Senator Alex Kadiri represented Kogi East Senatorial District under the banner of the All Peoples Party (APP) between 1999 and 2003. He is now an elder of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview with AYODELE ADESANMI, he insists that President Muhammadu Buhari inherited a country on its knees. He also gives reasons stakeholders in Kogi State are at loggerheads with Governor Yahaya Bello.
The Kogi State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) is dogged by series of crisis, what are you the elders doing to resolve them?
I am certainly not happy with the crises. How could l have worked tirelessly, spent my resources to ensure that l delivered my area totally for the All Progressives Congress and say l am satisfied. If what is going on presently is all l wanted l would not have been involved. The situation in the state is so bad that anytime l think of it I get angry, because l sacrificed so much as a person for the success of APC, up to this moment. l am kind of regretting what l did and efforts l put to dislodge the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
What exactly do you want to tell the governor that made you call him repeatedly?
I’ve heard stories upon stories concerning the ongoing screening exercise in the state. When people come here to tell me stories l don’t react until l hear from the other side, and l needed to hear from him directly what was going on. For me to be able to talk l need to hear from horse’s mouth as l don’t engage in gossip at this my level. My style is that anytime, l disagree with anybody l confront the person and if the person does not agree, I take a full page of advertorial in the newspaper to my own view and till today nobody has been able to challenge me, because l don’t publish anything without my facts. Look, l had fought many wars. You know it is not possible for me to enter a vehicle from Abuja here and head for Lokoja and wait at the gate of government house and tell the police that I want to see the governor, you know that would be too bad. This issue of screening has been going on for almost nine years now. But when would it end, as many people have died in the process, especially people involved in road accident when going for this screening. I have heard stories of pensioners being declared ghost workers. Is it possible for a man to have worked and retired and still be regarded as a ghost workers.? What would one say about a husband and wife state workers and have not been paid since January last year. I am a leader in this party, the only contemporaries l have at the National Secretariat are the National Chairman John Oyegun, Segun Oni, Lawan Shuaibu and others. APC as a party has not been fair to me as a person, has not been fair to what l believe in. I have no quarrel with the party at the state level because as it were, it has nothing to do for me. There is nothing APC in Kogi State would do for Alex Kadiri. I can only help the party at the state level to succeed and when l see the party failing it is my right to equally shout. The recent press briefing we had you would be surprised that the state chairman of the party, who is from the same place with the governor, was there with us, the council chairman of the party from same council from the governor was there. In fact the woman leader from the governor’s area came, that should tell everybody a story.
Looking at this screening critically what do you think is wrong with it?
I am not against the screening. When he started the screening l sent a text message. The message l sent him was to advise him to be focused; telling him that before God l believe in what he was doing. I said that Kogi State has no business having such staff strength, compared with the population of the state. If he reads this interview he would cast his mind back that I sent him a text and that he replied by thanking me.
But some have argued that the screening is being trailed with this criticism and outcry because the people from Kogi East Senatorial District are mostly affected?
No! No! No!. I don’t like arguing towards that direction. Certainly the lgala are mostly affected as they happened to be more in number in Kogi State, and whether you like it or not, that is the fact. The Igala, going by the population of the state, are more than half. It is because of that large size of population that my local government, Dekina, has two members at the House of Assembly. Likewise Ankpa. That is the more reason no one can become the governor of Kogi State if the lgala refuses to vote for such person. That is the fact. But another fact is that the lgala cannot monopolise the governorship seat of Kogi, honestly, another area must be given the opportunity to rule as power must shift and this has been my crusade. The Okun man and the Ebira man would bear me witness because many times, publicly, l had raised the issue of power shift. But the kind of hardship that lgala man is going through now was not envisaged.
What would you say is the way out of APC crisis in Kogi state?
The way out is for Governor Yaya Bello to come down from his Olympian heights to meet with those of us who actually ran the election. Don’t forget that we were almost finishing the election and the votes were being counted when Audu died. If Audu hadn’t died, all these arguments would not have come up. Yaya Bello came, and according to the Supreme Court judgment he inherited Audu’s votes but he had the supplementary election where he had six thousands votes and that was what made him the governor of Kogi State today. That was posterity and to me was his luck as l can’t question God.
But having attained this position, for God’s sake, l want him to remain focused and be fair to everybody. l am not asking him anything beyond that. The governor of the state and the government must realise that the people who are not in government have ideas and can make contribution towards making the state better than what it is today. God has made Yaya Bello the governor of Kogi State, so be it. He was recruited into the federal civil service on level 9 in 2002. April 2015 he was on level 12 at the Federal Revenue, Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission, that was where he left to become the governor of Kogi State, he has never headed a department. His chief of staff was a banker. No experience, nothing.
What we are saying in essence is that he should create room so that people with experience can help him. When he won the election, he set up a transition committee, which was made up of many responsible people, including a high profile journalist, Yakubu Mohammed. The committee, since it submitted its report to him, lost its relevance.
Many have said that the APC government has performed badly in its two years in government, what do you say to that?
President Goodluck Jonathan took over from President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Though Yar’Adua was sick, he was a man with good intention to stabilise the economy. Jonathan, who took over after him, had no capacity for the job, I knew we were living on borrowed time .
Before Jonathan left the excess crude account has gone down. However, things have gone so bad when Buhari came, to the extent that he said he almost resigned when he saw the level of the rot. Buhari came at the beginning of the recession. But people are blaming Buhari for the whole problem as if some money was kept somewhere and he does not want to spend it. Before he got there almost three quarter of the states could not pay salaries, he had to organize bail out for them.
Surprisingly, people who caused the problem today are still in the country. Interestingly, Buhari is fighting a war against the people who brought the country to its knees. It would be wrong of us to blame the present predicament on Buhari. But there are some people in the last regime who participated in the rot and are still in this regime, that is one of the reasons he is finding it difficult to do things properly. This is the wrong time for anybody not to pay salary because of the ripple effect. However when things are hard like this, one needs to be innovative and that is the message Buhari is sending to all of us.