Umar Ahmed Suleiman is the Commissioner for Information in Gombe State. He spoke on the plans of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the achievements of Governor Ibrahim Dakwambo and his move to take a shot at the presidency in 2019. Mr. Suleiman spoke with journalists during his recent visit to Akure, the Ondo State capital. ‘TOSIN AJUWON was there.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has already held its elective National Convention, but not without little hitches, what is the level of reconciliation ahead of 2019 election?
Looking at things now, the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are now making frantic move at ensuring all the differences that were experienced during the convention are resolved mostly ahead of the 2019 general elections.
And I can tell you that the party is now getting stronger because all the issues that caused the challenges are being addressed through a reconciliation move at ensuring transparency in our dealings.
If you noticed the way the National Convention was conducted in Abuja, some of you here would agree with me that Nigerians are beginning to understand that members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are getting more united.
Unlike what was obtainable in the past when due process was not followed, but now that everyone was a living witness to what really happened at the convention–they all saw the transparent manner in which that election was conducted and it shows that our party is prepared to face the governing All Progressives Congress (APC).
Events leading to the 2019 general elections is gradually gathering momentum; do you think Governor Ibrahim Dakwambo still hold the ace in Gombe State being the leader of the PDP?
My answer would be complete YES and as far as I am concerned, there is no opposition in Gombe State.
If we looked at the level of political activities that took place in 2011, the margin of votes between the PDP and that of the opposition parties in Gombe State was very wide.
The PDP is the ruling party in Gombe State and from the way of things there is no opposition party that can overpower us as far as I know, because we are one and very united.
All the members of our great party are willing to ensure that we win the next election come 2019 and there is nothing to fear.
Even, if you look at the way the All Progressives Congress (APC) is running in Gombe State, you will understand that they are not in any way united, because they are in disarray and always fight each other.
Tell me how such opposition party in the state wants to face the ruling party like PDP that is strong and vibrant.
Although, they have the Federal Government as a back up but at the level of our state, I do not think they can move forward to win elections because most of those who are in APC today were former PDP members who added no value to the system.
How easy has it been for the Dakwambo PDP led government in Gombe State to manage finances considering some of its completed projects despite low federal allocations to the state?
You would all agreed that all over the world there is economic meltdown which had eventually caused challenges especially in African countries and Nigeria particularly because we solely depend on oil.
But for Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo, he is an international and chartered professional accountant who has had experiences and also served in higher capacities even before he became a governor.
As a matter of fact, he (Dankwambo) has worked as the Accountant General of the federation and he also worked with three different presidents.
He worked with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua and former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He is someone that has a very good financial background and can manage any resources to achieve the desired goals and objectives of each and every state.
And based on that, as I am here chatting with you people, we have paid workers salaries up to date. Also, the civil servants are paid as at when due. Governor Dankwambo does not owe any one in the state.
We are in January now and December salaries have already been paid even before it was due. You could see that it is because of the talent and experiences of prudent management of resources that is helping the governor and his government in the state to the extent of executing many laudable projects in the state with a meager fund.
Can you tell us some of those laudable projects that Governor Dankwanbo has executed in the state?
We have the construction of the International Conference Centre, an edifice constructed by the present administration, which gulped close to about N5billion.
The state government has taken delivery of the project from the contractor after its successful completion as am talking to you here.
The establishment of health institutions, which has been the major priorities of this administration, followed by education and that is also why the governor has embarked on establishing higher institutions across the state in order to fill up the gaps.
He established the College of Legal and Administrative Studies in Nafada, College of Nursing and Midwifery in Duku, College of Education in Ileye, and the establishment of brand new University of Science and Technology that has just been established.
I am sure in the next couple of months it will kick off and start admitting students as all the facilities are already on ground and the state has gotten the operating certificate from the National University Commission (NUC), although all the structures that are required for its take off were already on ground before securing the certificate for establishment of the university.
All these have given him opportunities and the people of Gombe are tapping from his wealth of experience and knowledge.
Alhaji Ibrahim Dakwambo has been putting into practice all that he studied, while he has also taken advantage of all his educational qualifications to manage Gombe State’s resources.
If you look at the federal allocation that comes to the state, Gombe is the second to the last on the list of the states, but this did not stop Governor Dakwambo from embarking on different projects.
The governor has also constructed more than 500 kilometers of roads across the state capital alone while the government has connected many areas and states like Yola, Adamawa, Bauchi and Maiduguri and also embarked on agricultural revolution with the supply of agricultural implements, farm inputs, training of farmers and assisting the farmers with loans.
Is it true that a group in the PDP is already asking Governor Dakwambo to contest the 2019 presidential election judging by his achievements?
Yes, it’s true and they are already making a good case for him with support that he should come out and contest the 2019 presidential election and you will also agree with me that presently Nigeria as a nation needs someone that has good financial and management background.
If we decide to elect someone without a solid financial background, it will be very difficult for the person to turn around the economy of this nation and it is just like what is happening now, the President, Muhammadu Buhari is someone that is committed but so many things need to be done to ensure that the economy is revived.
Unfortunately, the Federal Government said that we are out of recession, but go around as journalists to the towns and ask the people or interview them, you would all see how the people are complaining and also suffering.
Look at how much a bag of grain cost now in the market, they are emphasising on farming but at the end of the day how much is a bag of maize, because what we are growing in the country is not sufficient to feed us and all the borders have been closed, thereby making the prices of available food items in the country to go up and this is indirectly affecting the people as the masses.
Do you think he has what it takes to lead this nation?
If Nigerians want a leader that has a vision, a leader that has financial and economic background, it is someone like Ibrahim Dakwambo that we need to put in place, so that he can turn around the fortune and economy of this country.
I listed some of the projects that have been executed in Gombe State under the present administration of Governor Dakwambo despite the small allocation that comes to the state.
Look at how this man has been able to manage the scarce resources to actualise our dreams In Gombe State.
So, if people are willing and humble to ask him to come and contest as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, there is no problem as far as I am concerned.
The constitution has stipulated those who are eligible to contest and to be elected or to be voted into the office of the president, but as far I am concerned, Ibrahim Dakwambo is qualified to do that both academically and experience wise.
What is your take on the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari?
Well, as I am concerned in some areas, I think his government has done well while they needed to put in more efforts mostly in the areas of economic revival of this country.
The economic team should be reselected because the economy is still sick and something needs to be done.
But in terms of safety, we that are indigenes of the northern state are happy with the Federal Government in terms of the security intervention and establishment of North East Development Commission.
These are very good initiatives that were embarked upon by the present administration but they need to do more work because so many things are not working in accordance with expectations of the people.
Indirectly in some cases, it is like the party (APC) failed Nigerians especially the common man and apart from the security they need to address the issue of hunger and diseases.
These are some of the issues bothering Nigerians across the states. People hardly take their three square meals because of the high cost of foodstuffs.
The government needs to do something either by importing to support the locally produced foodstuffs or any other means of ensuring adequate food in the society.
If Nigerians want a leader that has a vision, a leader that has financial and economic background, it is someone like Ibrahim Dakwambo that we need to put in place, so that he can turn around the fortune and economy of this country. I listed some of the projects that have been executed in Gombe State under the present administration of Governor Dakwambo despite the small allocation that comes to the state. Look at how this man has been able to manage the scarce resources to actualise our dreams In Gombe State.