Kwara 2019 Guber Poll: Self imposition of candidate will be counter productive, Saliu Mustapha warns
..describes Ishola Balogun-Fulani APC led exco court case as mere distraction.
In this interview with Journalists in Ilorin, a governorship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State, Mallam Saliu Mustapha, spoke on his aspirations and lofty cardinal programmes encapsulated in his blueprint if elected candidate of the party and as well as Governor of the state in the 2019 general elections.
Q- You are aspiring to become the Governor of Kwara State under APC.There are speculations that Kwara APC is being controlled by some external forces from Lagos with the ultimate goal of imposing gubernatorial candidate on the party other than those who have already signified intention. If this happens, what can you do to prevent such from occurring?
We want to believe that APC as a party wants to come out victorious in the next general elections not just in other states but Kwara is one of the states they would like to clinch. Anybody that wants to win an election and with the past experience, would definitely toe the right path and allow the popular candidate to emerge. Because any self imposition on the people would be counterproductive. Then, you are only assisting those you want to push out to remain in office.
Sometimes, you hear a lot of rumours and speculations. One of the problems this country has gone through is that we live in speculations. Even leaders, sometimes, you find them to be speculative. Where people are supposed to be decisive and exhibit leadership, they live on speculations. For me, I'm in it. People outside might not feel the way I feel or know what I know. I know there is nothing like anybody would be imposed on us.
Some weak aspirants have been name-dropping. Of course, we have leaders that wish us well in Kwara. But these leaders are also very careful and conscious of whatever is happening so they wouldn't also do that mistake to want to impose unpopular candidate. Then what is their gain if they are also pushing hard to see that we win this election, especially in Kwara here? Why would they want to take a wrong step?
For me in APC, we must be more strategic and more focused and look at what would make us win the election, not to always give room to some of these speculations, where some people would even go as far as raising a lot of allegations against each other. Be rest assured, there is nothing like that.
Q- How would you respond to the belief in some quarters that you are a pawn for the President of the Senate in the APC?
On a good day I wouldn't want to even answer this question because the more we flog issue like this, the more we are giving readers opportunity to... It is just unfortunate. People should try and look at my antecedents and where I am coming from before you make any allegation on my person.
I have always shared the ideological conviction of the President (Muhammadu Buhari) and I have always believed in his political ideology. We started from the way back APP that later became ANPP. We got to a stage where we formed our own party, CPC, which I became the Deputy National Chairman. I was part and parcel of what we called APC today, how the merger came about and after the merger, we had people who migrated to the party from the new PDP and today they have left and I still remain in APC.
So, some of us believe in our independence. We cannot just be seen jumping around because our own politics is based on principle and not people who migrate from one place to the other. Like the National Chairman said, people without political address. We have an address and we don't intend to change address every minute. So, I would want us to stop flogging this matter. Let us look at what is before us now, see how we can take Kwara to the next level and how we can fix Kwara to make it a better society for me, you, families and everybody.
Q- If you look around, there is poverty in the land coupled with youth restiveness. What are your plans to tackle these problems if you clinch the governorship ticket of your party?
I have repeated this time without numbers. No group of people, no society, no nation can develop beyond the level of its reasoning or intelligentsia. For me, why I have chosen education, skill acquisition, entrepreneurship, reorientation as one of the cardinal points of my reform if and when I became the Governor by the grace of God, is because you cannot give what you don't have.
We cannot dream and think we can become another Small London if we don't have what it takes to create that enabling environment for ourselves. So, we must be able to know what can work for us. What is practicable for us and what is not. And if the people don't know what is good and bad for them, how would they start? Without the foundation built, you can't get it right. These days, we are living in an advanced society whereby the conventional style is not what is obtainable again, you must have some level of orientation, some level of educational uplift.
Nobody can beat science. You can't beat technology. We are all using mobile phones now. Some years ago, nothing like that. The world is a global village today. So, we must look at these things and then prioritize our needs. We must have a strategic plan; short term, mid-term and long term on how to address some of these things. The man power is there. It is not everybody that must have a white collar job. The youth are there wasting around, calling themselves good boys, what is good about what they are doing? They just constitute themselves to become menace to the society.
Some of them should be made to know and it has to be through some public enlightenment or reorientation that you must not have a PhD or Masters to be able to feed for yourself and to earn a living for you and your family. You can go and learn a particular skill, which before you know what is happening, you start charging those that believe they are putting tie in their neck, that believe they are making money with pen and paper.
There are some mechanic workshops that you go now. Before they run a diagnostic on your car, you will pay consultation fee. Doctors do it in the hospitals and we think it is because they are doctors, it is okay. And if you believe that the mechanic would do the job for you, you have no choice but to pay. So, we must start looking at these things and look at what works for us. Those who want to go to farm, create an enabling environment for them. That is one of the main objectives of government. Security of lives and property. If you can do this, then you will now let people know that you can do this to earn a living and also employ others.
If not, it is like you are pouring water in a leaking drum. Energy, time and resources would just be wasted if we don't get some of these things right and if we don't prioritize our needs and look at how to improve the internally generated revenue for the state, look at what is not working for us than looking at elephant projects. There are some projects that are just lying down there without economic impact for us in the state. You don't start a project that does not have the real effect for the people.
Q- In summary, what would be your programmes for the state if you eventually win the gubernatorial election?
One of them is in the area of education. Infrastructural decay. have to revisit most of them, and more importantly, you must create a conducive environment. Security of lives and property. Let people have confidence to go about their daily activities. Secondly, we need reorientation, education and public enlightenment for us to know what is workable for us or not. Thirdly as a government too, we must quickly address dilapidated structures both in hospitals, schools, providing social amenities for our people and also trying to look at what can be more of an investment and encourage people to come into the state and partner with us. We must look at the monthly allocations and think out of the box.
We must start looking at the possibility of also generating and creating source of income for ourselves, job opportunities for ourselves and feed ourselves. That is very important. We have a blueprint already to look at the immediate, mid and long term projects and how these things can be realised within a short period of time.
Q- Kwara is largely regarded as civil service state but it appears workers are not too comfortable with the way the government of the day is handling their affairs, especially the salary structure. How do you intend to improve on their welfare if you become the Governor of the state?
Like I said earlier, the kind of government we would run is participatory where all hands must be on deck. That is why we must sit down and look at where wastages are taking place, look at how we can increase our revenue, cut down unnecessary spending. If what is obtainable in other states is different from what our people are taking home here, we must look at how we can motivate them and by so doing, everybody must contribute their quotas. We must let them know adding more is also going to be proportional to what you are doing, because people should not just work and they are not well paid. That means you don't expect the best from them. So, the state must also motivate its workers.
You don't wake up and start increasing taxes on people. If you don't create a conducive atmosphere for them, how do they want to increase their productivity? So, you must be able to motivate the workers, create a conducive environment and by motivating them, the government on its own side would also do a lot. Because you don't expect the teachers to go to school, the classroom is leaking, no chairs, the place is not conducive and you want he or she to spend six hours giving his best to the students, it doesn't work that way. But if you create a good atmosphere for them, they too would be happy to give out their best.
Ours is going to be a participatory government whereby we must sit down and look at things depending on the peculiarity of individual sections, departments, problems or localities. Assuming somebody in Kaiama now, one of their major problems is road infrastructure. If you don't help them, how do they bring out their food produce to the centre to sell? We must look at all these things, look at the immediate gains so that we can all reap these things and be able to manage it so that it can have immediate effect in the system.
Q- The National Headquarters of the APC announced the dissolution of Kwara State executive of the party and set up a Caretaker Committee. Now, both the dissolved executive and the caretaker committee are laying claim to the leadership of the party in the state. Under which of the executive do you intend to run?
For those of us who are team players and who know where the National Secretariat is, the national is with Bashir Bolarinwa Caretaker Committee. So, anybody wasting their time with the Balogun Fulani executive is just on his own tall dream. The truth is the National Secretariat has the powers.. From the electoral laws and Supreme Court judgement, it is the party that sponsors the candidates. The party is the national not the state. Don't forget, INEC did not give state certificate of registration, they gave it to the national.
Don't let people confuse you. Of course, the matter is in court and I may not be able to say much. But some of these things are just diversionary, to distract and create some confusions. Be rest assured that the authentic party executive as at today is the Caretaker Committee headed by Bolarinwa. If you go and try to get nomination forms or contest through them (Ishola Balogun Fulani led executive), how would they submit the forms? Would they submit to the INEC directly? They would submit to the national. Is it the National Secretariat that is saying it is not working with you?
Q- Have you picked up your nomination forms?
I have my form already with me and I'm hoping the next day or two, I would be completing the form and submitting it.
Q- Do you think you can get the ticket of your party?
By the grace of God, I will. And by logical reasoning, I think I will get it. I think I stand the best chance to get it. We are bragging or boasting. We are appealing for unity, cooperation and partnership for people to give us the opportunity to serve the state.
I must quickly say this. There are so many people who are vying for this position. They are eminently qualified. From the list of names I have seen, I have not seen anybody who is not qualified. What we are only asking is there should be cooperation and sincerity of purpose for us to work together so that the best can emerge so that our people can get the best. Because we can do better, we can live better and Kwara can be better. We are not saying some people are not qualified. But we are only appealing to them to remove sentiment and people should not be blinded by their ambitions.
Q- Now that we have a lot of people coming out to vie for different positions, what do you think the National Secretariat of APC should do to harmonise everybody's interest?
Most of people who have come out to contest in APC are eminently qualified. But for the larger goal, I'm appealing to my fellow aspirants too for us to sit back. Within us, it shouldn't be a do or die, it should rather be a call to service and then we can now advice ourselves. One of the ways we can achieve this is that we must sit down, look at the winning strategy. By the time you do that, you would be able to do some logical reasoning on why this person should change his or her mind from going to A to go for B.
For our brothers from the Kwara North, if we are looking at morals or by convention, none of us would want to contest against them. For me, had it been we are looking at that situation, I will support 100 percent the Kwara North. But today, we are looking at a winning strategy. We are looking at the possibility of having somebody to battle with the opposition party from the Central here. Because by the time you look at the total votes cast, Kwara Central alone would pull more than 40 percent. So, we must not take that for a joke.
On a good day, if we are to look at what is conventional, gentleman's agreement, we would want to say Kwara North. But if today, you bring somebody from Kwara North, all the opposition party needs to do is to bring somebody from Kwara Central and then both the North and the Central would now start looking for whatever they can pick in Kwara South, and the people we are trying to wrestle power from would just be giving us a knockout. By the time you have a strategy of winning, it would further assist you to teleguide yourselves such that some people would look at it that for the larger goal or interest, let us look at it this way.
Q- There is an argument going on about the release of $16billion to Osun State (from the Federal Government). Is it appropriate for the Paris Club release?
I must be very honest with you, I read it in the papers. But sometimes when it comes to election period, you would read headlines that by the time you go deep into it, it is just political; it is just to distract people from the ball. For me, I don't know how true it is. I want to disagree because of the kind of the person we have, who practices leadership by example.
A person of President Muhammadu Buhari would not want to make that mistake. Just singling out a state. I don't think this allegation by PDP is right. Just not too long ago, we had Ekiti election. They also came out to accuse the APC that we were buying votes. We kept on saying bring evidence of this, and up till now, nobody has come forth with anything. Sometimes, I take some of these things with a pinch of salt, especially in electioneering period. For me, I just believe it is part of political distractions because of the elections around the corner.