I’m not in Kogi gov race to establish dynasty —Abubakar Idris
Abubakar Ibrahim Idris is a son of a former governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris (Ibro), and one of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) aspirants for the November 16, 2019 gubernatorial election in the state. In this interview with YINKA OLADOYINBO, he speaks on the present situation in the state and how he intends to address the inherent issues.
WHAT are the fundamental issues that lured you into the Kogi governorship race?
I have been under intense pressure for a while from our people, urging me to contest for the governorship in Kogi State. Initially, it was not a matter for me to take seriously because of the fact that my father is a former governor of the state. But interestingly, the pressure kept mounting on a daily basis and the reasons the people gave were not the kind of reasons that could be brushed aside. The truth of the matter is that we have a peculiar situation at the moment in the state; the situation we have found ourselves as a people demands that every one of us must be patriotic for us to salvage the situation. The prevailing situation in Kogi is so sad that any right-thinking individual, with a milk of compassion flowing through his veins must respond to offer his own quota to the quest of bringing our people out of the quagmire they have found themselves in. I have given the issue a very serious thought as a bona fide and patriotic citizen of the state and I have decided that in the interest of our collective aspirations, as a people there is need for me to respond to the massive call of our people to provide quality and purposeful leadership for them. At the moment, our people are suffering, our people are stranded, our people are hopeless and our people are dying on a daily basis as a result of poor leadership. As someone that has been privileged to understudy leadership very closely, I believe that I possess the requisite experience, the administrative capacity, as well as the understanding of our people to be able to provide them with the kind of leadership that will return smiles to their faces at this critical period.
Your father was a governor in the state; a lot of people believe you are trying to establish a political dynasty for your family.
It is normal for some people to make such insinuations. But I can assure you that the present situation that we find ourselves in Kogi has nothing to do with a personal or family interest. If you know me very well, you will understand that I am not one person that likes to play to the gallery. Even when my father was the governor, I was hardly seen pushing for relevance. Now, the stage at which we are is such that the foundation of the state has been badly destroyed. It is such that the unity existing among the ethnic groups has been threatened. The civil servants are suffering; pensioners have been subjected to all manner of frustration, leading to an unprecedented number of deaths. The underlying structures for a sustainable socio-economic development of the state have been totally bastardised. So, for anyone to be linking my aspiration to personal or family affairs is uncalled for. I understand the sentiment of such people, but one thing I like to tell you is that I will be doing the people of Kogi the greatest disservice if I fail to yield to the repeated calls for me to join the governorship race. Also, those who know me can attest to the fact that I am not the desperate and overambitious type. But we have come to the point where we have to sit down and determine our future and the future of the unborn. It is in the light of this agonising moment that it has become imperative for all well-meaning Kogites, who have the genuine interest of our people at heart to yield to the call for selfless service at this period. In the last few years, no state in Nigeria has attracted bad publicity like Kogi on account of the directionless government we have in place. So, if God has endowed me with the capacity to turn things around for the good of the people, will it be right for me to turn down this call because of a sentimental factor or reason?
Looking at the challenges ahead, particularly now that the PDP is in the opposition, how prepared are you for the race?
Let me say quickly that the preparation for this kind of assignment is in the hands of God. It is God that crowns kings, so we are relying on God to support us in the aspiration to deliver our people. We are relying heavily on God to give us victory. Like I said earlier, the suffering of our people at the moment in Kogi has no party, religion or ethnic affiliation. Our people have seen the other side of the coin and I believe in this coming election, our people have made up their minds on the party that can serve them better. The PDP has a history that is incomparable in service delivery and purposeful leadership. So, as I have thrown my hat into the ring, I am believing God that if I am able to secure the ticket of the party, together, we will establish a participatory system that will turn the situation around for the good of our people. Essentially,the battle is not mine, it is that of God who, will in turn, propel the will of the people who are already desirous of a positive change.
The name of your father remains a strong political factor in the state; are you leveraging on that to further your ambition?
Definitely, it is going to have a positive effect because my case is going to be like a needle with a thread that cannot be easily lost. If my father served the state and he is still able to maintain his integrity, relevance and popularity among the people of Kogi, then one should expect that such a person cannot and will never allow his son, if given such a rare opportunity, to jeopardise his hard-earned reputation. His advice and counselling anchored on his wealth of experience will definitely be an added advantage.
How do you intend to change the narrative that the state seems to be identified with?
That is going to be the difference between me and other contestants. You cannot give what you don’t have. We are in this mess in the state because power has found its way into the hands of people that never expected such position of responsibility. Leadership is not about the number of certificates, but it is about the capacity to galvanise and mobilise both human and other relevant resources for the good of the people. So, leadership fails woefully if it has no capacity or ability to do this.
What are the immediate things your administration will do to turn around the fortune of the state?
God has been good to us through natural endowments in Kogi. With more than 27 solid mineral resources in commercial quantity, if given the opportunity, the immediate task of my administration will be how to harness all these solid minerals for the betterment of our people. We will create a conducive environment that will attract a large number of investors. We shall create industrial zones. We shall also try and give tax cuts to investors to enable them to stabilise. By so doing, the economy of the state will flourish while thousands of our unemployed citizens can be gainfully employed. Insha Allah, we shall take a holistic look at the case of the events of the last few years, particularly the reform of the civil service. We intend to revisit, re-engineer and restore the dignity of civil service in the state. We shall ensure that we return the civil service to the glorious days where each worker will find fulfilment in his career while at the same time, making sure that the ministries and parastatals perform their traditional and legitimate responsibilities.