Kwara 2023 Govship Poll: Look beyond party, vote credible candidates – Barr Mazuma

Barrister Issa Manzuma is one-time chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ilorin branch and the gubernatorial candidate for African Democratic Party (ADC). He speaks in this interview with our Correspondent on the need to look beyond party and vote credible candidates in the forthcoming governorship and House of Assembly elections. Excerpts:

This is the second time you will be vying for the number one political seat in Kwara State, what is informing your aspirations to govern?

It’s apparent that the only way we can move our country forward is to have people who have the fear of God in power. We’ve tested money politics, we’ve had this person is close to me kind of politics, none of this worked. What we need now is someone who has confidence, fear of God and pedigree. These are the people who can change the narrative of our system from the local government to state and federal level. I want to run a government of transparency, where you don’t consider yourself as a sole administrator. This is democracy and everyone is a stakeholder, and government must create relationship that will make the state free to relate their minds, their plights. The citizens must be taken along in the scheme of things. You don’t just make police outside them.

What do you want to be doing differently if elected?

Honestly, I don’t believe in APC and PDP, the two parties are the same, there is no difference in the composition of the membership of the parties. These is why one decamp from APC to PDP and vice versa. They’re political parties without ideologies and same are the members. The most important thing is to belong to a party that has programmes, plans that can address the needs of the masses. This is why, over the years, I’ve not changed party. This election, from all indications is not going to be about party but candidates. People are focusing now on candidates that have fear of God. If we make mistake for voting party this time, the result will not be different from what we’ve always been having. I’ve decided that I’m not going to leave ADC just because I want to realise my ambition. The ambition is to change the leadership narrative of Kwara State and Nigeria at large, I want to contribute my quota to development of the country.

What is your take on the believe that money has come to play significant role in election anywhere in the world?

Certainly, money plays significant roles in Nigerian politics but everyone has seen the other side now. We’ve been collecting money since 1999 and nothing has changed. People are realising this in Kwara State. People are no conscious of this fact, how money politics has not changed anything. Certainly we need money for logistics.

Do you also believe in power shift to the Kwara North?

Constitution is not specific about power rotation but if you look at section 14 of 1999 constitution especially the fundamental objective and directive policy of Nigerian nation, the constitution recommends that we should respect Federal character in whatever we do, so by implications, the constitution recognises that there should be rotation of powers among geopolitical zones and the state levels, among senatorial district. But, we need to consider, majorly, the quality of leader that is coming from any particular zones. It’s going to be about a leader who can deliver on the dividend of democracy.

What’s your take on the allegation that a Kwara North candidate, if given the power will revenge years of deprivation on the other regions?

When people talk about leadership, you cannot be petty, we want a leader that will see Kwara State as one. There is no Kwara North State but Kwara State.

People have accused the incumbent government of centralising infrastructural development in the state, can put things in right perspective?

I’ve visited many places, their plight is not even about good roads but just access road and water. They were not demanding for infrastructural that will cost N200million but just an access road to ease their movement and their farm produce. If people cannot travel to their neighbouring towns to market their farm produce, that will affect their economy negatively. Government need drastic step to address these rural roads issues.

For like 3 decades, you’ve been in the wig and gown practising law, people say this has deprived your connectivity to your people at the grassroots level, can you set the record straight?

People who says this do not know me very well. I’m more connected to my people than being a lawyer. The institute for Human and Natural Resources gave me award as a fellowship of being a grassroots man and for doing cases for them pro-bono. Yesterday, people who are in other came here to promise their votes for me. They said for been helpful to their people at the grassroots. I have always been in my place to bound with me people, share their in their plight and joy. We’re always together. Most weekends, I’m there to attend to their needs, financially, morally and any form you can think of. We have over 30 lawyers from my local government and I’m one of the people that set the pace. I put money on the table just to encourage people to embrace legal profession.


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