Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed is the FCT Minister. In this interview with journalists in Bauchi, he explained why he withdrew from the Bauchi guber contest among other issues. Ahmed Kaigama was there.
You name featured prominently among those seeking to contest the governorship seat in Bauchi State. What happened that made you change your plan?
I want to express my appreciation to the people of Bauchi especially our supporters, the Kauran Bauchi support group who has been very supportive of me since I came into politics in 2007 and who had shown so much desire and appreciation. They have sensitized, they have gone into nooks and cranny of Bauchi calling me to run for the governorship of Bauchi State which I had earlier answered. As a journalist, I must say there was a time I was one of movers in terms of trying to become the governor of Bauchi State in 2015 but also as a party loyalist and somebody who believe in Allah, we believe it is Allah that gives power. I want to thank my supporters with all humility and appreciation that I will no longer be running not because somebody has emerged in PDP but I don’t have intention of going anywhere to contest for any office. I therefore thank them for their support and assistance and again I call on them to continue to support the PDP from the presidency to the governor and down to the state assembly. I believe in PDP , simply because I believe in politics because politics is not about personal exploit , not about personal endeavor, it is a service to the people, my politics is always to serve people, to make sure I add value, to make sure that I carry people along and of course the people can carry me along. I have no money, no resources to show appreciation to the kind of love that I have been shown by the people of Bauchi State. Whatever position I find myself, I will continue to make strive, make frantic effort to make sure I add value and identify with the aspiration of the common man. I thank them most sincerely for their support. I said Allah is the ultimate power that gives and take, I am not the candidate for the governorship of Bauchi, I want them to continue to support me.
Do you feel any sense of regret that you did not contest the seat of the governor as demanded by your supporters?
Of course I feel bad too but we will not say because one does not emerge then we will now scuttle everything that we have benefited because nobody in Bauchi has benefited more than me from the PDP and indeed I am not greater than all of you from Bauchi State. And certainly you can see from my humble background and even from opposition ANPP, I was given the opportunity to run and become a senator, I am the longest serving senator of FCT, one of the biggest portfolios of the federal government. I was not coming here because I was going to look for house, look for land, look for cars, look for money to marry, look for farms; no I was coming to serve. I am saying it is time for me to serve after given so much from the Nigerian people , after given so much for the people of Bauchi who supported me at the time when I had nothing , I was just a director from the theological agency when I came and contested and won, people gave me their support but certainly as a politician I have never let them down, I have always been with them , so let those groups not feel bad, Kaura is here like a rock with them and I will continue to do whatsoever I was doing that make them to love me so that they can love the party, love PDP . So they should make sure that they do me a favour again because this man who believe in me , who is coming from a different zone, and different geographical area, we hardly have anything in common , that is Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and he decided to give me FCT, as you know it is always a portfolio that is reserved for somebody very close to the President, somebody close from the childhood, but because he is a Nigerian and because he believes in Nigerian mission, he gave it to me and I am there for almost 5 years so I am calling on my brothers to do me a favour irrespective of whatever to make sure we reciprocate that good gesture that Mr. President has done. Because I did not run for a primary does not mean the end of the world, certainly there is another time, of course if it is now we have benefited.
Considering the flag bearer of the PDP who has drawn widespread criticism, what do you think is the chances of the PDP in Bauchi State?
Chances of the PDP in Bauchi in 2015? Certainly Bauchi is completely PDP, whatever anybody may say , we are not in disarray. Whatever happened I am taking it in good faith because we are matured, we believe in time, there is time to make noise and the time to be loyal to the party. The party is solid, we have a leader at the national level, at the state and we are solidly behind them. Certainly there are some ill feelings at the primaries and they are issues after the primaries but not only in Bauchi that of Bauchi is even better. I came with the chairman who conducted the primaries, Stella, she is here with us, she is a woman, and she did very well. She will answer any question thrown to her because I know she did a transparent primaries and certainly the chances of the party in Bauchi with all of us coming together is going to be very bright and we are going to install the next governor by the grace of God because there are more problems in the opposition party than with the PDP in Bauchi State. There is no problem that I foresee because all the people that came I knew them , they are people of proven integrity and they came here without any string against anybody. Let me tell you I don’t like divulging information but when they were coming the first people they met were the major stakeholders, myself and the national chairman , and none of us told them we have any candidate because after all I have withdrawn from the expression of interest and so it was a level playing field, very transparent. But there are issues , one will certainly loose and somebody is going to emerge and therefore you will have more petitions here and there. There are issues that we are capable of resolving.
You are the longest serving Minister in the FCT, what is the success story and the challenges so far?
This is not the time to answer this question, I will come and engage you shortly before I leave because I have been there for the last 5 years and therefore it will take a lot of time. But you have seen what we have done in Abuja. Abuja was only one thousand people when I became the Minister but today we have over 5 million and you can see the kind of roads we have, we build infrastructures, we have improved the city, we have improved the private sector and we have brought investment to the tune of N12b dollars to Abuja in the private sector. We are building so many legacy programs like the centenary city, world trade centre, the Abuja town centre and we have one of the biggest shopping malls, housing programs, so definitely we have done so much, I will find time and come and engage you so that you will know what I have been doing and what I am going to do.
There were rumors that you were schemed out of the PDP contest by the powers that be, how true is this?
Yes, in politics there is always scheming. Another name of politics is scheming. But it is not that I was schemed out; it is just because there are issues that I said I didn’t want to divulge. To me, it is not about Bala or about Kauran Bauchi, it is about the people of Bauchi and of course the leadership of Bauchi. I am somebody that is very loyal. I know people see me to be somebody who is an advocate but certainly whenever I see things are going the other way that would cause disaffection, distrust, suspicion, I don’t normally give in and I don’t give any qualms or any enmity against anybody. I don’t have any ill feeling against anybody. So I will not say I was schemed out but certainly because of some of the frame works, some of the landmines that were put are something that I don’t want to enter the bobby trap and then cause disaffection, cause disarray and cause even loss of lives in Bauchi because I know how much the people of Bauchi love me. It is better and honourable for me to withdraw without any inducement from anybody so that the people could be saved and secured.
PDP once declared you are not registered and recognized as a member of the party in your ward and local government, have normalized your membership?
You asked if I am not a recognized PDP member. No if you remember there was a time that I have problem with the government of Bauchi and I know politics is very dynamic, you were all witness to the time I went to my local government and collected my card. I am a citizen of Nigeria and I was received by the National Deputy chairman of the party at the instruction of the National chairman and I collected my card from the ward chairman of my ward and of course I have it here and that is what I have been using to register and do other things. So that was then but the situation has changed now I have been reconnected with my umbilical cord in the party.
When the name of the PDP gubernatorial candidate was presented to the President, what was his reaction?
No, I cannot tell exactly the reaction of President Jonathan because I was not privileged to be there when the result was submitted. And of course Mr. President is engaged with all the results from all the states in the country as a leader of the party. Certainly I wouldn’t have the impudence of going to ask him how do you feel about Bauchi but I know certainly he would have discussed with the National Chairman, so you can ask the national chairman what is his reaction, because is the only person who can tell you his reactions.
There were nationwide protests over the outcome of the PDP primaries. In Rivers State, people are complaining about Wike, in Lagos Onanikoro is complaining that he was schemed out while in Bauchi, Pate is also protesting. There are alleged threats of mass defection to the opposition APC; could this be a major source of worry to the PDP?
The complaints about the primaries and other issues, there are issues and there are some small petitions here a d there. We will reconcile all these issues by the grace of Allah. President Jonathan has already told us that the PDP is a big family with a large accommodation to accommodate everybody , so if you don’t win today, you will win tomorrow.
You are calling on Nigerians to vote for Goodluck in 2015, in view of the prevailing insecurity in the country, with majority of Nigerians agitating for change, why do you insist on Jonathan?
Insecurity did not start with Jonathan, we inherited insecurity and you will agree with me, things have improved especially in the North East but certainly it is a reality that we have insecurity. President and all of us in the cabinet are working hard to see that insecurity does not ground the nation to a halt; insecurity will not be given the opportunity to make us reject our statutory responsibility.
The issue of insecurity, we should try as politicians not to politicize insecurity because is it beyond politics, it is beyond parliament, beyond gimmicks, it is beyond blind game. We should know security is everybody’s responsibility, anywhere in the world where you have insecurity normally all hands are on deck, so we should make insecurity our own campaign gimmicks and campaign slogans, we must come together and fight insecurity, the way President Jonathan muster all the support and capacity to deal with Ebola virus, that is how we are going to do it, with all the state government, all the stakeholders, we must be able to come together and deal with insecurity.
APC has fielded Buhari to run against President Jonathan in 2015. What are your chances, are you confident that your boss will defeat Buhari?
The President has come with transformation agenda and he is working very hard to make sure he brings tangible achievements. You have seen it all the MDA’s, even in agriculture, even in the economy today we are the biggest economy in Africa. President Jonathan has done so well as a tested technocrat who has risen through the ranks from a teacher to a Deputy Governor, to a Governor, to a Vice President and now the President. All these position has been tested by him but nobody has been so tested by all the previous President with all respect to the previous presidents like him and he came with an agenda well articulated in 2010 and I am part and parcel of that agenda, well articulated and we have proved to the Nigerian people that here we are and this is where we want to be in four years. I hope you can see the railway going, we have 55,000 kilometers of road in Nigeria but the time we came only 5,000 were motor-able , we have been able to make about 15,000 to 20,000 to work and we are going to make sure that the remaining 35,000, when we are given the opportunity, are going to work. We work on milestones , we work on such a manner that we applied , we gave a plan, we are not coming with arbitrary ideology , we are not people who encourage people to be violent because we have not won elections , we are not going to join issues with anybody who is just a permanent aspirant running for the Presidency , we have a template , we have a road map, we have a vision, we know where we want to be and certainly we are not afraid of anybody because we respect Nigerians, we respect leaders , we are not like the other party that abuse leaders , we respect everybody but with all humility and with confidence and courage I assure you that in 2015 we will swear in Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as the President.