Captain Idris Wada is former governor in Kogi State (2011-2015) and currently agovernorship aspirant in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He spoke with MYKE UZENDU on his strategies to defeat incumbent Gov. Yahaya Bello and return to the Lugard House, Lokoja. He also projected the qualities that stands him out from other PDP aspirants. Excerpts.
His Excellency, why do you want to seek re-election as governor after loosing to an opposition party?
When I was governor of Kogi state, I added value to the state. I had several infrastructural projects which I did for the state, rural electrification for more than 400 communities. I built an eleven storey Kogi State Liaison Office here in Abuja, for revenue generating projects for the state. I built a world-class recreational pack in Lokoja. Because Kogi was more like a civil service state and the federal allocation is hardly enough to pay salary, so I was thinking ahead.
Unfortunately, since I left office even the projects that I did up to 90% completion, have been abandoned by this succeeding administration. The projects that were at 60% are still what they were when I left office. In our state, there is prevailing hunger and poverty, and you can feel it when you enter Kogi state. What made our people thick and happy have all disappeared.
There are strong indications of cracks in the PDP Kogi state chapter and the feeling is that it has been hijacked by the godfathers?
We don’t have the same house, so there is no crack in the house. I leave in my house, the godfather leaves in his house. This is the essence of democracy. I have come to pursue my interests, which are clearly noble. I want to pull Kogi out of the present mess that we are in. Meanwhile when I was there, I was paying salary almost on the 25th of every month. Now we are hearing stories of people not being paid for 39 months; I can’t fold my hands and do nothing about this.
So if the Godfather’s son wants to come and change that situation, he is welcome so long as there is a level playing filed and there is free, fair and credible primary. Whatever happens we give glory to God Almighty.
Are all the aspirants standing alone, without alliances?
Politics is dynamic. There is no static situation in politics particularly in Nigeria, because of our diversity. Let me tell you, in 2016 we did not lose election, it was stolen from us, you all know what happened. So clearly it was a stolen election, but as one who has faith in God, we accepted the result and we are moving on. This is an opportunity for our people to compare. Are they better off now than they were while I was there? Let them answer that question.
How will you tackle insecurity in the state if elected?
Again, I have the privilege of governing the state for 4 years and we did everything we could to bring semblance of calm security to the state, people were sleeping with their two eyes closed. Now people are sleeping with one eye closed, or even both eyes opened. We are going to bring back a situation where they can sleep and go about their businesses peacefully if PDP comes back to power in the state.
Yes, they brought violence during the 2016 election, this time around if they try it we will respond with like, if not more than what they throw at us. We are not going to watch people steal an election from us this time around, we are going to fight for it, we are going to unite the people of our party, we are going to organize our own young and active people to come up a very clear response strategy to any violent tendency on the part of the ruling party or anyone in the state.
What will you do to tackle poverty in the state?
If I come in, I have a very robust agricultural transformation program. So I assure you we are going to empower people through agricultural programs, we will bring in young people, we will have extension farmers fielding into a larger farm with processing industry that will lift all the people out of poverty.
Another one is insecurity, we will tighten security, we will enforce order and we will make sure that people can exercise rights and privileges of citizenship under a secured environment while going about their daily endeavors. But agriculture is the pillar of our transformational program.
And of course the solid mineral resources, we will work with the federal government to work towards reactivating the Ajaokuta-Itapke operations to employe more people, so with agricultural transformation and processing industries will get our people out of poverty.
What will be your programme for the youth and women?
Well, while I was there we had a program called YAP for Kogi, Youth and Advancement Program for Kogi People, we were able to recruit over 120 thousand youths. We train them for about three to four weeks at the NYSC camp and then attached them to various vocation and pay them stipends of 10,000. We encouraged them to save and the government doubles their savings so that they can also become employers of labor.
So we are going to improve on that, for women, young people we are going to encourage those who are into commerce, we will give them soft loans and training for them to improve the yield in whatever endeavor they want to carry out.
In closing, let me say that this next election of November 16 is critical to the survival of Kogi state. Kogi was on a part of progress at the time I left, and if I had spent four more years with kind of money that is coming into the hand of the present governor, Kogi state would have become a state that we will all be proud of.
What is your message for the Kogi electorates?
My message to our people is this, many people who want to be governors have come out but experience is key. Kogi is right now like in quicksand, the more you wriggle out, the more you sink. So if you bring a greenhorn who has no experience, who has no Knowledge of proper working of Kogi state, he will spend about two years trying to find his feet. If I move into the Kogi state governor’s office today, I know where I left the state, I will study where it is and I will start driving the ship of the state right away because we don’t want Kogi to collapse. Let us not experiment, go for the experience, go for capacity and I have demonstrated that with many of the projects I did.