‘Why we say PDP does not exist in Katsina’
Ahmad Babba Kaita represents Kankia/Ingawa/Kusada federal constituency of Katsina State in the House of Representatives. In this interview, he speaks on his expectations from APC ahead of the 2015 elections and why he thinks PDP is a failure in Katsina. E
The PDP in Katsina does not regard APC as a formidable opposition…
To say that APC does not pose a formidable challenge to the PDP in Katsina sounds funny to me. APC is the party to beat. We might have our internal problems but even PDP is not devoid of such issues and internal problems might not necessarily be a negative thing to a party. I am not saying APC is as smooth as it should be but politics is a complicated thing. People come with divergent interests and if one of them wants to be in the driver’s seat naturally you are bound to have obstacles. We just have to learn not to be selfish. I see no reason why we would not emerge victorious in 2015, except if there are moles within the party. That might be a challenge.
What is APC doing to avoid making the mistakes CPC made in Katsina in 2011?
Well, at that time a lot of things were taken for granted because of the popularity of the party and the popularity of the leader of the party, General Muhammadu Buhari. People just assumed they could join from any party and contest within the CPC. There was no strong political mechanism to check the influx of such new entrants so before we knew it, there were so many issues and bad blood injected. I will not say we had a bad outing in CPC but I believe we could have done better. At least, the party enjoyed so much goodwill in Katsina. The state was there for our taking but we lost it to internal problems.
We would use experiences we gathered from CPC to check any errant politician. Luckily for us we have the time now. It isn’t too late because we are just beginning our congresses. Even the problems we had during the congresses we expect that a disciplinary committee will be constituted to deal with that after the chairman and the committee might have submitted their report in Abuja. Katsina is too important nationally for us to be playing with. APC is a new party so there are a lot of problems to contend with but above everything, I think the crisis is manageable and we are working hard to solve the problems.
Sometime ago, Governor Shema reportedly said General Buhari is not a threat to PDP in Katsina. Do you agree with this?
Shema is one of the biggest jokers we have in the northern part of the country. Nobody even takes him seriously anyway because he became governor by default. He doesn’t even have the political acumen and tact to assess the situation on ground. Otherwise, such a statement would have made him bury his face. The reality of the emergence of PDP in Katsina is that they manipulated all the elections. The only reason he returned a second time was not only because the election was manipulated, but because of our aggrieved CPC members. We have 12 members of the House of Representatives and three senators from CPC. We have challenged Shema that if he sincerely believes in what he is saying let him conduct local government elections. I have gone to court twice and I was asked to withdraw the case twice for him to conduct the elections. Each time I do so, he fails to conduct the elections. I dare Shema to organize a one week election and I guarantee that even in his immediate constituency, Shema Ward, he will lose.
What are your expectations from APC ahead of 2015?
I think the future is bright for APC. Looking at all the political arithmetic, APC is the party to beat. I was opportune to be involved in the national committee and I have gone round so many states with my team and the responses we have received are encouraging. APC is a special party in the sense that some parties dissolved to become one. While things are not expected to go entirely smooth, once there is sincerity of purpose, I am sure that we will solve most of our problems before 2015. People just say whatever they feel about APC but the truth about the matter is that the sincerity of purpose is what even gave birth to APC. You will recall we took a shot at merging in 2011 and it didn’t work but now it is different. One thing that is galvanizing the interest of Nigerians is the economy and the level of corruption and insecurity; these issues are paramount in the minds of Nigerians that they are ready to put aside all their differences to form a platform that will challenge all the wasteful years we had in PDP.
Some are of the view that APC has no agenda and that their only concern is to take over from PDP....
We have a more articulate agenda than in the past years. We have an all encompassing manifesto that has a thrust for the entire nation and not just Katsina alone. It captures education, health, security and the economy amongst other things. If we are able to address all these issues, APC is good to go.
Is that to say the PDP has failed?
Yes, PDP has failed. They failed to deliver on practically everything. Take Kankia for example. Their monthly allocation is about 150 million but from the 70’s when my father built a dam nobody has ever contemplated rehabilitating it. We don’t have water running through our taps. The dam has dried up because it is not being maintained. Shema used N450 million to construct a dual carriage way inside the city, it is a misplacement of priority. The same goes to Katsina dam. It’s been used for the last 45 years. That is why when you come to Katsina town, you have beautiful roads but you ration water. The same thing with the education sector. Katsina spends over 2 billion in its budget on education yet it records the second to the last state in terms of writing GCE. Our degree holders can’t even construct a grammatically correct sentence. Our standard is low. Where is the money going to? This is the failure of government. There is no governor in his right senses that will think building classrooms and dishing out money to contractors to build edifices is all it takes. Now go to our General Hospital or the Federal Medical Centre, you will cry. We do not have a single MIR machine. People are willing to pay no matter how much for a scan but they have to go to Sokoto, Kano or Zaria. How much will it cost a state government that can lavish 9 billion on a government house? If you can spend that money on a government house, why can’t you spend just N1 billion on a MIR machine or an orthopaedic machine? What is wrong with the old government house? It can house Obama. What is going to be done with it now? If they had invested that N9 billion in Katsina State university, that would have gone a long way in standardizing the institution. For me that would have been Shema’s greatest achievement. Nothing is working in Katsina State. There are so many things they could have done with that N9 billion considering the poverty and hunger ravaging Katsina. That is why I have been a vocal critic of this state. And because people are used to lying, if you now confront any leader they think you are doing it for personal reasons but there is nothing personal.