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When I was in ANPP we rigged elections – Kachako

By Salihu Othman Isah

Senator (Colonel) Isah Kachako is a popular grassroots politician in Kano state. A former acting military governor of Katsina state, he made it to the National Assembly as a Senator at one point. He was also at another time a director of intelligence in the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) before he crossed over to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where he currently holds sway. He spoke to SALIHU OTHMAN ISAH on a wide range of issues recently.


Assessing President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua

Thank you very much for this question. It is a known fact that governance is what is good for the generality of Nigerians and Nigeria. We have been looking for peaceful atmosphere during civilian regime since the First Republic. As we grew, even if through crawling, things happened anyhow and at any given time; with uncertainties here and there, calamities of great magnitude confronted Nigerians on the way toward attaining democracy. But I think as somebody who have seen it all in politics in Nigeria for the last 20 years, I am free to say yes, people have chosen the right president for this country; knowing fully what Yar’Adua is and who was Yar’Adua before. I think it is in history that he performed very well as a teacher, his footsteps, the way he started and he started very well knowing fully that he is cool and gentle, peaceful in a way simply because he knows Nigerians want him to rule.

Based on that he is following the footsteps of our ancestors amongst who was his father, a First Republic minister. He must have gone down to history, bury himself in the archives and start translating how our ancestors ruled us. I am talking about Zik of Africa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, (Chief Obafemi) Awolowo, (Chief Festus) Okotie-Eboh, (Alhaji Bukar) Dipcherima and others. He has carried on the vision. We are still on board. We are moving forward from the stupid, I used to say that stupid, civil war we fought because of the greedy group of people who wanted to lead Nigeria and for that sake killed a lot of people. But God put a stop to that. Today, we are witnessing democracy. Yar’Adua has performed well. Many people have agreed to this especially with his seven-point agenda which he is pursuing one by one. It is just about a few months he’s been on the saddle so you cannot start giving marks to anybody. But you can only encourage him to go ahead with the good things he is doing. So, I am saying that Yar’Adua has started very well, he needs encouragement from Nigerians.

How do you reconcile the fact that the Buhari faction of ANPP and the AC are at the tribunal challenging results of the presidential poll which some Nigerians and the international community condemned and here you are saying Nigerians voted Yar’Adua overwhelmingly?

Yar’Adua has won and he is on board. The important thing is that he is the president of the country. And more importantly is that Nigerians have forgotten about the election which has already gone. We are now in government. The Nigerians I know are happy. Even the irregularities some people are talking about are normal in any democracy. I was in ANPP. When we were there, we planned a lot of riggings (laughs). Only that we were not lucky then. So, it is all over the world that these intrigues happen. It depends on the way and manner Nigerians see it. But I know that if things didn’t go well, by now, with apologies to my Southern partners, things could have been terrible. And look at it, the Southerners gave him more attention during the election and are still giving him attention for his achievements these months he has been in office. You can see how the support is increasing day-by-day. We have just formed a Non-Governmental Organization called National Support for Yar’Adua/Jonathan Presidency. I am the deputy national coordinator (North) and I think I am being encouraged more from the South to see that yes, the government of this particular gentleman is really articulated and better accepted. The Northerners are also putting in their best to see that they give him that kind of support he enjoys from the South. But they won’t want to overdo it so it would not be misconstrued to be a tribal thing. However, Southerners are giving him more support. So, with this NGO in place, the support base will soon be balanced and there is no joke about it. However, the opposition can go their way; they have their say, but we have our power (laughs heartily).

But what are the specific achievements of the government so far?

One of them is that there is that synergy now linking the South and the North more than ever before. There is the sanity that exists between us - South and North. In the few months in government what needs to be done if a leader has laid a solid foundation is to urge him on; to encourage him on to continue to put in his best. Obviously, for now, the achievements cannot be counted in tangible terms, it cannot be seen. If you are a contractor you can’t finish a 3-bedroom project in a hundred and twenty something days.

But despite declaring emergency in power sector, things seem to get worse?

We hate ourselves in Nigeria. We hate ourselves. When it comes to unity of purpose, when it comes to question of coming together for a common cause we tend to go against individuals, forgetting that when things go astray, when things are not well done, the whole country, the whole people of this nation, irrespective of where you come from are bound to suffer. But that one is not being considered by the opposition. I prefer to call them stupid group. No matter your noble intentions, no matter your performance and achievements, they will always find faults. They attack you and cut you into several parts so that you can’t be joined as one to sail through. The tendency with Nigerians is that who is he that we can allow him perform like that? Who is he? That is the question.

What do you think is the future focus of Mr. President?

With the economic revitalisation of the system as we are witnessing now, the sky is the limit. Those who are really professional in that line has expressed this much; you can see the World Bank is happy to be discussing issues within these few days of his ascension to power. Definitely, with the economic things okay; you see the management of the economy is taking proper shape. And like I told you earlier the World Bank is happy to go along with us; the people who are professionals have structured the way forward. With the economy looking up, it is a question of how we would get there.

Recently, President Yar’Adua was at the United Nations General Assembly which he addressed. This has been greatly celebrated by the government of the day as a feat. What would you say is the high point of this exercise?

First and foremost, the President’s attendance of the United Nations General Assembly means that Nigeria is peaceful. If it is not, he wouldn’t have left this country in the first place to go and attend it. Besides, it is a honour for Nigeria that the United Nations agreed to sit and hear our president address it on issues that will motivate the well-being of the United Nations, a group of nations which has come together to promote world peace. So, everybody heard and must have understood what Mr. President did in the United Nations during the session. His contribution from Nigeria was by Nigerians. I believe he wouldn’t have gone to write those volumes of pages without the input and endorsement of Nigerians. Nigerians in the sense that the National Assembly and our elders amongst others must have been consulted for advice. So, his attendance means a lot for Nigeria, especially in the area of peace. Forget about the Niger Delta because it is one over thirty-seven.

Believe me, his visit to the UN means a lot to Nigeria and Nigerians and we should give him all the necessary encouragement; because he said a lot of what he thinks the world should look like. You know what the world should do so that Nigeria and other countries of the world would link up and make life more abundant for their various peoples.

Talking about the Electoral Reforms Panel; there are those who quarrel with its composition citing the illegitimacy of two members including the chairman to be on board. Another group alleges the one year tenure is too much, suggesting either three or six months. What is your view on this?

Reform programme is a must for this nation; we have to reform ourselves in terms of how to govern, in terms of discipline, in terms of management. We have to learn to put the right peg in the right hole. Those who are professionals must be given the chance to operate in their own various fields of endeavour. This was not done, hence the reason for this particular reform. Well, if one single person is crying out of a hundred people, meaning ninety-nine agrees it should be done, let the one shouting continues to shout up to the banks of River Benue.

Committee on Solid Minerals to repeal obsolete laws - Hon Barde

Hon. Yakubu U. Barde is the chairman House of Representatives Committee on solid minerals. He spoke to our correspondent Musa Usman on plans by his committee to revive the sector, which had suffered neglect for a long time. Below is the excerpt of the interview.

Hon, Your committee was recently inaugurated and as such commenced its legislative oversight. What would be your focus?

First and foremost, I want to thank the leadership of the House, for giving me the privilege of serving as a chairman among my colleagues in the solid mineral committee. The solid mineral sector needs to be developed and there is need to bring up new laws and to repeal some laws that have become obsolete, so that people or investors will be able to come into Nigeria to invest in the sector. We have over 34 minerals in Nigeria so if they are fully exploited, there will be diversification of source of revenue so that we will no longer be dependent on oil. I think the first step the committee wants to take, is to ensure that the relevant laws are amended to be in consonance with modern day laws or technology. And also to make sure that those laws that are obsolete are repealed and new ones formulated.

Solid mineral sector has not be given adequate attention by past administration, how do you hope to change things?

The inauguration of the committee witnessed a good turnout, with the presence of the Minister and other stakeholders in the sector. I think this presence signified the importance they attached to the solid mineral sector. I think we will work in collaboration with them, because no one can go it alone. So we want to work with them, to make sure that the formulations we are going to bring will be in consonance with international standard. So the commitment of the Hon. Minister is highly commendable and it shows we are going to work together.

How do you hope to tackle the problem of illegal mining currently going on in parts of the country?

This is a very important question in the sense that we don’t want to see them out of business. Rather we want to see how we can harness their experiences to make sure that they are brought under one umbrella body, given the enabling laws that will back them, so that they will now work as a legitimate body, not as individual illegal miners. This is because before now, you will agree with me they work individually. There is no co-ordination and if they co-ordinate themselves into a body, then we will be able to assist them and work with them and give them necessary legal backing, so that they operate within the frame work of the law.

Taping natural resources especially, the solid mineral, is capital intensive. What would your committee do to assist private sector or would-be investors in the sector?

Yes, part of what we intend doing, like I have heard and read in various dailies about the provision made by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for miners whereby they are suppose to benefit from soft loan, may be with single digit interest loan… that will enable them invest in the solid mineral sector. We are going to work in collaboration with these agencies, the Miners Association including the CBN, to see how we can lessen the condition attached to the accessibility of these loans. So this is the one we have known about already. And again, you will agree with me, international agencies like USAID and others are willing to assist us, in term of sensitising us, or making available to us, what is obtainable in other countries. So far, this is what we are going to focus on, until other avenues are available for us to explore.

What is your appeal to Nigerians on this important sector, which has been neglected over the years?

First and foremost, I think we need to do a lot of research, and I want to plead with our professionals in the Universities, to bring up proposals so that we as a committee can tender same to the government for possible research into the quantity, that is the value of our solid mineral deposit in various states of the federation. Because what is obtainable now is that people just have a little knowledge or information about the type of solid mineral that is available, but qualifying the amount in term of monetary value is what we don’t have. So there is need to do a very comprehensive survey and research on this and I think that is what we want to focus on now.

What can you say on the technology available to advance mining sector in the country?

The technological advancement of mining has remained stagnant because of low injection of capital into the sector. It is commendable that some monies are set aside in CBN to service this sector through soft loans to miners. This committee will collaborate with relevant agencies to ensure that these monies are accessible to miners.

What are the effects of over-dependence on oil as the sole revenue of the country, on other prospective sources especially the solid mineral sector?

Well, we may be an oil rich nation, yet it is an irony that the rising oil revenues did not translate to development and welfare of the citizenry. Rather it unleashes spiral violence and conflicts, which means that something is wrong. It is our belief that much of these problems could be avoided through the diversification of the economy.

History is very clear on how various regions of this country were developing in the past. Thanks to the various resources available for these entities to develop at their pace. The implication of this therefore is that the high wire politics of deprivation of today were non issue in the immediate post years of independence as no region took to mining of solid mineral and agriculture that abound.

But this could not be sustained with the evolution of oil industry, there is need to evolve a multifaceted approach to economic development. As members of the solid mineral committees, we have taken the exploitation and management of the extractive industry upon ourselves as is the case the world over. Nigeria cannot afford to stand aloof in this drive. We therefore call for collaboration and understanding of stakeholders in the industry.

Thank you for your audience

Thank you too for having me.

Age is not slowing me down - Adedibu 

Last Eid-el-Fitri festival, chieftain and leader of the PDP in Oyo State, Alhaji Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu spoke to DELE OGUNSEEMI, South West Bureau chief, at his Molete Ibadan residence. Chief Adedibu, in the interview, touched on many political issues in the state and Nigeria in general, concluding that said his age at 80 is not enough to slow him down politically. It is vintage Adedibu.


Can I meet you sir?

You are welcome. I am Chief Alhaji Lamidi Ariyibi Akanji Adedibu, a chieftain of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State.

Ramadan Kareem sir. May God spare our lives to witness many more.

Thank you. I am very grateful and praise be to God.

Sir at 80, how are you coping with the political activities as well as your followers?

That’s the will of God. We have been coping and I have been relevant to the political activities not only in the state, but in Nigeria as a whole. And to your question about my people, I have been coping with them through the special grace of God. They too have been enduring me. We started the struggle together, and we are all together.

But with your age at eighty, one feels you need a lot of relaxation, especially from politics?

God willing, we are coping and there is no problem. I am still healthy and strong enough to be with them, just as they are not tired of me. I am still valid, physically strong and psychologically sound.

What is your position now, in the Olubadan Council?

There is no controversy over that again. Events have overtaken that. I am now in cordial relationship with his royal majesty, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Odulana Odugade (JP). I am maintaining my position. I sit on my seat as a senior member of the Olubadan-in-Council. His Royal Majesty has been very pleased with me, and I have been playing my role as his subject. Kabiyesi has no complaint against me, I too, I am in full support of his royal majesty.

But are you still the Ekerin Olubadan?

I have no comment on that. You know if there’s any vacancy before, and you are the next man to that position, definitely you’ll be promoted to the position. So, we will be promoted. My chieftaincy titled in Ibadanland today is above that of Ekerin Olubadan.

Sir, we’ve not heard anything from you on current labour crisis in the state?

I don’t think there is crisis. Workers are only desperate; they are just being instigated by some unscrupulous elements in the state to undermine the state government. Whatever they are doing, call it strike or whatever, government activities are going on without hindrance in the state.

The government is recording remarkable achievements every day, with or without them. They cannot undermine the state government. I am fully in support of the government.

But sir, one would expect you as a father to both sides to intervene and settle the crisis.

They have both agreed. They have agreed with each other with the intervention of some leaders and personalities in the state. The government has even accepted the conditions they put across, but workers kept on presenting another. They have been making things difficult. If the government accepts one request, Labour would introduce another, it has political undertone.

With the strike biting hard on the people of the state, what is your word of advice for the masses?

I don’t know that it is biting on the people I don’t think so. The market women are there, petrol dealers are selling their products, transportations are working, and commercial vehicles are on the road. If you don’t have any business with the government, how do you know it is biting hard? I don’t feel any impact in their strike.

It seems your followers are always with you, even during this Ramadan period.

Yes, we are always together, even we are going to break our fast here together. Some honourable members will be here, they will sit and have their breakfast here with me.

Sir, come year 2011, may God spare our lives, would you still partake in active politics?

That is tomorrow’s issue. It is in the hands of God. May God spare our lives.

Any message for the people of the state?

Since fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, I will enjoin them to fear God in all their undertakings; both Muslim and Christians. We should fear God and do good to others as we would expect goodness from them.


Vol. 6 No. 15 November 17, 2007  EDITION...Of Truth and Excellence