Why I joined Bauchi gov’ship race – Former air chief | Dailytrust

Why I joined Bauchi gov’ship race – Former air chief

former Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadiq Baba Abubakar (Rtd)
former Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadiq Baba Abubakar (Rtd)

A former Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadiq Baba Abubakar (Rtd), is the Nigerian Ambassador to Chad. In this interview, he speaks on why he is contesting for the governorship of Bauchi State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigeria’s security challenges and his diplomatic experience.

From military to diplomacy; how would you describe your experience?

Since I left military service I have had the opportunity to serve in N’Djamena as the Nigerian Ambassador to Chad, and it has been an excellent experience in the sense that diplomacy is not totally new to us. As military officers, we go through what diplomacy is all about, especially at the National War College level. Personally, I read political science, so I know interstate relationship as well. It has been substantially easy for me to really move from military life to diplomacy.

What is the relationship between Nigeria and Chad?

Our relationship has actually been excellent, and we have been trying in the Embassy of Nigeria in Chad to see how we can improve it. We have taken two areas of interest: security and trade, because we are contiguous neighbours. We are really interested in what happens within the Lake Chad region in terms of security because of obvious reasons. We have been contributing as members of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF), and we have operated and supported Chad and Chad has supported Nigeria as well in trying to see how we can have a secured environment.

Secondly, I worked as a young officer in Maiduguri, Borno State. I’m very familiar with the informal trade between the two countries, but formal trade is an area of great interest to me now. I have been trying as much as possible in liaison with the Chadian Chamber of Commerce, the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council and the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce, especially in Kano and Maiduguri, and of course in Kaduna, to see how we can promote formal trade.

Nigeria’s security situation is worsening daily despite huge resources deployed to address the menace. As a former CAS, why is it taking so long to get the country out of the mess?

I will not be able to comment on security now because I don’t know what is physically on ground. I left service for more than a year ago. It will be speculative for me to start talking about missing links now. I think the team that is there is doing its best. What Nigerians need to do is to give the personnel intelligence, support and encourage them so that they can put in their best to secure the country.

I must emphasise that security is not about military alone. I said this in the air force when I was there; that it is everybody’s business. Nigeria can only be secured if everybody’s hands are on deck. The federal government is doing its best, the state governments need to complement those efforts.

There are two perspectives of security: the physical and the human. To have security, these two sides have to go hand in hand. When you look at the physical security side, I know that so much has been done. For the Air Force, the first time in our history, we have been able to reactivate 20 aircraft that were grounded. We have also procured almost 40 aircraft that are adding value to what is going on in terms of dealing with insecurity from the military perspective.

From the social dimension, the state governments have a very critical role to play. They need to prioritise education. Any society that does not give priority to education cannot but remain insecure. That is where the state governments come in, primary schools and secondary schools are substantially under them. The health sector is equally important.

Would you support the idea of giving state governments more powers, like establishing state police, to address the security challenges?

It’s not an issue of whether you have state police or not. Yes, police are playing a very critical role in ensuring that Nigeria is secure, but you must pay special attention to the social and economic dimensions of security. The number of children out of school should concern anyone that wants to have a secured country or a secured state.

In my state, Bauchi, I know we have somewhere around of 1.2 million to 1.4 million out-of-school children. What will happen to these children in another 10 to 20 years? While not neglecting the coercive instruments of the state, we must equally pay special emphasis on what is happening to education in our society. You must also look at the empowerment of youths.

Your mien and body language while you were CAS never indicated any political interest. What prompted the change?

I have been highly privileged to live at a time when education was not a problem. Nobody will know whether you are from a rich or poor family. Everyone had the opportunity to really meet his or her dreams. We now have a situation where a huge percentage of the population, even if they want to read, they do not have access to school, and that is another major source of insecurity, because people will begin to feel alienated. That is why we need people who have experienced that wonderful programme or that wonderful structure that was operated in the 70s to be in charge to see how we can ensure that we return not only to those days but even better days.

I can’t sit on the fence when I have benefited from a good system that made me what I turned out to become. My desire is to see that a child must be given that opportunity. This is the time that if you want to help, don’t sit down and be lamenting. If you can add value, offer yourself. I think, in my opinion, it will be very wrong for us to shy away from coming out to really support those coming behind.

Bauchi has always been a hotbed of radical politics. We have seen how hot its elections had been. Are you ready for the battle ahead?

A military person is properly equipped to be everywhere. In the military, we are particularly blessed with the kind of curriculum that when you finish as a flight lieutenant or as a captain, before you’re promoted to major or squadron leader, you have to go to the Armed Forces Command and Staff College where you are to see everything; not only the war aspect, but also how societies are organised, the way the political system works: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

So, as a military officer, by the time you leave service, you will fit in wherever you go, though you may miss the regimentation. I can assure you that all the knowledge you gathered in the military will be very handy. And that is why transiting from military as CAS to the political space was not was not difficult for me.

The APC lost to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bauchi State in 2019, and it seems it is not as strong as it was in 2019. Do you see the chances of APC taking over again in Bauchi?

One state known all over Nigeria in terms of political awareness is Bauchi. That is the reason you might have a House of Representatives member from one party and the governor or a senator from another party. The people of Bauchi State, irrespective of who is on ground right now, understand what the issues are. Their concern is who will return 1.4 million children back to school. They want a situation where medical facilities are made available to them. So, what they will simply do is look at what is physically on ground and look at what we are hoping to change when given the opportunity.

There’s so much and yet people are poor simply because the right decisions are not being made. If you take the right decisions, most of these things will fall in place and then you begin to see a society where prosperity is everywhere. 

If given the mandate, how would you turn around the economy of the state?

In Bauchi, we have over 100 solid minerals that are not even exploited at all. I also know that the agricultural sector can generate a lot of resources for the state. No state will ever have all the resources, but you can make the best out of what is available and use them to transform lives and to make people to really understand that governance is about them. I know we are in a bad shape in terms of where we are on the ladder. But that can be reversed. All that is required is a highly committed leadership that believes that governance is all about ensuring that the people have an enabling environment to pursue prosperity.

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