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Nigeria will not make progress unless corruption is checked – Kwankwaso

Kwankwaso: The unrivalled enigma and political juggernaut

Rabiu Kwankwaso is the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) in the 2023 general election. In this encounter with KAJO MARTINS, the former governor of Kano State spoke on his presidential ambition and other topical issues, saying that empowerment is key to ending insecurity. Excerpts:

Can you share with us your mission in Benue State?

We came here to inspect the state offices of the party and inaugurate them. Thereafter, we drove to Gboko to pay homage to the Tor Tiv, HRM, Professor James Ayatse. We also took the opportunity to receive into our fold people from other political parties. We also met other groups like the Igbo community; members of the 1992 House of Representatives and a host of other stakeholders in other parts of the country living in Benue State. I’m very excited that our party is waxing stronger in Benue State with Professor Bem Angwe as the gubernatorial candidate and other Houses of Representatives, Senate, and State Assembly ahead of next year’s general election.

As former Minister of Defence, what do you think is the way out of the country’s current security challenge?

Well, everybody knows that we have a big problem in this country as of today. The dwindling economy is a very funny one that affects all. Today, even people in government are saying that the s are been used to service debts which is most unfortunate. I’m somebody who doesn’t believe in borrowing. As governor of Kano State in 1999, I inherited a lot of debts from the past regimes but in four years, I was able to pay off and did some projects from the money available. When I left office and came back as governor again, I inherited much debt and settled such and carried out projects out of the income at my disposal. I always tell those who care to listen that this country has enough resources to carry out programmes and projects either as a state or federal government because such was done before. Therefore, the issue of economy, we have to adopt many policies arising from stabilising the polity within the party and of course, at general level. One of the key factors is the issue of power supply which is not available or very expensive for consumers, then the decay in infrastructure which I saw while driving from Makurdi to Gboko local government area. I intended going to Benue south but was told that the lot I have seen from this axis, the ones there is the worst situation. So, infrastructure has to be fixed at all levels especially education. That is why in Kano State, in my last four years in office as governor, I built 44 technical schools with one in each local government area so as to train young men and women in various trades to be self-sufficient. Other critical sector is the issue of corruption because most of the monies coming into the country either from oil, many people believed it is not being handled properly by government of the day. So, unless corruption is checked, we will continue to stay where we are today.

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Benue has potential in agricultural development. What would you do to harness this potential to the advantage of the state?

You see, our party’s logo is “Food Basket”, and I believe everybody in this country should practise agriculture in one way or the other. Uplifting agriculture is very important in Benue and other states for that matter. God in His wisdom has blessed this country because our soil is very fertile for yam production and other crops. This is the first time I’m coming for presidential campaign in Benue State. I tried it in 2015 in Lagos and 2019 in Port Harcourt but you people know what happened. For those who don’t know, they should be told of what I did in Kano State as a governor. I did so much in agricultural sector, education among others. For Benue State, I’m happy to say that when I came, I met many young men and women that received me from Nasarawa State border into Benue State. By the grace of God, when I get into the presidency, I will repeat the Kano experience to Benue State. In Kano, we built roads, energy, interlock, hospitals and it was a combination of so many things that we were able to engage young men and women and those who wanted to further their studies at any level were encouraged by my administration to do so.

Given the Ekiti and Osun States’ governorship elections, do you hope that INEC will conduct a credible election next year?

Before the Ekiti and Osun polls, we had two other elections and INEC did perform very poorly in the past especially in Kano State and many other states of the federation. However, we have seen INEC’s improvements in performance in Ekiti and Osun and I hope that it will continue to improve by the day. I also hope that security agencies will not go back to their old ways as they did in 2019, especially in Kano State where personnel forcefully and illegally took over Government House in 1999. People of Kano State were not happy that minority group were put on top of majority and those involved in the act must be regretting and God is wonderful that all those who participated, especially security agencies; everyone of them is suffering one calamity or the other ranging from the then Inspector-General of Police, because nobody hears about him.

What do you think about ranching policy as being advocated by a section of the people?

You see, what we need in this country is employment of everybody including farmers and herders but unfortunately, government missed this opportunity in the past. There was what was called nomadic education policy with headquarters in Kaduna state. By now, most of the conflicts would have been taken care of. The children of farmers and herders would have been in schools. You don’t have to ask them to do ranching but it would have come automatically. Some of those farmers and herders are left with nothing and benefiting nothing from government such as electricity and roads at all levels. So, I believe government has to work up and raise the living standard of the people irrespective of their background. Government has to protect lives and property of the citizenry. For NNPP, employment is our key programme we intend to promote; our farmers supported with new innovations so as to abandon old equipment they have been using 1000 years ago. There is the need to ensure security of lives and property in Benue State and the country at large.