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We’re ready for 2011 challenge in Borno – CPC Chairman

You claim that the CPC is receiving massive support in Borno. Why is it so in such a state that is traditionally the All Nigeria…

You claim that the CPC is receiving massive support in Borno. Why is it so in such a state that is traditionally the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) enclave?

The prognosis is very simple. When you run a government that is clearly self-serving, you are alienating the people and when you alienate the people, you run the risk of incurring their anger. The ANPP has misused its opportunity to make life better for the people and as you all know, the resources of the state have been cornered by an opportunistic and parasitic gang which, rather than work assiduously to make life better for the generality of the people, went on to superintend a systematic plundering, leading to the massive poverty, misery and squalor that you see all over the state. The ANPP used to be the only party that had mastered the art of rigging and because the other parties lacked the capacity to mobilise people to take their destiny in their hands, nothing concrete could be done to checkmate it.

This time is different. The CPC has made its gallant entry into the consciousness of the people and as everyone can see, we are the alternative, the window and the opportunity to wrestle power and change the face of governance.

Let us look at issues like education and security among others that have been on the front burner nationwide. How do you see current efforts to deal with them?

If governments at all levels have done their best to develop infrastructure, the outcry of dissatisfaction that can be heard nationwide will not have been made. Governments across board have abdicated from their primary responsibility of providing succour to the people through good leadership and are instead, working to further emasculate the citizenry and render the people incapable of earning a decent living. Take security nationwide for example. It has never been this bad. In the past, armed robbers, assassins and other sundry criminals struck only at night. In other words, there used to be some level of decency in how, where and when they operate; some semblance of respect for the law. Today, criminals have gone haywire, operating with impunity, killing people at will, at all times and in all locations. Nowhere in the whole country is safe. There is fear everywhere in the country. The way governments are going about the problem tells you that they have lost touch with the realities on ground.

The issues are purely economic. This country does not have any business with the kind of debilitating poverty, despondency and helplessness that has reigned supreme. We have the resources to make life better for all of us but we all know that these resources have been cornered by gangsters who rig elections using ill-gotten wealth and have painfully found a way to keep the people under bondage. Until a government of the people is installed through the instrumentality of the peoples’ mandate, Nigerians, particularly the hapless and voiceless, majority would continue to be at the receiving end and the nation will continue to grapple with high level of insecurity such as kidnapping, armed robbery,  assassination and other forms of anti social behaviour.

Education, which is the bedrock of any society, is no longer the priority of government. When you make life difficult for the people, shut them and their children out of decent schools, block ways for them to till the land through sound agricultural policies and condemn them to a life of despondency, you are invariably courting trouble. You may build prison-like high walls and even engage armed guards and Alsatian dogs; the truth is; you will never be safe. This has been proved by the way criminals have devised means to reach just anybody in the country. The problems of leadership are legion and the challenges are enormous; but they are surmountable with the right mentality and the right attitude by our leaders. This is where the CPC comes in handy.

What is the way out?

First, the people must rise up to the challenge and ensure that their votes count. It has happened in Bauchi, Kano and Lagos in the last general elections and it can happen nationwide. The first most important thing is to have the right government in place. Any government that comes into office purely on the mandate of the people will surely work for the people.  In Borno state for example, the CPC will ensure that no one single family appropriates the resources of the state and determine who gets what. We would make the hospitals work. We lack adequate doctors, nurses and pharmacists. We would build and rehabilitate more general hospitals, comprehensive health centres and clinics the state over and make sure that the structures we put on ground are world class and are well equipped. Because of the chaos in the way we do things, there is no difference between primary and tertiary health institutions. In Borno state and the surrounding states, all cases are straight away referred to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital. This is because the general hospitals, the comprehensive health centres and the clinics have lost their relevance due to decay. We will strengthen them to take the pressure off the tertiary hospitals.

 Education will receive top most priority and it will be free at all levels. Teachers will be paid well and training and retraining will be emphasised. No child will be denied education because it is a God given right and it is invaluable to our growth. Libraries, not the ramshackle types, will be built all over the state and will be connected to the internet to keep our students abreast and up-to-date with modern trends. In other words, we would render private education needless.

We would address the issue of poverty and insecurity squarely and diligently. While we would empower our institutions and reassess our economic empowerment strategies through long-term investment in education, agriculture, health and power supply in order to break the circle of violence, we will also, in the short term, turn our attention to strengthening our deterrent capabilities such as repositioning our security apparatus, pay good and commensurate wages to security agents and invest heavily in equipment and manpower. Agriculture is the mainstay of our economy and it holds the key to sustainable growth. We have a practical blueprint to turn agriculture around. We are all witnesses to the collapse of the civil service. In Borno state, it exists only in name. They run government on the impulse and whims of an unlettered governor who sees governance from the prism of profiteering. It used to be the engine room that runs our bureaucracy but in Borno, as in all states, politicians have eroded the civil service and it is no longer what it used to be. We would reorganise it through increase in wages, promotion, training and retraining, provide houses for them and extend car and other loans to them to make them assume their responsibilities with dignity and sense of belonging.

You have been having running battles with both the ANPP and the police over what you describe as incessant attacks, harassment and detention of your supporters. What is the situation now?

For the ANPP, I can understand their fury. They have lost grounds and they are watching power slip from their hands. They must engage in all types of unwholesome, desperate and sometimes, irresponsible behaviour. Their antics cannot change destiny or stop our match forward, of course, we feel bad that instead of playing neat and issues-based politics, the ANPP leadership has introduced violence, thinking that through it, they will prevail. They are used to rigging elections and unfortunately for them, they still think that we live in the past. As for the police, we are surprised that it is in collaboration with the ANPP to harass, intimidate and detain our members for no apparent reasons other than the fact that we are now the party to beat. We have had several meetings with the police hierarchy during which agreements were reached to play politics devoid of violence. Yet, we have been at the receiving end of the anger of the ANPP. Several of our members have been kidnapped and detained at police stations and even at the government house, armed policemen are being used to attack the houses of our members while the police authority looks the other way. We have written several letters to call their attention, but they have mainly not acted.

We would remain law abiding and we would refuse to be drawn into any violent acts because we are on top of our world with the widespread support we enjoy. But we are being pushed to the wall and if the police bosses continue to exhibit open hostility to us or they continue with their open romance with the ANPP government, then we would be left with no alternative than to conclude that both the police and the ANNP are one and the same, in which case, we would be justified to call for the removal of the police commissioner and his lieutenants. If he cannot inspire and earn the confidence of all the political parties because of reckless acts of connivance, then Borno deserves a commissioner of police who is above board, who will work without bias and without aligning himself with the state government.

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