Radda: APC to field presidential candidate to match Abubakar
The gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Katsina State and the Managing Director of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), Dr. Dikko Radda, explains how he intends to transform the state. Excerpts from Adedayo Akinwale
What do you think of the ticket selection for the gubernatorial seat in Katsina State? Have you reached out to your opponents?
Nine of us challenged the ticket. It was hotly contested and one of the most transparent elections ever held in the state. Even then, it was in progress, it was hard to say who was going to win the election. All the opponents played a key role and they showed their strength and ability. I am very happy to say that I became victorious. That doesn’t mean I’m going to cross my arms and start feeling superior to others. I started contacting them. We almost all come from the same political family. We have been in politics together for over 20 years. We are friends. Some of us even have personal and family relationships. All the aspirants declared their support and they will work for the party and the state.
Political actors in Katsina State believe that before you can challenge you must have the support of Alhaji Dahiru Mangal. Do you have his support?
I won’t say that I don’t have his support. Because even after primary, I reached out to him. We have been together for so many years since the days of Yar’Adua. I see him as a father and as an older brother. All of us who do politics in Katsina see him as a commander commanding the war for the party. We always give him that respect. We always give him that respect. We contacted him. And he promised to work for the party.
What are those things you want to do as governor if you get the chance?
I started building focus areas because I was a Katsina player and I know what’s going on. I was the governor’s chief of staff and I know how the state is run. I think the main issue in the state right now is the issue of insecurity. I will put more emphasis on security. I will spend a lot of resources to make sure people are safe. Only when you have security in the state can your children go to school, your people can go to the hospital, and people can travel. I think the main area I want to focus on right now is security. What I intend to do is involve using locals to gather intelligence in communities. Locals will now work with conventional security; police, military as well as other security apparatus. We will try to provide them with all the necessary support in terms of equipment, vehicles and moral support. And what kind of moral support can I provide? It’s up to me to lead the war on the front lines and confront the bandits with the army, the police and the inhabitants. And, again, for you or any government to succeed, you will need civil service reform. You will need to reform the apparatus of government that you are going to use for reforms because once you don’t have the apparatus, once there is no more bridge to cross, there is nothing you can do TO DO. You will want to encourage civil service reform by giving them the necessary training. Place officials where they should be placed without favouritism. Anyone who deserves to get anything, he or she must get it. We will try to scan the system. We will try to have biometric capture of all staff and structure so you can email instructions to your staff and then make things work for the state. We need to be aware of IT in state management.
Many Nigerians believe that the emergence of Atiku Abubakar is a threat to the APC. What do you think the ruling party should do to defeat the PDP?
I don’t think that’s a major threat because Abubakar is on the run. He ran elections for many years. And I think it’s the 6th time especially for the presidency. I think the attention has always been there. APC is now in government. And we have 22 or more states that are under APC control. And, I want you to wait until next week for whoever emerges as the party’s presidential candidate. I believe the party will bring someone who will match Abubakar from start to finish. And then you will understand that you can no longer make politics of regionalism, ethnicity and religion in any form. Nigerians are getting wiser now. What they are looking for is competence. The people who can deliver; who can give Nigerians the kind of leadership they need. I don’t need a Hausa to be president. What I need in the North is to have security of life and property. If it is an Igbo or Yoruba man who will bring peace and security to my people, why not him? Why must he be a Hausa man? Or a Muslim? Why must he be a Christian? We have to go above and beyond in Nigeria and try to think rationally and be able to bring in leaders who have the ability to transform Nigerian society.
Some people attributed the insecurity in Katsina to people from neighboring countries. Do you agree with that?
All of these assumptions are true. Because these people come from neighboring countries. There are about nine local governments in our state that go directly to the Niger Republic from Cameroon to Central Africa. There are two problems; the question of the entry of people, the local populations also perpetuate these acts through the use of these foreigners. They pass their weapons through these channels. I have been running SMEDAN for six years now. I know the problem of micro-medium enterprises in this country. I know that majority of the challenges we face in Nigeria are due to the unemployment of our youth team. Because bandits can’t come and kidnap anyone if they don’t have an informant who must be among the people. What pushes him to be an informant is because of the money given to him. When you engage young people in gainful employment, they will not have time to give information. It is not their wish to do this to their brothers and sisters. Whoever says he will become governor and provide jobs to the people through the government is a lie. Where are the vacancies? You can only get vacancies when someone dies or retires. Thus, the question of getting a white collar job is no longer available. What you need to do is create an enabling environment. Give them all the support they need to have paid employment or even be an employer of labor without necessarily waiting for someone to employ them.
The APC did not hold its special convention to elect its presidential candidate as planned, before the INEC subsequently granted political parties a week’s grace to submit names of party candidates. Some people believe that the ruling party is twisting the arm of INEC and that the 2023 elections will not be free and fair. Do you share this feeling?
I don’t think so and will not share that sentiment. I think the 2023 general election will be the most credible poll. Why? There is a new electoral law. And the new electoral law allows the transmission of the results of the polling stations to the collection center. This makes it impossible for road blockers to collect score sheets and change everything. Even if you block the routes and collect everything and change the results, it won’t change anything because the result is already on the website. And everyone in the world has access to the result. I think this will be one of the most credible elections. Even from party primaries, you cannot contest an election under two political parties in one election. It kept people from coming to the party. If they can’t find their way, they will have to go to another party. But it brings a lot of sensitivity and credibility to our political process. And I know that if we continue in this direction, we can reach a certain stage. All political parties, including the main opposition parties, are calling for an extension of the deadline. So it wasn’t APC who shouted. PDP demanded more.
Are you popular in Katsina to win the next elections?
Have you seen anyone win a primary election without being popular? I think it behooves you now to go to Katsina and find out from the most popular people. Or you can carry out an independent investigation from time to time and then give me the result. And if you find me unpopular, I will resign from this election.
Are you the President’s candidate?
The president has no candidate. Anyone who knows Mr. President knows that he has no candidate for any election. Again, in Katsina State, the governor publicly declared that he had no candidate.