UNFORTUNATELY, THIS STATE IS RUN LIKE A CATTLE MARKET â€“ HON. INNOCENT LAGI
What are the crucial issues that impact on the politics of Nasarawa State?
I think as things stand right now, there are a number of issues-loyalty to the traditional institutions, and misleading people in the name of religion, tribes and so on.
I think there is a lot of polarization within the polity that creates a lot of confusion and removes the objective of politics and governance from what it is, to the issue of loyalty to the traditional institution, believing in the domination of one religion over the other. Basically that is what is happening in Nasarawa State. The politics is not driven by ideas.
Now to the issue of religion, there's a semblance of this indigenes and settlers as obtainable in neighboring Plateau State. Is it a spill over from the state?
Yes, because Nasarawa was part of the former Plateau State. So, the problems of Plateau will definitely in some aspect be similar to those of Nasarawa State. Whether we like it or not, it has been quite a peaceful and prosperous state and it has drawn a number of issues with sentiments.
It also determines what kind of settlements because it is clearly an agrarian location. Today, you find a lot of people who migrate for the purpose of grazing, migrate for the purpose of farming and the rest of them, settling here and have been welcomed traditionally. I don't think the issue of dominance or acquisition of territories as you have in Plateau State, where the Hausa-Fulanis are claiming a local government to their name, we don't have that happening around here.
Certainly at some point, if it is not checked, we will certainly have the same problem coming up, here because the indexes in Plateau are also showing up here. It is also normal under the Constitution of Nigeria. You are guaranteed recognition as indigenes of that place and even citizenship, and you can contest elections. Unfortunately, the definition of indigene under the same constitution varies from what people try to portray it right now. If you are an indigene, you must be a traditional person who has settled in that place originally. You are allowed by the Constitution to aspire for whatever you want to be. But to claim indigeneship is a whole new different ball game.
Unfortunately or fortunately for Nasarawa people, I think we have up to 80 or so different languages spoken around here. So, there are so many cultural people that even in our diversities in religion, we are united in the fact that we are tribal people. We have common origin in the small tribes.
So, religion plays a key role. Unfortunately, also because if you have the Muslim population being told that they would be taken over by the Christian population, there would be problem there. Unfortunately, also, you see the Muslim administration clearly taking actions that undermine the Christian population, in some aspects, trying to treat the Christian population as if they are in the minority.
It raises agitation amongst the Christian population and if they are fully mobilized, you find out that the changes will begin to show. Justice has not been done in terms of distribution of appointments, and developments in the state. You find out that one of the religions gets agitated, and if it mobilizes itself, the numbers may clearly show that the dominance of one over the other is really not real, but just theoretical or just myth and belief.
Is Nasarawa State fully PDP?
I don't think it is clearly a PDP state because the governor himself was in ANPP until 2007. Now the issue is about what controls the politics in Nasarawa State. I won election under Labour Party (LP). I won by 99.9 per cent. What you have is a situation where PDP has always been at the helm of rigging elections, and they could dominate as much.
If the indexes we used in 1999, 2003 and 2007 are about political capital as the PDP had it, having its hand on the machinery of government, then we could say okay, it is dominated by strong PDP people. But deep down, the people of Nasarawa State are not for bad governance. And it is also not going to be unfair to blame PDP as a political party for the failures of the cabals in Nasarawa State.
The Abdullahi Adamu regime was a colossal loss and ended up by cloning an administration just like itself. And that is what we are afraid of. You also have the present administration trying to clone something that is just like it. That way, we will continuously have the imbalances, the underdevelopment and the lack of complete absence of governance. This is a state that is run like a cattle market and it is quite unfortunate.
Look into the future and hazard a guess on the shape and outcome of 2011 polls
I think we are going to have an interesting 2011 polls. I have this feeling that things are going to change. Now, it may not change in terms of party, or who becomes the governor. I will do everything to support a Jonathan-led Federal Government if he decides to contest, because so far he appears to understand that governance is about what the people want, and most of his decisions lately have been approved by more than 70 per cent of Nigerians. And that is why you can notice a lot of calm within the system, a lot of calm about taking fundamental decisions like the appointment of INEC chairman, dissolution of the former cabinet, reconstitution of the cabinet.
If you look at his method of selection, the kind of people he brought in, the way he carried on, he gets more acceptability within because at the end of the day, really, it is not who becomes the leader of this country, but what happens to leadership in this country if they do what we want, we ignore the person and concentrate on what they give out.
I would rather that this country has good leader than my party wins election. And you see us as a pressure group, or as a collective mobilizing ourselves towards getting credible people to build and develop institutions.
That is the problem of this country today. Initially, when we started off, the initial leaders tried to portray themselves as alter egos and that is why Yar'Adua came up with 7-point agenda, and all the governors, who thought he could secure victories for them, married his daughters and we got to a point where he is dead, and so shamefully one of them, Yuguda is saying Jonathan could contest for presidency. Outside such politicians, for anybody who thought perhaps, that credible people can not come into PDP and contest the 2011 election will have their fingers burnt.
I think what will happen is; and this is my perception: PDP may re-invent itself at the federal level. But that is not sufficient for it to win election in Nasarawa State. Anybody who doubts that can as well visit Nasarawa as you did. PDP will certainly lose woefully in the state because we are not satisfied with the administration and we cannot afford not to form part of the reforms at the federal level.
Even in a fraudulent election, we in opposition are ready for whatever it takes to remove this bad governance now. This is not threatening anybody. The rules of this game, whatever will determine this next election, I think the opposition is ready to play by the rules set out on the ground. We won't decide to just sit down and get rigged out again.
So, if rigging is what is going to determine the next election, we will also attempt to rig. It is also good for us that the current governor has done so badly, that you don't need to say anything to win election or remove him because I think the people are more tired of him, than considering which political parties they belong to, because the poverty, the underdevelopment, the lack of governance affect the people more.