Former Nigeria Ambassador to Niger, Muhammad Jibrin Ahmed is one of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirants in Kogi State. In this interview with Ajibola Abayomi, he speaks about his aspiration and why he is the best man to fly the party’s flag. Excerpts:
One would have expected that some of you vying for the ticket of the Kogi State PDP governorship ticket should have supported Governor Idris Wada for second term being a sitting governor from your party, but that is not the case at the moment, so how are you looking forward to the primary election?
I am a sellable politician so I am matured enough to know that politics is a game. It is an open poll; any qualified and determined member of PDP is free to join the race. As a Nigerian and noble member of PDP, I am exercising my right to aspire to any elective post of my choice. If you go round Kogi State, you will feel the purse of the people. There is no need to run down anybody. However, I can do a lot better than the incumbent governor of the state, Captain Idris Wada. I am a discipline party man. The party is supreme. I want to appeal to the National Secretariat of PDP to ensure that there is a level plain ground for every aspirant. That is the only way we can have a united house. If need be, let the election be moved to either Ekiti or Kano State in order to guarantee fairness. APC had their presidential primary in Lagos and not in Abuja. Adamawa State PDP governorship primary was held in Abuja and not in Yola, the state capital. Certainly, I will refuse to be intimidated or rigged out through the power of incumbency.
So what is missing In Governor Wada’s governance approach in Kogi State that you want to fix?
There are lots that still need to be done in the area of health, agriculture and infrastructure just to mention few. There are 21 local governments in the state and the people are not pretending that they are not satisfied with level of development so far. Many solid minerals are not being tapped. The state is blessed with a lot of human resources; yet, the turn over from government is not too encouraging. Let me tell you that I have answers to all these. With my connection both home and abroad, I will facilitate investments that will turn around the fortune of the state. For now, let me keep the magic wand to myself until I unveil my manifesto to the electorate. Civil servant salaries are being slashed and the artisans are not happy in the state. As I speak to you, no democratically elected local government chairmen in our state as well, what we have are aides of the governor directing the affairs of the councils.
For the past 12 years, PDP has been ruling Kogi State, don’t you think you are confirming disappoints of the electorate about the performances of previous governors from your party?
Don’t get me wrong, PDP as a party has not disappointed the people of Kogi State. The former governor of the state, Ibrahim Idris performed creditably well. The people can attest to that. I am offering myself as an alternative to the present governor on the platform of PDP. With me as the governorship candidate of the party, we are sure of the victory because I am loved by my people. Let me state clearly that if I am not featured, PDP will have a tough task retaining the state. I believe as a governor, you have to prioritise the need of the people above personal vision. Pensioners are not being paid in Kogi State and you have a governor that is rehabilitating stadium and hotel. In whose interest are all those projects? They can only benefit a few people. Again, I am not pleased that we have several uncompleted projects at the moment. Governance is about focus.
At the moment, funding is a major challenge facing state governments, how do you intend to address that?
Creativity is the order of the day. Kogi State is blessed with lot of solid minerals. We are going to tap from that. We shall make effort to improve the internally generated revenue to augment what we are getting from the federal account. I am an international business man. I am going to attract a lot of foreign investments into the state as well. Don’t forget that Kogi is now an oil producing state; we have what it takes to compete with Lagos State if we are organised. I have enough international exposure to attract goodwill to the state. I am going to assembly the best of hands to turn around the fortune of the state if given oppourtunity as governor. I am the best man for Kogi PDP and majority of the party members know that.
So what will be your focus within four years as governor?
I intend to invest heavily in mechanised agriculture. We shall build Cargo airport. We are also targeting mass production of rice. Apart from that, we shall improve education and block all the leakages within government in two years. We will combat corruption by appointing competent people.
Having lost the last presidential and national assembly poll to the APC in Kogi State, you still believe PDP will retain the state?
I am a founding member of PDP. I worked closely with late Alhaji Abubarka Rimi so I understand the terrain very well. In 2003, when PDP defeated the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) in Kogi State, I was a force to reckon with. We lost the last presidential and national assembly election in the state due to the activities of betrayers within our party. I cannot be a governor and allow PDP members in Kogi State to defect to other parties without making move to stop them. There is hope. As I speak to you thousands of our members that have dumped the party are ready to come back and join us to solidify our house after I emerge as the governorship candidate. Kogi is a PDP State. It will remain so. I am not in the party to look for position or appointment. That is why I am not jumping from one party to the other.
Apart from you and Governor Wada, there are other formidable aspirants in the party, how do you intend to beat them to clinch the ticket more so that indigenes of the state are beginning to clamour for power shift along the ethnic line?
I am a nationalist to start with. What I will frown at is a situation where power of incumbency will be used to favour anyone. I will not accept that. If I lose the election and there were indications that I lost, I will accept the result. As far as the primary election is concerned, the biggest thing at stake is Kogi State. I see everyone in the race as my brother and friend. The state is bigger than any individual. Power belongs to the almighty Allah. He gives it to whoever that pleases Him. I am ready to cooperate with the eventual winner of the election if the process is transparent.
From all indications, I am the candidate to beat in this poll. My intention is to work with everyone and be magnanimous in victory. PDP as a party is beyond the aspiration of any member of the party. I will only reject a process that is not fair and transparent. On ethnicity, let me start by saying that almighty God never made mistake by allowing various ethnic groups to co-exist in the state. The Okun people that dominated the West, the Igbiras at Central and the Igalas from Eastern part of the state and other ethnic groups have right to aspire to become governor. I believe in fairness but whichever zone produces the governor, I expect that everyone should give unconditional support to the governor without bias. I want to be the governor of all. I won’t discriminate against any section based on religion or tribe. Good governance has no tribal mark. My intension is to unite all citizens of Kogi State irrespective of their tribe. Whether you are from the west, central or east axis, the state is one big family.