Posted by Daily Sports | 8 June 2018 | 2,991 times
“Nigerians were seeing Buhari as somebody who was coming to salvage a situation. They had almost 100 per cent confidence that when Buhari emerges, things are going to change in this country. But now, as you can see, the reverse is the case. It is even worse.”
Hon. Isah Dansallah was Administrator of Kajuru Local Government Area, Kaduna South Senatorial District, under the Mallam Nasir el-Rufai’s government, as a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Following his dissatisfaction with the party due to the lack of internal democracy, he was compelled to dump the ruling APC for the opposition PDP. In this interview with EMMANUEL ONOTEVURE, Dansallah speaks on the May 29 Democracy Day celebration, his aspiration to contest for the House of Representatives next year, among other issues.
Question: As a celebrated politician and stakeholder from Kaduna South Senatorial District, what is your view about May 29: Is it worth celebrating, given the present situation in the country today?
Hon Isah Dansallah: I am Hon Isah Dansallah from Kajuru Local Government. I have served under the All Progressives Congress. I was an APC member and I was in Kajuru Local Government as Sole Administrator under the government of His Excellency, Mallam Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai.
Now, I am back to the PDP, based on some reasons best known to me. But, to look at the issue of democracy, holistically, there are some activities that are being marked in order to celebrate May 29, in Nigeria, but is not worth celebrating. It is not worth celebrating in the sense that, if I must be honest with you, when His Excellency, the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, was vying for this position several times years ago, Nigerians were seeing him as a messiah. Nigerians were seeing Buhari as somebody who was coming to salvage a situation. They had almost 100 per cent confidence that when Buhari emerges, things are going to change in this country. But now, as you can see, the reverse is the case. It is even worse, now. This is because: one, this is three years of this administration, yet there is just nothing to show for it completely. Now, tell me, that is, if you have anything to tell me. Then, there is nothing to show for these three years, as there is no single project they started and ended, talk less of commissioning it, up till this very moment.
All the few things that have been commissioned are projects executed and completed by the previous administration. But, this government has absolutely nothing to show of completing. The moment they came into power, all they did was to stop the importation of so many commodities into the country, when they have not even made or work out strategies on how to get these things available locally within Nigeria. These, therefore, affected the issue of foreign exchange. You can see the issue of forex, especially the United States currency, which is a major problem today. Look at the issue of fuel, the way it is today when compared to when the previous administration was in power. There are a lot of things to mention. The only thing this administration will tell you is that they are fighting corruption and, the kind of corruption they are fighting: the way and manner they are going about fighting corruption, I term it as just a witch hunt. A witch hunt of perceived enemies, perceived opposition, and even within their party. Those they perceive as maybe they are going to leave the party to another party. Already, such people are being hunted down. Especially, people that are seen to have political strength and influence over their people and could affect them in trying to regain power in 2019 are being hunted down. Corruption is beyond that. What is happening is just an individual thing: witch-hunting individuals who are perceived to be opposing the government’s decisions of the day.
So, if you want to fight corruption, note that corruption is a systemic problem. It is a systemic problem because, I have been a local government chairman and I have seen how this government’s system works. You cannot tell me that a public office-holder can go and start looting institutions’ funds, without the support of the civil servant who is there.
As an administrator, I worked in the local government for six months, up till the time I left that local government, I don’t even know the colour of the cheque of that local government and how it looks like. In government institutions, what is happening is that, it is those that are within the system that you, as a politician, whether by appointment, election or whatever, (must) go and meet these people. They are the ones that will tell you how to go and corner these funds into your own personal use. And, by way of doing that, they too must get their own share.
So, you can see what is happening. This corruption we are talking about is a system thing. It is a systemic problem that is still there.
The President did not sit down to really do his home work, by going into the root-cause of this problem; do a root cause analysis before you start implementing whatsoever interventions you have with regards to that. So, no analysis was done to even know what the root-cause is. The root cause is there and they are still harbouring these problems. The problems are there in the government institutions. The people who are there, they are harbouring them and they are still there and they are the ones that show the public officers how to steal these monies. These people are still there and the government is still harbouring them. So, how will corruption stop in Nigeria?
You said you left APC for the PDP for personal reasons. Some said you fell out of favour with the governor. Why exactly did you quit?
It's not about whether being favoured or not. I single-handedly sponsored the formation of APC in Chikun/Kajuru, even before I got close to the governor. During membership registration, my offices in both local government areas were the meeting venues and even when the party was to secure its own offices in both LGAs, I contributed financially.
I worked for APC’s victory in 2015. I decided to leave because of the lack of internal democracy demonstrated by this administration, and you will bear me witness that it is even worse, as it is right now. The just concluded primaries that gave birth to two state chairmen vindicated me on this and many more issues within the party.
The issue of insecurity is a worrisome trend which concerns everybody, especially the issue of herdsmen. You were an administrator of a local government council for six months and that local government had issues of attacks by herdsmen. What do you think could bring a lasting solution to the problem of herdsmen’s attacks?
The issues of insecurity, herdsmen, kidnapping here and there, I can tell you that: it is all about commitment from the (federal) government. If the governments are committed and they want this thing stopped, they will stop it. That is the truth about it. If the government really wants to stop it, if not ‘somehow that the government is benefiting from this, if the government really wants to stop it, the government can stop it.’ Nobody is above the government.
During the recently concluded local council elections on the 12th of May, 2018, the Kaduna State Government introduced the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), which many people have spoken against. What’s your take?
I do not see anything wrong with the use of the machines. That machine you see was very perfect. I was in my polling unit in my ward. We conducted our elections peacefully and the results were printed out and that machine was perfect. It is an online kind of thing. Whatever is being done there per moment is being transmitted back to the KADSEICOM’s office. Now, the machine, like I said, is not a problem but, the government of the day: their interference in the electoral process, which took place all over the 23 local government areas in Kaduna, is the problem.
Had it been that they did not interfere and had allowed KADSEICOM as an independent body as claimed, to do its job, everything would have gone on smoothly. This is because these results are there and were transmitted to the data base at the SEICOM level. If the SEICOM can bring out the real data base of what transpired of this process, you will be surprised. You will be shocked at what even they are projecting as ‘the ruling party won in so many local governments and what have you.’ That is not true. But, at the end of the day, the government of the day interfered with the process, and you can also see that there are issues of bye-elections here and there; even my own local government, Kajuru. You know, the opposition party (PDP) won elections in nine political wards and they only won in one ward, which is Kajuru, but they had wanted to claim our victory. That is not possible!
There was interference from what we saw. The Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, Uba Sani and the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Samuel Aruwan, although these two gentlemen are not SEICOM staff, but they were going around with military men, police and harassing people and then, changing these results in different hotels, in different locations and then, changing the results and having different announcements, and so on. To me, that is very dangerous and it is not good for democracy. Certainly, it is not good for democracy.
Your statement as regards two prominent aides of the government at the state level concerning their perceived roles during the council polls is said to be indicting. Do you have evidence/proof to back it up?
The issue of the two governor's aides is no longer any news. All media organisations reported it during and after the elections. Press conferences organised by groups and opposition parties also reported their full involvement during the local government elections in Kaduna State. Uba Sani was in my local government, and the electoral officer disappeared after he left and that is one f the reasons why our local government is one among the local governments where KADSIECOM reschedule to conduct fresh elections.
It has come to our notice that you are aspiring for the ticket for the House of Representatives next year. What is the driving force compelling you to seek this higher office?
Ordinarily, what I do is ‘humanitarian service”. I am a civil society person. I am the founder of an NGO which is primarily working on health-related issues. Service to humanity is already a part of me. The passion is another push too. I even see being elected or appointed into any office as an opportunity to further expand my scope or my ideas and ideologies and, try to reach out to so many people.
So, representing my people? Yes, that is the key thing. I want to be able to bring effective representation, most especially, my constituency: Chukun and Kajuru. We have the incumbent who has been there for almost 16 years now. The question, therefore, is: How well has he represented the people of Chukun and Kajuru? Seriously, there is need to ask this question again: How good has he been to the people as their representative? Now, what we are saying is, ordinarily, had it been he is representing us well, even if he is representing us well, at least 16 years is enough.
We have other people within these same constituencies that can still go and do better. So, the idea now is that, I, with my experience from the civil society organisations (CSOs) and the NGOs that I have successfully run, already having the passion to be of help to people, I am going to adequately represent the people of Chukun/Kajuru Federal Constituency, by the grace of God Almighty if given the mandate. And, at the end of the day, I believe if they give me the mandate, they will see the difference between what I can do.
Running against a popular serving member of the House has been described as a tough task. How do you intend to achieve this?
Ordinary, I don't have personal issues with our representative. The point is that Chikun/Kajuru Federal Constituency is composed of two local government areas. The incumbent has been representing us for almost two decades now. I challenge him to mention or point out just one individual that he has empowered, so far. All the people around him still follow him around for just peanuts, with nothing to write home about.
No single constituency project to show for and there is no connection between him and the electorates, until after every four years, when is about to seek their mandate again. No community initiatives in terms of town hall meetings to determine the problems faced by his constituency members. Since inception, the constituency office that is meant for him to get closer to his people remains under lock and key. Only few selected individuals that usually help him to clinch the party's ticket are always carried along, though with still nothing to show for all these years. And they have been playing same game at the detriment of general public. No single undergraduate or graduate has been empowered, either by way of employment, etc. Reps from other constituencies do provide such opportunities to their people, but the reverse is the case when it comes to Chikun/Kajuru.
I am aware that the role of the legislator is to make laws while representing the interest of their people. But others have been able to go beyond that by impacting positively on their people. They initiated constituency projects, human capital development, etc. The people of Chikun/Kajuru are now empowered with all the necessary information on how bad it is to keep doing the same thing without meaningful impact.
Based on the above, the task is made easier as the people shall decide, come 2019.
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