I am a student of history and I have taken time to read about and study various political and religious leaders. I discovered that apart from teaching, the other sector you can serve the people very well if you are concerned about the people is through politics. I got involved in politics right from my school days at the School for Arabic Studies, Kano, and at the Bayero University, Kano, where I earned my first degree, a BA in History. At the university, I was a parliamentarian. So, when I was at the Usman Danfodio University, I was still attending political meetings back home in Katsina State.
Even before 1999 when the current democracy commenced, I had already teamed up with the political groups that eventually metamorphosed into the People’s Democratic Party. The PDP government under the leadership of late (Umaru) Yaradua appointed me the General Manager of the Katsina Transport Service, Caretaker Chairman of Dan Musa Local Government Area, and later in 2006, I was appointed as the Secretary to the State Government. I also served as the SSG for two terms under the immediate past APC government in the state.
To be honest with you, the Western democracy we are practising in Nigeria is alien to us and has not assisted our country in development. Don’t let us even go far; take a look at what has been happening in Nigeria since 1999; will you say Nigeria has been moving forward or backward? To me, Nigeria has been moving backward. We speak of opposition, in Katsina here, the All Progressives Congress has one out of 34 members of the state House of Assembly; for the Federal House of Representatives, the PDP has four members while the APC has 11 members. Even at the National Assembly, i.e. the Senate and the Federal House of Representatives where we have very powerful and well-experienced members of opposition parties.
What sort of strong opposition do you expect from members of political parties in the opposition when the Western democracy we currently practise and our constitution have made our President and our governors powerful to the extent that you have to relate very well with them for you to get something tangible for your constituency as a cabinet member or as a lawmaker, notwithstanding the political parties you belong. Unfortunately, the majority of the electorate in Nigeria are not after the development you want to bring to their communities.
What they want is personal gains such as money you want to put inside their pockets or the empowerment you want to give them. Also, go to our local government areas; can you see any development there even though people at the grassroots are supposed to be the major beneficiaries of the democracy we are practising in Nigeria? The whole development begins and ends at the state level. We need to change all these. We need to embrace a system that will make local government areas centres of development. The states are just there hanging and enjoying to the detriment of local government areas.
As I told you earlier, the Western democracy Nigeria is currently practising is alien to us (Nigerians) and it has not helped us to develop as anticipated by our fathers. Indeed, if I should tell you the truth, our generation and the generation coming after us may not witness the great Nigeria we dream of if we continue this way. We must come up with a political arrangement that understands our system very well. In Nigeria, the current political system is corrupt and that is while we still have problems of poverty and ignorance. We must intensify the political enlightenment of our people; everybody must be active politically.
Every Nigerian must be active in politics, no matter the status or religious inclination and status. Whether you are a cleric, traditional ruler, young or old; man or woman, it is time for all of us to get ourselves involved in the politics of our community and have a say in what goes on. Don’t forget, when you get yourself in active politics, you will have a say on how laws governing you are made; you will have a say on how your resources are managed and you will have a say on how your country is run. You cannot stay aloof in democracy. You must actively participate.’’
I just told you that I will encourage every Nigerian to be active in politics. One of our great leaders once declared that political parties were vehicles which you could use to achieve your aims and ambition in politics. I strongly believe him. You should belong to political parties since the current Nigerian electoral laws don’t recognise independent candidature in politics. Join politics, join political parties and be active. Yes, I have nothing against my children joining politics. I believe that apart from teaching, politics is the second way through which you can serve humanity. If I can encourage Nigerians to join politics, why should I discourage my children from doing so?
I am a student of history. From my study of great religious scholars and political leaders, I have realised that there is no way you will be involved in a political struggle that there would not be challenges and I am prepared for those challenges especially if you are operating in a society like ours that at times, those you are trying to liberate from deprivation will misinterpret your good intentions because of poverty and ignorance. I could recollect, that there was an occasion when I was locked inside, and some people threw locally made petrol bombs inside the building; I was locked inside. Also, on another occasion, people burnt my two cars. But thanks to the Almighty Allah, when you believe in a struggle and you mean well to the people, God always takes care of the situation.
You know we have two calibres of people in politics. One calibre consists of those politicians referred to as contestants. You only see them in their constituencies during elections. They will come and contest during the elections. If they win, they will relocate to Abuja with their families; they hardly come home until another election. You can only access them if you go to Abuja, and you are lucky to see them there. Another calibre of people in politics consists of real politicians. They are always in their communities whether there is an election or not. They always interact with people in their communities; they rejoice with those celebrating and they sympathise with those who are bereaved. People in their communities always see them.
Since May 2023 general elections, I have never spent more than three days away from Katsina. People see me either in the office or at home. At times, I attend to people till as late as 2am whenever I am in town. This is because I see politics as a service to the people. I also see it as a way of reciprocating the kindness of God and my country; Nigeria, to me. When I was in school, up to the university level, the government was paying for almost everything. We were also collecting allowances and jobs were waiting for us even before we finished service. So, I believe I should pay back all these to the people. I have vowed to do this, and I will continue to do it, Insha Allah.
What happens is that if you mean participation in political activities such as mobilisation and campaigns, we have many women who are participating. The problem is that the women being given high-level appointments like commissioners’ posts or Special Advisers are few. This is because many of them do not have the necessary prerequisites especially academic qualifications for such posts. I will only advise the women to also give attention to their education just as they commit themselves to political activities.
I have a great hope in the party. The problem with the party is the lack of crisis management mechanism and indiscipline on the part of some party leaders. All these do not mean that the party has a bleak future. Nigerians really like the PDP and this they demonstrated before the last elections. The inability of the party to manage the crisis and the inability of some party elders to make sacrifices and indiscipline affected the fortunes of the party at the last elections.
In the first instance, no state in Nigeria can singlehandedly tackle insecurity. It requires the collaborative efforts and support of others, including the Federal Government. If you can recollect, from January 2017 to 2019, Katsina State put in several strategies to tackle insecurity, especially banditry. We put up amnesty, met the leaders of the bandits, banned sales of fuel in jerry cans, closed cattle markets, and shut down communication in some councils, but these bandits are mobile, highly mobile. When you put up measures that are unfavourable to them in your state, they move to other states where they will be operating.
Let the governors come together; let them put pressure on the Federal Government. With the active support of the President, they should carry out a well-coordinated simultaneous operation, using both air and ground troops in the region and with the assistance of local guides and local hunters who also know the terrains, these bandits would be tackled. We are concerned and every well-meaning Nigerian should be concerned too. Some schools and markets cannot be accessed because of the activities of the bandits. Every day, we pray for the end of the problem.
In these challenging times, I will expect the state government to come up with measures that will ameliorate the sufferings of the people. Yes, it is true that the state recently employed some S-Power teachers, but I will suggest that the government employs additional teachers; 3,000 for secondary schools and 2,000 for primary schools. The government should also increase their stipends. In addition, the state can pay the gratuity and pension of pensioners, maybe within three months. This money will find a way of getting to the generality of the community and by extension, reduce suffering.