In Katsina State, there are agitations in some quarters that power should be rotated amongst the three zones of Daura, Funtua and Katsina. Some analysts are saying the Katsina zone has dominated the mantle of leadership of the state, producing almost all the civilian governors, except Governor Aminu Masari, who is from Funtua zone. In this interview, Senator Saddiq Yar’adua spoke on the political situation in the state and other issues.
As a politician, how would you describe your experience so far?
I am from Katsina in Katsina Local Government Area. I was trained as a journalist in the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano (BUK). I worked as a reporter in Today newspapers and the African Service of the British Broadcasting Service (BBC), London. I equally worked as a chief press secretary to a governor of Katsina State. Actually, I worked under two governors: a military administrator, the late Colonel John Yahaya Madaki, and Alhaji Saidu Barda. I also worked as a chief commercial officer in the National Maritime Authority, now Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
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I resigned my appointment in 1998 and became a member of the House of Representatives for Katsina constituency. By 2003, I became the chief of staff to the then Speaker of the House of Reps, Rt Hon Aminu Bello Masari. In 2007, I was appointed the executive director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, in charge of operations, marine and regulatory services.
In 2011, I contested for a senatorial seat to represent Katsina Central district. In 2015, I contested for the governorship of Katsina State, but I couldn’t make it.
I have several degrees, including a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the same BUK. I went to the University of Lagos, where I did master’s in Political Science. I also went to the Sussex University in Brighton, England, where I also did a master’s in International Relations.
There is this insinuation that from 2015 when you lost the governorship election, you have not been visible in the state; what has happened?
Nothing has happened, only that I was not part of the government, so why do I need to be visible in the political affairs of the state? It is those who are saddled with the responsibility of managing resources, both human and material, that need to be visible. So there is no reason whatsoever. And actually, I went back to school. Currently, I am pursuing a higher degree programme in a university in the United Kingdom (UK). That is why I am more or less in the UK.
Now that you are here, does it mean you are back to the politics of the state?
As long as I am not retiring from active politics, I have political aspirations.
Do you have any political aspiration for 2023?
2023 is still far way. We have a sitting governor and members of the National Assembly, as well as a sitting president. And they still have more than two years to go. So why would I say I want anybody’s seat? I don’t play politics like that. I allow time and the almighty God to dictate what I would do or become.
It is too early for me to declare my intention in that regard.
What is your assessment of the current leadership in Katsina?
I am not in the right position to make any assessment on how the state is being run; that is for the people of the state to do for a government they elected. However, as far as I know, Governor Masari is doing his best. I know him personally, more than anybody else. I know he devotes his time, energy and resources to whatever he is into. I believe he means well for the state and is doing his best to take it from where he met it in 2015 to a greater level. And I am sure he is committed to it. I have no doubt that the governor will achieve whatever he is set to achieve.
Is there anything you would have done differently in the state if you had become governor in 2015?
Certainly, no two people are the same. The way I look at things may be different from the way Masari or Ibrahim Shehu Shema would look at them. So certainly, I would have done things differently from the way the incumbent governor or any other person would do them. It is only natural. And as you know, everybody has his own priority. Maybe my priority would be in the health sector or education, in which I know the current administration has done very well, in terms of giving correct interventions.
There are agitations for power rotation among the three zones in the state – Katsina, Daura and Funtua; what is your take on that?
I don’t support the principle of rotation of power or governance. What the state should go for is the best person for the job.
In Katsina, we are one, whether you are from Damari or Dankama, Baure or any other part of the state. We speak the same language, practise the same religion, dress the same way and eat the same food. Nothing differentiates us, so why shouldn’t we go for the best person rather than rotational governance?
What is your advice for those currently indicating interest to govern the state?
I don’t know anyone who has indicated interest. Like you said earlier, I have been a little bit in the background, so I don’t know if anybody has indicated interest in contesting for the governorship of the state; hence I cannot make any assessment.
You were in the background but now in the forefront, what should the people of Katsina expect from you?
I am still in the background because I don’t hold any office. I have always been in Katsina, but I come in and do my business quietly and leave because I don’t want a situation whereby I will pass judgement on people, either rightly or wrongly.
Those who make decisions must have basis for doing that. I may understand why such decisions were taken when I speak to the person responsible. I think it would not be fair for me to start making comments and assessments on people’s decisions.
It is not a question of being visible; I have always been in Katsina. I have never been away from the state for more than a month, even while I was in the UK. Every month I come to Katsina, at least to see my mother, who is still alive.
Ahead of 2023, what should the people of the state expect from you?
Nothing; I am still a private citizen. I will help where my I am needed and my assistance sought. I will be part of whatever struggle or choices the people of Katsina would want to make.