With the governorship primaries concluded and the candidates and political parties keeping sight on the 11 March 2023 general election, the candidate of the PDP in Kaduna State, Rt. Hon. Isa Mohammed Ashiru, in this interview with our correspondent, responds to some of the questions about his choice of running mate, youth inclusiveness in his administration, and his expectation from the people of Kaduna State. Excerpts…
ISSUE: Why Dr John Ayuba?
Dr. John Ayuba is a seasoned banker, administrator, and university lecturer who will no doubt add an intellectual depth to the ticket, and that makes him very competent to be my running mate.
After competence, the next most important criterion I considered was loyalty. Dr John Ayuba has been in the trenches with me and the PDP for a long time. He has proven to be a loyal and reliable confidante right from my last attempt up untill now. He also stood with me throughout the period I sought justice in the courts after the 2019 general elections.
ISSUE: There are complaints from certain quarters that both the PDP Senate Candidate for Zone 3 and your chosen running mate are from the same local government. Didn’t you consider choosing from the other seven local governments?
Like I mentioned earlier, competence and loyalty were the primary considerations in arriving at the decision. Even during my consultations on this matter with various individuals; PDP Elders and groups of Southern Kaduna extraction, his name was among those recommended. But I can assure you that our administration would be all encompassing and inclusive. This is not all there is. A whole lot will come when we form a government.
I have heard people question my choice, making reference to his tribe and I tell them Dr. Ayuba never considered my tribe and religion all the years he stood with me. It is rather unfortunate that our state and nation have become seriously divided along ethnic and religious lines, and that is why people pay attention to such frivolities leaving the essentials. And you cannot blame them entirely. However, all hands must be on deck to close the ever-widening gap of religious and ethnic extremism in our state and country
ISSUE: Prior to the nomination, there were calls for a much younger Deputy Governor. You however opted for a 64-year-old. Is it that you were unable to find someone much younger with the capacity for that position?
To be candid, desperate times call for desperate measures. The situation we find ourselves in Kaduna State requires a team that will hit the ground running. There would be little to no time for learning on the job. Dr. John Ayuba has worked in previous administrations; his experience and network will be highly required when our administration is sworn into office.
My selection in no way discriminates against our youths. I believe in their collective power and potential and that is why most of our policies will be targeted at empowering them economically. I would rather have hundreds of entrepreneurs by the end of my tenure than just pick one of them as a running mate. The youths shall make up at least 40% of my administration. To be competitive in the new age, we must approach governance through innovation, relying on data and technology. Thus the youths are in a better position to drive this.
Besides, the governor or deputy governor is mostly coordinating the affairs of government but the MDAs and parastatals are there for grabs, and the youths would surely be considered to man some of them.
ISSUE: Ahead of the 2019 governorship election, there was a smear campaign that your running mate, Hon. Barr. Sunday Marshall was a son of Gen. Zamani Lekwot which somehow affected the campaigns. Picking your running mate again from the same LGA, aren’t you worried that such negative and baseless propaganda could be used against you again?
Look, I am not worried by such cheap propaganda, and no patriotic citizen of this state should. We can’t be talking about 1992 in 2023, 30 years after, unless we are not interested in making good progress in the state. What should define our political future is the unity of this state, and I am committed 100% to doing that.
I seriously think we should outgrow such cheap sentiments in our desire to reunite this state. It is not in our best interest to do otherwise.
ISSUE: Finally, what would be your message to the people of Kaduna State especially party faithful and supporters alike?
They should rally round this ticket. The people of Kaduna State have been yearning for change, so we have to close ranks and focus on those things that would guarantee victory come 2023. I want to assure all that every interest will be protected under our administration; be you a farmer, civil servant, businessman, politician, the young or old, your interest will be protected.
We will reclaim our state from the APC; restore unity, ensure the security of lives and property, revamp agriculture, develop our rural infrastructure, and boost ICT, among other critical points of our agenda. So, I invite everyone to come on board and support us to emerge victorious insha Allah. This is our opportunity to take back our state and get Kaduna working again for all, in reality and not by mere propaganda.