Senator Basheer Garba Lado is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who represented Kano Central in the 7th National Assembly. In this interview, he says he is racing to return to the senate and that Senator Ibrahim Shekarau’s incumbency factor is not a threat to his ambition. Excerpt:
What has engaged your energy since you left the 7the Senate?
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I was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as Director, Contact and Mobilisation, North, in the Buhari Presidential Campaign Council. After we won the election, the president appointed me as a Federal Commissioner of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons. Subsequently, I was also appointed Director-General of the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) by President Muhammadu Buhari. The experiences in these two major agencies have broadened my knowledge in public service – that is both in the executive and legislature, having served as a senator before. These are in addition to driving my philanthropic foundation which has continually intervened in various humanitarian projects.
Why do you want to return to the 10th Senate?
My constituents, my people, are sincerely asking me to come back and there is a reason. Many people have said since this democratic republic, no senator has worked so much in Kano Central as I had done. My vision for the transformation of Kano Central is an unfinished project. And let me add here that unlike in many political arenas in the country, the level of political awareness and participation in Kano State ranks highest in the North. This attribute makes the state a place where any politician worth his salt will never take his constituency for granted. That is why I gave my best in the 7th Senate and Kano constituents don’t forget.
To achieve your ambition, you have to contend with the incumbent Senator, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau. How will you do it?
The beauty of democracy is freedom of participation. Everybody who nurses political aspiration at that level can contest. I have no fear of incumbency. Let the process of a democratic primary and the constituents of Kano Central decide. I recall that just three days to the senatorial primary leading to elections into the 9th Senate, Shekarau was brought into the party. HE Dr Ganduje invited me over and said I should step down for Shekarau. Though it was a painful decision considering the initial agreement, I had no option but to oblige my governor and step down, unlike other politicians who ordinarily would have rebelled and fought him and his government. I had to put the interest of the party before my personal interest. I eventually collapsed my structures and campaign assets into Shekarau’s campaign team. The rest as they say is history.
What will you do differently if you eventually return to the senate?
I offer myself in the first instance as a servant of my zone, a servant of my state and a servant of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. When I return to the 10th Senate next year, Insha Allah, I shall humbly recommit myself to use the good office to ensure that my state and Nigeria as a whole continue to benefit from the true dividends of democracy. I intend to bring a sharper focus on the critical areas of our national life that need urgent legislative advocacy. These areas include education, health, security, infrastructure development and poverty eradication.
What is your relationship with Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje?
I have so much respect for HE Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who had so much respect for my late mother. I see him as a father. Sometime in 2018, he invited me to a meeting where he asked me in the presence of two of his commissioners to join him in the APC after his relationship with Senator Kwankwaso had become strained.
He wanted me to join him to strengthen Kano Central with the promise of an automatic ticket to run for the Senate to represent that constituency. Thereafter, I responded by asking him to give me two weeks to reflect, consult and pray on it. After I got back to him with a yes, and subsequently mobilised my supporters numbering about 16,000 registered supporters that had agreed to decamp to APC from PDP, HE Dr Ganduje gave me and my followers a grand reception at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano which was filled to capacity. I can recall that I invited several governor friends of mine to the event. A key point I can recall was that President Muhammadu Buhari personally wrote me a letter appreciating my joining APC.
Can you tell us why you should be considered by your constituents again?
Many people don’t even know that with 15 LGAs, Kano Central Senatorial Constituency is the largest in the country. As a fact, it is larger than some states. Incidentally, my outstanding legislative returns, both to my state at large and senatorial constituency during my stewardship at the 7th Senate, have ensured my wide support base to-date.
During my time in the 7th National Assembly, I was Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Works. I initiated over 113 documented constituency projects that bordered on health, education, et cetera, with 100 per cent rate of completion. Of the numerous governance goodies I attracted to Kano, perhaps two enjoy flagship status – and easily have Kano folks beaming with deep appreciation.
These are the N2.5 billion Kundila Flyover Bridge Kano which ecstatic Kano citizens fondly call Gadan Lado named after me in appreciation. This major project immediately decongested the traffic gridlock which was then a feature of the area. It was commissioned by then President Goodluck Jonathan who named it Ado Bayero Bridge but Kano folks rejected the name and gave it Gadan Lado.
The other project is the N14.5 billion, 171 km Kano-Katsina road dualisation project. This game-changing project takes you to Sokoto, Katsina, Gusau and Niger Republic. This road is very important because of its social and economic development of the state.