3 August 2014

Nigeria: Why Our Grassroots Lack Development, By Sarkiyo

Mohammed Alkali Sarkiyo is the secretary of Peoples Democratic Party, Potiskum Local Government Area of Yobe State. In the 2011 general elections, he contested to represent his constituency in the state House of Assembly on the platform of PDP.

In this interview with SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT Mohammed Abubakar, he speaks on the challenge of insecurity in the north, particularly in Yobe State. He also speaks on the governorship aspiration of former Finance Minister, Dr. Yerima Ngama, in the state and why he feels the APC-led administration in the state has underperformed. Excerpts:

There seems to be no let to the insecurity challenge in the country as recently we had a twin bomb blast in two mosques in Potiskum town where 11 people were killed and 35 persons injured. What are your thoughts on this as a stalwart of the opposition party PDP in Yobe?

Well, it is very unfortunate, we felt bad and sad, even as we pray God blesses us with peace, unity and progress. This incident has really touched us and everyone living in Nigeria because innocent people were worshipping their God when the suicide bomber attacked them. On behalf of my boss, Dr. Yerima Ngama, I want to extend our heartfelt condolence and sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives and the injured. God will expose and punish whoever is responsible for this wicked act.

You represented former Finance Minister, Dr. Yerima Ngama, in the hospital where these victims were receiving treatment, how have you assisted them?

Yes, thank you. Dr. Yerima Ngama, the Yobe 2015 PDP governorship aspirant, assigned me to represent him here and offer assistance to the victims, their relatives and even the health workers. He is a philanthropist; he enjoys assisting the needy always. Immediately he heard the shocking report he directed me to come to Potiskum on his behalf and offer assistance to the victims.

What have been your contributions to these people?

We gave them money and beds, among others. We know how poverty is biting Yobe people, nothing is moving, the state government is stagnant, no development so far. Imagine Potiskum as big as it is, it has several elected APC political leaders but none of them cares to come and see the victims in the hospital talk less of offering assistance. We gave each victim N30,000 while their relatives benefited N10,000 each in order to enable them get proper medication. Imagine General Hospital Potiskum Mortuary does not have a single freezer that dead bodies could be deposited. The corpses are lain on the floor. The hospital is also faced with problem of insufficient doctors; only three doctors manage the hospital which has a throng of not less than 500 people visiting to seek medication in a day. I am surprised at how our elected leaders show I-don't-care attitude to the plight of the masses forgetting that their tenure will soon expire and they will come back to seek peoples' votes. We have taken the estimate of rebuilding the destroyed mosques, we will soon embark on the project.

The 2015 elections is almost here, do you think the PDP can wrest power from the ruling APC government in Yobe?

Definitely, we are very sure of taking over from them, they have not met the yearnings and aspirations of the people of Yobe State. Go round and see how poverty is dealing with Yobe people, even the commissioners complain of lack of fund. Go to local governments and see it is worse, this their joint account is affecting them, they only pay salaries and give them token overhead cost and leave them. That is why the Local Government Chairmen find it difficult to stay on seat, no development at the grassroots.

But what is the opposition party doing to bring about change?

We, as opposition party in Yobe, are closely monitoring the affairs of the state government. Are you aware that Executive Council meetings has stopped in Yobe since last December? The commissioners do not know their role nor how government should be run.

Farmers are complaining about inability to get fertilizer in Yobe; the sale was launched ceremoniously but the commodity is not on ground. It is unfortunate; that is why people are migrating from Yobe.

Another thing that will attract us vote is that the leaders of the state no longer stay in Yobe, they either operate from abroad or Abuja where their families are staying.

We assure Yobe people that if they vote PDP they will see a positive change, we would fight poverty, we will never run away from our electorate. We would operate open door policy, our doors would always remain open, we are people's servant, and we will spread developments across the geopolitical zones.

You are criticizing Yobe APC-led government that says it is developing Yobe, do you feel PDP will perform better?

You are a living witness here in the hospital, you have seen over 50 PDP supporters that escorted me to sympathize with the victims on behalf of Ngama. Did you see any elected official from Damaturu here? Is it how to govern people from remote area? What concerns them is placing posters and billboards for 2015 elections campaign. Ngama has been telling us that he wants to become Yobe governor in order to fight poverty among Yobeans; he wants to restore peace.

Are you telling us that Ngama under PDP will perform better than incumbent APC?

Yes, of course. Within his two years as Finance Minister he has secured employments to Yobe graduates in different places, he has empowered many PDP youths, over 300 people were given cars, keke NAPEP, grains, fertilizers, free health care services to women. I know of over 1000 people that were given loan to start up their business, he engaged many in SURE-P programme, he assisted flood disaster victims.

Are you saying that PDP is still alive in Yobe?

Yes, people keep saying we are not vibrant; we are strategizing how we will pull them out from Government House come 2015. They keep saying PDP has no supporters in Yobe. Recently there was state House of Assembly bye election in Nangere constituency, and we got over 7,000 votes without even proper campaign. Ngama did not come, our PDP leaders were not there. Assuming they were at Nangere PDP would have defeated APC; people are tired of APC in Yobe.

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