Umar Farouk Bamusa is a seasoned politician and an IT specialist. He contested for the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the 2019 general elections in Gombe State but lost. In this interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, he spoke on how the ruling party took over the reins of power from the opposition PDP in his state. He also explained how technology can be deployed in fighting insecurity in Nigeria.
Having lost out in your bid for the APC governorship flag in the last elections you were said to have supported the aspirant that won the ticket who is now governor-elect. Why did you throw your weight behind the man that defeated you during the primaries?
I decided from day one to support the candidate that emerged victorious at the primaries. I did that because of my faith in the party. We have a party that has fantastic ideas and programmes for the country. I believe that I owe a duty to ensure that the party is enthroned. So I went back to my constituency in Gombe and ensured that not only have I supported the governorship candidate but also supported all other APC candidates. This is why Gombe became one of the few states where we were able to turn the state from a fully PDP controlled state to a fully controlled APC state.
It is usually not easy to defeat an incumbent in Nigeria. How did your party, the APC, emerge victorious in Gombe state which had been under the control of the PDP?
President Muhammadu Buhari won Gombe State hands down by nearly 90 percent. We also delivered all the three senators and House of Representatives members from our state. In the House of Assembly out of 22 we delivered 20 members. So you can see that we turned the state from a red state to a completely blue state. Like I said earlier I enjoyed doing it effortlessly because of my faith in the party and the ideas of the President. I believe we were victorious because the President campaigned on three strong pillars that Nigeria needs at this moment; the economy, security and anti-corruption. On that basis we were able to convince our electorate in Gombe to deliver the state to the APC.
You were in the IT industry for over 30 years; what motivated you to go into politics?
In fact we were the pioneers in that industry and you will agree with me that when you do something for this number of years you are bound to ask yourself what other things do I need to conquer? My own situation was peculiar in the sense that I was of a very humble background. My father was a civil servant and I didn’t go to any private school. I had my education fully sponsored by the government although I won a full bright scholarship of some companies later in the university. But my primary and secondary schools were all sponsored through public funds. After doing all these things I asked myself what can I say I have done to tell my people, ‘thank you, I appreciate the investment that government made in me?’ I could not see any other way to do that but to be in politics in order to bring those ideas and knowledge I gained in the past 30 years back to my state and see how I can contribute my own quota in uplifting the quality of life of the people of my state, cashing on the experience I had in the private sector. In a nutshell that was the motivation.
From your background, how can technology be deployed in tackling the many security challenges currently confronting Nigeria?
To be very blunt with you, the only solution to the security problem in Nigeria is technology. There is no beating about the bush. Today there are two things that we need to consider. Firstly, you can imagine the achievements or advancement in the banking industry. Eighty percent of those achievements were made possible through investment in technology; how the banks leveraged on technology to get to where we are today. The only way that the government can revolutionize security and bring it to the level of global best practice is by investing in technology and this is very simple. If the government will partner the correct private sector and ensure that they developed the national identity infrastructure to the level that it is in other parts of the globe that can be used to fight corruption, enhance security and the economy. My point here is that definitely the investment in IT infrastructure to leverage whatever efforts human beings are making in Nigeria would go a long way in enhancing the fight against insecurity. For example, the deployment of drones in the management of area space; the deployment of biometrics and DNA data bases in managing crime. Also the deployment of IT in tracking of electronic crimes because the world has gone electronic; therefore we have to have the infrastructure to track all movement of messages and use of such electronic facilities to commit crimes. Similarly, to be able to do as other countries do; monitor each and every individual and their activities using technology. For me it is not enough to say that you need to deploy intelligence for human capacity; there are documented studies that confirm that deployment of one single camera serves the function of five policemen.
In the same vein the deployment of a fingerprint identification system can do a job that many policemen cannot do. I give you a simple example, in Lagos some three years back there was a crime that took place. A young girl was murdered in a hotel at FESTAC. Those boys that murdered the girl met her through Facebook and invited her to the hotel. The management of the hotel just checked in normal guests and the next thing those boys murdered her and stole her bag. Nobody could trace these culprits or the victim who apparently came from Plateau State. The only thing that helped the police in that investigation was the fact that as they were leaving the hotel with the bag her yellow vaccination card dropped off. On that yellow card her passport number was there and that was how the police contacted the Nigerian Immigration Service who used that passport number to obtain the details of the girl, including her telephone number. The moment the police got her telephone number they used the service provider and looked at her call logs; the last 10 numbers she called and those that called her. That was how that crime was resolved; they got her family, her next of kin and informed them, they investigated and arrested those boys. They prosecuted them and jailed them.
Are you referring to the case of the late Cynthia from Jos?
Yes, that’s her name. That was exactly what happened and you can see in a nutshell how technology helped in busting a major crime. My point is that if government can do as much as they have done by investing in technology in other sectors as much as they have done in the management of the Nigerian Immigration Service, I can promise you that Nigeria will go a long way in managing crime.
Specifically, how can IT be used in curbing the menace of armed banditry and kidnapping?
This can be done in two ways. Number one, government can deploy the use of drones to manage the airspace and ensure that each and every track in the bush with the images sent to the center where you can see the concentration of those bandits in the bush where they take their victims. You can also monitor their phone calls and conversations easily and locate where they are for the police and security agents to close in on them. Finally, most of these people claim that they are Fulani whose cows were rustled. So we have to go back to the source of the problem. In Europe today, if you have a cat we have a facility where you can inject a microchip in the tail of the cat or a dog such that today in Europe there is a database of lost but found cats. You can easily read from that microchip the details of the cat, where it is coming from and the details of the owner. If we can do such to cats in Europe why can’t we do same to cattle in Nigeria? You inject the chips in all the cattle and it is important enough because it is a major source of livelihood and security threat to the country. Inject a chip in all the cows that are moving around such that any cow that you are selling in the market you must sell it with its data.
In order words, there would be a history just like when you are selling a car there is what we call change of ownership. You will have the same with the cows and once you put a reader it will give you all the details. If the owner of the cow does not have the originating documents then you automatically know that it is a rustled cow and the law enforcement agencies can be easily invited to go after such a person. I can assure you that if there is no environment that is conducive to sell stolen property even the thief will find it difficult.