Sadique Baba Abubakar is a retired Air Marshal in the Nigerian Air Force. He served as the Chief of Air Staff from July 12, 2015 to January 26, 2021. He is the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Bauchi State in the March 18, 2023 elections. In this interview with some journalists, he expressed confidence that the APC will win the 2023 governorship election in the state. Excerpts:
What are your expectations for the March 18 governorship election?
We are going to win the governorship elections. The APC is going to win the election in Bauchi.
Why do you think so?
The APC is going to win because the people of Bauchi State are interested in the APC and they’re fed up with the current administration. The PDP government is not responsive and shows no commitment to really respond to the needs of the people.
It is just a matter of common sense because this is a government that is not paying workers. This is a government that is not paying the pension and gratuities of retirees and this is a government that is not doing anything to accommodate 1.4 million out-of-school children back into classrooms. This is a government where schools are in a dilapidated state. You can just go to Kobi primary school and other schools within the metropolis and see children sitting on the floor because there are no chairs.
For God’s sake, how can a leader sleep on his bed when he knows there are schools in the state capital, not in villages or local government headquarters, without furniture in the classrooms, and children are seated on the floor? I remember in the 1970s we used to go there to Kobi primary school as one of the best schools in Bauchi, what happened? As far as I am concerned the PDP government is not committed to really addressing the fundamental problems of society. I believe that the people of Bauchi State are aware of the lack of commitment of the current government to solve their problems and on March 18, they will take a decision and that decision is to throw the PDP government out and bring in an APC administration.
What plans and measures do you have to address the protracted challenges of workers’ salaries?
The issue of workers in Bauchi is disturbing because what we have noticed in the last three and half years is there is no commitment on the part of the government to pay workers their entitlements. It is unthinkable that we will have a society where people will work after 30 days and nobody pays them anything and they still come to work, it is unbelievable that such a thing can happen and unfortunately, this is what is happening in Bauchi State.
How do you intend to tackle the issue if elected?
Governance is about human beings and if you cannot address the problems of human beings, then you have no business leading anyone because leadership is about solving problems and the problems we have seen in Bauchi State in the last three years are so many and none has been solved. It is so irritating to even think that a worker will go to work and nobody pays him.
The worker and the employer have a contract, it is that I will work after 30 days and will be paid but the worker comes to work every day and at the end of the month, nobody pays him or her.
What I am saying is that the whole issue is people have lost sight of what governance is all about because you are in charge of providing a conducive atmosphere for people to pursue their legitimate aspirations and if you are unable to do that, you have no business being a leader. You’re a leader because you are supposed to provide schools for children, but Bauchi has 1.4 million out-of-school children. So, clearly, the government has no business being there. You in the government are supposed to provide for the health requirements of the people but most of our health institutions have collapsed. Even on that basis, the leader there has no business being in a leadership position.
We have a huge number of youth populations that have not been taken care of. There is no structure in Bauchi State to empower any youth, from the basis of the leadership has no business being in government. When you go to the villages and rural communities it is even worst, it is something like shedding tears because there was no point of convergence between the interest of leaders and the interest of those in rural communities, a good example is the leaders are interested in having a government house that is worth N6 billion, and that is their interest while the interest of rural people is to have good drinking water. So, how would these two meet?
The interest of the government is to build a house with 70 rooms but the interest of rural people is to have roads to bring out their agricultural produce from the farm to the market. So, you can see that there was no point of convergence at all between those in positions of leadership and those that are being led. It is only recently that those aspiring for positions of leadership take time to visit rural communities to know what is happening because they want the votes of the people and as soon as they finish voting is all over the severe relationship is till after four years.
“The issue of workers in Bauchi is disturbing because what we have noticed in the last three and half years is there is no commitment on the part of the government to pay workers their entitlements. It is unthinkable that we will have a society where people will work after 30 days and nobody pays them anything and they still come to work, it is unbelievable that such a thing can happen and unfortunately, this is what is happening in Bauchi State”
Leadership in third-world countries including Nigeria and particularly in Bauchi State is just about the individual in a position of leadership. If they’re sick, they have the best of hospitals but if the common man whom they are leading is sick, he has nowhere to go and this is the kind of leadership we have in Bauchi.
This kind of leadership creates frustration, apathy and anger. That’s why some of those that are being led carry firearms because they see that they do not have any stake and nothing is theirs in the entire process. Definitely, the man in Udubo village or Dabe village has no business with the government house of N6 billion; he is not going to ever see it as he has no stake there but if the money was committed to other things to support farmers, to train teachers, to pay their salaries, to give them promotion, to provide for their entitlement then those people will feel that they have a stake in the process.
If the whole money is all about developing government houses, the people will have nothing to benefit and that is what we want to re-engineer. We want to make people realise that the government is about you because you are the people that determine who leads. So, don’t believe that you are there for people when it is time for an election.
If elected as the next governor of the state, I will ensure that the state has a functional educational system that would provide equal opportunity for everyone to be educated and not based on those who have the resources to afford it. The only way to have a secured society is to eliminate hindrances that stop people from accessing education.
If elected, the APC administration will disembark the system that failed to improve the living conditions of the people of the state over the years.
During your statewide campaign, you pledged to use agriculture to boost IGR. How are you going to implement it?
Agriculture is one of the greatest sources of employment if it is utilised and given the right attention. In Bauchi State, the right attention isn’t given to agriculture. I remember in the 1970s when we were growing up, we used to have extension workers. We used to have farm centers where farmers are trained on modern methods of farming; where they are introduced to improved seeds; where they’re supported in terms of skills and techniques to use fertilizers but nobody cares about any farmer today. The farmer is left on his own. How do you expect agriculture to play the role that it is supposed to play when the required attention is not given to it?
In serious countries, societies and communities where people matter to the leaders, they pay special attention to agriculture because they know it absorbs most youths. In 1984 when I was in Port Harcourt, then Fidelis Oyakilome was the military governor in Rivers. He introduced a school to learn an agricultural programme targeted at using youths that are not able to go beyond secondary school where the government supports them, and clears the land because of land challenges in Rivers.
Unlike Bauchi State where we have endless land, the government supported them and at the end of the day when they harvest, the government takes back a percentage of what they have supported them with and the young farmers are allowed to sell those products some of which are bought by the same government and they end up with something and properly engaged.
You see here in Bauchi State, one local government can feed the entire North East if we’re really serious. For example, Jama’are local government and Zaki LGA have what it takes to feed not only Bauchi State but the North East if there is a responsive government that is out to support the farmers. Unfortunately, that is not the case in Bauchi State.