INSIDEPOLITICS Why I’m seek­ing gov­er­nor­ship elec­tion again – Sa’eed

Sunday Trust - - INTERVIEW - From An­drew Agbese & Mo­hammed Yaba, Kaduna

Al­haji Haruna Sa’eed is the So­cial­ist Demo­cratic Party (SDP) gov­er­nor­ship can­di­date in Kaduna State. In this in­ter­view Sa’eed who con­tested and lost in 2011 gives an in­sight into what will shape his poli­cies as gover­nor if elected in 2019.

You did well when you con­tested as CPC gov­er­nor­ship can­di­date in 2011 but peo­ple say you have not been able to sus­tain the clout. How do you re­act to this?

When I con­tested as gover­nor on the CPC platform, I did not only put up a good show­ing but I won the elec­tion and many fac­tors were re­spon­si­ble for that. Some of the fac­tors are still there and I be­lieve we have been able to sus­tain that vis­i­bil­ity.

A can­di­date is rated in pol­i­tics by his ca­pac­ity to trans­form political en­vi­ron­ment. So far we have done a great job in turn­ing around a party that was not in ex­is­tence in Kaduna State. From nowhere, the SDP is now be­ing rated as ei­ther the first or sec­ond most for­mi­da­ble party in Kaduna.

The party cur­rently in gov­ern­ment and the one that was in gov­ern­ment are known quite al­right, but when we came to SDP we turned it around to the ex­tent that in ev­ery polling unit, SDP is rep­re­sented and there is no po­si­tion at ei­ther the ward or lo­cal gov­ern­ment, or state level that are not be­ing maned ef­fec­tively. This is what pol­i­tics is all about; for a party to have struc­ture that can stand elec­tion and win. We are able to field can­di­dates that be­lieve in the party. What I have done in terms of turn­ing the political en­vi­ron­ment has re­mained firm and solid.

In fact, we have suc­ceeded in do­ing that more in the SDP than we did in the CPC. In the CPC, there were places we were un­able to fill cer­tain po­si­tions es­pe­cially at the ward level but now peo­ple are even fight­ing to fill such po­si­tions.

Does that mean you be­lieve your leav­ing the APC was the right de­ci­sion?

Let me say for one minute that I have never re­gret­ted leav­ing APC be­cause the fac­tors that led to my leav­ing the party are real as you can see from the cri­sis within the party in the state. The dom­i­nance of one per­son in the af­fairs of the party, the in­abil­ity of the party to give peo­ple a free level play­ing field and the lack of co­he­sion and rel­e­vance of the party in gov­er­nance have con­tin­ued. Noth­ing has changed de­spite our warn­ings.

What will be your fo­cus if you win?

Ours is about trust; to­day’s gov­ern­ment has lost that trust from the peo­ple. There is no trust and we need to re­build that be­cause you can­not gov­ern a peo­ple that do not feel they have a gov­ern­ment in place nor be­lieve in it.

Se­condly, Kaduna state has been awash with crises over and over. So, we need to have peace, we need to re­store peace. Also, in­se­cu­rity has also be­come an is­sue and we want to work on that as quickly as we can. We are slid­ing down in terms of agri­cul­ture we need to work on that.

Kaduna State used to lead in ed­u­ca­tion in the north but now we have lost that po­si­tion, we need to re­cover. We are also los­ing our qual­ity of ac­com­mo­da­tion where peo­ple used to feel at home when­ever they were in Kaduna. These are ar­eas we need to work on quickly. Be­yond these, we need to de­velop the state by fo­cus­ing on cap­i­tal projects that will aid the growth of the econ­omy and ensure that we are fo­cused. Our ur­ban cen­ters are los­ing the sites that other ur­ban ar­eas are known for so we need to work on that. We also need our health sys­tem to get back or at least im­prove from where we are. We have lot of work to do; we just need to be fo­cused and In­sha Al­lah we will get there.

So you feel the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion is not do­ing well in these ar­eas?

You see, in se­cu­rity, pre­ven­tive mea­sures are bet­ter than re­ac­tive ones. Apart from that, what you do af­ter an event shows whether you want to al­le­vi­ate the suf­fer­ings of the peo­ple or oth­er­wise. This gov­ern­ment has failed com­pletely in terms of pre and post cri­sis man­age­ment. They do not even know how to go about it. The way and man­ner you han­dle re­la­tion­ship with peo­ple de­ter­mines how they re­act to cer­tain sit­u­a­tions. So if you don’t take care of such likely re­ac­tions be­fore they oc­cur, the con­se­quences will not be easy.

The gover­nor said his in­abil­ity to get the World Bank loan af­fected his plans.

The loan was de­nied him be­cause of a num­ber of is­sues sur­round­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion. In ev­ery loan you have a num­ber of crit­i­cal is­sues to look at. One is the purpose for ob­tain­ing the loan, then the amount, the tim­ing or du­ra­tion you need the loan and then the cost.

You don’t just go to bor­row for bor­row­ing sake. This was lack­ing, they failed to spell out the purpose for which they were bor­row­ing. That is a fail­ure on the part of the gov­ern­ment to demon­strate clearly and trans­par­ently what they wanted to use the money for. Not just to say we want to do in­fra­struc­ture, it must be spelt out in the bud­get that is trans­parency, two the amount is an is­sue. You are look­ing for 350 mil­lion dol­lars in an econ­omy that you know where you stand in terms of rev­enue. You must match the grant with stability of re­pay­ment and you must show how much you are get­ting now, how you are go­ing to re­pay. Even if the re­pay­ment will not start dur­ing his time what bur­den is he leav­ing be­hind on other peo­ple and gov­ern­ment of the state? That has not quite been demon­strated. So, the ca­pac­ity is of essence, you must show that you are able to pay. These are the things that de­nied El’ru­fai that fa­cil­ity.

The State Gover­nor said his com­ing back in 2019 is a done deal. As one of the can­di­dates who will be con­test­ing with him what is your re­ac­tion to that?

I think he got his feel­ers wrong. Those around him that have caged him are telling him lies. We know for a fact the so­cial me­dia boys are all telling him lies and what he wants to hear so they are de­ceiv­ing them­selves. But for any­body to think of Nasiru’s re­elec­tion as a done deal I think that per­son is not think­ing right.

Some of us did not see any rea­son to con­test until we had seen there is go­ing to be a va­cancy in Kaduna State. If his re­elec­tion is a done deal a num­ber of peo­ple will not be both­er­ing to con­test not just Haruna Sa’ed but many other can­di­dates will not bother to con­test. But be­cause there is a wide pos­si­bil­ity, that is why a lot of peo­ple are show­ing in­ter­ests.

How are you cop­ing with the bur­den of shoul­der­ing a party that al­most had no struc­ture on ground?

There are num­ber of fac­tors that will sup­port or go against you in any party. In an old party you have things to con­tend with like stigma of the party, dom­i­nance of few and weak­ness of the in­sti­tu­tion, these three and many more are there in APC and PDP. So, what you lack here you gain else­where. We don’t have that sigma that other peo­ple have. Yes, we may be weak in the sense that peo­ple want to be given money all around. No in­di­vid­ual who doesn’t steal will have the ca­pac­ity to do that; no in­di­vid­ual who has not been sup­ported by crooks will be able to do that. We can say for sure that we are bur­dened by the fact that only few in­di­vid­u­als will be seen shoul­der­ing much of the de­mands but that doesn’t give us any rea­son to re­gret.

So what will you say is work­ing for you?

As a party, we have worked to bring an al­ter­na­tive to two par­ties that are not needed any­more that is work­ing well for us be­cause the APC and PDP have lost it. So the peo­ple of Kaduna have yearned for a new party which they have got­ten in SDP. Again the ab­sence of tainted peo­ple in the party is help­ing us and an­other thing is the or­ga­ni­za­tion of the party. The sys­tem works here in Kaduna State. The party is well or­ga­nized; it has a purpose, guid­ing the ac­tiv­i­ties of the day not in­di­vid­u­als who think they are too pow­er­ful to de­ter­mine what­ever they want to do.

That gives me the lever­age as a can­di­date and I am happy with that. Se­condly, I am known by the vot­ing pop­u­lace. Three, they know I won an elec­tion in the past but I was de­nied ac­cess to the of­fice. There are other things. We put the other can­di­dates on a scale and they did not come close. We talked about ca­pac­ity, char­ac­ter, com­mit­ment, con­tri­bu­tion and col­lat­eral. These five as you have them in bank­ing sec­tor when you di­gest them you will re­al­ize that we are equally ahead.

Al­haji Haruna Sa’eed

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