By NBF News
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Senator Nicholas Ugbane, represents Kogi East in the Upper Legislative Chamber.  A governorship aspirant, he told Daily Sun that quality leadership, that will improve on what the incumbent governor has done rather than fixation for power shift will lift the state to loftier heights.

Why do you want to govern Kogi? My people had voted for me three times into the Senate: the first time was in 1998, but due to the demise of late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, that parliament was never inaugurated, but they voted for me again, 2003 and 2007. So, that's the currency of which I am running now and which will end by May,2011.

Now, my decision to vie for the governorship of Kogi is premised on four things: one, I have the qualification to start with and that's basic . Number two, I have the experience and number three, I have the vision and mission required to govern a sophisticated state like Kogi  and number four is that I want to bring the totality of all these experience to bear in my quest to lift Kogi forward; to lift it from the level it is at the moment to a higher level, because I realized the state is in a haste to develop and rapid development is what everybody in the state is gunning for.

These are my basic reasons.
I didn't come with this ambition, because I come from a particular ethnic group. No, ethnicity is out of it. Rather, competence and vision and mission which I know I have, these are the things that drove me to this ambition .

You have the pedigree, no doubt. But there has been cry of marginalization in Kogi—that a  particular section has been in governance, all along and it should concede it, this time around, to other senatorial zones; I know Kogi west is in the vanguard of this agitation for power shift.

You see, the marginalization you are talking about, almost all parts of the state are crying that they have been marginalized! Yes, Kogi east for instance where the present governor comes from, feels that they haven't got anything to justify that they are the majority tribe in the state. So, they too are saying,`yes we should have had more`.

So, the cry of marginalization is relative. It depends on what you see and that's why I am saying that there is the need to re introduce… To build up a new level of confidence in each part of the state. So, it isn't the issue of power moving to one senatorial district from the other and vice versa. That isn't  the  solution.

The solution is to have a governor who has the experience, who knows what it takes to move the state forward, after all, the act of governance is to develop the people, —both human, physical—development in all its ramifications and then restore confidence in each person, in each ethnic group in the state, a sense of belonging. That's what we are talking about.

So, if the governor is doing what the people like would they talk of where he comes from and that's the issue I want to down play. So, let them look at the quality of the person that is trying to rule them. What kind of vision has he got ? What type of person is he ? Can he give us a sense of belonging, all of us that make up the state?. Can we trust him to do these and the answer should be yes.

Take for instance, in the allocation of facilities, senatorial projects. Some projects that were attracted from the center, I did not concentrate them in my own senatorial district alone, even though I was the person that attracted those projects from the federal government. I am talking here in terms of solar street lighting.

Yes, we were able to appeal to the federal government to do solar street lighting project in Kogi east senatorial district, but then we had to think of the other senatorial districts as well. We weren't selfish to insist that everything should be in my senatorial district. That wouldn't be fair. So, that's why we have them in Kogi east and we also have them in Kogi west and central. These projects are there for anybody to verify. So, that's the issue.

But the incumbent governor has promised to ensure power shift. Are you trying to play a spoiler role?

No, far from that! As a matter of fact, what the governor said was his personal opinion. Okay?  The governor expressed his personal opinion and if power should shift, all the stakeholders, both of Kogi east, west  and central should come together and negotiate as brothers and sisters. It isn't something you come and say, “well we from Kogi west, the power is now for us“ and then it becomes your own. No!  Then where is the democracy we are talking about? Democracy means negotiating, talking to your brothers and sisters, exchanging views and agreeing on a way forward.

So, I think what the governor said was his own personal opinion. It wasn't the entire people of Kogi east that said the power should now shift . So, they shouldn't say that the governor has now given them the power, because I don't think the governor would give anybody the power . Even those of us trying to run the race we can not say the governor has given us the power. Power belongs to the people and it belongs to God. That's it and you can not say, `now this power would move in this direction`. No, I don't think so.

Have you sought his blessing?
The issue is that whoever wants to come in and run a race it is only courteous that you let the incumbent know that this is your ambition. Apart from that, many people have gone to him and he has clearly told them that power belongs to God and it is God that gives to whomever He wants. So, the governor has been very clear, he hasn't committed himself to anybody to the best of my knowledge.

Are you sure he has no anointed candidate.?
Well, to the best of my knowledge, you can ask him, but I  think he has created a level playing field so that the people can pick, who they want, who they think, the person they trust can move the state forward, can carry on where his excellency would leave the state in terms of development and socio economic improvement.

What is your competitive edge? What makes you feel you are the best for the PDP ticket and ultimately the exalted seat ?

I have some qualities which I think stand me out from the rest. One, I told you of my qualification. You must be qualified first so that you have analytical power to be able to assess the merit and demerit of any decision you take.

So, I went to a normal secondary school, where I made division one, I went to the university to do a diploma in Banking, where I had distinction; I read a B.SC. Business Administration and I passed with second class upper  and I have an MBA  and I specialized  in Managerial Finance  and then, I am a fellow of the  Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

Now, having done that I started a career in Banking and I rose to the pinnacle of my career—I was managing director of a bank and throughout all these period, my record was clean. Meaning that in the private sector, I have been able to achieve by the grace of God.

Now, the private sector experience is a consolidated one, that's there. Then, I came to the state to serve as a commissioner, I served as a commissioner for four years and during the four years I served in four different ministries, under Prine Abubakar Audu. I was the founding commissioner that established Kogi State University. We did our best and made the university functional: I was later moved to the Ministry of Youth and Sports and then we did our best there.

Then, I was again moved to the Ministry of Commerce and it was that time that the idea of establishing the Obajana cement company was fashioned out. So, later when we saw the magnitude of finance and so on Dangote was brought in.   So, that was another landmark and from there I went to the Ministry of Agriculture and then that was my last ministry.

All these while, I was interacting with the civil servants and I knew how  best to motivate them, I knew how best to bring out their maximum output and so on. So, I know the civil service structure of the state. That's public service.

Having been elected into the national assembly two times now I also have that senatorial exposure: how to interact with my colleagues, how to interact with the presidency, how to lobby and woo, negotiate for positive results. All these things I have acquired and I think, if you superimpose the private sector experience on the public sector experience and then you add the senatorial experience, I think I am well baked to serve the people. That's my case.

I must say that Governor Ibrahim Idris has done his best and we are very much appreciative of what he has done, but until you stop breathing you can never say that there is no room for improvement. So, there are some areas I am looking at for improvement. The present administration in the state has done its best, but we aren't going to seat on our oars and say there is no challenge again. No, not at all. We have a lot of challenges and definitely we would move the state forward from the present level it is. There should be valued added in terms of administrative competence and input.

What is your personal view on the zoning arrangement that is about to be discarded by your party, the PDP at the national level?

Well, I would have loved to restrict myself to my state, which is the basis of this interview, but then, if you want me to comment. The same reason I gave you: that look, let nobody come and say that he wants to be governor of a state, based on ethic sentiment. No. tell your state, those qualities you have that would be better for the people, that you would bring to bear on the act of governance, that all the people would benefit .So, these are the things we want to look at.

Now, at the national level, President Good luck Jonathan has taken over, people are watching what he is doing and in my view he has started very well and what is zoning after all. What we are looking for is a person that can move Nigeria forward.

So, if we identify those qualities in Good luck Jonathan and we know that he can move this country forward, then why not support him so that he move the country forward, instead of looking at zoning, as if that is sacrosanct—that with zoning, all our problems as Nigerians would be solved.

Even if you zoned, whoever emerges is a human being. In other words, you are looking for a human being that would deliver dividends of democracy to the people; a human being that will wipe off the tears of the people; a human being that will give Nigerians the necessary focus, a leader that will make Nigerians feel wanted abroad, one that will restore the dignity of Nigeria.

That's what we are talking about. If you are fighting corruption, let it be very clear, not just using politician  to rubbish the other person. No, it should be based on clear facts and identifiable evidence, provable beyond reasonable doubt.

So, all these things, once they are in position and you now have the power infrastructure, we now have the road infrastructure and a disciplined aviation service, then let it be. Let the person that can provide all these things, let the person continue instead of fighting for zoning and all that. That's my personal view. So, it isn't zoning that will solve the problem of Nigerians, but quality leadership that is focused.