadi? Where is Hakeem Lawal? Where’s Alhaji LAK Jimah? Do you see what has happened to their star boy, Senator Oloriegbe? These are men and women who risked everything to ensure victory for the movement but who have, like my humble self, seen the whole deceit and have walked away to preserve their dignity. If you are leading a battle and all your field commanders and footsoldiers leave you, what message does that tell? It tells you, you are a failure. That is the summary of the O To Ge movement. I’m regularly in touch with many of those still with him and I can assure you that it is only a matter of days before they too leave that camp. So, O To Ge is not a barrier against our coming back to power, instead, it has helped us; what with the monumental failure, this administration has become? You can’t sell a product like AA again using O to Ge as a mantra. Not again.
What is your assessment of the projects executed by the government in Kwara North Senatorial district?
This government has not done anything spectacular to any senatorial zone in the state. What it has done that’s spectacular is create division and disunity in the state. What it has done is continue to destroy legacies and pilfer our collective patrimony. Did you listen to Senator Makanjuola Ajadi? Did you hear Senator Oloriegbe? I’m sure more revelations will soon come as we approach the elections.
And to refresh your memory, Dr Saraki tarred the stretch of road from the Oyo State boundary to Baruten and Chikanda axis by the Benin Republic 120km. He broke the jinx of underdevelopment in the area. So, tell me what this government has done uniquely for Kwara North or any part of the state.
You have been a critic of the government, especially on the debt profile of the state, how much debt has the APC government incurred in the last three years and what is the total indebtedness of the state?
As of March this year, Kwara’s total debt between 1967 and 2022 stands at over N104billion, with this government responsible for more than 50% of the total sum in less than four years. This means that in just over three years, GAA has accumulated more than N50billion in domestic debt. This is incredibly stupendous and until the crushing effects of this unjustifiable debt are lifted from the back of our state, there can not be any meaningful development. Now, get me right. The major issue I have with the government is that it is not creating a new revenue head. It keeps expending wastefully without due regard for responsibility. It is not creating new heads of revenue generation for sustainable growth and development.
The loan taken by the present administration was said to have been meant for some specific projects, have you been able to access whether the projects have been successfully executed?
The assessment is ongoing. But so far, this government has constituted itself as a stumbling block in the wheel of progress. Consistently, it has refused the request to publish the names of the more than 600 schools it claimed were renovated. We again charged him to name those schools and how much is spent on each of the schools. Is the painted iron sheet in Isapa, Ekiti local government area part of the renovation? Is the Oke- Apomu LGEA school part of the phantom renovation? GAA must address the state on major contracts awarded, the beneficiaries and the processes so that he can be held accountable.
As a former member of the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission, what do you think is responsible for the shortfall in revenue accruing to the Federal government?
Corruption and insecurity. As long as there’s massive corruption and insecurity in the land, the revenue will keep falling. So, we must sincerely fight corruption and tackle security challenges.
How do you want to source for revenue to run your programmes and the state administration?
Create more revenue heads and prevent leakages in the system.
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