Well, the problem of the PDP in Borno State is the opposite of the one in Kano State. Our problem in Borno State is because we have not been able to manage our failure at the polls. When we lost the election in 2003, I think we were able to go out in Maiduguri with our heads held high. But in 2007, the situation was not so. We had one of the best campaigns in the state; in fact we did something like what Obama did in the US. We carried everybody in the state that mattered along in our campaign train. But for one reason or the other we could not win the election in 2007. And when we came out of that election, instead of us remaining united, everybody fell apart. I mean we were selfish and we did not think about our supporters but we only thought about ourselves. And when we came to Abuja, everybody was on his own.
So in the face of these problems, how do you think the PDP can be in position to battle in 2011?
Well, I think the wishes of the people should be respected. In areas where people conducted an election or had a genuine consensus, those should be respected. In areas where there were no consensus or there were no elections, I think what needs to be done is that the leadership or the stakeholders in that area should be given a chance to reconsider the situation, and if they don’t come to agreement, then an election must hold according to the guidelines of the PDP. I think that is the only solution, because the differences are becoming wider and deep-rooted and at the rate things are going there is need for us to quickly resolve this matter so that we can face squarely the huge challenges coming ahead in 2011.
Is it true that the Governor Ali Modu Sheriff is responsible for the cracks within your ranks?
As far as I am concerned, whatever is happening in the PDP is an internal fight and I don’t believe that there is any kind of external influence whatsoever. I am one of those involved and I am very much aware of the problems of the party. Those that are seen to be stakeholders of the PDP and who are in this problem are people that can clearly stand on their own, and take decisions. We don’t need an Ali Sheriff or Borno State government. The fight is internal for the soul of the PDP.
How strong is the agitation for power shift by the people of southern Borno, where you come from? Do you believe southern Borno is capable of producing the next governor come 2011?
As far as the PDP is concerned, zoning is enshrined in our guidelines. And from 1999 to 2007, the PDP has given opportunity to people like Baba Ahmed Jidda in 1999, who comes from northern Borno; in 2003 and 2007 it was given to Kashim Imam Ibrahim, who comes from Borno central. So as far as we from southern Borno are concerned, the governorship ticket for 2011 should be given to a southern Borno candidate. And we from southern Borno are eminently qualified to run the affairs of Borno State. From all the nine local governments that constitute southern Borno, you can get qualified people that can run the affairs of the state effectively and efficiently. It is not that we want zoning, but we are saying that we are qualified. It is not that we are shy or no one has ever tried it before. Muhammed Abba Gana did, the former majority leader in the House of Representatives, Muhammed Wakil did, and one Modu Marama all aspired for the governorship. The current commissioner for commerce and tourism, Ayuba Iza ran for the governorship on the platform of Fresh Party. I recall that Ali Sheriff publicly committed himself that when he finishes his tenure, he is going to handover to somebody from southern Borno . Even though I am of the PDP, but as a southern Borno person, we are holding Ali Sheriff to his words that come 2011 he will pick somebody from the southern Borno amongst the ANPP members and give him the governorship ticket.
Speculations are rife that you may you are the likely choice in the event the PDP decides to field a candidate from southern Borno. Are you nursing any governorship ambition?
Well, if people are saying that I am eminently qualified so be it; but I don’t want to be joined amongst the people who think that it is because of the zoning formula that I find myself being nominated. If I am running for the governorship of Borno State, I will be doing so as an eminently qualified citizen of Borno State and not a candidate from southern Borno. But for my ambition at the moment, it is only God that knows and decides what I will make of the future. But what we are trying to do is to reorganize the PDP so that it can be able to form the government in 2011. And whoever will become the governorship candidate, will be decided by only God.
Do you support the agitation for the creation of Savannah State, which will mean the people of southern Borno having their own state?
I am the vice-chairman of the team for the movement for the creation of Savannah State. I support the creation of the state because in the current system of governance, that is the only way development can actually come to our people. And Borno State as it is presently, deserves two states; because there are other states that are not as big and populous as we are today and they have got themselves split. Look at the development going on in Yobe State, look at Jigawa State, go to Bayelsa and other smaller states, you will see that real development has gotten there. We are not asking that because we don’t like Borno people, but we feel that by the time we are able to get our state more development will be able to get to our people. Just look at the billions of naira that was given to Borno State over the years. And yet that money is not getting to the grassroots. If some local governments can get as much as N6billion, Damboa local government for example has its total statutory allocation from the federation account tuned up to N6 billion; that is from May 29 2003 to February this year; yet if you go to that local government nothing is there to show for it.
You just mentioned Damboa getting as much as N6billion in the last six years; how would you rate the administration of Governor Sheriff?
Poor, very poor! Even though he constructed a Chinese dual carriage way in Biu, my village, it is still very poor. I cannot understand why my local government in the last six years of the Ali Sheriff government which is supposed to have collected about N7billion from the federation account is still backward. If you go to Biu today, except for the road project, there is nothing that Ali Sheriff has done. Go to Damboa, it is the same thing. Go to Kala-balge, where they got more than N4billion in the last six years, yet during the rainy season you can not go to Kala-balge. In fact in the last six years of Sheriff’s administration, the local government areas in Borno have received over N200billion as federal allocations; none of them has received less than N5billion or N6billion depending on their sizes. Damboa local government for instance, has on paper received about N6billion but for God’s sake what is worth N6billion in that local government? Look at Monguno, there is no water in that place, yet about N6billion was allocated to it in the last six years, the same thing for Biu.
Do you see a different PDP evolving in Borno State as we approach the 2011 election as opposed to what obtained in 2003 and 2007?
Certainly, it is like a rebirth … the assignment I am doing in Kano at the moment for example is taking the party back to the grassroots; giving the people their rights to choose who will be their leaders. And that is what internal democracy is all about. I think the president has set the standard and the new leadership of the PDP at the national headquarters are also following suit. And I am sure before we get to that time the internal democracy policy will be fully enshrined in the PDP. Of course there will be people who will not be happy about it, because they are used to their old ways of imposing their will on the people.