Femi Sanni is one of the gubernatorial aspirants for the 2019 election in Kwara State under the Peoples Democratic Party. In this interview with journalists in Ilorin, the Civil Engineering graduate from the University of Ilorin and former House of Representatives aspirant from Okelele in Ilorin East Local Government speaks on why he should be given the ticket and his plans if eventually elected. Excerpts:
How did you develop interest in politics?
I cut my teeth in politics as far back as 2002 under the tutelage of Chief C.O Adebayo. It was him who back then in Canada encouraged me to consider playing some active political role in the state. You will recall this was just 3years after the inception of this new democracy we now enjoy. Then I was part of the few Nigerians in Diaspora who though were not members of NADECO, readily gave all the needed supports especially with our resources and time to assist the cause of the NADECO group thus contributing to the cause of this democracy we enjoy today. You will then understand my passion about this Nigeria project and as to why it must not fail. Incidentally the main key players today in the polity of the state are who we all began our political carrier almost at the same time. I was the other half of the two high profile candidates of AD then. Alhaji Lai Mohammed was the party’s gubernatorial candidate while I was the candidate for the House of Representatives for the party for Ilorin south/east federal constituency. That was the same year the Senate President Bukola Saraki debuted on the political scene. One can conveniently say that the current party leaders/gladiators of APC, PDP and I belong to the same political class of 2003. While some have gone to make good political carriers for themselves publicly since then, I have diligently remained in the back ground making sure that the engine of this new found democracy does not stop running. After the 2003 election that we gallantly lost in AD, I retraced my political steps and realigned with PDP and I have remained there since and bring many grassroots and national supporters on board. Over the years, we have created and built many bridges across all political divides I enjoy a great deal of goodwill across all party lines across the country.
Would you say this current administration has delivered on their campaign promises?
While you have to give credit to the present administration in maintaining a steady and almost rancor free government without which any meaningful development could have been made, we have realize that government is continuum and as such whatever this present government has been able to achieve one can only measure in terms of the level of development from the time of its inception in 2011. There is always room for improvement in every situation. Again you have to give kudos to the synergy in their camp for a rancor free and steady government. That is the level of civility and form of democracy that one hopes will transcend the whole country someday.
Why are you aspiring for the next governor of Kwara state?
Outside the fact that like every other Kwaran who possesses the minimum constitutional qualifications one is free to nurse any form of political ambition, I believe I can bring my wealth of knowledge in the business world which transcends the globe to bear in taking Kwara State to the next level in global standard development. The first point in my five point agenda is “business like governance, not business as usual” I remember this time a friend and I went to see a governor in his office and after the visit which was only to say hi after a long time, the governor gave that friend N500,000.00, this was years ago. I was so taken aback, my reaction and the surprise was visible and the governor jokingly pleaded that I will be given something more befitting next time, meaning he would part with something much more than he gave my friend. I quickly told him my reaction was to the way and the ease with which he gave my friend such a huge amount for no visible reasons as far as I was concern. He laughed uncomfortably and we left. Now my friend was upset because I obviously embarrassed the governor with my remark. My simple question to him then which is yet to be answered till today was “If the state was his business would he have given my friend that amount of money for no just cause?” the Jury is still out on that question but the answer is no. If he won’t, why do such to the people’s business because the state and running of its affairs is people’s business. You see I intend to run a business like government where efficiency, probity, accountability and result oriented deliverables will be the term of reference for all on board our government, from the local council workers to the state workers. I intend to build on the level of developments on ground, seeing to it that all ongoing projects are duly completed while embarking on new ones and plans such as the entrepreneurship focused youth development plan, the IQHCP-Improved Qualitative Health Care Plan, we also intend to implement Free and compulsory primary education plan.
Why are you still in the PDP despite the mass defection that is currently on?
When all this defections was happening I told our members then let’s wait for the dust of defection to settle before we make our decisions either to stay or to leave. My argument was simple; we have diligently built this house and endured so much and anyone coming to join us will only add to us and should not take away from us. Politics has been more of cases of personal interest to them above group interest; most of them didn’t listen and decided to leave. We are however seeing today the outcome of their decision. They are grappling with so many political warlords and egos at play already and this is just the beginning. While we at PDP have seamlessly put party executives together they are still contending with all the various political warlords and egos. This reminds me of the situation we found ourselves in PDP (2014/2015). We can’t keep making the same moves and expect a different result.
What do you think will be your priority if you emerge as Kwara state governor?
We intend to work on making the act of governance business like and to comply with global standard. We would work earnestly on youth development by focusing on entrepreneurship based programs and plans. Our youths need to be employed and government cannot do this directly. It’s just not visible. Nigeria as a country and Kwara as state has the population to inwardly do commerce amongst itself and have tremendous economic growth. I have developed many successful starts up businesses having been in business for over the past 25 years. We created Africa first mobile phone repair Assurance with the then household name company Phoneport service center. At the peak of phoneport activities we had the privilege of working with a Barrister Yakubu Dogara who is currently the speaker House of Representatives. I am already in talks with various companies, donor agencies across the globe, as far as Canada, Turkey, China and Kenya which ties into my agenda of attracting foreign investors into the state to rapidly accelerate economic development beyond what we have now. If we have a great and efficient working government the issue of people besieging politicians for handouts will be a thing of the past. We would make all basic amenities a people’s right not a governor or government magnanimity to the people. We would do away with all ceremonial dramas of launching and cutting of tapes at government projects. This is wrong; project execution is what the government is there for and expected to do. What the voters voted them to do. To Work! Simple. No more dramas. When you buy new equipment in your company do you cut tapes to launch it or hold a ceremony to start its operation? Of course not, so why do same with people’s business.
What makes you unique amongst the pool of Kwara gubernatorial aspirants?
This would be difficult to answer without appearing conceited, first I am not your regular cut of the analog politician, some are serial contenders whose only claim to wanting to run the people’s business is a feel of entitlement. Some because they have served some persons and they need to be rewarded for their loyalty. Others feel because they are against certain politician they deserve the support of the people. I am a different cut from the others whose take about governance and politics is still in printing posters to show you are a popular politician and are on ground. I believe my main strength above all the known contenders to-date is my business out look to things, my the global outreach, and goodwill enjoyed across the globe, state and country which will allow us to run a great business like government and also work seamlessly with the center irrespective of which party hold sway there.
Bukola Saraki recently defected to PDP and has promised equity and fairness to the existing structure going to elections in few months, how comfortable are you with him on the same political platform in the state?
Politics is local and all about numbers, people coming to join us should always be a welcome development. The Senate President, Governor and their people have adhered to the 40/60 principle agreed to at the national level. So far we have been able to harmonize the executive list of the party along the 40/60 agreement successfully. If we continue in the same spirit of understanding and appreciating each other as part of same winning team the issues of the elective posts will also be worked out successfully. One cannot say this about the other party. All we hear and see from them are rancor. Yet they would think they deserve to win the election.
Considering the zoning system in Kwara state, where do you think the governorship and the deputy seat should come from going into elections?
For equity in the polity and if we truly want to be all inclusive, sympathetically fair in the coming election, then the appropriate zone to produce the next governor of the state would be Kwara North while the deputy should be from the Kwara central. You will recall that the central had produced the governor for 12 years of the last 20 years, while the south will be having it’s 8th year of governance in 2019. If we also want to continue along this line of equity and fair play then I would even say further that the next governor should also be a Christian, as a Christian has not ruled the state in the last 20years. You will recall a similar situation presented itself in Lagos state hence the emergence of Governor Ambode. However because of the exigency of the times we are in it would be understandable for the parties to want to put their best political strategies forward hence the moves from both major parties at looking at getting their candidates from central which statistically carries the majority votes. Having said this though, if at the end of the day the party decides that in the interest of fairness that the governorship is zoned to the north I would rescind my campaign immediately, because at end of the day party must always be supreme for true democracy to work.