Suleiman Abdurahman Kawu Sumaila (ANPP, Kano) is the Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives. He recently declared his intention to contest for the seat of Kano state Governor at an elaborate ceremony at the residence of former Governor Malam Ibrahim Shekarau. In this interview, he explains why he is aiming for the plum job. Excerpts:
You publicly declared your intention to contest for the governorship of Kano state in 2015; can you tell us what informed your decision to contest?
Like I said earlier, all leaders at all levels in Kano came together after making the decision that I will contest for Kano state governorship by the special grace of God. And this decision is as a result of our desire for change as leaders and politicians to move our people forward by finding cure for the illness that has befallen us. This is the reason why our people think we can contribute our own quota by coming out.
You talked about illness; can you explain?
As of now, nobody is saying well done I am satisfied with what is happening in Kano. There is high level of mistrust between those who have knowledge and those who don't, between leaders and the led, between the haves and the have not, young and old people. This is why we are searching for the way out by coming together and putting all hands on deck to find a common ground, a middle ground for the people so that they will begin to feel and know that Kano belongs to us all and we are supposed to make every effort to make it work for all and the future generations.
So what are those things you intend to achieve or deliver to the people when elected as Governor?
The most important thing for us is how we can restore that trust that has been lost between leaders and the led by providing good and purposeful leadership which will go in line with the thinking and expectations of the people. That is to be consulting with them, the ordinary people of Kano on any issue that affects them. Becoming a leader or governor does not mean that you become dictatorial and assume that you know it all and begin to push things down the throat of the people forcefully.
Our religion has thought us that everything that has to do with the people is all about consultation and seeking for their advice and opinion at all times. Therefore, we will adopt a new method of governance by bringing all those whom God has blessed with every kind of knowledge and wisdom closer to enable us formulate government policies and programmes on the principles of consultation and respect for one another.
Apart from this, what tangible and concrete things will do for the people of Kano state?
If you observe what is happening to leadership at all levels now is that this mistrust between leaders and the led if not corrected there is nothing you can do or achieve. Now, people don't really believe that leadership has any impact on them and also the leaders don't believe that the people have or can make any impact on them.
Therefore, you have to find a situation whereby everybody will agree and accept that Kano belongs to all before you can build anything. We will try to find ways of changing the thinking and perception of the people about governance. This we will give more priority than anything else by changing the way things are done and how people see government.
By God's grace everybody will contribute their quota but so long as we keep going like this the difficult situation we have found ourselves is greater than the issue of providing water, electricity, roads health care and so on. The question is how do we agree that the situation we are in must be corrected? How can we change it? We all agree that no matter how much water, electricity, good roads that we have or provide for the people, we will use it for the progress of our people. In so many places things have been provided but nobody is benefiting from them because people's attitudes is not in tune with the way their thoughts should be to see the importance of these things. Government now symbolizes falsehood, lies, and betrayal. There is failure in providing leadership that will show to the people that they are real and genuine to the extent that the people at the grassroots and the leaders will accept them and agree and respect what they do.
So I think this is the major task that is ahead of us as a people. Recently, I read in the news that in Chicago United States they had 49 incidences of shootings in just one month. This is a place where there is light, water, good roads, health care and all social amenities and a social system that is working but they lack values, good values that will teach them that taking another life is bad, dangerous, inhuman and ungodly. So if this can happen in America, a country that is always struggling to provide job for its people, then how can we bring back people's thoughts, attitudes and perception to be on the right thing to the extend that the little we have we can make judicious use of it for all?
Some people in Kano are saying you are too young for the plum job of a governor...?
I don't think this is an issue at all. For example, the late Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Rimi was 38 years old when he became the governor of Kano and Jigawa state at a time when things were not as easy as they are now. Now we are in the digital age, where knowledge is at your finger tips with computers, Internet and the social media. Remember that, that was the first time Nigeria had the presidential system with governors with full executive powers.
From that time to now we have learned a lot. Also, Alhaji Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya was a governor at 38 years. In fact, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso became a governor when he was a little over 40 years in 1999. Saminu Turaki was 38 and now I am 45 and from now to the time that the elections will be held I will be 47 years old God willing. How old was President Barack Obama when he was first elected in 2008? This is the leader of the world. What we are talking about now is bigger than age whether old or young but who is real, genuine and capable that can fill the vacuum? And who can bring about effective government in Kano.
You declared under the ANPP but the opposition parties are trying to merge. Is there no problem with that?
There is no problem at all. I am in the merger committees that is discussing and by God's grace there won't be any problem we will merge and from that time there will be no more ANPP but up to now, as somebody that was elected under the ANPP as a political party. We don't have internal crisis I don't have the right to leave the party based on the provisions of the constitution until such a time that the new party is registered by INEC.
Some are saying it is too early for you to come out and declare your intention to contest. Don't you think they are right?
The reason we declared our intention this time is not far away from the fact that we need, and our people need real change. And do we wait until the eve of elections? No. We can't have the change in a day or at the eve of the elections.
We need to know people and people need to know us well. We must be very familiar with ourselves and understand them and the kind of difficulties they are facing as a people to the point that when we come as a government we will be fully equipped with the knowledge of what our people are facing not that we will embark on an emergency arrangement when it is six or three months to election and when you win election virtually everybody that comes to you must be introduced because you don't know the people you are supposed to lead. But now we are getting to know our people and their contributions to this course and the situation they are in and the kind of people we are suppose to work with.
Otherwise you will be changing people you work with like clothes, changing your policies all the time simply because you are not prepared for the job. But this will give us more opportunity of knowing Kano the more and it its the people in all nooks and crannies of the state, meeting with the media to the extent that our people will really know who they should vote for so that people won't vote for people they really don't know, what they stand for and their ways of thinking.
We are already discussing with people, associations, labour unions, women groups and youths. This will afford them the opportunity to ask us questions and enable us learn from them because we are students who are seeking for knowledge at all times.