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This isn’t the democracy we fought for – Uba Sani

Weekly Trust: Why do you want to go to the Senate? Uba Sani: There are two major reasons. We that struggled to enthrone democracy are…

Weekly Trust: Why do you want to go to the Senate?

Uba Sani: There are two major reasons. We that struggled to enthrone democracy are not happy with the current state of affairs in the country. In the battle for the soul of Nigeria, I played a prominent role. I was the Deputy National Chairman for the Campaign for Democracy (CD) which was then headed by late Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti. The CD was the leading organisation in that struggle. Later we came together to form a coalition called Joint Action Committee of Nigeria( JACON) headed by the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi. The JACON was the umbrella organisation for the civil society groups in Nigeria. We made sacrifices and fought relentlessly for the enthronement of democracy. We hoped that democracy would bring about infrastructural development, better health – care, qualitative education and security of lives and property. What we have on ground today is shocking, demeaning and a total betrayal of the trust and faith of the Nigerian people. We would therefore be failing our generation, our country and the Nigerian people if we fail to get involved in the political process in order to check the drift. The second reason why I am contesting is because of the enormous and unrelenting pressure from people in my constituency, PDP stalwarts, youths and women. They strongly believe I can give them the much desired quality representation.

In concrete terms, have you been able to undertake a study of the problems confronting your constituency, and how would you depart from past failures?

I have visited Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Igabi, Kajuru, Chukun, Birnin Gwari and Giwa that make up my zone. I met party members, women and youth leaders and the general public whole not politicians. I sat down with them and was shocked by the level of problems there. I discovered that most of their current and past representatives were completely disconnected from them. They hardly visited their constituencies and were in the least bothered by their problems. They abandoned the people and in the process undermined their belief in democracy. The unemployment rate in my constituency is alarming. The survey I commissioned also showed that about 65 to 70 per cent of the people in my constituency are living below the poverty line, 49 per cent of youths between the ages of 15 and 29 are actually unemployed and unemployable because they don’t go to school while others have dropped out. There is therefore an urgent need for well targeted measures to lift my people from their present appalling conditions.

What have you done for your constituency?

As far back as ten years ago, I was privileged to be among the people selected by the late Gani to organise a scholarship scheme for him in Lagos. After the event and because of my closeness to him, I pleaded with him to initiate the Northern version. I told him that his home state, Ondo has more professors than ten northern states put together. He accepted my request and asked me to go to the North to select brilliant but indigent students who would be given scholarship.  We did that in 2000 and Gani gave scholarship to 100 students. Some of them are Ph.D holders, medical doctors and lawyers. I have been catering for the education of many people through the Uba Sani Foundation for the past five years.  Together with Malam Nasir El-Rufai, we set up the El-Rufai Foundation under my leadership. Over 500 people in Kaduna have been trained and equipped with entrepreneurial skills and we supported them to start some businesses.

What is your take on constituency allowance and corruption issues recently?

The huge allowances being paid National Assembly members are outrageous and capable of turning the people against their elected representatives. The allowances must be reviewed downwards in the interest of the people and national economy. We should be seen to be tightening our belts in these harsh economic times instead of the opulence being displayed by elected officials and political appointees. The National Assembly should devote its time intervening in poverty alleviation, education, health and infrastructural development. We should put the interest of the people first if not one day the people of this country may revolt.  

What is your view on the agitation for a state out of the present Kaduna State?

Uba Sani: The agitation is vital and fundamental. I support the idea. Since the creation of Katsina State from Kaduna State, there has been some development. I think it will bring about further development. I think it is in the interest of the people. We have to support anything that will bring about development. It is a popular agitation.  

Any regret working for Obasanjo?

I was just working as a spokesman for the government. I did my best. We found ourselves in a very peculiar circumstance. A lot of issues came up and some were very controversial. Everything I did or said was just in the line of duty. I had a responsibility to explain and defend the actions of the government. Of course, decisions were collectively taken. They were never the personal decisions of the then President as detractors would want the public to believe. I tried my best to stick to issues and avoid personalities. But you would agree with me that some individuals in a bid to get at President Obasanjo went beyond the bounds of decency. We therefore had a responsibility to defend the institution of the presidency and save it from ridicule. I really have no regrets about anything.

Did you ever disagree with Obasanjo?

Issues were vigorously discussed before decisions were reached. Whatever the majority decides, I have to abide by that. When I stand by it, I have no regrets. I will also defend such decisions with conviction. When you agree to work with somebody you have to be loyal to him 100 per cent. I was loyal to President Obasanjo and to the Nigerian government.

Are you still loyal to Obasanjo?

I have no problem with Obasanjo up to this moment.

But did you really believe in the Obasanjo Government?

I believe Obasanjo did his best but he is also a human being who could make mistakes. No government is 100 per cent perfect.  But those limitations of Obasanjo were not deliberate.

Why did you declare the seat of former Vice President Atiku vacant?

The circumstances at that time warranted that decision. We acted in the best interest of the nation. Personally I have nothing against Alhaji Atiku. I just hope future presidents and vice presidents would learn from our experience.

What is your assessment of the Jonathan administration?

I feel sad that the debate on zoning completely took away people’s attention from developmental issues. We should be more concerned about how the Jonathan administration is faring in health, education, infrastructural development, power, and security of lives and property.

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