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Buhari is a phenomenon in the North –Senator Ida

■Says PDP candidates also need his support to win elections

Senator Ibrahim Mohammed Ida represented Katsina central senatorial district in the Nigerian Senate between 2007 and 2011.

Senator Ida who holds the traditional title of Dan Majen Katsina was the secretary of the famous Okigbo committee that probed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He is also a retired federal permanent secretary who was the secretary of the committee that drafted the Vision 2010 economic blueprint. He is one of the recently-nominated elder-statesmen nominated to the national dialogue.

Senator Ida in this interview with Saturday Sun opens up on why he is running for the governorship of Katsina state under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015. He spoke with FRED ITUA on the chances of the PDP in Katsina state in 2015, crisis in the north, among other issues. Excerpts.

How do you and the PDP intend to grapple with the growing popularity of  Muhammadu Buhari in Katsina state ahead of the governorship election in 2015?
Buhari’s presence is more than a shadow; it is a reality. Buhari is popular and famous. He attracts large number of followership, not only in Katsina, but across the country, particularly in the north. But this is politics. We cannot as a result of that say that we will not be in a different political platform and win. I believe that as a candidate, I will be able to win elections based on the trust of the people on me. Buhari won’t be the governorship candidate in Katsina state. Buhari has a history of supporting capable people, irrespective of their party affiliations. He supported late President Yar’Adua. He even supported the current governor during his time. I cannot be an exception. I believe that with my programmes and antecedents, I will not receive any objection from Buhari. I will receive his sympathy.

That means you are very confident that PDP will retain the state in 2015?
Absolutely. PDP remains the party to beat. The party has strong structures across the 34 local government areas of the state. It is a party at the local and state level. PDP is the party on the ground. All others will have to fight to get an inroad into the political system. We are well-entrenched. With the performance of the current governor, it will not be difficult for us to retain the state. We are ready and we will retain power.

Why are you running for the governorship seat of Katsina state in 2015?
I was brought into politics by my late friend and political mentor, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. I have been closely relating with the government of Katsina state since the time of late Yar’Adua. I am also very close to this current Governor Shema. I am very happy with the way the affairs of government have been conducted in Katsina state. But like everything else, we improve overtime. No matter how good you are, we can make things better. I know I can build on and I will build on his progress. I am in the know of the abundant resources Katsina state has.

When you explore these resources positively, you can improve the lives of the people positively. I have a vision of the type of Katsina state that I want. I envision a state that will be inhabited by hospitable and hard-working people. I envision a state where there will be a strong social security system and the basic needs of life are made available to the people. This is my vision. As to how to actualise this vision is another thing. I have a roadmap I intend to work with. It is my hope that the teeming youth of both genders in the state will be educated and their talents harnessed. They will be made productive members of the society. We will invest on them through education. We have abundant resources, particularly water in the state. If we harness the agricultural potentials of the state, the teeming youths will be gainfully employed.

Do you have the blessings of the incumbent governor?
I have been asked this question many times. I will not say I have the backing of the governor. To be fair to him, I have not sat down to discuss my intentions with him. If I do that now, it will be a constraint for him. I will rather mobilise, test the waters and see how popular I am. But I can assure you that I enjoy an excellent relationship with the governor. We have been within the same political camp before he became the governor. The governor has come out to say that he has no personal candidate. He said the aspirants should go and seek for the blessings of the people. One thing I can assure is that, with me on the saddle, everything will run smoothly.

With the massive defections from the PDP to the opposition, particularly in the north, what are the chances of the party in the region in 2015?
We thank God that these defections have not happened in Katsina state. We have remained solid. Talking about these defections, all those who have defected were not in the PDP from the beginning. When they were even in other parties, PDP was strong and in control of the federal government. The party was in charge of many state governments. What has gone is not the followership of the PDP, but the leadership of PDP in those areas. As you can see from the rallies the president has been holding in the affected states, you can see that the party is still strong. It might not be as strong as it used to be, but it is gaining ground. We feel that there is a change of guard at the centre, people will return. The new leadership of the party is sending olive branches to aggrieved members. I have to emphasis this. PDP still remains the only party to beat. The party has structures in every village and hamlet. It vies for all the offices.

You sound confident that the new PDP chairman can mend broken walls of the party?
To start, the former chairman did his best. Maybe his best was not good enough. The new man has come, knowing fully well what is on ground. He understands what is at stake and what he needs to do. He is becoming tougher. I believe he has the proper mindset and background to succeed. With such qualities, he will succeed. I am confident that he will succeed. I am also confident that the party at all levels will succeed under Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu’s tenure.

Do you think insecurity in the north might affect the conduct of elections in some parts of the region in 2015?
When you talk of insecurity in the north, you are talking about a particular segment of the north. The states mostly affected are Adamawa, Yobe and Borno. Tranquility and security are requisite ingredients needed to conduct any credible election. Between now and February next year, there is time for things to improve. We continue to pray that peace continues to reign in this country. But if it is obvious that you cannot conduct an election in a particular environment, you cannot embark on an impossibility. But I am confident and prayerful that things will be better.

You recall that crisis rocked many parts of northern states after the results of the presidential elections were announced in 2011. Judging by what is on ground, do you envisage such in 2015?
I do not think 2015 will be like that. 2015 will be a clear cut. People will come out and vote and their votes will count. Results will be credible. I am confident that such a scenario will play out. When that happens, there will be no problems. It now behoves on politicians to create the right environment for free and fair election and to accept election verdicts. Let us not encourage people to start mayhem and killings. Whoever is hurt is someone’s relative. We have seen that violence leads to nothing. I am sure that Nigerians are now mature enough to know when you stand for an election and you lose, there will always be another election. But if you lose and refuse to accept the outcome, then you are trying to destroy the very thing you want to build. We need to avoid the things happening in other parts of the world. I believe elections will hold peacefully and votes will count.

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