In this illuminating interview with Gurara Accord, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for Zangon Kataf Local Government Area(PDP) of Kaduna State, Francis A. Sani speaks on his agenda as he campaigns ahead of the June Local Council Elections.
My name is Hon Francis A. Sani (popularly known as Zimbo). I am from Madauchi village, close to Zonkwa. I was born in 1970 and I attended my primary School in Madauchi. I attended GSS Fadan Kaje. From there I proceeded to Kaduna State Polytechnic, Zaria, where I obtained a Diploma in Accounting. I then went to Kaduna Polytechnic for my HND in Accountancy. After that, I got admission into the College of Accountancy, Jos where I graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Accountancy. I also have passed the National Association of Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) exams. I am a Chartered Accountant.
When did you join politics?
I joined politics in 2002. I was a two-time Councillor of Zonkwa ward. I was also Special Adviser on Political Matters to then Zangon Kataf Council Chairman, Hon. Chris Haruna. I also served as a Senior Legislative Aide to the Hon. Sunday Marshall Katung, when he was the Member representing Zango Kataf/Jaba Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives. I had contested for the Chairmanship Council Chair of Zangon Kataf and lost to Chris Haruna. This is the second time I am contesting.
Why are you contesting again?
I have gained a lot of experience as a grassroots politician and I have a lot of input that I can make to make Zango Kataf LGA a better place for all of us.
So what are you going to do differently from what others have done?
I have lived most parts of life at home and I understand our challenges, basic needs, our ways of lives very well. My most important concern for Zango Kataf is the security and safety of everybody.
Zango Kataf LGA is large. It is about 2,500 km sq. I am telling you! This is more than half the size of a state like Imo state. Our population is probably around 500,000 today because according to the 2006 census we were around 320,000. We have some major tribes and smaller ones here. We also have Hausa and Fulani who have been around, some of them for a very long time. There are other tribal groups also. We have managed to remain in peace because our people welcome everyone, the land is fertile and large and can accommodate everybody. Yes, occasionally there are some quarrels and fights. But it usually takes intervals of many years and we settle.
But today, some parts of the Atyap areas and parts of Ikulu have not enjoyed peace for long. Even areas that have not been attacked cannot be very sure that one day the problem will not reach them. Gora Bafwai is a shadow of its past. Kurmin Masara, Abyazhim, Wawarafi, Chibob, Kigudu all need urgent assistance from past attacks by armed people. The Ikulu areas close to Laduga grazing reserves are living under fears of attacks and kidnappings.
Unfortunately, all those who were attacked said it was the Fulani people that attacked them.
So my primary task is to find means of reaching out to the Fulani leaders that have a genuine intention of peace and reconciliation. We shall also reach out to the victims. The Fulani are also saying that they have been attacked. I will get to find out what actually happened. I am going down to the real roots. I will not rely on the elites of both sides. As a grassroots man, and using my authority as Chairman, I can gain access to the major actors and we will sit down and talk.
I believe that all the tribes of Zango Kataf will not be complete without their Fulani living peacefully with them. We need each other. But we have to correct what has gone wrong and start trusting ourselves again.
I have heard from many sources that the Fulani who have left some of our villages want to return. That is very okay. But the issue is not as simple as that. So, like I said, as a grassroots person, if voted into office, I will use my native sense and my authority to bring genuine reconciliation. Any peace that is brought by force is artificial and cannot stand. Natural peace is not only the best, but it is also not expensive. The money used to cater for the military and police here can be used for other things. If there is no peace no place can make progress.
What are you going to do for the interior areas of your LGA that feel neglected?
As I told you, my politics has been that of grassroots politics. I have always served Zango Kataf as my major area of interest. There is no nook and cranny of this Local government that I don’t know. So what I will be bringing new is based on the assessment of the needs of each area.
I am already talking with all the Councillorship candidates of my party to get me the immediate needs of their wards so that when we win elections, we just start solving these problems as resources permits. We won’t waste any time.
What are you going to do about generating internal revenue?
Again, you can see that when it comes to revenue, the present state government has taken over our major areas of generating money.
That’s why the Local Governments have been asking for financial autonomy.
They have brought in consultants that are collecting rents on shops, collecting market revenue and the rest. But when elected, I will ensure our major markets are expanded, made better and more functional so that we can compete for these revenues.
What I want to do differently from past leaders of this Council is that I will engage experts that will assist us to bring in foreign Development Partners and International Aid agencies to assist us in certain areas. There are always large foreign funds on the ground for assisting rural Communities like ours that have suffered huge losses due to insecurity. The problem has been how to get access to these bodies.
What about Agriculture?
Yes, that will form one of my main agenda. Let me tell you this: our people are farmers. To them, anything that will help them get better yields from their crops or breed more animals is top in their choice more than anything. Fertilizer has always been their problem. When elected, I will struggle for our share from the state allocation. But, sometimes fertilizer from the state government comes late. I have now identified other sources of fertilizer directly from the company. And it is almost at the same price as that of the state government. So by the grace of God, that problem is solved when I am elected.
You also have teeming youths who are idle in the Local Government, what do you intend to do with them if you become Chairman of Zangon Kataf LGA?
You have touched on another area of my major concern. The youths of Zango Kataf LGA are not only hardworking and intelligent, but they also have very educated ones among them.
I am very worried that a lot of them cannot find any serious work or economic activity to be doing. The youths here will tell you that they have always been part of daily activities.
So when I win this election, youths will form the main part of my administration. I will appoint some of them to work with me and I will also allocate a good percentage of our revenue into poverty alleviation and skills acquisition for them. In fact, as I speak with you now, there is ongoing skill acquisition training that has been going on under my sponsorship.
With their energy and vibrancy, I shall make sure that I keep them as busy as possible doing what will help them grow both financially and as responsible members of our community.
I shall liaise with the state government to build a mini-stadium in Zonkwa.
ICT is another way that young people are making money. I shall empower them with training in this area.
You sound very confident. What gives the assurance that the PDP will retain the Zangon Kataf Council Chair?
Why should I not be very confident when the Kaduna State Governor has declared that he is not going to meddle in the affairs of SIECOM to provide for a free and fair elections? I am also always out there in the Local Government seeing and hearing things for myself. Zango Kataf is a local government full of people that are exposed and educated. They know the implication of voting in another party outside the PDP. I have been to several meetings where people prayed that God will never allow Zango Kataf to vote in a Chairman that will destroy the Local Government and set it on the reverse gear. The electorates know that even if you are a good person, as soon as you become a government official under the APC, your good nature turns into a negative one towards your people because the party has an agenda that looks at us as enemies. You know them!
Besides that, any government presence that you see in Zango Kataf today was brought by the PDP. The present Council Chairman has achieved much even with the little money that the state releases to him monthly. He may not have covered every Community. But that is why I should be here to continue from where he stopped.
So I have no doubt that the PDP will not only win the Chairmanship by a landslide, all our Councillorship candidates will also win, by the grace of God.
Some people have expressed fear that the election will be announced in favour of a particular party irrespective of the outcome. That it has been concluded that anyone who is unhappy can go to court after the declared winner has been sworn in. What is your response to this?
(laughs) . . . that will be a very dangerous game that no one in his right senses will try to do for Zango Kataf. If anyone tries that for this Local Government, then he must be prepared for the serious repercussion which seriously I cannot say. Our people have been managing to survive the suffering and pains of this government. Trying to impose an unwanted chairman here will be regarded as an insult and provocation taken too far. It won’t stand. Zango Kataf is too sensitive a place to try that kind of thing. It is not in the interest of anyone in Kaduna state.
Any election that is not won under a free and fair atmosphere in Zangon Kataf is a wicked invitation to anarchy that will be beyond the control of some of us. But like I said before, I’m confident the governor will not allow such to happen no matter the pressure on him.
What have you to say to your supporters?
I want to assure them that we are winning this election. I want to call on them to understand that this contest is between brothers. They must not in any way cause trouble anywhere. And so far, my supporters have been behaving very well. And by the way, the opposition here is very weak anyway. My supporters should keep their mature and decent behaviours. But that does not mean that they should fold their arms not to cast their votes and ensure that it counts.