I ’ll consolidate on gains of democracy in Gombe —Nafada
Senator Bayero Usman Nafada is the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Gombe State in the coming election. He was the pioneer Speaker of Gombe State House of Assembly in 1998-2003, a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and now the Senator representing Gombe North Senatorial district. In this interview by Ishola Michael, he bared his mind on the chances of the PDP in the general elections and on other issues. Excerpts:
What are chances of your party, PDP in the coming elections?
The chances of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Gombe State and other parts of the country are very bright and the coast is very clear for the success of the party in the coming elections at all levels. You see, success doesn’t come on a silver platter or by mere rhetoric. One has to work for it and device productive means to actualise it. In Gombe State, what our people know is the PDP as far as politics and good governance is concerned. PDP is conterminous with the development of the state, especially under the reign of the present Governor of the state, His Excellency, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, in which the administration has successfully transformed the state to an enviable status. It’s an undeniable fact that all the sectors of the state’s economy have been overhauled: education, agriculture, health, infrastructure and what have you. We all are aware that when the Buhari and APC’s ‘tsunami’ swept through the PDP in the Northern part of the country in the 2015, it met a hard brick wall in Gombe State, with Governor Dankwambo and his Taraba counterpart, Darius Ishaku defying all the APC’s propaganda and emerged victorious in their respective states. What’s going to happen in 2019 is just a replica, because the APC-led government has failed Nigerians and if PDP could win in 2015 when the APC’s ineptitude wasn’t exposed, what more of the 2019.
But before now, you were also in the APC?
Yes, but how many people were in the APC and have now left when they have realised that the party lacks implementable manifestoes? When you are in a ship and realise that it will not take you to your destination or that the captain is a novice, what you should do is to disembark for your safety. And in Gombe State, those in the APC are the problems of the state because most of them ventured into politics just to accumulate wealth to the detriment of the masses. You could see how one of their leaders stymied President Buhari’s budget in the National Assembly and it sounds ridiculous for that person to come down to Gombe and talk about party ideology. I can’t remain in a party that has become an individual investment in the state.
You were the pioneer Speaker of the Gombe State House of Assembly, a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and now serving as a Senator; don’t you think others deserve to be given the chance to serve?
Politics, like any other meaningful venture, requires experience and familiarity. Electing someone that doesn’t have a vast knowledge of the workings of government and legislation, will surely take the state back and that, we’ll never allow. As you rightly noted, I was in the House of Assembly as the Speaker and I later moved to the National Assembly, where I served as the Deputy Speaker and now serving in the Red Chambers as a Senator. Can you match my credentials with that of someone who was only a Commissioner in the state?
If elected as the next governor of Gombe State, what will you do differently?
Government is a continuous process; we came from deep-rooted democratic cycle from the state to the National Assembly, from Green to the Red Chambers and coming out with a lot of experiences and accomplishments. I will deploy such skills and experiences to further develop the state and boost its economy to more advanced and sustainable status. I’ve to continue from where my predecessor has stopped and consolidated on the gains of democracy the state has been enjoying.
Some of the people who contested the ticket with you are aggrieved with the result of your party’s primary election. What are you doing to assuage them and to gain their support?
I have said it several times that as far as PDP is concerned in Gombe State, there is no loser; we are all winners. About 12 of us contested in the primaries and with the knowledge that only one of us will emerge at the end of the process. And for those you called aggrieved, I don’t know them because PDP in the state is united and committed to winning the upcoming elections.
Two of the contestants, Jamilu Gwamna and Abdulkadir Hammasaleh left the PDP for the APC after the primaries and alleged irregularities?
I don’t want to mention anybody’s name or join issues with anyone. But since you have already asked me, let me tell you something: It’s normal in politics, the way some are leaving, others are equally joining the PDP. For Jamilu Gwamna, no one will tell you when he joined the PDP, because he was last seen or heard of in the state politics in 2007; and he all of a sudden came out of political hibernation to contest for the highest seat in the state. Meanwhile, I had overwhelmingly defeated Hammasaleh in the senatorial contest in 2015 and you can imagine how someone who could not win at the senatorial election now dream of contesting and winning governorship election. But the most important thing is that, they are all prerogative to join any party of their choice and we, in PDP, we are united as other contestants are assiduously working with us for the success of the party at various levels. I have been a grassroots politician and politics is also about dialogue. I will use this avenue to call on any person that felt disenchanted to come forward and resolve the gray areas for the betterment of our party and the state in general.
How do you measure your capability to be the governor of a state like Gombe?
I don’t know what you mean by capability? If a man who had only been a commissioner in the state would feel capable of governing the state, I think a former Speaker in the State Assembly; former Deputy Speaker in the National Assembly and a serving Senator is more capable, qualified and deserving.
What is your reaction to the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria?
Though there were different legal interpretations and divergence reactions from Nigerians, in my candid opinion, whatever we are doing as government, we should do it within the confines of the law and avoid over-heating the polity unnecessarily. In this particular scenario, the hastiness of the suspension and the timing was questionable and people may smell political motives behind all the drama. I say this because for the government that failed to honour about five different court orders granting bail to the National Security Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Col. Sambo Dasuki, to hastily suspend the CJN on a single court order, there must be political undertone. The judiciary as the last hope of the common man should and must be allowed to operate independently without any sense of prejudice.
The APC is the ruling party in the country; can you beat it in Gombe State?
Politics is very local and voters are the determining factor in all the contests. I want to assure you that Gombe is a PDP state and I’m very optimistic that, God-willing, we are going win the 2019 elections at all levels with or without the federal might. Let me tell you, during the election, everybody must be at his own local constituency and we’re going to vote and protect our votes in Gombe.
Are you comfortable with the preparations of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) so far to deliver a free and fair election?
So far so good and the only thing I will say here is that, INEC as an electoral umpire should as much as possible maintain its independence and provide equal opportunity for all candidates by conducting free, fair and credible election. Anything contrary to this, Nigerians will not tolerate any act of injustice and impunity.