Senator Abubakar Sadiq Yar’adua is a former Member of the House of Representatives and was a governorship candidate during the 2015 general elections. He is currently one of those tipped to succeed Governor Aminu Bello Masari in Katsina State in 2023. In this interview, he speaks about the internal crisis in the ruling APC, his governorship aspiration and his resolve to begin a political revolution, among other issues.
Recently you met with your supporters from the 34 local government areas of the state. Was that a build-up to your 2023 aspiration?
That meeting had to do with the federal government’s intervention in reducing unemployment by the provision of 774,000 jobs to the youths under the National Directorate of Employment (NDE). When I was contacted, we came up with a sharing formula because we felt if the NDE is allowed to go through political office holders to share the opportunities, there will be problems. So, here in Katsina, we formed committees in all the local government areas of the state and entrusted them with the task of identifying those that really need the help to be given the slots, and the committees did well, that was why I called them to congratulate them last Monday because nobody gave them anything to do that. In fact, I had to support them financially to carry out the task.
Are you saying it had nothing to do with your 2023 ambition?
There is nothing wrong with anybody having an ambition. I don’t think if you say you are going to make me a governor of my state I will say no. I am a bonafide citizen of Katsina State and Nigeria. So why shouldn’t I have any aspirations? The people of Katsina know who I’m. I am a very straightforward person. So if that meeting was for that, I will come out to say, look, I have started my campaign. I’m still making consultations, and when it is time I will come out to state my position. A lot of people have talked to me to go for the race, but I’m still making consultations. Because to be a governor of a state you don’t just wake up and say I want to be a governor. You have to make a lot of consultation, especially here in Katsina, considering the size of the state and also the number of important dignitaries that we have. So it’s not about 2023, I have not made up my mind yet.
Are you under any kind of pressure from political associates to contest?
Certainly, yes. So many people talked to me about coming out and so on, and why I need to do this or that. But as far as I am concerned, that is not a pressure. Indeed we have families, friends, and associates that we built over the years, and they will talk to you when they think you are qualified to run.
The APC is believed to be engulfed in crisis in Katsina as a result of the controversy on who will succeed the governor in 2023, how true is that?
I’m not one of those who are eyeing the seat, for the time being, so I am not aware of such controversy because I have not yet made up my decision. But leadership is not about you, about the aspirants or any other person, but it is about the service to the people. And that is what is missing.
So, as far as I’m concerned, there is no conflict, the only problem we had, and I don’t know whether we still have it, was that the party structure seemed to favour one particular candidate. They were doing everything possible to ensure that one particular candidate was given an advantage over the others. And I think as a result of the hues and cries from the political stakeholders in the state, His Excellency, the governor, timely intervened, by saying we would not allow the party structure to be too close to one particular candidate. He said we are going to provide a level playing ground to all candidates.
And as a result of that the governor set up a committee and each of these aspirants would give a representative. And it is that committee that is saddle with the responsibility of organising and liaising with the committee coming from Abuja to conduct the congress.
I think that is something that saved the state from the kind of crisis that would have happened, because if the intervention was not done by the governor, what happened in Zamfara will be a child’s play in Katsina. The intervention was very critical and timely enough. And I commend the governor for doing that.
It seems you have confidence in the committee set up by the governor, what would be your expectations towards the outcome of the congress?
I don’t have any representative on the committee because I’m not yet among those that have shown interest. But I have absolute confidence, because one; on the person selected to chair the committee, that is Mutari Lawal, I always have a good relationship with him. In fact, he was one of those who inducted me into Katsina politics. So I can regard him as one of my political teachers. He was also one of the people who mobilised us to be socialists when we were young.
He is an addicted socialist; we were in the PRP together, though I was in the youth wing. I know he is a very straight person and he is ideologically well grounded.
Secondly, even those who indicated interest to contest also gave quality persons. Professor Badamasi is there, Architect Kabiru Ibrahim, Abubakar Soja: they are all rigid and steadfast personalities that you can’t bend. So I’m satisfied with the quality of representation in the committee.
You said politics is all about service to the people and that is missing now. What’s your assessment of the present and previous administrations?
When Sheikh Usman Ibn Fodio came to change things in the late 18th Century and early 19th Century, he talked about the mess of the Habe rulers, the way they were ruling. One of the things he attacked was corruption and then lack of education. He challenged the system and brought about a revolution that changed this part of the country, particularly the Sokoto Caliphate. For example, he fought what was known as ‘Kudin Gari” then, a kind of tax that you pay just because you are residing in a town once you are 18 years and above. He fought that and changed the system. Unfortunately, when the Europeans came, they decided to go back to that old system of excessive taxation, and the system of rulership which was hereditary was maintained, emirs were selected based on heredity; not the best quality materials available in the community. That is what we are still facing in this country.
So, what I want to do; whether I am in government or not, is that I want to begin a political revolution from Katsina State. We have to look at the system of leadership. As you know, leadership is not all about moving around in a convoy with siren, security, and what have you. There are qualities of leadership which the Shehu has enumerated, and they are many.
So, people should not think of leadership as a means to an end; that you are in leadership because you want to make money. That you allow the system to be corrupted. These are the things we must change. It is the kind of revolution we want to bring about, and people must realise that we now have to take control of our situation, and not just the elite, but the poor people must take charge of the situation.
So, it’s not for me to assess whether the APC, PDP, or any other party has succeeded or not, it’s not for me to judge. That’s for the people to judge. But we must go back to the basics and the Jihad that Dan Fodio brought about.
What would you deploy in your political revolution?
It is what Shehu Ibn Fodio did; the tools he used were education, social mobilisation, and enlightenment. So, we are going to educate people, mobilise them and educate them as to why they need to participate in the process and why it is important for them to be in the decision making process for them to elect leaders based on who they are, based on the qualities they exhibit; not on the basis of I’m a minister, I’m a commissioner or whatever and I have money to contest for a position of leadership. Some of those trying to show that they have money now had nothing four, five years ago. So if anybody is telling you that I have money come and elect me, they are technically telling you that you should elect them to steal more. That’s the way I see it.
Some observers have projected that 2023 will not be an easy one for the APC, more so that President Muhammadu Buhari will not be contesting for office again; what’s your take on that?
I still believe that APC is a very strong party, and I also want to say that the interim leadership of the party under the Yobe State Governor, His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni, has really done very well. They may not be 100 percent perfect, but they have tried as much as possible to bring the party back together. They have resolved quite a number of problems at the local, state, and national levels.
So, I believe if they are given the chance to conduct free and fair ward congresses, at the end of the day, the party will become stronger by getting strong and solid leadership after the national congress.
Recently, Senator Hanga came out to say there was a gentleman agreement to hand over power to Tinibu, and a few days later, the VON DG, Osita Okechukwu, faulted that claim, what’s your take on that?
Senator Hanga is my very good friend and I really respect him, but if there was any agreement of that nature, some of us who are members of the party are not part of it. If there was anything between Tinubu and Buhari, that is between the two of them. We are talking about democracy here, and if there was such agreement it cannot be imposed on me as an ordinary party member and as a delegate. I was not a party to it, nobody gave me any documents in that regard. So I don’t even want to go into that.