In this interview with DAILY ASSET’s Dan Ocholi, a governorship aspirant on the platform of PDP, Mohammed Adah Shaibu, popularly known as Teteh explains his plans to take transform the Confluence State if he gets his party and people’s mandate come 2019.
May you tell us what motivated to declare interest in the governorship of Kogi State?
I can say politics has always been in my blood. The desire to serve my people on a larger scale was reinforced by my innate desire to improve the lot of my people. Right from my much younger days, I have been passionate about the welfare of those around me. While I was at the Benue State Polytechnic in Ugbokolo, I was involved in leadership at various levels. I was the Secretary-General of the Muslim Students Association, the Secretary-General of the Marketing Students Association, the Vice President of Igala Students Association, among others. In most positions I find myself, I was preoccupied with how to impact on the lives of others. When I even started work with the Nigerian Breweries in July 1987, I saw it as an opportunity to pay back to my community .The first thing I did was to buy a bag of rice for my father .But surprisingly, my dad told me that he shared the commodity to our neighbours and relatives in the village. My dad’s exemplary conduct stuck me, and I decided to borrow a leaf from him. As a result, I ensured that during Muslim and Christian festivals, I would send bags of rice to my people, the practice I maintained till today. Again, as I was growing up, I shared in the pains of my people who would trek several kilometres just to fetch a bucket of water for domestic use from Adale stream. When I had the privilege, I dug borehole for my Efikpo Community,With resources available, I ensured that the boreholes were dug further round Egume town. These are aside school fees, and several other social services I render to my people.
On a bigger scale, what are your plans for the transformation of Kogi State?
I have taken time to do situational analysis of the State with the current situation in mind.
I will not put much on the table so as not to divulge my plans. But uppermost is the issue of security of life and property. The security situation in Kogi State could be described as the worst in the country with rampant cases of kidnapping, robbery, and killings. If we are to witness any meaningful development, there must be security of life and property. This will be cardinal on my agenda. Towards this end, I will promote community policing. Vigilante groups will be enhanced and revitalized.Various communities will be involved in securing lives and properties of their brothers and sisters.
I will also work towards engaging youths in meaningful activities,in sports, in commerce, through industrialization.
On health, it is a known fact that hospitals in the state are no longer good to serve even as consulting clinics. There are now avalanche of private hospitals that compound health situations of our people, instead of improving on them. I plan to establish more general hospitals and cottage ones as well, with necessary medical facilities. Of course the medial personnel, especially doctors will be motivated to enable them perform their duties effectively.
Education, whose standard has fallen abysmally, is one area that deserves attention. It has fallen so drastically and even pitiably, and the importance of this sector to the development of any nation cannot be overemphasized. Sadly our primary schools are in a state of disrepair. I will reactivate both primary and tertiary institutions to make them functional. I will ensure the establishment of at least two model schools in every LG .Teachers too will be motivated to enable them give their best.
At the state university, the situation is not a healthy one, as professors who had been lecturing have been sacked, and replaced with first degree holders. It is saddening that more than 70 percent of the qualified lecturers are out of jobs. I will certainly bring all of them back to their positions.I will ensure that the university operates normally with standard comparable to any other in the country.
Agriculture is another area that deserves special attention. Our state has vast fertile land, that can grow different crops varying from cocoa in the Eastern and western flanks of the state to maize and cassava which can be grown in all parts of the state. What is required to take the state to the net level in agriculture is to provide the farmers with the necessary support.
What type of support do you intend to provide for them?
I will ensure they get agricultural inputs like tractors, whereby every local government will be provided at between four to five .Apart from that they will be provided the required seedlings, fertilizers, and loans to facilitate their farming.
What of the marketing of their products?
We will develop value chain so that farmers will get value for their products. We will establish marketing boards that will be a bridge between farmers and the exploitative middlemen who usually come from outside the state. I will work to eliminate the situation where prices of crops crash to miserable levels during harvest season.
What are your plans for the economic transformation of the state as a whole?
When all these factors I enumerated above perform naturally, and optimally, the economy will certainly improve. We will look at the resources that abound in the state with the aim of taping them to the fullest, for the benefit of our people. The state is blessed with limestone at Itobe, coal in Okaba, Ankpa, oil at Idah and Sugar Industry at Ibaji, , etc. We will work at all these places for the overall benefit of of our people.
On industrialization, moribund industires like the Sanitary ware at Idah, Palm Oil Mills at Acharu;and a host of others abandoned industires.We will take statistics of all of them, and see how we can bring them back to life. Government will partner with the private sector to reactivate them,
What of the tourism sector?
Tourism is an area that Kogi state is naturally endowed.Lokoja served as the first capital of modern Nigeria under Lord Lugard, and that is where the Government House is named after Lugard. There are so many sites to be developed there. The Confluence of the River Niger and Benue is also another natural attraction. Already, there are so many hotels in Lokoja that can take care of toursits.In addition to the state hotel that has been eft to decay, which will be reactivated, several others will be built to boost the industry.
Finally how are you mentors in politics?
They are Abraham Lincoln of the United States and our won Nelson Mandela. I like both of them because they were democrats in the true meaning of the word. Lincoln ‘s life was quite inspiring because he remained undaunted even when he was losing election one after the other, until he won it the eighth time. He made his mark in politics, and he eventually became a reference point, even after death.
Mandela, like Lincoln, was undaunted in his belief, the emancipation of his people, and for this he was in captivity for many decades. I admire them, and God willing I will toe their line come 2020 by the grace of God Almighty.
What informed your decision to choose PDP as your political platform?
I have been a sympathizer of the party over time, and I have never wavered; even before I joined them. The manifesto of the party is robust. It has all facets of human endeavours from social welfare, to agriculture, to industrialization, to security, to rule of law to justice. Although it had a setback in 2015, it came out to apologise to Nigerians over its mistakes. Those of us coming on stage will learn from the mistakes of our past leaders. The best of APC today is a complete failure. The party has not been able to commission a single project in Kogi, while workers salaries remain unpaid. There is no doubt about it, APC under Yahaya Bello has failed the people of Kogi state.