BUKOLA SARAKI’S ARISE INTERVIEW: Treating terrorists, bandits with kids glove, brought us where we’re – Saraki

With the National convention of the leading opposition party around the corner in the face of few oppositions to the process, the National Leader of PDP and the Immediate past President of the Senate, Senator, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki had an indepth interview with the Arise TV, where he talked on the state of the party.

The political icon also talked about the state of things in Kwara State Politics and the hope that the PDP are offering to Kwarans. He also gave the back story of the Shonga Farms and further gave his two cents on the possible solutions to the perennial problem of insecurity. Read  on;


Are you comfortable with the situation in your party, PDP, especially with regard to the tenure of the National Working Committee and how do you feel that there are suits in court right now trying to stop the coming convention of the party this weekend?

Like most people in our party, I’m pretty satisfied with where we’re today. If we look at it now, we’re about four days to convention, we started a process where we elect our officers at the ward, local government, state and now we’re going to National Convention. In most of the states, we’ve been able to elect officers, with less rancour and in few states we have issues where we have problems before we set up our committee, National Reconciliation Committee, we’re happy with that and we’re going to the National Convention and some of the moves we’ve made so far, indicate that hopefully we will have a very smooth and successful convention of our party. I think this is different from the other party, where you have parallel Congresses across the country. In over twenty states, as the opposition party, we’ve been able to manage our Congresses, yes we have one or two cases in court but I don’t think that changes the commitment of our members to stay united and resolve our differences. In political parties, there will always be differences but what really matters is the leadership and the commitment of members to find solution. We’re going into a convention, I think out of probably 24 position, I think we’ve already reach consensus in about 21, I think there are about three or four left, it shows a party that understands the importance of time in the country today and that it is not about us the politicians, but it is about creating a platform that give an opportunity to provide leadership for this country at this crucial time. So by and large I’m satisfied with it. Of  course there is no perfection of process but when you compare the options because election is about choices, when you look at the choices that you have between a party that have been able to carry out ward, local government and State Congresses and you have another party that you have parallel Congresses in about two third of the states I think the difference is very clear. Today I’m happy to report that lots of these chapters we’ve been able to reconcile, I mean we have two states that have problems for over ten years, through our efforts, we’ve been able to bring about resolution and some kind of harmony in those states. So by and large, we’re still work in progress but I think we’re showing the country that despite all the noises, which were made about our crises, now I don’t think those crises are there, to the best of my knowledge, may be one if at all we see any parallel Congress in our state. That  is a far cry from what is happening in the other party, so I think those of us in PDP we’re satisfied, there are still some areas to improve, there are some states that we’ve not been able to resolve, few states that we’re still working on but I think our concern as a party now is Saturday, our convention coming up on Saturday, to be able to showcase a United party and you know I chaired a national reconciliation committee that was set up almost a year ago, where we found a way of reconciling the party. This committee had 2 former Senate Presidents, former governors and former leaders and we went round from one state to another and we can see the result of that in a lot of our states, Plateau, Nassarawa, Niger, we had cases like Ogun and Borno states, across the country where we’ve made it possible to bring our people together, we’re still doing that and I think we’ve done well and it reflected in what you see in our state Congresses and what you will see In our national convention coming up in the next few days.

Was that a reference to what happened in the APC Congress in Kwara state between the supporters of the governor and the supporters of the minister Lai Mohammed, but my actual question is that, you know what it takes to wrest power from the ruling party, which you manage to do as part of the APC coalition, it took unity of purpose, it took collective influence and obviously finances. Does PDP has what it takes to do so in 2023 and what is the game Plan and does that game plan involve zoning?

I was not making particular reference to Kwara APC, I was talking nationwide, the fact that ruling party hasn’t been able to carry out Congresses in the states where you have parallel Congresses in over twenty states and I was making reference to the fact that to my own recollection that I have never seen this happen in the political history of this country if you go back to the 1979 of NPN till date and in a party that can’t provide leadership or internal Democracy properly, the view is that how does that party want to provide leadership for the country, that was the point I was making not the specific state. I think Kwara is one of the states where that has happened and you talked about if the party is ready and where we have the resources and commitment and ready to wrestle power as you describe it, first and foremost I tell people in 2015, the number of states that APC had at that time was almost the same as the number we have now in PDP. So the concern that people were decamping I don’t think that should be a great concern and also if you remember in 2015, I think we had only one state in the south-south at that time, now we have 5 states and we have very committed leadership provided by our Governors, who are very committed on the issue at hand and more importantly, I think the country is in a different place.  The election is about choices, Nigerians have seen what the ruling party and government has offered and if you go by the statistics on the research that we have done and gotten feedbacks, it’s more of the commitment of Nigerians and that we appreciate and that is why we are doing a lot to get our party United. There are individual differences, there are individual ambitions but we all see the importance of the country and that is why every time it looks as if we are having a crisis. We come up with a solution and there are many examples I can give, what we have in different state chapters, sensitive issues like zoning and people’s ambition, we’ve all said what is important today is that, this is the only alternative available for Nigerians to provide an alternative government and as such, the interest of Nigerians, should supersede our individual interest, we should put that behind us and unite and that is what we’re showing by actions. It should be common in opposition party that you’re having crisis in every of the states because you don’t have a sitting President who will whip everybody to shape but despite that, we’ve been able to resolve those issues due to concession, due to people who look at the bigger picture and know that it is not about them ,we must think of Nigeria ,we must convince Nigerians that we’re ready to take charge and rescue this country ,because this country at this moment of time requires a different direction.

When you said, the crisis has been resolved, what about the Uche Secondus factor, that he was unfairly treated, there are cases in court, some don’t even know if the convention will go ahead, can you say that all is good regarding the internal democracy of the PDP .and considering the fact that the economy is bad and that the APC hasn’t done  well, but a lot of people will say you were part of the opening phase of that administration ,you were the Senate President and when you talk about the poverty in numbers, you presided over the start of those poverty in numbers, so you were part of the APC government years ago?

Again that is why we parted ways and yes we made promises to Nigerians in 2015, we made promises that economy is going to get better, we made promises on security ,we made promises on a lot of issues and for me and few of us, we felt we didn’t fulfill those promises and we parted ways. We didn’t stay there and continue. So I think it will be unfair of you to say that…. yes we went in 2015 with a lot hope and expectations, we were really motivated that we’re going to get this country working again but I think it takes a lot of character and courage to be able to leave the comfort of government and say that we haven’t got this right and I think we need to depart from this and do something else and that is what some of us have stood for, at a great expense, and that is the spirit of what we’re saying here, this is not about propaganda, and I think we need to move away from propaganda to substance, what we’re  saying is that we’re not the ones creating the figures, I mean I’ll be the first to admit if things were going on a right path.  It’s not for the sake of power, the question is that we need to find solution to these problems and today as in most elections, the ruling party has not met those promises and individuals are saying this. Nigerians are saying they’re not where they would like to be today, that is fact and as such that is what we should be talking about, that what is the alternative, if you’re happy and you believe that the path forward for Nigeria is to continue with this party and their programmes, that is your choice, the choice of others to say No, we must have a country that is secured, in the 2015, only one part of the country was unsecured but now the entire part of the country has its own issues, that is not what most people are ready to accept, a country where today ,there is issue of disunity, that is not what a lot of people want to accept, today, a country whereby a lot of our youths are either unemployed or those who can be employed are moving out of the country, that was not the case in 2015 and a lot of people were saying that we need alternative and they’re asking who is going to provide that alternative and our responsibility because of the importance of when we are as a country is that we can’t afford to get it wrong in this next election. I’m not saying that PDP is perfect but like I said election is about choices and I think we’re in a better position to provide the better country for us, If we look about issue of where the country is today and the investment and how the world sees Nigeria, in a time of our party, there were opportunities for lot of our teeming youth which do not exist now and talking about the court cases, we have one involving the chairman Uche Secondus, he is still our chairman, but I don’t think, we can judge the entire state of the party in one case involving chairman himself, but I said let’s look beyond that, let’s look at the process that led to where we’re again at the National Convention, how did we manage our ward, local government and State Congresses ,it has nothing to do with Uche Secondus, but did we manage to have a United party or did we have parallel Congresses in all our states, the answer is No. Yes you can say that we have issues, every political party across the world has issue because when you bring people of different ideas together, you’ll have issues ,but by and large, as party does it look like a party that is forging ahead, resolving the issues and trying to go forward to the convention to elect new leaders and march the party forward to the next election, I think that is the story in our party, today we’re not meeting to resolve Congresses in 20 plus states, …yes there are skirmishes  but I think the capacity for conflicts resolution within our party, and for some of our governors, our leaders, this is what we’ve been try to achieve, even the present committee of the chairman, but what I’m saying is that as a party, we appreciate where the country is, we’re determined to give our people a better option, we believe we have the capacity to do it, what we have all learnt of that capacity and ability is a big issue in leadership, we must talk about how we can ensure that we have the right kind of people to lead the country at all levels people who don’t want power for the sake of power but want to make a difference and who are courageous enough and they’re able to say what is going wrong, and refuse to be part of it, when you go to election, you’ll make promises and you must be held accountable to those promises, they’re not worthless, we’ve seen a lot of states where there was a lot of propaganda. Of course we’ve not been able to back it up in most of what is happening today in the country, if you sample a lot of people across the country, that they’ll say the country is not in a good place today and we must try and rescue it to and out it on a right path.

Are you running for president in 2023, if the answer is yes,  are you bothered that given the zoning arrangement in the PDP, the chairman will come from the North central part of the country, where you come from, are  likely to defect to another party in case you didn’t get the presidential system, possibly return to the APC?

What is important for us now is that any PDP member that truly loves the party and cares for the country and importance of where we’re, you must have a party, you must build a strong party, one of the reasons why I took up the responsibility of the national reconciliation strategic committee, was because there was a big concern, that the party was using a lot of steam and without a strong party, you can’t be talking about individual ambitions, as at last year a lot of people were already talking about their ambitions in 2023 and I’m one of those that said no, that it can’t be about ambition, without a strong party, so the focus for me now is for us to build a strong party and we have started that process in Congresses, in reconciliation and the final event hopefully it’s the convention, after we’ve done that, we put that in place ,then we can start talking  about individual interest, I think your question is a little bit premature and I’m sure in due time I will love to come back to answer the question when the time is right. Now talking about the issue of zoning, I think that has been made clear by the party at all our meetings, yes we’ve zoned the issue of party officers but it was clear that in doing that, we said that this doesn’t preclude anybody that has the presidential ambition. Most of our leaders have said that, they must have seen a lot of interviews some have come on this show and reemphasize that, we saw that at NEC, we said that at all the possible caucus meetings we’ve had, yes we’ve taken the chairmanship to the North central, but definitely, wherever we’ve taken it does not matter. What we’re looking for in the party is that if anybody wants to offer himself to run for president, let him run for president, I think the time that we have now, we must look at and ensure we get the best because the job ahead is the job that requires for us to really focus on leadership and quality of leadership, that was your second question, your third question you asked if I decided to run and I didn’t get the ticket, I think that is also not really fair, I mean in 2019 I ran for president, I didn’t get it, I offered myself to be the DG to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and I worked hard and it was said that I did that at the expense of also having lost myself, I committed myself and I worked very hard, I’m a team player, personal ambition is not the issue today  what is important is to get the Country right, I have children and grandchildren, we must leave a better country, we must leave a country where there is job for our talented youth, we have a lot youths that has great potential and today the world see Africa as next station for investment, and when you talk of Africa, you must talk of Nigeria, we have great opportunities to turn this thing around and I truly believe and I believe that with the right kind of leadership it will not take so long to turn this country around ,but to do that, I use to say when we use to campaign that you can’t give what you don’t have and I think that is what we need to focus in 2023, to ensure that leaders at all level but today also we need the right kind of followership and I think that we all must take an interest a very active interest in ensuring that we get it right in 2023.

The question raised about your possible defection is not unreasonable, especially with what is happening in recent times, your party seems to be hemorrhaging, heavyweight governors, lawmakers, is PDP undaunted by this?

No I don’t think we’re hemorrhaging, I think it appears to. If you remember when J did mention that there were certain governors that we knew that they were going to leave and they have left, it was just the final exit, so we’re not surprised ,but since then we’ve got some big wigs that have come into the party, this  week, there is a governor or former governor that is going to join the party, we’ve had couple of people who have joined ,we know that the leaders in APC when they defect, they don’t defect early, they defect later in the game, you saw that in 2015, so keep watching , I think Nigerians will not be surprised when they begin to see some defections from the ruling party and I said because some people defected doesn’t mean that I will defect, you have to look at everybody’s antecedents and that is why I said if you look at my antecedent in 2019, not because I didn’t win the presidential election but I didn’t defect and I don’t see why that will come up now and I want to emphasize this, honestly where we’re now, it’s not about personal ambition ,it is about how we’re going to work to make this country right, I also believe that whoever emerges our president, it is not about him, it about the president and his chiefs, who is he going to work with, who is going to take responsibility  I think we all must take blame here and I think leadership is about recruitment process, where people say they’re seeking for a job and we don’t really scrutinize to see are they fit for that job do they have the capacity to do that job And I hope that this time around we will look at capacity and because the work ahead requires  people who are capable to make this country a better country .

Things are not all clean and clear in the party, what do you learn from the ‘Otoge’ revolution, because that must be a seminar moment for politics in Nigeria in general and you were one of the victims of the Otoge revolution, what did it mean to you and what did you learn?

Well I think one has learnt a lot, one of the things you learn is that elections have to do with a lot of sentiments and propaganda.  Because if you come to Kwara today and talk to a lot of people in Kwara  you will find out a lot of them will tell you that we got lies sold to us and propaganda, we have made certain mistakes in following up issues and I read that at the end of the day they were better off then than now,  so one of the things we also learned is in politics  and in the process you must also accept that sometimes  the electorate will go with emotion and later, they can come out to say that they’ve got it wrong, because at the end of the day in Kwara there was no substance. It was more of propaganda. And that is what they are saying. I don’t need to….like I said since we lost the election, I immediately congratulated the party, I gave them support, the gubernatorial candidate who wanted to go to the electoral tribunal, to the Appeal and to the Supreme Court, we called him, that let’s cooperate don’t go beyond electoral tribunal and now it is the party themselves and the people that have begun to say we made a mistake here, so one has learnt from that electorate sometimes maybe after, there is fatigue maybe after the party has been in government for long, people would say they want to try something else and sometimes those decisions are made on sentiments as supposed to what is actually on ground and that is what is happening in Kwara state and luckily we are not going to start from day one in antagonizing or going against the governor, let him have the opportunity to govern, let him show what he can do for the people of Kwara and also for us let people know that we don’t have to be in power so it wasn’t that we have to struggle and ensure that despite our reservation about how the election went, I learnt we could walk away from it, it gave me the confidence that I could walk away from this, we decided to serve and we walked away from it, we said it is their turn in government to and make Kwara a better place and deliver on your electoral promises  but that did not happen, I don’t need to say anything we all can listen to what is going on, I mean they’re doing a better opposition than ourselves and  the people themselves have come to realize that this was a huge mistake that was just based on propaganda and lies and so  that is what one has learnt that sentiments and propaganda  are issues with no substance, that at the end of the day  what is important is that people have their chance that is the beauty of democracy,  after every 4 years they have the choice to look at what they thought was the best decision and decide and I’m sure if you have been following the politics in Kwara you will see that majority of our people in Kwara are saying that oh my God ,this was a mistake we were sold something that we should not have bought from the first place.

You were the Senate President of the 8th Senate and things we’re facing now are some of the things initiated under your watch, for example the PIB with regards to the governance bill and this controversy over electoral act, the electronic transmission of results, looking back, are there things you thought you could have done differently as Senate President, also in regards to the relationship between the executive arm and the legislature which you led?

I think we gave our best in the 8th Senate, but I think we provided leadership, I think a lot of people don’t understand the responsibility that we have or what the constitution says is our responsibility, some might begin to understand it now. By the constitution there is separation of power by the way the constitution is setup there is bound to be conflicts because that arm of government, the legislative arm of government is like a check and balance to the executive so there is a very fine line…. So the major issue is how do we work to make the country better, making the country better doesn’t mean I have to say yes to everything you say and at the same time it doesn’t mean I must be an obstacle in progress but in questioning some of the decisions that have been taken it is part of the process of democracy. If there was not meant to be check and balances then there is no need for the legislative arm of government that is the whole understanding and a lot of things we did despite all the differences were all for the good of the country. There were lot of bills that we passed then to provide a right climate for doing business, the PIB you talked about, it was completed, it was part of the politics that was going on at that time, that’s why it was never signed. If you go back and look at it, it was the first time we had engaged the stakeholders, the bill had been passed it was just the executives that decided not to sign it, same with the electoral act at that time, even the constitution amendment, so, we played a role that I thought was a role the legislative will play but unfortunately it was misunderstood in certain chapters or in certain areas that it was antagonistic to the government, no it wasn’t meant to be, we all have a role to play in government, the executive, judiciary and legislature and part of that’s to understand our constitutional rights and we work within that for the betterment of the country, that is the way it was done, I have always said that if the federal constitution do not want those checks and balances, then there is no point in having legislative arm of government, it doesn’t mean you’re anti executive , Look at America for example that we all copy, in America, just two senators  not the entire senate, who are holding the executive accountable on the issue of infrastructure, does it mean that those two don’t love America ? It doesn’t mean that because we had issues we don’t care about the people, I don’t think so, and I think maybe we have come before our time and I think as our democracy continues to mature, people will understand that as much as…. and I’m sure even those members in the national assembly do care for the country as well, this is because it is the youngest arm of government. In the military era we never had legislature, even the people don’t really understand the role of the National assembly because I remember even if we ask questions,  people will say how dare you, this is what the executive want, so, it must be, that is not my own understanding  of what we are there for,  here we  collaborated to make things happen, but that was largely misconstrued  and again talk to a lot of propaganda and I think time will tell  to say who was right, who was baring the interests of the country and I remember a lot of people used to say it was the 8th senate that did not allow the government to work ,I’m sure we all know better than that now.

That was what was said that the fractious working relationship you had with the presidency caused delays and hampered execution of projects, and in your opinion in what you said, has your successor in Senate, the President of the Senate been running a rubber stamp Senate?

A: I don’t think it will be a fair….. I always felt that when you leave office, my views about my successor, there are ways by which you can channel your views and I think I have had the opportunities from time to time to channel my views to him, we all have different ways or style of leadership, his style of leadership different from my style of leadership and I think that is what I’d like to say for now.

Is his style rubber stamp, let us be precise?

I don’t know how you define it, his style is different from mine, in providing leadership in National Assembly and I think that is to be judge by Nigerians.

What is the state of the relationship between your family now and Kwara state government and how has that toxic relationship been able to promote bonding and solidarity within your family?

Well I don’t think it will be fair to Kwarans to narrow down the issue of governance or politics to the issue of two families, as I said after the election, an opportunity has come for the current governor to use the opportunity to deliver on his promises, deliver on dividend of democracy and address issues concerning the state, I don’t think that the relationship of the families should play that role, that will be belittling the electorate and people of Kwara state ,so I don’t want to go along those direction, governor is the governor in the meantime, he has the responsibility to Kwarans that voted for him and Kwarans that didn’t vote for him,  how to make a better state, I think those are the issues, the issues of families remains families, I think that rarely  should be the main source of..  And I will continue to advise the governor that what is important is what the people who had faith and thought that this was the right thing to do, he has a year and three months to see and make thing better for the people of the state,  clearly that’s not what is happening now, distracted and don’t get distracted by issues like what we’re talking about,  don’t get distracted by the issue of family matters, I think what he should focus on, is being able to deliver on his electoral promises to the workers, to some of the  teachers ,to the youths that they promised a lot of jobs and be able to run an administration that shows that there is a good knowledge of how government should be run.

Let us talk about the forthcoming Anambra election on November 6 and all the tension going on, what is your perspective, INEC has been forced to deny the report of mass resignation of INEC ad-hoc staff, the NSA within the riot act said the resolve of the government should not be tested with regards to the election, so what’s your perspective and the prospect of PDP through your candidate Valentine Ozigbo?

Well I think most importantly is that we must ensure that election holds, we must make sure that the election is free and fair, we must ensure that the INEC make sure that we have transmission of those results, we must ensure that we provide security  enough for people to be able to exercise civic duty and vote , that is a responsibility that the government must make sure that they fulfill  and we must encourage the people as well, so let us all cooperate and ensure… because it is democracy that we’re practicing and the only time we have the opportunity for the people to choose their leaders is through elections, it will be  very unfair if every citizen of Anambra cannot exercise that right, that will be irresponsible of all Nigerians if that happened, second point is that, PDP as a party, how can it have a very good chance in winning Anambra state, we’ve always done well in Anambra, I believe we have a vibrant and popular candidate, it is unfortunate that we didn’t manage the primaries as best as we should have and that is why it is making the rest a bit tighter, and I’m sure if we’re done the primaries much better, it would have been a landslide or a walk over but now it is a bit tighter because of that, but the citizens of Anambra will look at it that who is going to provide great opportunities for the people of Anambra state,  who is going to unite the people of Anambra state,  who is going to bring development to the people of Anambra state? and I believe that PDP and our candidate will do that, so I’m hopeful that we will win the state and to do that, INEC must ensure that we have free and credible elections.

You said you don’t like to criticize your successor, but in this conversation you have been clearly pointing out that the governor of Kwara State hasn’t been doing well, the statement you made was that, “I hope the government to learn how to manage resources”, so where along that line, is it the fact that nothing is happening in Kwara state and the governor is not living up to expectations and he should have done better ,when I asked you about the lessons about Otoge, you stated that the people in Kwara are seeing that things are not happening, secondly what’s your take on all of these agitations, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, Sunday Igboho and the recent statement by Sheikh Gumi that once you declare bandits as terrorists all hell will be let loose, and all these insecurity downward, due to insecurity the Anambra election might not hold, lots of people have been killed in the east, what is your take about all these?

I have said that not now, even when I was the Senate President, we made many attempts to address the security issues in the country, I have made couple of statements saying that what we need is…this security problem is a very serious one, I strongly believe that the government hasn’t been able to address it, I think that the approach will be where every leader or possibly stakeholder that has value, that has some contribution to be called to the roundtable and for us to address this problem head on, I have said that repeatedly, former leaders, presidents, traditional rulers ,even our foreign partners, let us address this and take it seriously, we can’t continue to deny the seriousness that this is serious problems and over the time it has got to where it is now, secondly, I believe that the agitation has to do with sense of belonging, we must admit that there are parts of this country that feel that they’re not part of this country, they don’t feel a sense of belonging and most of these agitations are coming from there and dialogue and reaching out, will play a very  a massive role in giving all of us the reassurances and I think the government should do part of that, it’s not just security alone, there are other areas that need to be addressed and I believe that what we are seeing from all the different part is what I said and I’m happy you’re seeing it, because when I started and I said this are the facts, this country has never been so disunited since the civil war, it is the fact, I mean you just said it, every part of the country has an issue, it wasn’t like that before, so we’re going to ask why is it, OK if it is, how do we tackle the problem and sometimes as a government there is a problem that needs everybody to tackle ,yes Government is a place but problem is a problem for all of us, whether opposition members, the ruling government, former leaders, let us work as a team to find a solution and tackle this head-on, but the way it is being addressed, the problem is getting larger and larger all the time, my view is that, with the approach government is using is one of the problems, I could remember in the time of late Yar’Adua’s government when we had problems in the Niger Delta, it was through dialogue ,conversation from all parties, everybody sat down and we dialogued and we found a solution and that has maintained peace at least in the Niger Delta largely, that was the foundation to where we are today and I believe not calling out people who are either bandits or terrorists and treating them with kids glove has been one of the reasons why we are where we’re today and I think that we need to address all these issues head-on  and collectively as a country because some of these so called bandits see the division in the country, I mean if you want to address terrorism or Banditry, you must address it as a United country determined to get rid of them, clearly that is based on result, the efforts are there but we got to measure it by results and I said it is not part of weakness for a government to say I need help, the lives of Nigerians is so important if that help is going to come from the opposition or from somebody you don’t like then so be it…. how do we tackle this? and I said there is technology Now across the world, in dealing with kidnapping, this is very embarrassing in this stage that we’re still battling with this kind of issues, so I will keep on saying, repeating it that, what I need to be done is that they need to bring everybody to a table and take advice, take contributions ,we have good hands, we have people who are talented, we have people who have got experience and people who use to be in the security, in the military who are retired and intelligence who can contribute their own quota in solving the problem, those are my own thoughts which I have shared for the past years and trying to say that we need to do better than we’re already doing now.

Senator Saraki, there has been a lot of talks about diversifying the economy, specifically about agriculture. Agriculture was the major area of intervention for you, years back around 2005, when you were the Governor of Kwara State, when you invited to Kwara state, Zimbabwean farmers, whose land had been taken away by the Zimbabwean government at the time and then we have the Shonga farms, but that farm since you left office has been controversial even last year, there were some talks about possible litigation over that Shonga farm, when you look back, how do you feel that what is supposed to be one of the major legacies you left behind eventually got embroiled in politics?

It is unfortunate and this is why we talked about leadership, but I must first correct you that, there are still parts of the group that came in 2005 who are still doing very well. The poultry arm of the business has done well, today they’re probably the second or third largest poultry in the country, since then, we’ve had the South African company that invested in it, so these are success stories, but what I want us to all learn from that is that way back in about 16 years ago if I’m right, as a young governor we looked at it, I looked at it and we thought that what we needed was commercial farming, that was the concept behind bringing the Zimbabwean farmers and that concept is what has led today as I said to having one of the largest poultry farms in the country ,now, if we look at it today as well, what we have seen as it begins to emerge is still a lot of commercial farming going on now, we thank God for that because I have always said that what we need in farming is not just the peasant, small scale farmers, that if you compare… look at other countries, most of the farmers that they have are people who have business knowledge, people who can develop business plans, who can manage that farming. This is a serious business, it is not a social activity and that if you really want to grow agricultural sector we need to get the big investors and if you look at rice, rice now you will see a lot of businessmen with capital, businessmen who can go to banks and make presentation and raise capital, who have equity going into farming as oppose to these small, one or two hectares farmers, that is partnership that we’re seeking and that started with all humility in a time while I was the governor, the controversy about land is just irresponsibility, there would be controversy, because even then ,those that had the land did not understand the value we’re bringing, but today if you go to Shonga, talk to the villagers, they’ll tell you that what this has impacted on their economy in that area, because of the size of the employment we now have in that area , there are sugar plantation in Niger even in Kwara, we have sugar plantation, in Taraba, rice and in other part of the country where commercial farmers or Nigerian businessmen have decided to come in heavily, look at the rice milling now, you’ll see businessmen who have gone into it not just, farmers in the rural areas, that is what we’re talking about and that is the shift that needs to happen, where we have huge investment in that sector and it’s happening slowly now ,and we must admit that is going on, but it needs to be fully supported in mind that is more transparent to ensure that the right kind of people are supported in getting access to funding, finance and also being able to get the best kind of seedlings that would support the agricultural sector, but definitely there is an improvement in that area, we still need to encourage more investment ,for example from the Dairy research is a good example that we need to see that we get more investment in that area, I think it is very embarrassing that in a country like ours that we’re still importing things like powdered milk when we have the land and the opportunity to be able to be self sustaining in agriculture and food supply.

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button