Barr. Issa Manzuma, the gubernatorial candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), in this interview with KAYODE ADEOTI speaks on why he is gunning for the number one political seat in the state.
The immediate past chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ilorin branch, Kwara State, also opened up on his aspiration, visions and mission for the state, if elected into office. Excerpts:
What informed your decision to run for the governorship election?
I’ve been into private practice for 25 years; I was one time vice chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ilorin branch, a member of disciplinary committee of the association, I’ve had privilege to serve in many committees both at the national and local levels of the NBA and I’m the immediate past chairman of the association. I felt I’ve acquired adequate leadership skill required to transform Kwara State. If you look at our society today, the major problem the Nigerian nation as well as the federating units including associations, have is not lack of resources but lack of good leadership to pilot their affairs.
Why the choice of the ADC for the actualisation of your aspiration?
I chose ADC because the slogan and the logo of the party is in line with my aspirations, dreams, vision and mission of the state. The manifestoes of the party has lots of laudable objectives that suit state policies as contained in the 1999 constitution especially with provision for people living with disabilities. I’ve strong passion for people who have health challenges, either physical or mental, and my government will have special programmes fashioned out for people in this category.
It has been observed that your political campaign has been limited to the Kwara North, why is this so?
My posters are everywhere but the problem we have in Ilorin is the fact that we have many candidates who are trying to establish their presence. Hon. Atunwa of the PDP, APC’s Abdulrazak and my humble self were the first set of candidates that pasted posters all over Ilorin metropolis and in Kwara South. However, when other candidates came out, they pasted their poster on ours. In fact, the APC and PDP candidates had to go for another set of posters. Recall that the executive governor of the state recently complained over the vandalisation of billboards by hoodlums.
How do you intend to finance your programmes?
Our jingles which are running on radio stations say that our party is the one that doesn’t have political godfather or godmother. We understand that politics needs money and it has been so for a long time, but this has never translated into good leadership. Wealth doesn’t make a good leader and leadership skill is not about money. When a man has power, it doesn’t translate to good leadership, it makes him strong anyway. I decided to contest to see whether people have decided for change in this country; to vote for credible, tested and reliable candidate. The objective of our party is social orientation.
It is believed in some quarters that you only came out to contest for governorship seat just to register your presence so as to be rewarded with appointive political office by whosoever wins the race eventually…
(Cuts in) In Nigeria, politics is full of insinuations, but we are not losing focus because we know what we want. If I had wanted political appointment, I won’t wait until after 25years in the legal profession. Glory be to God, as far as my private practice is concerned, I’m happy and fulfilled. What I am looking for now is to render service to humanity. I’ve worked in many capacities as far as NBA is concerned. On several occasions in the past, I’ve been offered political appointment which I rejected outrightly.
What are your chances as regards this political contest?
I’m not only accepted in my zone but also in Ilorin and many other parts of the state. My chances are getting brighter everyday. Those that love us will vote for us, that is the truth.
Lawyers are perceived to be rigid as leaders, how do you hope to change this perception?
My background as a lawyer will be an added advantage to my aspirations to govern Kwara State. Wherever you have lawyers in the leadership position, you expect lots from such people. From the first day in the University as a Law student, one is trained as a leader, by virtue of professional conduct in the profession, there are many things one is not expected to do. A lawyer is reserved as far as attitude is concerned and there is that softness, ability to listen to everybody so as to be able to get quality feedback from the society.
There have been allegations of vote and voters’ card buying by some politicians during election, how do you think this issue can be addressed?
This is one of the challenges we have with our democratic system over the years; it is everybody that is involved as far as politicians are concerned. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) appears to be serious on the issue. The issue of card buying is already on, we’re looking up to the security agencies and the INEC to check such fraudulence. I understand that INEC lacks adequate manpower and equipments to address some of these fraudulent activities, but I hope the security agencies will be on guard to watch out for the perpetrators.
How confident are you in the INEC to conduct free, fair and credible election in the state and in the country?
There is no doubt; I have confidence in the commission. I hardly want to engage in assumption. I hope the current leadership of INEC will conduct free and fair elections.
President Muhammadu Buhari received lots of bashing from members of the public over the electoral bill, which he refused to assent, what is your take on this?
One do not need to condemn things outrightly, but one must be able to assess the pros and cons of every action. I agree totally with the president over rejection of the electoral bill.
The transmission of election results through electronic means may generate problems because of our level of development technologically in this country.
If eventually you lose out in the poll, will you be ready to work with whosoever emerges as governor?
For the past 25 years as a private legal practitioner, I’ve been used to losing and winning cases and so, I’ve developed strong shock absorber. This is a game I’m familiar with, when you lose, you congratulate the winner and you also congratulate the loser. You must show sportsmanship.
Will you accept political appointment if you are called to serve by the winner?
It depends on the winner. If I do not agree with the principles and manifestos of the winner, I won’t join his government because I’ve my reputation to protect.