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‘Individuals, not parties, will decide winners in 2019’

Chief Emmanuel Bello is a former member of the House of Representatives. In this interview, the governorship aspirant on the platform of the Social Democratic…

Chief Emmanuel Bello is a former member of the House of Representatives. In this interview, the governorship aspirant on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Adamawa State said that in the 2019 general elections, the electorate would vote for individuals, not political parties. He also said he had concluded plans to dislodge  Governor Mohammed Jibrilla.  


Why are you so passionate about leading Adamawa State?

I was born and bred in Adamawa State and I feel that I have a duty to give back to my community. My community has given me life even though we know that all lives come from God. Only God can decide what happens tomorrow. No human being can say I will be this. But with God, everything is possible. So, why do I want to become governor? Or why am I even in politics? Look at Adamawa State, for instance, I’m a student of contemporary politics. And I like to refer my political upbringing to the philosophy of Malam Aminu Kano of blessed memory. 

I read so much about Zahad Zunguru, who was the ideologue for Northern Element Progressive Union (NEPU). He came from Bauchi. He was Malam Aminu Kano’s teacher. He was a very serious ideologue. He came from the Marxist study group’s point of view. 

I link my ideology of life, politics and being to the socialist ideology and the fact that all human beings are equal. Justice is not something that should be negotiated. All people must be treated with dignity. And life is precious. With these principles I approach my life, and I think it is deep enough to give an idea of how a government should be formed and run and how  it should implement its policies.

Adamawa State, as you know, is very rich. We have all sorts of natural endowments, but they are untapped. Our population is not helping matters. We are growing. And we are lacking in getting correct leadership in these contemporary days, where you need people with innovations and ideas to improve the lot of the people. 

The government of the day in Adamawa has no idea of how to operate. If you are driving from Yola to Gombi, where I come from, or you are going to Mubi, Numam, Goman, Shele, Ganye, and Magadali, you would see linear settlements along the road. Nobody is leaving in the interior. 

We have a vast land. Almost 72 per cent of our land is unoccupied. People build their houses on linear settlements and the young people are all sitting under the tree. For example, if you are driving to Mubi at 7am, which is about five hours from Yola, you would see some young men. Just take note of their clothes and description; when you are coming back around 3 o’ clock, they will still sit under the shade. It means that we are losing manpower.


What do you intend to prove with your analysis?

Every day, our per capita income is not going up. It is coming down. Go to the National Bureau of Statistics, you will see what is happening in Adamawa. The growth rate is almost getting to five per cent from 2.6 10 years ago, and 4.6 per cent two years ago. So, what is happening? Who is planning our life?

I challenge anybody to tell me who is planning in Nigeria, apart from Lagos State. As I always tell people, I don’t want to make some of the plans I have public now. The copycats are waiting for me to bring out the ideas so that they can copy. I will give it at the appropriate time and everybody will know that they are my ideas so that they can vote for me when I finally come out because they know I will implement them.

What is important is that if I become governor, I will ask all Adamawa indigenes that are unemployed to come back home. Those hardworking young men who are doing okada in Lagos, I will give them jobs. I will create jobs for them. Our total population is 3.7 million, out of which 35.2 per cent are already above the age of 35 to 70. The rest are the younger people. The eligible age of employment is just about 23 per cent. We can mop them up. It is about the people of Adamawa and it is about giving back to the society. 

I’m a businessman. I’m a retailer. I have done very well for myself. I feel that if I can apply my ideas and business innovations to governance I will be able to salvage the situation. I can create wealth for the state, which will take care of many issues, such as infrastructure, education, health system and unemployment. If you can take care of these major problems in any state in Nigeria, you have solved 80 per cent of that state’s problems. It means that it will be a place where every Nigerian will like to go, settle and live his or her life. So, with these few words, this is the reason I want to become governor. That is why I think that when the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) finally blows the whistle, I will declare.


People promise to create jobs without plans. Do you think you can really create the jobs you promised in concrete terms?

I can create up to 80,000 jobs in four years. But the unemployed population is about 870,000. I have a plan and I will release it at the appropriate time. Creating 80,000 jobs in four years for a state government is remarkable. It means 80,000 jobs will create another 80,000 jobs. Job creation is a chain. When you create a job for Mr A, he creates a job for Mr B. Mr B creates a job for Mr C. So, the mop-up process has started. That means about one million people who have no jobs will be mopped up into the jobs, except they are lazy and do not want to work. If they are ready to work, they will definitely get jobs. People come with all sorts of ideas that they want to create jobs, but they never give the plans. I have a plan. 

You are running for an election in an environment where the majority are said to be under the leadership of the minorities.  Mr Boni Haruna may not have become the governor if Atiku Abubakar was not vice president. The powers-that-be had issues with Bala Ngilari. Bala Takaya, Boss Mustapha and Markus Gundiri have also crossed this same road. What gives you  the courage to pursue this ambition?

I’m not Bala Takaya. I’m not Boss Mustapha. Neither am I Markus Gundiri. I am Emma Bello. So, that is the difference between me and them. The names are not the same and the personalities are not the same.

Secondly, I am not a candidate for minority groups. I’m not a candidate for the oppressed groups. I’m a candidate for the Talaka. I am the candidate for the poor people of Adamawa, either minorities or majorities. In every segment of the society, we find people who are under-privileged by circumstances of birth, creed or religion. I am their candidate. My liberation for the people of Adamawa is not about their tribe or creed. But it is about their humanity.


How do you intend to persuade the masses you are relying on not to embrace money politics during elections?

Times have changed. I believe very much in the common man. The common man is beginning to know his rights, even though he is hungry. I have told them to take the money and vote for their conscience – vote for the person who will work for you. You need the money to survive.  I don’t have money to give them. So, they should take the money.  Most of the money is stolen money, so, it is their own money. They are giving them back what belongs to them. We will try to do our campaign based on issues. We will convince the common man to understand that he needs to defend his votes. I think they will be voting character and individuals, not party. If they vote character and individuals, they won’t vote wrongly. They will vote rightly because the choice will be: who is this person? what has he done in his life?   You don’t consider somebody who just gives out token and sell out your conscience, life and the future of your children. So we will talk. That is why there will be period for campaigns. I will try as much as possible when the time comes to reach as many voters as possible and convince them on the right thing to do.    


The popularity of the candidate seems not to matter in the North. During the last dispensation, those who belonged to the party of President Muhammadu Buhari won. Don’t you see this scenario repeating itself in 2019 if he runs again while you are running on the SDP platform?

The coming of Buhari in 2015 was a blessing in disguise. It will help to appropriate the votes correctly in 2019. People have realised that voting everybody on one platform was a big mistake. That is why the new campaign is: Your character should save you. If your character is to save you, then it means people will appropriate their votes to individuals. 

I was in the All Progressives Congress (APC). I left the party two weeks ago. So, it is no longer going to be business as usual. It will be a question of who you are. If this person is performing, let’s vote him back. If this person is a liar, let’s vote him out.


How confident are you that you will even secure the SDP ticket?

I’m very confident that I will secure the ticket. Secondly, I am very confident that I will win because I’m working with the owner of the seat.

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