Barrister Mohammed Abubakar is the All Progressives Congress (APC) governor-elect in Bauchi State. In this Interview with Journalists in Bauchi, he speaks on his victory at the poll, his plan for the people of Bauchi State, among other issues. Excerpts…
You have just been declared as the elected governor of Bauhci State, having defeated the ruling party, PDP; how do you feel?
I must first of all give thanks to the almighty Allah for the victory. After giving my thanks to the almighty Allah, I will give my thanks to the good people of Bauchi state for coming out en mass to vote for the APC. And not only coming out en mass but also staying to protect their votes and ensuring that correct results were declared.
During the campaign you rolled out your plan for the people of Bauchi state, will you still keep to your promise to the people?
I don’t wish to discard anything, I have earlier on told you that our plans include what we call quick wind projects, the moment we take over power, whatever little monies we find in the treasury, there are certain aspects of societal problems that we are going to attack and embark on and these have to do with the social and the health wellbeing of the citizens of Bauchi state. I wouldn’t want to divulge these immediately because the outgoing government will wake up from its slumber. There are areas even in this state capital that when you take a drive, you will notice certain things, indeed. President-elect General Muhammadu Buhari, while we were driving from the Emir’s Palace to Multipurpose Hall when he visited Bauchi, noticed some of these things and he drew my attention to that and I told him that probably one of the first things we will start will be to take care of those aspects. And also the issue of the broadening of the internally generated revenue base of the state, we must do it because as it is now we generated almost zero IGR, we generated about 5% and that can’t even take care of the fueling of the generating set in Government House. So we have to broaden the revenue base. We must begin to think out of the box, we are endowed, thanks be to the Almighty Allah, this state (Bauchi) is endowed with a lot of solid minerals, and if one harnesses them, one can move the state forward. Tourism is another sector, the tourism sector is virtually not developed because people make the mistake thinking because we have the Yankari game reserve that our tourism sector is developed, tourism involves much more than that. Your tourism begins at your point of entry, you have to take care of the problems at the point entry in Nigetia. It is only in Nigeria Airport that you find about ten different outfit operating, each one wearing one colour of uniform or the other and each trying to make a quick naira out of the visitors, this is counter-productive as far as tourism is concern, you have to be able to attack that by streamlining it so that your visitor, the moment he drops in either Abuja or Lagos or wherever or Bauchi, someday you know he can be able to now gain entry into Nigeria in so far as he has his visa , without any anybody asking bribe from him because that is counter productivity, especially to Europeans and Americans, they hate that, they don’t want you to stop them and ask them for gratification. So we have to take care of that aspect first. In terms of the Yankari game reserve, thank God I worked there for two years and I know quite a bit about Yankari game Reserve. I have good ideas that I will use to develop the Yankari Game Reserve and position it in such a way that for Nigeria, we can be able to bring in about three hundred foreigners who will come into Nigeria, come to Bauchi and spend their good Dollars. And also the Zaranda Hotel, in Nigeria, we call it a five star hotel, internationally Zaranda will not rank as one of the five star hotel as it is now, especially after this government has dealt with it, in the so called renovation of Zaranda hotel, the first they did was to defaced the hotel completely. Those window unit Air Conditioner are horrible; they are horrible, no thinking person will abandoned a central air conditioner and use these window units, so one of the first things we do is to remove those things and throw them out and then we will have to now renovate Zaranda hotel along with the expertise of well known hotel Management outfit, when we do that it will become attractive. What I intend to do is that we have a fantastic holders in Bauchi, a lot of people don’t know because I play golf. Alright one of the first thing I will do is to make Gold Coast a standard golf force, people do not know that the Japanese they worked very very hard, they have a lot of money, they don’t have land to make golf coast so the Japanese if you give him a good hotel, he is prepared to leave Tokyo and come to Bauchi for a weekend and spend dollars, so you have to be able to think out of the box, the opportunities are there but you have to have the commitment and then you have the ability to think out of the box before you can be able to develop these sectors.
You are aware that the PDP administration made a lot of concerted efforts to put in place some programmes for youth and women, do you intend to sustain these programmes or do you have plans to probe the Government?
I am not going to waste time on probes just like the one this government had at the beginning, that is very wasteful, at the end of the day, they were not able to collect even kobo, but what I am going to assure the good people of Bauchi state is that we are going to embark on all effort to trace the huge resources that came in to the state, we will definitely do that and the issue of palliative measures as if it is not the government of the PDP that has end engendered poverty in the polity, it is the PDP they have used poverty as a weapon; they have engendered poverty because it is the only way they would be able to rule for their so called sixteen years. When you are impoverished you do not even think straight, when it comes to the time of elections, five hundred naira means a lot to the people and especially when they steal their money, they turn round to bribe them with these money but thank God the people were sensible enough to collect their money back and then vote for change and that is why we are here. So our policies are going to be real policies, the palliative measures you are talking about, when this regime came in, a full blown programme was drawn up on how to now give this supposed palliative measures but they chooses a few out of the entire package that was given to them and then those few that they have chosen are areas where a lot of monies are going to be pumped in and then siphoned out. Go and check, they will now tell you they are going to take care of x amount of boys or youth at the end of the day, Y amount of money is going to be voted but only small amount of money will get to these boys, a lot of things is frittered away. So this is not how to give palliative measures. Palliative measures has to come from the heart, you have to have a commitment to the state first and foremost and to the youth particularly and I have said it so many times that the issue of the youth and women are dear to me, they are dear to my heart and I intend to address them and I am not going to do it the way this government has done it. As it is now, I have set up a body that is called the Bauchi state Rebranding project. This Bauchi State Rebranding project involves the use of Bauchi State indigenes in the academia; Bauchi State indigenes who are retired civil servants, technocrats; Bauchi State indigenes who are in the organised private sector, who are at the end of the day come up with a blueprint. You know it is traditional in government for us now as the elected political party to set up a transition committee, the transition committee will work hand in hand with the current Government and tell us at the end of the day what this current government has done either positive or negative. Then side by side with that we are going to have a blueprint, the rebranding project is going to give us a blueprint, we are using professors from university who are Bauchi state indigenes; we are using retired civil servants who are well experienced, who are willing to contribute, we are using private business men, we are using technocrats who will together bring out a blue print first, that blue print is what we are going to use in the future development of Bauchi state. If you place it side by side with the report of your transition committee, the transition committee will tell you the amount of rot in the system, alright, yes, you know this is a very serious matter; the amount of rot will be made clear. And then what I intend to do is immediately after we take over, I am going to assemble a summit of bauchi state indigenes wherever you are, if you have something to contribute, I will call them devoid of any party consideration, I will call everybody, sit everybody down, I will place these two documents before them, this is the report of the transition committee, take a look at it. This on the other is my blueprint, this is what I intend to do for the good people of Bauchi state, you study it and tell me the way forward and intend to abide by whatever decisions are arrived at that summit.
During your campaign, you faced a lot of opposition even within your party and even the present government was said to be opposing your candidature; now you have won the election, do you intend to continue with the fight or you will extend a hand of friendship to all those that opposed you?
In reality, I haven’t been fighting anybody, to be very very honest, I haven’t been fighting anybody. In sensible climate when you win election, the people you contest with are supposed to come and congratulate you but in Nigeria I was the one who went to the houses of each of the people I aspired with to beg them to come back so that we can join hands in driving this party to success. So I am not fighting anybody. There is no fight to continue with. If I am fighting anybody it is the government of the PDP and the government of the PDP, you know, when it suits them they will tell you that I am the Yuguda accolade , when it does not suit them they will tell you I am not a good man, let nobody vote for me, so with this you will know that my candidature is from God almighty and I will never forget that and I am going to use that in running the government of Bauchi state so that we can engender development in this our dear state.