YOU have formally declared your intention to govern Kogi again, having picked the PDP nomination form. Why do you want to return to Lugard House?
First, I have declared interest within the party leadership, the state executive, local government executive and others executives of our party and stakeholders. I have informed them that I will like to aspire, to participate in the governorship election coming up on November 16 in Kogi State.
Why do I want to participate in the election? I want to participate in the election because of the pressure on me by people who are hungry, people who have become poorer, people who have lost hope in governance in Kogi State, people who benefited during my tenure. Back then, they were in prosperity; they had security of their lives and properties. They had a leader they could communicate with, a leader who cared about their welfare and security.
I also did many infrastructure projects that were targeted at yielding revenues for Kogi State, to make it a self-sustaining, viable state. All these projects, even the ones I completed and the ones that were 90 per cent completed have been abandoned by my successor. It is the money of Kogi people that were invested in these projects.
So, I feel that if I went back, I would complete those projects and the people of Kogi State will benefit from them. But above all, every day, I get 20, 30 text messages from our people, begging me for money– even N1,000! Some would say, please, we have no food in our house, our child is sick we have no money to buy even Panadol or malaria medicine.
I can’t just sit idly in my comfort here in Abuja and then forget the feelings of my people. These are people who gave me an opportunity to serve them and they can see clearly now that there is a difference in the quality of leadership and that Kogi has now become a laughing stock of this nation. So, I believe I need to rise and present myself because on the day of judgement the Almighty God will ask me, “I gave you opportunity once to be governor of Kogi State, you did your four year tenure, you left. Three and a half years on, people are suffering, you had another opportunity of four more years, what did you do to try to alleviate the sufferings of the people?” I want to be able to, on that day, tell God that I got up and I tried to get power back again as governor in order to improve the lives of our people. I am more comfortable with that question than to say, “Oh Lord! I didn’t do anything!!” I will rather say I did and I succeeded or I didn’t succeed than not to do anything at all. That’s my motivation for aspiring to be governor of Kogi State again.
You aren’t the only contender for the PDP ticket; you have been out of office for over three and a half years. Where is the confidence coming from that you will pick the PDP ticket again? Secondly, what is your competitive edge over the others seeking for same ticket?
My affairs are in the hands of God Almighty. I am not one of those who say I must do this or that. Whatever God throws my way is what I will take. What I want to do is to present myself as a credible and competitive candidate.
Number one, of all the aspirants I am the most experienced. I don’t know any of them who has any serious governance experience. I have been governor of the state for four years. Kogi is a very complex state but I managed it well. People are commending me; they can see the difference between light and darkness. They can see it now; they can see the difference between day and night, in terms of the kind of government I ran and what is going on now. People can see it and they are the ones urging me to come out. I say look, you don’t just come out, there are many considerations. I will take my time.
The other aspirants, if they come in, they will do eight years but I have four more years constitutionally. I believe in power rotation; that power should rotate around the various zones of our state. So, I believe that those other zones who are looking for their son to be governor of the state will rally round me because four years is a short time in the life of a state and they know that I am a man of commitment, sincerity and honesty of purpose, who is ready to work for unity and progress of Kogi State. So, the other aspirants they may have more money than I do but they don’t have this unique experience that I have, four years of being in the saddle.
If I walk into the governor’s office in Kogi today, I know what I left and I know where to start. It is just like turning the key in a car and you start driving. All others will come as learner drivers. They don’t even know where the files are. They don’t know where the toilet is in the governor’s office. They don’t know where the meeting rooms are. I know all these things.
Kogi doesn’t have the time; we are losing time every day this inept government remains in power. Kogi is falling behind other states in Nigeria. So, as a man of conscience, I can’t just sit and watch this dilapidation go on. I must stand up and do something about it. That’s my motivation.
Let us talk about the ruling party, which controls the state and the central government and the awesome power it possesses. If you pick the PDP ticket, do you have what it takes to dislodge the ruling party?
By the grace of God. I know what APC did to me in 2015 when I ran. I have the benefit of experience. I have a renewed determination. Go and see the level of suffering. People are living in hell; people are suffering! It is palpable; you can feel it. You understand? So, the people will rally behind me. APC has failed in Kogi State. They failed the people. They brought an inexperienced man and instead of governing, he is doing theatrics. It is drama, that’s what is going on in Kogi. Responsible leaders can’t sit idly. I am ready to speak up now. I am not afraid of anybody.
The reality is that whatever APC throws at us in the next election, we will throw back. We are ready to take power back because they stole the mandate from us. Leaders with conscience in APC regret what they have done to the people of Kogi State. We have gone back 20 years! Ask other leaders; it isn’t me, it isn’t because I am running. And I told you, mine is to present myself; it is up to the people. If they want, fine; if they don’t, I will move on with my life. I am a professional. I don’t depend on government to survive. See this house I am living in, I moved in here since 1995. I came into government in 2012. There is a gap and I went to govern Kogi for four years and I am back in my house. I didn’t buy any new house. So, I am a man who came to serve our people. Blackmailers, false prophets, they tried to make it look as if I didn’t do anything. Now they can see that I did a lot with the meager resources. I got N150billion as federation allocation to Kogi during my four years, I spent N130 out of N157billion to pay salaries, I worked with N27billion and ran government that gave development projects. I constructed an 11-storey building here in the centre of Abuja. It was meant to generate revenue for Kogi State. This man [Governor Bello] hasn’t put a single block on it since I left. We have an ultra modern park, which should be generating close to N100, N200 million in a month for people to organise vehicles to park there! He hasn’t touched it, except to try and paint it in a hurry for President Buhari to come and commission. We have a diagnostic centre; all the equipment are there with the structure. It is just to couple all the things, bring trained personnel to commission. Three and a half years, he hasn’t been able to do it.