Saliu Mustapha is the former Deputy National Chairman of the defunct political party, the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) and a governorship aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State. In this interview with journalists in Ilorin, he spoke on reasons for joining the race and his plans for Kwara if elected governor of the state in 2019. SIKIRAT SHEHU was there. Excerpts:
You are aspiring to become the governor of Kwara State under APC, what informed your decision?
For me, coming into the race and aspiring for this job is about a call to service, to serve our people and to make life better for them. We want to change the system of the state from the dilapidated situation it has found itself. I am in the race to take Kwara to the next level and make it a better society for your family and my own and for everybody.
Tell us a bit about your political sojourn?
We started way back with the APP that later metamorphosed into the ANPP. We got to a stage where we formed our own party, CPC in 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. This alone is a testament to the fact that I am a committed member of the All Progressives Congress.
As an astute politician with vast experience of the political situation in our dear country, I have always shared the ideological conviction of President Muhammadu Buhari and I have always believed in his political ideology.
There are so many people who are vying for governorship position in your party; how will you react to this?
You’re looking at it from one side. From the other side it is even more promising for the party because when you see people coming out vying for such position, it shows you have many qualified people that can do the job.
From the list of names I have seen, they are eminently qualified. What we are only asking is that there should be cooperation and sincerity of purpose for us to work together so that the best can emerge for our people to get the best.
We are not saying that it must be central but from the political exigencies, it is better for us to present somebody from central now, so as to be able to counter the opposing party because for us it is about winning not about participating.
How will you assess the level of development in Kwara State, are you satisfied?
If I am satisfied, I will not be putting myself forward to serve the people because I believe what is on ground today is not good enough for our people and that is why some of us have come out of passion to serve our people better.
Trying to give them more accountability of their resources, to manage our resources better, try to guide and protect the common wealth of the people so as to be able to provide better living conditions for our people.
What is your opinion on the trend of change agenda by aspirants?
Change is constant in life, if there is anything history has taught us about change, it is about the rise and fall of empires which also means change, so there is nothing in life that is permanent.
Even God in His infinite mercy that created us, He created us from one stage to another. At a stage you’re a baby, you get to the stage of adolescence, you get to another stage and then become an old person.
For me, change is constant; the change we talk about in APC is change from the situation we find ourselves to a better situation.
We want to change to a better environment that is what we meant by change in APC. It is not about changing things from good to worse no, it is from worse to good.
We intend to come and give our people a better system of governance, a system that will serve our people better, not to come and rule them. That is the change we mean in APC.
What would be your programmes for the state if you eventually win the gubernatorial election?
My plan for Kwara is for it to be better and that is what we are all asking for, we want a better system.
For me, first and foremost is accountability to the people matters a lot, once you can account for whatever you’re doing, then you will definitely be able to provide a better system for them, a better formula, a better infrastructure, better education, better security and better welfare for the people, that is the whole essence of accountability.
One of them is in the area of education. Infrastructural decay has revisited 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 works and what does not work for us. Thirdly, as a government too, we must quickly address dilapidated structures 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 sources 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.
For me, why I have chosen education, skill acquisition, entrepreneurship, reorientation among 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.
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 where the conventional style is not what is obtainable again, you must have some level of orientation, some level of educational upliftment.
Nobody can beat science. You can’t beat technology. We are all using mobile phones now. Some years ago there was nothing like that. The world is a global village today. We must look at these things and then prioritise our needs.
We must have a strategic plan; short term, mid-term and long term, on how to address some of these things. The manpower is there. It is not everybody that must have a white collar job. The youth are there wasting away, calling themselves good boys, what is good about what they are doing? They just constitute themselves into a 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 need not have a PhD or Masters degree to be able to feed for yourself and to earn a living for you and your family. You can learn a particular skill and before you know it you start earning more money than the white collar people.
There are some mechanic workshops now that will charge you a consultation fee before they run a diagnostic on your car. Doctors do it in the hospitals and we think it is because they are doctors, it is okay. 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 prioritise 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.
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 when 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.
The National Headquarters of the APC announced the dissolution of the 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 executives 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 his time with the Balogun Fulani executive is just on his own day dream.
The truth is the national secretariat has the power. From the electoral laws and Supreme Court judgment, it is the party that sponsors the candidates. The party is the national, not the state. Don’t forget, INEC did not give states 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 confusion. Be rest assured that the authentic party executive as at today is the caretaker committee headed by Bolarinwa.
What do you think the National Secretariat of APC should do to harmonise everybody’s interest as a lot of people are jostling for guber seat in the state?
Most of the 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 advise 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 to B.
For our brothers from 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 were looking at that situation, I would 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 a 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 wrest power from would give us a knockout.
By the time you have a strategy of winning, it would further assist you to guide yourselves such that some people would look at it that for the larger goal or interest, let us look at it this way.
The State chapter of the APC led by Bashiru Omolaja Bolarinwa has adopted direct primary in the selection of the governorship candidate of the party. Do you support this?
Well, the party has the final say as it stands now, the party can decide what sooths it better because from the electoral law, the party decides who runs on the platform; so, for me, whatever the party leadership chooses to adopt I support it because I know the party wants the best for our people. So, as team players, we go by whatever the party adopts. We want to see a situation where Kwara would be lifted from the decay that it has found itself. It is about bringing the state to the next level. It is about putting all hands on deck, partnering fellow progressives to see that we take Kwara to the next level.
What will be your take after the primaries?
My take after the primaries is for the APC to win, for APC as a party, whoever wins, it is a collective victory for all of us. We want to believe that the APC as a party wants to come out victorious in the next general election; therefore, we must be more strategic, more focused and look at what would make us win the election. We would want to appeal to Kwarans to give us the necessary support to enable us give them the best that the APC has to offer. My major appeal would be Kwarans should give us that opportunity to serve them, to be able to deliver what they have been lacking for a long time and for us to achieve the big project of fixing Kwara.