Mr Mohammed Umar Nasko is one of the gubernatorial contenders on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Niger State in next year’s election. He was at the state secretariat of the party to submit his letter of intent to once again contest for the governorship position where he spoke with journalists on various issues. ADELOWO OLADIPO brings the excerpts.
You once contested for the governorship ticket of Niger State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but lost to the incumbent Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Why are you in the race again? What will you do differently?
I will say first of all, if I am given the opportunity again by my party, and if I am elected as a governor in Niger State, I think it will be for me to form a government of unity; and I mean unity across all parties because I believe I will become a governor for all irrespective of political parties. I will seek the opinions of different Niger people whom I think I know have the capacity and passion to deliver and appoint them to various offices and form a team of vibrant people in government. When you have a team of vibrant people in government, as a leader who knows his worth, you will just think differently. Before I am sworn in as a governor, I will already have had a vibrant team waiting to be sworn in.
The incumbent is from Niger north senatorial district is you. If you are elected, will you not want to extend your tenure beyond the normal four years according to the zoning formula already in place?
Yes. That is sacrosanct, because the PDP is a party that was founded on certain ideals. And these ideals kept the party in running the state of affairs of this country for 16 years. And one of those ideals is that principle of zoning. Zoning in the sense that offices are rotated to certain zones, geopolitical zones at the national level and in the states within the zones. This ensures that everyone is carried along. Yes, the incumbent governor is from my zone because based on the zoning system of the party, it is the turn of Zone C to produce the governor, and he has already spent four years. If, God willing, I am elected governor, I intend also to spend four years. But I intend to spend the four year as if I have been in office for 16 years because I really want to set a standard that will be very hard to surpass. I would want to set up a foundation that would also be difficult to fall below the expected minimum standard.
Don’t you think that the political terrain presently may not be as easy as you think now that PDP is no longer in power?
Well, with regard to your question that we are not in power, I want to also ask you: is it only when you are in power that you can contest for office? To that, I will say absolutely no, because the person that is in office now way back in 2015 when he contested, his party, the APC, was not in power then, but he contested for governorship on the platform of the party and God gave him.
The thing is that power is from God, and God gives it to whoever he wants and takes it away from who he wants. From Him we seek it power with all good intention. We seek it with only one intent, which is to serve the people; and my people have taken a solemn pact in that direction, and with God on our side, we shall be victorious at the end of the day. With regard to my running mate, yes, my running mate was from Zone A (Niger South senatorial district) in 2015 while the present deputy governor is also from the same zone. I am from Zone C, but I have not chosen a running mate yet. This I will do, Insha Allah if I am victorious in the primary election of my party. I will take into consideration tribal factors, religious factors and also competence. These would be my basis for choosing a running mate.
What is your assessment of the present administration in Niger State?
With regard to the assessment of the present state government, for me, I will only say that governance is not as easy as we think or as easy as it looks. We may all have our expectations as individuals, but it is very easy to criticise the government when you are sitting on the fence. When you are in the field, as I have been, I know that it is not easy.
From day one that I lost elections, I accepted defeat in good faith and I have instructed my supporters and my leaders that we should support the government of the day with whatever support we can give them. It is important to follow our leaders, because God says follow your leaders; and following a leader is following God.
That is God’s task for us as follows. We have to give them that support. The only way our assessment will be at the end of the day is if we vote them out during the next year’s elections. That means we are not happy with what they did. But if we vote them in, that means they have been doing a good job.