In this interview, the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, says the All Progressives Congress (APC) is sure of victory in the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states.
What are the chances of your party in the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states?
Among the decisions taken by the APC caretaker committee was to regularise the emergence of the party’s candidates in the two states. I am referring to the processes and primary elections that led to the emergence of our governorship candidates in the two states.
Secondly, President Muhammadu Buhari directed that all litigations instituted by aggrieved party members should be withdrawn. The president’s directive was in accordance with the provision of the constitution of the APC. This singular directive did away with any litigation capable of undermining the chances of the party to win the forthcoming elections in Edo and Ondo states. As we all know, Edo had been an APC state, until recently, when the governor decided to move to another political party. The ground upon which the party enjoyed the goodwill from the people of Edo for this long, and indeed in Ondo, will continue to stand and we will triumph over the other political parties.
What are the strategies of the APC to ensure its success in the two states?
All APC stakeholders; governors and supporters, will be fully mobilised to ensure the success of our party at the polls. We are ready to do our best within the context of the law, and we are sure of victory.
Our sterling records at the federal and state levels speak volumes about us and our party. I believe we stand a better chance of winning the two states. It may also interest you to know that APC participated in the recent Bayelsa election and won, but lost the state to another party through the court. We contested and won in Osun, although narrowly. We contested and lost in Anambra. There was no hue and cry. This is part of the legacy of Mr. President.
How do you see APC in 2023 after President Muhammadu Buhari would have ended his tenure?
Nobody can predict the future, but all we know is that APC is a political party that took over power in 2015 and is doing very well in terms of governance. The security situation has improved; it is better now than how we took over. The economy is also prospering. When President Buhari came on board, there were about 27 states that were not paying salaries. The president supported all the states and salaries payment resumed. That was why the 2016 recession was overcome with ease in Nigeria.
It is widely believed that APC governors were instrumental to the removal of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the former chairman of the party. What is your take on that?
This is far from the truth. The then APC chairman was elected at the party’s convention in 2018, and all APC governors supported him. However, APC governors are among the other members of the party that have been concerned over the issues bedevilling the party. It, therefore, occurred to us that even while the leadership might not be at fault, but a change of leadership might be of great help.
What are your plans to cushion the effects of COVID-19 in Kebbi State?
I am always a proponent of a process where a significant portion of government resources should be used in stimulating the economy. When an economy is stimulated, it appears more sustainable because it creates more opportunities for employment, which in turn enhances productivity. In Kebbi State, we cashed in on rice production because that is where we have comparative advantage. We improved the quantum of rice production in the state by making our farmers to take full advantage of the Federal Government’s Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP). The significant improvement in rice production has attracted the establishment of the biggest rice mills in the country in Kebbi State. It may also interest you to know that despite the raging COVID-19, a tomato processing company, GBFood; that was established in Gafara village in Ngaski Local Government Area of the state, has started production. At the time it is completed, it will be the biggest fresh tomato processing company in Sub-Saharan Africa.
I also want to see a time when shear butter produced in Kebbi State is exported to Europe. This is the way to create millionaires; and even billionaires. That has been my dream for Kebbi State.