Alhaji Garba Umar is the Yobe State governorship candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) in 2023. Umar, a former banker and a retired director from the federal civil service in this interview with TAOFEEK LAWAL, speaks on his plans for Yobe State if he is elected governor and lambasts the APC government for pauperising Nigerians in the last seven years they have been in power.
What are the chances of your party, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) in Yobe State in 2023?
We are a new party but we believe that we are the party to beat in Yobe State. We are the number one party today in Yobe State and don’t mind the fact that there is APC on ground. We are going to beat them by the grace of God.
So what are you doing to make a difference?
I am mobilising my people. I am telling them the truth, I am giving them hope and I am telling them what I am going to do for them if I am elected. I am giving them the chance to have a fresh breathe of air because since the creation of Yobe State, we have had the same group of people ruling the state without any change. We are bringing change to them so that they can see the difference between what a good government is and what bad governance is.
Talking about the economy, how are you going to make the economy of Yobe different from what it has been bearing in mind that it is not a rich state?
Yobe is mainly an agrarian state. We are going improve on agriculture. We want to improve on our cash crops like Gum Arabic which we have in abundance. We are the number one producer of gum Arabic in Nigeria. We have a very good livestock population in Yobe and we are going to improve on that through ranching. We are going to ranch our cattle, we will ranch our animals and introduce modern methods of keeping these animals and feeding them to produce more milk. We are going to provide Nigerians with milk, we are going to provide Nigerians with good and healthy meat and we want to make sure that we have all these for export to earn the needed foreign exchange.
The security situation in Nigeria today calls for concern because everyone now lives in fear as a result of kidnapping, abduction, banditry and terrorism, and Yobe is prone to these attacks. Tell us the situation now and how you intend to curtail these attacks even though you are not the federal government?
As you rightly said, Yobe State has had its fair share of these attacks. But I have to let you know that some of these things are predicated on bad governance. If you don’t improve the lives of your people, if you make them poor and keep them ignorant, any one can come and lure them into bad things. This is one of the major problems that we have. Yobe is a very poor state. These people have pauperised our people and they have made them very poor. They have wasted the resources of our state over this period of time because there had never been any challenge to their government and that is why we are bringing change to our people. We are trusting in God that we are going to effect that change in Yobe.
What new thing is NNPP bringing to Yobe or will give to the people as a government?
We are bringing honesty. We are intending to make sure that we manage the resources of the state very well. Right now, Yobe is indebted to the tune of over N80 billion which is unprecedented. Yobe State government is paying half salary, N18,000 minimum wage, to our local government employees. We are going to stop that. We are going to make sure that every naira that we spend works for Yobe people. We will make sure that whatever projects we have will be executed by Yobeans and we won’t bring people from elsewhere to execute our projects . We will train our people in such a way that they acquire very good education and get the right exposure because the world is moving towards knowledge-based economy. We are going to tap into that and make sure that our people are exposed and giving them the best education they can hope for.
What will be your message to Yobe people in particular and Nigerians in general.
I want to tell them that there is hope and should not despair. They should have hope in Nigeria and that our country will work again. All these issues of insecurity are as a result of lack of leadership. The APC government is the worst government that has ever ruled this country. They don’t know it, they don’t have it, they don’t know how to do it and they cannot do it. Even if you give them one thousand years they cannot do anything good for Nigeria. We have to stop them now and stopping them is what we are intending to do and we are not joking about that. We will make sure we effect that change in the forthcoming elections. We make sure that NNPP becomes the ruling party in Nigeria and in most states in the country. We are sorry for any state that doesn’t go to NNPP in 2023.
What is your pedigree and what posts have you held?
I have been in the private and the public sectors. I was a banker before joining government. I resigned as a director in the federal service before joining politics. I ran for governorship under PDP in 2011 but because the state was not ready for change at that time, I didn’t make the governorship. Now I know better. I went back to my private business afterwards and I have been successful in my private business in the last ten years. I am bringing in my experience in both the private and public sector as well as personal sector to make things work for Yobe State.
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