Ahead of August 29 All Progressives Congress, APC governorship primary election in Kogi State, former Nigeria Football Federation President, NFF and governorship aspirant under the APC platform, Alahji Sani Lulu Abdulahi has declared that he will defeat the incumbent governor of the state, Yaya Bello in the race to pick the party’s ticket for the number citizen of the state.
Alhaji Lulu who was recently endorsed by the elders of Igala nation as their preferred aspirant for the position among 40 others, told Amaechi Agbo in an exclusive interview that his antecedents in various public offices he held such as NFF where he left N2.8 billion in the federation’s coffer in 2010 after inheriting a debt of over N300 million when he took over the leadership in 2006 shows his transparent leadership. He noted that his transparent and accountable leadership style puts him in good stead to clinch the ticket. Excerpts;
What does the endorsement by the Igala elders mean to you?
I want to thank God for the opportunity given to us by the elders of our geopolitical zone in the state, they have done their best by pulling both competent men and women who believe that we are competent to be governor of our dear state, Kogi. It is basically a sign that God is intervening and the people in Kogi are so committed in ensuring that their best or ordained person should emerge to serve the people of the state. As far as I am concerned, they have done their best and we are proud of what they have done. We also believe sincerely that this endorsement is not for an individual but for everybody. We also pray that we are going to work as a team to achieve the mandate and serve the people of the state. I am particularly happy with the Igala nation that have initiated this move to bring one of as a leader. We thank them, we are grateful to God and we pray that at the end of the whole programme, we will make them proud.
How much confidence are to wrestle the party ticket from the incumbent governor?
For me, the motivational strength now is based on the endorsement by the Kogi East Senatorial District. The 40 of us that are contesting from Kogi East are all qualified individuals and we have all worked and expressed ourselves to get to where are today. So if I can be the best and be chosen by God to go and represent my people, that means it is a great plus for me. I am not challenging the power of incumbency, rather, I am challenging an individual who is also contesting. Yes, he has the power of incumbency because he is occupying the position now but I have my own efforts and works which I have done in the past and still currently doing that are clear testimonies for good work, competency and a testimony for sincerity and anti-corruption war. I believe these efforts will clearly put me in upper advantage over the incumbent governor and I am confident that if given an enabling environment to contest with him, we are surely determined to win the primary.
There 40 aspirants from your senatorial district vying for the party ticket. What if your people ask you to step down for another preferred aspirant?
Well, God has already chosen me using the elders and you know in any society, they say the elders are closer to God. Nonetheless, I still wait for God’s final say. If God decides otherwise, why not. If everybody decides otherwise, it means God has used the people. Do not forget that the voice of the people is the voice of God. I am not born to be a governor, I am born to serve and service is what I have prayed for and have come out to do currently.
So whenever the change comes up and it is positive, we should be amenable to it but now, the elders have spoken.
What exactly motivated you to go for the governorship contest?
The most important motivational move is first my antecedents. I just told you I was not born to be a governor but to serve the people which I have been doing for many years of my life. And in these services I have rendered and still rendering is total commitment. Nigerians saw what I did in Nigeria Football Federation for the duration I was there. In 2006 when I mounted the saddle, I met an empty account and a debt of about N300 million and with no much fund coming in, I was able to transform that place to a positive system where we had a positive account.
As at the time I was finishing my tenure in 2010, we had about N2.8 billion in the account. So I am so moved by my track records not just in the NFF but other places I have held positions and my tract records are there. So based on my antecedents, I believe that I have the capacity to transform a state and the state is Kogi. Kogi is not among the richest states in the country but with the little resources she is endowed with, I will use it to transform the state and better the lives of my people.
So these are the things inspiring me to go and serve my people. I talked about anti-corruption few minutes ago, I keyed into President Mohammadu Buhari’s stand in anti-corruption. I have a track record of transparency and accountability in my entire life so anything that negates this principle will be fought and resisted totally.
I am bringing transparency, accountability and service to the people of Kogi state. In my entire life, I have deemphasised materialism.
There is this belief that politics is a dirty game, why do you go into a ‘dirty game?’
The actors make it dirty. But politics cannot be regarded as a dirty game. I am going to be an actor. Politics is a game you play to serve humanity. If you remove humanity from the centre of politics, you have total brutes and people without feelings.
Yes it is obvious that our politics is deficient but one of the reasons bad leaders rule the nation is because the good and wise ones refused to participate in politics. There was one man that said that when bad people conspire to lead our nation, the good people should congregate to remove them. I am going into politics to enthrone sanity, in my own way into the system. Those who know my antecedents knew what I can do.
I have served in various senior capacities and there is no act of human devoid of politics. In my entire life, I have seen everything around and about me as God’s interference and influence. In whatever I do or embark on, I always seek the face of God to be successful and even I could render such services to a secluded area to Nigerians who are very much passionate about football and tried my best to manage their emotions and reactions when the going was not good, and joy to celebrate when the going is good, I sincerely believe that there is nothing I cannot do to change the political thinking philosophy in the country, particularly in my state, Kogi.
I can influence a change in the political thinking of Kogi especially for our great country Nigeria. I am committed to giving my best in serving my people through transformation at my own state level and possibly at future level and in whatever level that God has given me the opportunity to serve.