By NBF News
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Former military administrator of Benue and Niger states, Col. Habibu Shaibu (retd) is one of the gladiators for the 2011 governorship race in Kano State .

A strong apostle of General Ibrahim Babangida, Shaibu told Saturday Sun why he supports former retired officers in politics, among others.

You have just declared your intention to contest the 2011 elections in Kano State. Why are you in the race?

Well, first of all, it took me a while to take the decision to contest the governorship of Kano. This is because a lot of people, friends, supporters and other members of the party have been making overtures to me regarding the state of affairs in the state. They felt that somebody like me should come in, particularly when our party is having a lot of internal problems. They felt I am well placed to contest the governor of the state.

I feel I am good enough to be the standard bearer of my party, mostly because of my track record. Also, I have experience, as a military administrator of two states in this country. Besides, right from childhood, I have had a lot of privileges and a lot of opportunities to experience leadership at various levels. I will say that right from primary school, I have always been a leader. In secondary school, I was also appointed a class monitor. Also, I was the first junior student to be appointed a food prefect, a position held, hitherto, by my seniors who couldn't perform and who couldn't be trusted. At that time the authorities felt that it was necessary for me to be appointed and I was appointed.

When I joined the Nigerian Defence Academy, I also had the privilege of becoming the cadet adjutant, who is in charge of the discipline of the entire cadets. The position be is the equivalent of the deputy head boy. And of course, after I gradated I became an officer and I have continued to serve in various capacities and I have held positions far above my rank. I had the privileged of serving with many senior officers, even at my early age.

Kano is rated as one of the most populous states in the country. How do you intend to tackle the challenges of development in the state if elected to serve?

Well, one of my programmes is to tackle unemployment and education. Kano is the most populous state; we have 44 local governments and in this local government, we have the largest number of youth unemployment. Some have not finished school; some have finished school, but there is no employment for them; o means of livelihood. So many of them now resort to thuggery and other deviant behaviours in the society. We thought the youths are the leaders of tomorrow. If the youths today are not good enough, how do will expect to have good leaders tomorrow? Even before I became military administrator, I had helped so many youths in the state to get employment, in the military, in the immigration service, in other services and even in the civil service. I have been able to help over 5, 000 of them to get jobs and about 3, 000 of them are in the military. Today they are good citizens.

Our health care system has deteriorated, so much that sometimes you will find hospital attendants or ward attendants performing operations in patients. We have had this cases and the population is growing. Because of that we need a health system that should care to the need of every citizen in this state. The third aspect is education. Education has deteriorated in Kano State. I was once a student in the state. I knew what it was then. I knew what they provided. And there was a time when, in spite of the hue and cry of the widening gap between the North and South, Kano State was almost at par with other state in terms of educational development and educational achievements. But in the last few years, we have degenerated. This year, we have one of the worst results in WAEC and when you start having this in a state where you have a large population, you know, it is a serious problem.

So, one of the key areas that I am going to concentrate on is education. I will look at the school system. I will reorganize it in such a way that the student /teacher ratio is commensurate with the internal standards. I will rehabilitate the schools and I will make sure that the quality and welfare of teachers are improved and well taking care of.

You were a military administrator of two states in the past. What exactly do still want in power in yet another state? Besides, there seem to be too many retired military men rushing back to be governors. What is your take on this?

First all, I am a citizen of Kano and anything that affects Kano affects me, directly or indirectly. I am a Nigeria, whether military or no military. The time I was a military administrator, it was a military government, very different from a civilian or democratic administration. Here, I am subjecting my self to the electorate. I am not saying that I am the best. All I am saying is that I have the experience and I will use that experience to help my home state. I have identified the problems and I can think of the solutions of these problems without a wink of an eye. Of course, I am not saying that there are no capable hands, but the most important thing is somebody who had done it before.

Don't you think that so many retired military officers coming back to the Government House is another way of militarizing the polity and the democratic experience?

They are not military men. They are now civilians, like any other person. They are democrats. And it is healthy for them to be in politics; it is healthy for them to subject themselves to the democratic process. And to me this is a healthy development because it will help to stabilize polity.

I was in the military. I am contesting for elections. I am looking for votes from my people. You are in Kano. Go round and ask. Ask them if they have seen any military character in me. The only military thing they see in me is the precision, in terms of time and the precision, in terms of organization.

What chances does PDP have in Kano bearing in mind that ANPP would have been in power for eight years by 2011 ?

Every PDP member in this state, without any exception, realises that we cannot win elections if we don't put our heads together. We have to come together. That is one. Number two, every PDP member realises that this factional fighting that is happening cannot help us to win elections. Every PDP member knows that Col. Habibu Shaibu is a neutral candidate. I was the chairman of the reconciliation committee in 2004 after we lost the election in 2003.

I am the rallying point of PDP in this state and that is why I am calling on the members of the party to come together. We are not in conflict with anybody. All the tendencies that exist in this state, I am in good harmony with their leaders. They respect me and I respect them and I believe that since we lost the election in 2003 and again 2007, no PDP member will like to see PDP lose the elections in 2011.