Barrister Saka Abimbola Isau, SAN is the former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice and the Secretary to the State Government under the leadership of Governor Bukola Saraki now the Senate President. He speaks with KAYODE ADEOTI, on his political ambition to vie for the gubernatorial ticket of the state under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Excerpts:
You are one of the party chieftains in the state that signified interest to run for the gubernatorial seat, what actually informed this aspiration?
I have been part of the system since MPN days in 1979, though I was a student then but I have been involved in politics. My participation then was informed by the kind gesture of late Olusola Saraki, the late Waziri of Ilorin. I have been supporter of his programmes until I became part of his political dynasty. I know what good governance is all about, that is why I want to contribute in my own way to the development of the state especially in the areas of education, agriculture, transportation development and many others. These, I can say geared my interest towards contesting for the number one political seat in Kwara State. I know as a practising legal practitioner, it is not that I don’t have what to do, I have been a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and I have been practising since 1985. If you have the knowledge, the whither, politics is a good means of helping the people in the society. Because of my own background as a legal practitioner, my governance will be different a bit, it will be growth orientated. Do you see positions you’ve held in the past working in your favour?
These positions I have held in the past will only help me to secure the ticket and eventually be voted for as the governor of the state. When I became Attorney General of the state then, I met only 17 lawyers in the Ministry of Justice, I was aware of their plights in the ministry been the onetime chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) of Ilorin branch, the welfare package was very poor so lawyers were not interested in working in the ministry. The lawyers complained then that the take home pay cannot even take them out of the office. When I was appointed, I brought about a policy that enhanced their welfare package, generally speaking; it was a serious issue during that time. Before I left the Ministry to become the SSG, the Ministry could boast of 68 counsels. However, everybody wants to come to the ministry even private legal practitioners want to join simply because of the package that was enhanced. During my time as the AG, I established Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), this sector has two departments namely; Conflict Resolution, this implies that those who have issues can easily resolve it without going to court, the other one is the office of the public defender, those who are very poor or the indigent people in the society, this office defends them. They will be given counsel free. This gesture enhances even the community service. I also ensured that the number of judicial division were increased, I increased the physical development of court and judges quarters. Since Kwara State was established, we have only 3 judicial division, one in Offa, Oro and Ilorin. I made it 7 by adding Kaiama, Afon, Lafiagi, Osi. All these are part of development I brought to the state and the importance of all these cannot be farfetched.
Looking at the zoning arrangement in your party (PDP) with the clamour for Kwara North candidate, do you think it will favour you?
There is no senatorial district that has not produced a governor, Kwara North produced, Kwara South and Central had done likewise, so if the ticket comes to the central, there is no big deal about that, everyone has gotten its own share, considering the population, Kwara Central is very populated, almost half of the whole population.
You’re from Ilorin West but you seems to be given much credence to Ilorin East…?
There is no different between Ilorin West and East even Asa and Moro. We are all these same, we are one. Because, at a time, there was no division, we were all one Ilorin Local Government.
Do you see your overwhelming education profile working for or against you considering the debates among members of the public that you’re the most learned among the aspirants?
Honestly, the way I see it is that education is about development, the more you read, the more you will be able to know the community where one resides, I have part of the community and I will want to continue being. I go to my family house virtually every Sunday, that is where I observe my prayers, I believe one tend to know the problems of his people better when one mix with them.
Being a lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, how do you see this impacting our governance if elected into office?
As a lawyer, I know what people are going through and I should be able to offer solution, as a legal practitioner I have met different types of people from different backgrounds. Some people, it is money they need, while some, it is just a counsel that will make the best of their lives. I think my profession has given me that edge to be able to detect all these in a person(s). Government is about understanding your people and doing their biddings at the appropriate times.
What the electorate seems to be clamouring for now is grass rooter candidate, will say you’re one?
For me, I know so well that I’m one. I know poor people in the society and they are my friend, this is because I move, dine and wine with them, they know me too. The little I’m able to give them, they appreciate it and that is what many people don’t do. If you’re with them and you’re solving their problems that is what makes the society enjoyable.
The place of money in any election cannot be overlooked, being a lawyer with no deep pocket, how do you intend to face this?
Honestly, in Nigeria today, politics has to do with money and I used to tell people that it is not good enough because, this will prevent many people who have better things to offer from coming out to join the race but I believe one thing which is sacrifice, if one want to serve, one must be ready to pay sacrifice, the way I see politics is different from the way others see it, I just want to serve.
Talking of the state where election has always been peaceful in Nigeria, Kwara state has come to take the lead, what is responsible for this and what do you foreseen of the forthcoming poll?
The major thing is our religions background and the good leadership, though there are pocket of violence in some places in the state during the election but it cannot be compared to some others states. Our political leaders are good and both Muslim and Christians are one in the state, we don’t clash here. We don’t discriminate here, Christians.
We have couples of aspirants gunning for this number one seat in your party, what is your chance?
By the grace of God, my chance is the brightest among them all. First, they all met me in this job, I have been in politics as far back as 80s, and I may not have held elective positions because I believe in legal practise. Most of the aspirants came back to Ilorin to take up political appointment but I have always been on ground. I have been in CNP, NPP and many other parties until now that I now joined PDP. I came into politics to serve, with all of these, I should have the best of the chances, and I am a grassrooter. I have in mind the development of Kwara State.