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Yobe: We’re prepared for 2011 polls – ANPP Chairman

We are preparing well ahead. Yobe State is a natural habitat of the ANPP not because we are the most colourful in the country but…

We are preparing well ahead. Yobe State is a natural habitat of the ANPP not because we are the most colourful in the country but because the party has posted some incredible achievements that most people thought were impossible. The emergence of this administration has shown that resources can be applied prudently to better the lot of the common man. The average Yobe man is now fully conscious that politics is indeed a tool for growth and that all that is required is to get the right leadership and to support it to serve the people well. The ANPP has ruled Yobe for about ten unbroken years now. Even in the past, the party has done its level best to lay the foundation on which the present successes have been achieved. What happens is that the continuity that was ensured in the governance of Yobe state which has seen the ANPP monopolising power for this long tends to bring about the development which everybody is talking about now. Continuity has produced the kind of sound and committed leadership that has emerged in the state and is set to achieve its optimum in the next couple of years.

What exactly has continuity achieved?

Yobe has completely changed from its rural status to a model state. In the past, the state capital was often described as a glorified local government headquarters due mainly to infrastructural poverty. No good network of roads, no street lighting system, no sufficient government presence. Hospitals were lacking, good hotels were unavailable, water supply system was poor, among others. No one can dispute that in Damaturu today, things have changed for the better. In less than three years, Yobe has been transformed into a state capital worthy of its name. States that were said to be far more developed than Damaturu have all been overtaken and they now look up to us as a model.

What do you make of the apparent inroad that opposition parties claim to be making into Yobe?

It is all political grandstanding. Of course you must give them the right to make noise even if only for its nuisance value or for them to show to their bosses in Abuja that they are making some headway. But no political party stands a dog’s chance to win Yobe because as it is today, there is just no vacancy. Vacancy does not exist because the people who gave the governor their mandate are satisfied with his performance. This is not to say however that opposition is not welcomed. They are a part of democracy, they have their benefits and they make politics more challenging, add some colour to it and generally give some entertainment. But apart   from that, opposition in Yobe politics does not exist. One good thing is that everyone admits that Yobe has largely been very peaceful. This government has been very fair to all the stakeholders and to all the citizens. The government has been very open and transparent to its people. Yobe is diverse and somewhat sensitive, but the ANPP government has all along been truthful with the people.

What exactly is the government deploying to suppress youth restiveness and ensure the peace you talk about?

The no-violent agitation by youths in Yobe results from how government diligently thought over and came up with policies that got able-bodied people off the streets. In Yobe state, you can hardly see idleness in the quantum you see it elsewhere or in places where it has become as endemic as to cause social dislocation. Youths have been provided with a leeway to become productive members of the society. They are engaged in agriculture, skills development, economic empowerment and education.  Special agricultural schemes involving thousands of youths, women and other able-bodied citizens have been introduced in which government provides free land, free land clearing, free extension services, highly subsidised fertilizer, flexible tractor hiring arrangement, and distribution of high-yielding seedlings under a special collaboration policy with government. At the end of each yield, the participants sell their produce to government at competitive prizes. Under this policy, thousands more are volunteering for involvement because they are emboldened by its successes. Hopefully, in the next few years, Yobe will be freed from idlers and social misfits who could plunge it into turmoil.

The diversity of Yobe, including its tribal groupings, was seen as a divisive factor to its development. How has the reality been?

The diversity has become the source of its strength. I will tell you something: in Yobe today, anybody can become anything. Every person from the smallest tribe can become governor, a senator, a House of Representative member, or  local government chairman. The beauty of Yobe politics is that the moment a leader emerges; everyone else jettisons politics and immediately pledges support, loyalty and prayers.  In other places you have to belong to a certain group to become governor or whatever. In Yobe every political office is open to all. I think the rest of Nigeria has a lot to learn from Yobe. Despite the diversity you referred to, Yobe is about the most peaceful state in the country where every man or woman is seen through the content of his character as Martin Luther King would say. Yobe is a case study for peaceful coexistence.  What is happening is that the average Yobe man from whichever part of the state has grown beyond primitive retrogressive thinking. We are very religious and we take exception to seeing people from the point of their tribal group.

Some people believe that before now, Yobe had not got the best in  leadership. Are you personally satisfied with the role played by past leaders in the state?

For me, leaders who have called the shots before the advent of the Ibrahim Gaidam administration have done the best under the circumstances they found themselves. Of course, everyone has his opinion on this, but overall, I think everyone in leadership in the past had played his part in the way he or she believed was okay. There is no doubt that some mistakes were made but the most important thing about it is that efforts were made by the leaders concerned to make amends. The ANPP has led the state for some time now and while it is in order to give credit for the resurgence of development to Gov Gaidam, you still cannot take away the fact that it was the meticulous continuity that has eventually produced the masterstroke. And it is on this that we hinge the need for continuity so that even after the Gaidam era in 2015, God willing, the same chain will produce another master strategist to hold the banner of creativity, vision, selflessness and performance.

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