2019: “I WILL WRESTLE POWER FROM GANDUJE”
– Garba Yusuf Abubakar, Kano PDP huber Aspirant
A former Commissioner in Kano State under Malam Ibrahim Shekarau ANPP led administration and now staunch member of People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Garba Yusuf Abubakar has indicated his strong intention to contest the number one position of Kano State.
Garba Yusuf made this known in an exclusive interview with Arewa Trust in Kano. He also disclosed that his political Master, as well as the former Governor of Kano State, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau will also contest for office of the Presidency in 2019. “We have seen contradiction of what has been promised during the electioneering campaign. We have seen the reverse of what we have been thinking. So, we have to come back and take over the mantle of leadership of the country… “he declared.
Garba Yusuf Abubakar said there is a very good need to change the change for a better change. “We appreciate Mr. President for his honesty, simplicity, for being a credible person in history and we agreed totally in that but this is not always the answer…” We accept they have contributed for the security of the nation, which is of paramount to our lives. We agreed in all these. Still there are other lots of challenges which have not been touched and we feel when we come, we can make the change.” See full text of the interview below.
Arewa Trust: First, we thank you for granting us the opportunity to interact with your humble self. Please, can you briefly tell us about yourself?
Garba Yusuf Abibakar: In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Especially Merciful. My name is Garba Yusuf Abubakar. I was born and brought up here in Kano. I schooled in Shahuci Primary school in Kano, the first primary school, at least in this part of the country. I proceeded to Gaya Boys High School. At that time, the High school was almost three of its kind. From here, I was a final year student as far as 1976 at the Kano State Polytechnic. There were almost two schools then, the Bayero University and the Federal College of Education here. Our first Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Bako, seeing the way the situation Kano was going, he decided to establish the Kano State Polytechnic from what he saw in Kaduna. Fortunately, I was a pioneer student of the Polytechnic where we started with the printing technology. We came out and started working with Water Resources and Engineering Construction Agency (WRECA), later to Ministry of Information and also later to Bayero University. I later went into private company where I worked with the Pen Newspaper, which I cofounded. From there, we joined politics.
I was a member of All Nigeria’s People’s Party, ANPP with my Godfather, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau whom I was following since our Muslim Student days as far back as 1973. Fortunately, he contested for the office of Governor of Kano State. Alhamdulillahi, I know that you have the history of it because you have written a lot on Malam Ibrahim Shekarau. His history cannot be complete without the books you have written on the political life of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau. I became the Commissioner of Information, perhaps he saw my background as cofounder of the pen newspaper, Press Man College because I schooled in Lagos. I served for two years and later I was deployed to the Ministry Of Land and Physical Planning. I stayed there briefly, might be because I don’t know how to allocate plot very well. I was redeployed to the Ministry Of Environment where I stayed for four years
It is a very big Ministry, which I had a wonderful stay. One can achieve a lot silently for the great achievements of the community, even for the achievements of our political goal. Later, I was the Commissioner of Finance in the State. Briefly, this is about me.
Arewa Trust: We understand that as we get closer to 2019. you are one of the political gladiators in Kano eyeing the seat of the present governor. How true is this assertion sir?
Garba Yusuf Abubakar : Yes, I really do because when the political climax changed in Nigeria, the PDPs joined the ANPPs, ACNs to form what is today known as APC. We have decided to stay in APC because we have seen the light as if it was going to make a lot. later we realised it has not changed. Then we started to follow our Master who joined the PDP. Malam Ibrahim Shekarau was a cofounder of APC. In fact, without contradiction, I would have said that Malam Shekarau is the backbone, the key opener and the founder of APC. It was his own idea but unfortunately, something went wrong and he came back to PDP and we joined him in PDP. Now with the current situation as you see in the country, we have seen contradiction of what has been promised during the electioneering campaign. We have seen the reverse of what we have been thinking, so we have to come back and take over the mantle of leadership of this country. At least, for obvious reasons, some of our good friends and advisers decided to sit down and see what is going to happen. We have leant a lot from the administration of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau. They advised us to carry and continue where Malam Shekarau has stopped because nothing has been put in place after Malam Ibrahim Shekarau. So, they decided to advise that why don’t we go for it. For this reason, I started nursing and consultation . I started praying, which at the end of the day I have agreed to go for it because I know what happened between 2003 and 2011 during Shekarau administration. They have convinced me and I agreed to come and contest for the office of the governorship in Kano State come 2019 in shaa Allah. We have seen the light because the present administration has enmeshed in political failure. Without necessarily sounding so immodest, I would have said they failed eighty five percent. They are human beings we agreed and there are areas of natural mistakes. As human being, some mistakes are natural and one is bound to make mistakes but there are deliberate mistakes which we cannot condone or allow to take place. So, we are coming to correct and put in place these deliberate mistakes, which are vividly around for everybody to see even a street beggar knows what is happening in the country and the state today. We believe we have the responsibility to our people to take over this government.
Arewa Trust: How prepared are you and what your pedigrees that can rattle the ruling government sir?
Garba Yusuf Abubakar : You see, the politics of Kano differs from all politics in this country. Kano is a special place politically. Right from the days of Malam Aminu Kano, Kano people are so enlightened, so wise and educated as far as politics is concerned. There is no politician, even General Buhari knows Kano was his background politically. He learnt from Kano. He depended on Kano. That was why he was given over 1.9Million votes in Kano. No other place and not even his state. because Kano is politically conscious. So, my strength is the people and the people are willing to change. The people are willing to accept Malam Ibrahim Shekarau as the governor of Kano State but constitutionally, he cannot be the governor again. Now, who is the next person after Malam Ibrahim Shekarau to continue where Ibrahim Shekarau has done well in Kano. The Kano people realise that it is me because they followed our political activities and what we contributed during our government. They have realised that I can fit in the shoe, at least, to a certain level. More so, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau is still alive and we pray he is going to be alive but we have a very good consultant even if we have taken over. People thought it wise that Garba Yusuf Abubakar fits in the shoe of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau as far as governorship of Kano is concerned. So, my confidence, preparation and strength is the people as well as my party that is ready to produce a credible candidate. Without sounding immodest, they say I am credible for that.
Arewa Trust: Why do you think there is need to change the change?
Garba Yusuf Abubakar :
There is a very good need to change the change for a better change. This issue of change is always used to produce the negative aspect. The word change is not always a very good word as far as leadership is concerned. Had it been the APC agreed to continue with what PDP has done in the 16 years of its leadership and partly remove what is to be removable, bring in what the Nigerians need. For instance, the Nigerians need light. We, in the North, are farmers and rearers. What do you do as a government to allow us to farm and rear well? Our good brothers in the South have their own traditional professions. What will the government do to allow them produce what they use to produce for a sustainable life? But they come to say that they want to change everything and it is not possible. So, we are coming to change this change for a better change because nothing is done. I was just conducting a programme few days ago. I was saying that nothing has been done as far as APC is concerned. Alhamdulillahi, we appreciative Mr. President for his honesty, simplicity, for being a credible person in history and we agreed totally in that but this is not always the answer. We accept they have contributed for the security of the nation, which is of paramount to our lives. We agreed in all these. Still, there are other lots of challenges which have not been touched and we feel when we come, we can make the change. There is no credible change you can see on ground. People are suffering. Farmers can no longer go to farm. Children can no longer go to school. Traders can no longer trade. Transporters can no longer transport well. Civil servant cannot serve well. So, you can see what is happening in the nation and there is need to change this change.
Arewa Trust : How prepared is the People’s Democratic Party, the platform you hope to seek your governorship aspiration for 2019.
Garba Yusuf Abubakar: Alhamdulillahi, you see what used to happen, the issue used to be a reverse. Fortunately, those who spoiled PDP in the last sixteen years and the major characters that spoiled the PDP, which you can understand have now been transferred to APC. In their totality, all the actors who played negatively in the destruction of PDP in the last sixteen years have now changed to APC. Fortunately, the progressive ones who wanted to keep Nigeria
going and moving, who wanted to see Nigeria in peace, who wanted to see the human resources or whatever resources to develop the country, fortunately, they have now been transferred to PDP. So, you can see the wisdom that PDP has now gotten a very good ground to make these changes. Fortunately, the Nigerians have now see it clearly because if you go to the market now, the story is different from what you have been hearing. If you go to offices, you will see that the story is different from what has been happening. In the security aspect of the country, the story is different from what has been happening in the past. The issue of kidnapping now is growing. You can see this is a very big challenge for the government. Of course, we can say the insurgency has been attacked and subsided but the issue of kidnapping is another threat. We wouldn’t want to say that the issue of the insurgency is not an issue. It is a very big issue. The insurgency was almost at a particular part of the country but the threat of kidnapping is all over the country. It is in the North, South, East and West, all over the places. People have seen it now. So, the PDP is very much prepared because people have seen the light and are willing to change the change. Fortunately, politics is all about the people and the people are willing to change the change through the only party now, the PDP.
Arewa Trust: Can you comment briefly about the state of internal peace and unity among the leadership of PDP?
Garba Yusuf Abubakar : You see, that is why I always salute my Master, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau. When we came in to the PDP immediately after the election, there were some crises and a lot of people in the party were so jittery and afraid because they were thinking what is going to happen to the party and for political reason at the background is APC also rekindling the fire not to give PDP chance for peace to reign. But PDP has some good names. Malam Ibrahim Shekarau is of course one of the good names of PDP and a lot of them have decided to watch the situation. Of course APC wanted to use our former Chairman, who they call SAS to cripple PDP but for the determination and prayers of our good leaders, they have handled and won the case at the Supreme Court where you cannot have the case any further. Now the PDP is stable. Most importantly , is how this party is going to conduct the contest within the party. This shows that this party is now ready for the change into this country. The PDP is now in total peace. From national to our ward’s, there is no place in the country today where you find crisis in PDP. Even though, there is the only main national party that has all assembly yet it is the most peaceful party, the strongest party and even the crisis of who is going to be who used to divide the political parties, but the case is not so for the PDP today. It is in peace now and PDP is stable.
Arewa Trust: So far, how do you, sincerely speaking, rate the performance of the State government led by the ruling party?
Garba Yusuf Abubakar : At state level, you have said it all. Sincerely speaking, if I say Wallahi, without being politically biased, I can say it is negative. Even if I am among them, I will say it is negative. Let me share with you and I believe you will share with people. Could you believe that even now that I am going to contest for the office of governor of Kano State, I do advise the APC government silently. I do advise the governor. I use to meet with the Deputy Governor. I do meet some of the Commissioners to advise them correctly on what they are supposed to do. Alhamdulillahi, they appreciate but sometimes they don’t do what I tell them. I would like to say that I see the governor as a gentle man. I see him as an elderly statesman. But unfortunately, I didn’t see him as an administrator. If you meet him one on one, he is a nice person. There is no molestation. He cannot harass, he cannot embarrass. He is very humble. But that is different from leadership. If you ask of my honest comment, I will tell you that I have not seen any thing administratively worth commenting in this government. There is no single project so far initiated by this government. There is no single project of this government that has been completed. Quote me correctly please. I said there is no single project initiated and completed by this government after its two years in office. Two, there were a lot of abandoned projects from the last administration by this administration, which we felt is a continuation of last administration. So, projects are supposed to be completed but there is no one completed. Thirdly, most of the major areas I can say they are not progressing but retrogressive is let’s take education for instance, children are failing their examinations woefully. Their examination fees are not being paid well. Our higher institutions are being run in shambles. I am saying this from the bottom of my heart and in the name of God. There is nothing as being politically biased. Our health sector, which is an important sector because you cannot do anything without being healthy, is very poor. You can see there is malaria all over the State now. For the past one year, this malaria has been there but this government is silent about it. This is an epidemic to be taken seriously. Agriculture, I told you we are farmers. Where is the fertiliser? Where are the implement? You cannot see any. As far as training is concerned in all sectors, this government is not doing any thing about it. At the end of the day, they ended up with political quarrel . I think the political quarrels within themselves are making them to retrogress more. But if I am telling you from the bottom of my heart, honestly speaking and wallahi, I have not seen any thing credible out of this administration. But there are credible people in the government. The governor, I respect him as a gentleman. The Deputy governor is a highly educated, humble and gentle person whom I will ever respect. The Commissioners are combinations of good boys who are supposed to be good patriots for the country. The parliamentarians I see them also as nice boys who are also supposed to be good patriots for the country. But I don’t know where the problem comes from. Let me say about the speaker of the house, he is a person that I worked together with. We served together and I know him to be a very nice person. I know him to be a very determined, religious and gentle person. But these qualities have not shown in his manner of leadership. Yes, the Chairman of the party is someone I know as very aggressive and very politically sound. So, the government consists of some great names but we wonder where is the performance? So, if you are asking me my honest opinion, I will say honestly, this government is a failure. One thing that contributes to the failure of government is that they don’t listen. Two, they concentrate on what is contrary to achievement of a government. How can you continue quarreling with your predecessor on political ground and allow that to divert your mission and attention from what they voted you for. This is my stand as far as the administration of this government is concerned.
Arewa Trust: Do you think Malam (Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau, Sardaunan Kano will contest for office of the President again? Have you spoken with him on this issue sir?
Garba Yusuf Abubakar :
Absolutely! Malam Ibrahim Shekarau is going to vie for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. By virtue of his performances from the day you know him as a political figure, the reader will accept that he is capable of contesting for the office of the President. We, that are behind him, strongly advised and requested him to contest for the coveted seat. This is because, one, PDP is going to take over in shaa Allah. Two, we wouldn’t want PDP to make the same mistake that has been made previously, even though it was a learning period. All we are saying is that all the mistakes made by PDP were on learning period. Somebody that is learning is bound to make some mistakes, which some people refused to understand. Instead of forming APC then, there was supposed to be an organised system whereby we would tell you this is your mistake, we are giving you another period of time. That, out of the 16 years of time, you have done so and so years correctly and so and so years is a mistake, and so and so years is an honest mistake or deliberate mistake. This is done to correct the deliberate mistake and avoid the honest mistake. But that has not been done. Now, PDP has seen the light that these are the areas where there are honest mistakes. Fortunately, as I said, the actors who did the mistake are now out of the party. So, PDP is strong enough to take over. If you come back to the party, politically, people used to weigh where to get your votes. National offices especially the office of the President, the votes come from the North, particularly from the Northwest, which Malam Ibrahim Shekarau belongs to. Now, what we are agitating for and I believe my party is going to accept the northwest to produce a candidate by God’s Grace. Now if you come back to the northwest, all of our candidates are very credible. But who has an upper hand in the issue of credibility? Malam Ibrahim Shekarau has an upper hand. This is because, all those names that are trying to contest from the northwest have problem in one way or the other with the current administration. Some of them have been indicted by EFCC. Some of them, their names are still in the court and some of them have been witch hunted. Without necessarily sounding immodest, we can say that Malam Ibrahim Shekarau is now the only person standing.
EFCC has tried her own on him. Alhamdulillahi, Allah has proved that Malam Ibrahim Shekarau is a honest person. You can see how honest this gentleman is. That money was ‘shared’ during an electioneering campaign in 2015 according to APC record, it said, money was ‘shared.’ We don’t believe that PDP shared money but APC said money was shared. Even among the money shared according to APC, Malam’s hands are not involved. He was a Minister of Education for only ten months but you can see the change. He changed four Colleges of Education to Universities. The oldest Colleges of Education, which they are even offering degree programmes and issuing degree certificates now. But nobody cared to give them the autonomy to operate as university. Malam Shekarau came and gave them university status though APC government has cancelled it. Malam Ibrahim Shekarau came in less than 24 hours as a Minister of Education quenched the fire of strike action embarked by the Polytechnic Association in the country. It was almost eight months into the strike action. Children were not going to school. Teachers were not going to classes. Nobody was working in the institutions. Malam Ibrahim Shekarau came within 24 hours to stop the eight months industrial action. When he was sworn in as Minister of Education, he didn’t even go to the office. His first port of call was to go to the striking academic union of Polytechnic. After three hours of meeting with them, the eight month strike was called off. What did he tell them? How did he convince them? This shows how talented, honest and sincere to the cause. When he was in charge of the Kano State Government, there were a lot of Changes.
The farmers knew there was farming in the country. The teachers knew there were classrooms. chalks, teachers and facilities were available. Even the students knew they were living in a state where there were peace and everything. There were lots of projects executed by Shekarau for the citizens of Kano State. This man can do equally for the nation. So, we asked him to come out and contest for the 2019 Presidential election and he has agreed to do that. The rest is for the PDP at whatever level to give him the opportunity and we think he can wrestle the power from the current leadership in Shaa Allah.
Arewa Trust: What is your view about Arewa Trust Newspaper publishes by SRA media Limited, Kano?
Garba Yusuf Abubakar:
You See, the first instance when I heard the name, Saka into the affairs, I know it is a serious issue. I know it is an issue because I have been reading about you when we introduced the Pen newspaper around 80s. Since then, you have been writing to us without even meeting you. I know how good Saka is in writing. I didn’t hear about Saka again not until when we came onboard in the government. I know what Saka has been there for. You contributed immensely for the achievements of Malam Shekarau especially in the aspect of writing. Saka has written a lot as far as the government was concerned. So, when I heard that Saka was behind the Arewa Trust, I said Arewa has somewhere to be trusted now as far as media is concerned. That we are having another presentation, which we have been lacking because I can proudly claim that this is the only strong voice now. Arewa Trust is the print media. All the other papers used to be national even though your articles are national. The name means a lot to the Arewa people because it is what we have been lacking. Print Media is our problem. Go to our colleagues in the South and West, the number of newspapers they are in control of, is so outrageous as they control almost 99% of the print media. When I heard of Saka, I said, OK, another giant has come up. When I read the name of the paper, I said to myself this is a very positive name and something good is going to come out from it. When I saw some editions of Arewa Trust, Vis-a-vis their contents, I can see the real art of media work. I can see the real art of journalism. I can see a very good representation. I can read an unbiased articles. I can see how our uninformed government has been informed. I was just reading issues of some States in the paper. You see if the governments are wise enough, they are supposed to come and invest well in this medium because even the little that has been written about them, I am sure, if you ask the people, they don’t even know that the governments have recorded such achievements. Arewa Trust should be assisted to do her responsibility. The government in the North should patronise the Arewa Trust. Take agriculture for instance, is not Kano alone. If I am the governor of Kano state today and I say I want to achieve in agriculture without the cooperation of Katsina or Jigawa State, I would be stupid. Similarly in education, I cannot educate the children of Kano State without seeing what is happening in my neighbouring states, I will be stupid. Even the health sector, It is just a matter of mediating, as the epidemic is around a state, I have to mediate around with colleagues in the neighbouring states so that we can work together to nip the issue in the bud. This is meant to work together and produce a very honest community because God in His wisdom has made us to be brothers and neighbours. Similarly, as far as news is concerned, it is the responsibilities of all the governors to see that something is done. If I become the governor of the State today, I will patronise and I promise you, put it in writing, challenge me even if I didn’t do it, publish it that if I become the governor of Kano State, we are going to give a priority to Arewa Trust. It is not only for the interest of Kano State alone, even for my colleagues in other states. A lot has been done but no report about it. There are lots of projects. Let me take agriculture for instance again. If you Arewa Trust report to me through your paper that this is what is taking place at so and so place in Katsina and this thing is very good, it is my responsibility to take it up. Katsina State will not write me that I am doing so and so for my state, try and do it for your self. But through your paper, I can read what is happening in Katsina, Sokoto, Jigawa, etc. So, let me encourage them on what they are doing because it is going to be an advantage to me. All this can only happen through the media. This can only happen because I cannot from Kano appoint an adviser on Jigawa State affairs or Katsina State appoints an adviser on Kano State Affairs. But you are our Special Adviser that liaises with all the states particularly the neighbouring states because we have many things in common. If I can produce ten bags of rice, Katsina produces ten, Jigawa produces ten, you will see that within the shortest period, we can produce hundred bags of rice. But if I am the only one producing, nobody stops Jigawa from jumping into Kano from taking my rice. It is a matter of buying and selling. Nobody stops Katsina from doing the same thing. But if there are some write-ups and a medium that will put us through, we might end up saying Jigawa come, Katsina come, Kaduna come, where are our Commissioners for Agriculture? Go and produce a blueprint on how we can farm together. This can only happen through the media. This is the focus of what I have seen in the Arewa Trust. I want to say honestly without flattering you but I am telling you that this is something I have seen great in you for now. But I know it is very difficult to sustain the project particularly at this period of time. It is going to be very difficult for you but you should continue. It is some thing we have to Promote. I was also in the media . Just like in your own case, we started something very little. It is just a matter of determination but by the name Arewa Trust, I know success is going to come by the Special Grace of God.
Arewa Trust: Thank you most sincerely for sparing your precious time with us. We wish you the very best in your political aspirations.
Garba Yusuf Abubakar : Amin. You are welcome.