You were talking about the state power project on television. What is it all about?
You see, we cannot leave that aspect to the federal government alone. I think the state government has to play its own part, too, and with that the improved power generation project would be a reality. We’re doing our own part. For instance, on the light from Ajaokuta-Lokoja, I contributed to it and I made it possible to work. Like the light from Ajaokuta-Ayingba-Ejule, they are all my handiwork. I was the one that erected the poles. All we’re doing is to make sure that people are comfortable because, to me, light is no more luxury, it is a necessity. We must all make sure that we provide it for our people. We must make sure that the seven-point agenda, which includes provision of electricity, is a reality
How soon do you think this electricity problem can become a thing of the past because I understand you are in partnership with the Chinese to come and invest in what will lead to industrial development. So do you have a time frame for generating electricity which is the mainstay of industrial development?
We are encouraging modern research for this purpose. We have people coming from Korea who are trying to use coal. Luckily, we have coal here and we are made to understand that coal is about the cheapest means of generating electricity in the world. We have it in abundance; we have talked to them and we have sent a memorandum of understanding to them. Of course, they are bringing in their money, they will give us an estimate of what it will cost, then we will now arrange with the Power Holding Company Nigeria on how we are going to go about it. But most of the distribution will be for Kogi State. So once we have done it, it would be sold to the nation.
How soon are they coming?
Already, they have come and gone back. So we are working on the modalities.
What are the priorities of your administration?
For me, I believe education is very important; there is more emphasis and priority on education. And whether any body likes it or not, it is better to give your child education than to give him money because, if you are able to give him education, you have done more than what is required of you. That is why I make sure that education is my priority. On the state of tertiary education in Kogi State, when I came, the state university was actually a glorified secondary school. There is no doubt about it. The school was almost collapsing. I thank God for giving me the wisdom that nothing is impossible. If you make up your mind, you can get it done and done rightly, and that I have shown the world. We were able to put it back again to where it should be and that is by making sure that all the 29 courses that were denied accreditation were fully accredited, including law. So I think that is what we have done but hopefully by 2010, we will be graduating our first graduands from the faculty of law, and by 2011, we will start admitting people into the faculty of engineering. Every thing has been put in place and it is going to form part of the university. So, like I said for now, Kogi State University is the best state-owned university in Nigeria. I am looking forward to making it the best university in Nigeria.
How soon will you make the college of education, Ankpa, a degree awarding institution?
I think they are already working on it and they have gone far; most of the requirements have actually been met by them. We are looking forward that anytime from now, they will be okay for award of degrees. They have got all the pre-requisite. Lest I forget, presently, we have over 70 professors in Kogi state University and we are still adding more because my dream is to make it the best university in Nigeria.
Do you think the country has done well after 10 years of democracy?
We have done very well. It is not possible to grow in a day. There is one thing that is wrong with us; we try to compare ourselves with America. We forget that these developed countries started long before us. If anything happens in London today, we want it done in Nigeria now. We have forgotten that we are a developing country, but definitely, we will get there. With understanding all these things will go away. For the first time, we have a democratically elected government; it is a lot of development. We might not know it but people outside know it. We might not be perfect but the truth is we are not going to continue like this. We are bound to make mistakes and we will correct these mistakes ourselves. Nobody is going to do it for us. That is my belief. If you say we have not done much I agree because expectations are high. But Nigerians should be optimistic that things will change for the better. But for you to say we have not done anything, I disagree.
What lessons have you leant from our 10 years of democracy?
A lot, I have leant a lot. When you pass through politics, you don’t need any further study because that is the true human perspective. But if you are an outsider and looking at people doing it, you will think they are not doing well. You will notice a lot of mistakes but you need to come in to see how difficult it is. I want you to know one thing with public office. These are challenges that face all of us. What do we do? We really have to face them. So I will advice that if you think you have something to offer, come in and make these changes. I have always told people that the new principle should be how well we can do it instead of condemning people. I want us to exercise a little patient but work towards achieving our goals and that is the only way we can get there. It is not going to happen overnight.
What attributes do you believe a leader must possess for him or her to success?
As a leader, you must be very patient and tolerant. Any leader that tells you this thing must be done according to my wish is not a leader. You must be patient, tolerant and have a heart of forgiveness. I have forgiven all my enemies. We are all members of the same family; we don’t need to fight ourselves. Democracy allows people to be free in whatever they want to do. Almost everybody in Kogi state is decamping to the Peoples Democratic Party and we are ready to take them in. They are only claiming to be AC but deep down, we know they are PDP.
What promise did you make to Senator Ohaire before he decamped to the PDP? Did you promise to make him the next governor or deputy governor?
It is not possible to promise anybody. I don’t have the right to give anybody anything; am I God? It is only God, who has the power to give. I believe that somebody might be a vehicle that God will use, but to say that I have the power to give him any political post, I will be lying. It’s only God that has that kind of power. So now that he has come in, let him play his card well, for whatever position he wants. All I need to do is to prepare a level playing ground for everybody. I am not after anybody. I am not saying it must be Mr. A or Mr. B. The field is there; it is very big and can accommodate all of us. So if you know how to play your card, come and play it. If the people accept you who am I to say no.