Ayuba advises the governor not to get carried away by support from the people.
Ayuba Bello, a civil servant, entrepreneur, and politician was a former deputy governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress, ADC. In this interview, Mr. Ayuba explains how the style of governance of Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, may earn the governor a second term. Mr. Ayuba also highlights possible obstacles to the governor’s path.
The graduate of Public Administration also spoke on why he may accept the call from his constituents to vie for the Jere Federal House of Representative seat on the platform of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, in the state.
PT: What is your take on Borno 2015?
AYU: Everyone knows that Borno State is almost a bandwagon state in terms of politics. The ruling government always takes the day and the state ruling party has always remained an opposition to the party that forms the central government. As it is, just as it had always been, virtually all the parties in opposition are coalescing into the ruling APC in their droves. Even the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which will obviously remain the only opposition party in the state, is badly affected by the decamping fever, with various supporters – from the officers down to the rank and file – have been declaring supports for the APC led government of Governor Kashim Shettima.
This of course is a clear pointer, that without wasting time to burn nocturnal candles plotting to rig elections, the APC will confidently win elections. This is even more to the fact that the then ruling All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP, as formidable as it was in the past is still intact in the APC. So, if we are to talk about who takes the day, come 2015, the Governor Shettima-led APC will definitely be the one to beat. But this does not still mean the tides could not overnight turn against the incumbent APC government. If the party and Governor Shettima do not manage his soaring support base that is almost bursting at the seams now, it could also turn counter-productive for him as well.
AYU: The greatest mistake that any Borno politician could make, that could cost him or her all the years of invested political fortunes within a blink of any eye, is to be carried away by the euphoria of confidence and then undermine his supporters or even the opponents who are abound within and without the party. A case of misused popularity was in 2011 when the PDP candidate, Muhammed Goni, allowed a silly statement to be attributed to him – that Borno electorates should vote Jonathan and not Buhari. Though he was in PDP, but the then political reality was that the people wanted him as a better replacement to both ANPP and CPC. The mood then was not about parties but the persons contesting. The mood was for him as a governor, just as it was for Buhari as presidential candidate, but that statement attributed to him in the media actually turned the tide against him and he went crashing down. Shettima has to be wary of who he associates with as the time ticks towards February 14, 2015.
Secondly, the APC will certainly put itself on the path of woeful defeat if it does not, as a matter of urgency, put its house in order and settle whatever differences the now divided camps of former Governor Modu Sheriff and incumbent Shettima have. While Shettima has his influence as the sitting governor with all the resources to tackle whatever challenge that confronts him, the former governor too has the strong political influence to undermine the situation; and also cause damages that will land the Government House in the lap of whoever is the candidate of the PDP.
The best thing that will ever happen to the APC in Borno is for the party to quench these blinking embers of trouble now with a cup of water rather than waiting for it to turn into a conflagration that even tanks of water cannot put out. Governor Shettima now has the heart of many Borno citizens, especially his humility and sense of simplicity. Everyone sees him as a good man and this cuts across party lines, but he still needs a party and the instrumentality of the party to win elections. A word is enough for those who have the political wisdom.
PT: You’ve been mentioned as a possible contender for a House of Reps seat. Are you interested?
AYU: Honestly, if I must say the truth, I was also embarrassed by the over 200, 000 stickers and handbills that flooded most parts of Jere and Maiduguri local government calling for me to run for the Jere Federal House of Representatives seat. I was hit by mixed reaction; one, I felt unhappy then elated. I was unhappy because the stickers were produced by my friends and supporters – mostly youth – who did not consult me. And when I asked why, the people said it was an idea whose time has come. Gomari Ward of Jere has never, even for once, produced a candidate for an elective office since the local government was created; so they feel I am the one that can make that dream come true.
It was a tough moment for me. Yes, of course, I was a politician before I joined the civil service. But my dream is to build a career in the civil service. I have a reason for leaving the murky water of politics to join the more certain civil service.
Of course, I also know that in the course of my interaction with our people in Jere, people have over the years appreciated my style of politics which earned me tremendous support from the majority of them, especially the youth. My style is simply the belief that life is all about destiny; what is yours must surely be yours no matter how hard you worked for it. I also have a strong philosophy that no matter how blessed you are, a tree doesn’t make a forest. So, I don’t look down on people, neither do I shun them when I am supposed to listen to their views. Hence, I use the little resources at my disposal to positively touch the lives of others irrespective of political, religious, sex, age and cultural differences. As a result, I became a “man of the people”. But despite all these, I still doubt politics. It is the most uncertain venture to risk trying, yet it is a sure way to touch peoples’ life on a large scale.
PT: Are you going to hearken to their call?
AYU: I have no hasty answer to give to this question because as it is presently, their calls have gone beyond seeking my consent. They have gone as far as printing the logo of the party from which I was going to contest, the APC. I wasn’t that happy because they did not consult me before doing that. There is no doubt that the APC is proving to be the most promising political party in Borno State but it is not the only party in the state. They should have sought for my consent on the choice of the party and if I would be willing to go back into active politics.
My second reservation is that just like it has been in the general political clime of Nigeria, one can hardly become a member of the House of Representatives or State Assembly in Jere if you don’t have an influential person at the higher level. It is a place where delegates at primary elections are influenced to choose candidates even against their wishes and even if they have a better candidate in their mind as their choice. It is a place even if you are lucky to cross all these hurdles at the primary elections, you are bound to meet an opponent at the general elections who often hijacks the constituency funds meant for the execution of projects that have direct impact on the lives of the people. He thereby subjects the electorate to untold hardship and abject poverty so as to use the hijacked money to buy their votes during the election period at the expense of their voting right.
But one thing actually encourages me which is the political fortunes of the present governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shetima. Despite the fact that he often humbly identified himself as a novice in politics – as he was coming from the banking sector – he was able to turn around the face of governance in the state so magically that peoples’ lives are being touched almost directly. And like magic, he is being seen as a bastion of hope even ahead of 2015.
I told some of my supporters that if I must accept their calls, and join the APC for that matter, it was not because of anything but probably because we all share the admiration of His Excellency, Governor Shettima. And most of us in Borno are happy that he is the leader of the party in the state and not some political godfather that in the past would hijack everything. You can only become what delights their wishes and caprices .
PT: If eventually you become elected a Rep, what will be your priorities?
AYU: Effective pursuit of legislation that will better the lives of the people of Jere Federal Constituency will be my topmost priority. I hate making promises that are fantastic. I believe in saying things that I know I have the powers of handling or influencing others to do. But that is not to say I will not touch the lives of my people. I am not yet a lawmaker but when I get into office. I believe I will also be confronted with novel challenges which ordinarily I may not have appreciated as an outsider.
I like working in consultation with the people that has been the secret of my political successes. And if elected as a Rep, I will constitute a committee that cuts across the wards of Jere constituencies and dotted by members from all walks of life to fashion out areas of need that my constituency project will tackle. These committee members will be working in advisory capacity and a linkage between me and rest of the electorates. And all the activities of the committee will be made public.