Bala Adamu Kuta is a member of the House of Representatives representing Shiroro constituency of Niger State. He has spent almost four years in the lower chamber but has refused to seek for another mandate to return to his seat in the National Assembly. He opted to vie for the highest seat of his state â€“ Governor on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party. In an interview with Vanguard Kuta spoke among others on why he deserves the governorship seat, the journey so far as a democratic nation and future elections in the country. Excerpt:
After about 11 years into uninterrupted democracy in the country, how do you assess the journey so far?
Generally, I will say there is an improvement though we have not archived the desired goal we anticipated in the past years. However, with what we have done, we have achieved some level of successes. At least in the past years, we can say we have gone a long way. However, I still want to call on the politicians to be more cautious because at the pace we are going, if we donâ€™t allow democracy to play its role as it should, definitely, we will be inviting a threat to democracy ourselves. That is why I am calling on politicians to play the game as it should be played.
Specifically, in what areas would you want the politicians to be more cautious?
What I am trying to say is that we should allow a popular candidate to emerge in all aspects of the election, be it primaries or the general elections. If you donâ€™t allow popular candidate to emerge, it will derail our democracy. For example, what is happening in the ruling party â€“ PDP clearly shows that there are many who are pro and anti-Jonathan who is the president. This situation for example, need to be addressed properly so as not to bring chaos. If there is any problem as a result of this, the problem will not only be limited to PDP alone but will eventually spread to other parties either directly or indirectly.
So far, do you think government at all levels and even our political parties have cause to roll out drums to celebrate democracy?
What are we celebrating? What achievements do we have to celebrate? We have not achieved much that could warrant celebrations. We can mark the sustenance of democracy for the past 11 years but not enough for us to celebrate.
Specifically, where do you think government should now focus more attention on?
One of the major problems we have is the insecurity in the country. In fact, there is no security in the country at all. The PDP only has security as a slogan in its Seven_point Agenda but it has failed as a party because there is no security at all in this country. People are attacked anywhere and anytime of the day and we are talking of security. The problem is yet to be addressed. Secondly, there is this unemployment problem which is a serious matter. We have thousands of graduates unemployed who need to earn a living but it is not so.
Power is even the worst sector. Though, it is all part of the seven-point agenda of the present government, the issue still remains unsolved. The Niger Delta issue is also in focus and unresolved. If you come back to our own state â€“ Niger we have the problem of scarcity of water for years because most taps have stopped running.
Government vote huge amount of money for all these. What do you think is wrong?
Everybody wonders where the money is going. May be the government is setting the money aside for campaign purposes and just deceiving people. The extent of development is not even commensurate to the amount coming from the Federal Allocation. When you talk of the urban areas, nothing much is happening while the rural areas are even worse. Look at our schools, if you go to most public schools, you will shed tears because of the dilapidated structures we have and if you donâ€™t develop the educational sector, where do we then have the capacity or the manpower to develop the state?. It is said that education is the backbone of development and if that is true, then Niger State has not got any backbone.
Can this underdevelopment be linked to corruption in the public places?
Of course there is still corruption in the country. This is why public office holders and private workers have to be dedicated and sincere. If we are all sincere, we donâ€™t need ICPC or EFCC or any other anti_corruption organization because our conscience will always tell us if we are doing what is wrong. Now that these two anti-corruption bodies are set up, has corruption stopped? Public funds are still being embezzled and siphoned.
What do you think should be the punishment for those indicted for embezzlement?
What is even happening to the people caught is even beyond imagination. Because of what some people see as god fatherism, people tend to escape with all sort of crimes committed as they are released as soon as they are arrested and such person or group of persons are given political appointments.
This need to be addressed and one thing is certain, the masses also need to be conscious of themselves too. If anybody is holding any public office and such person is besieged with catalogue of requests, he is forced to look for such money by all means and this leads to public officers siphoning public funds by all means.
We should be able to challenge the public office holders if they are living above their income and this will caution our leaders. However, the first thing that should be done by government at all levels is to create employment opportunities for all, especially the youths. This is because if somebody is having a means of living, he/she will not go cap in hand begging for food or money. If all these a
re provided, that is employment, electricity, security, portable water, good health facilities, good roads, affordable housing among others, Nigerian will be better for all.
What type of punishment do you think should be meted out to corrupt officers in this country?
First, it has been established that many people go for public offices for personal gains. I want to suggest that anybody caught or found guilty of embezzlement should first be denied such privilege in the future after being prosecuted and the money and property illegally acquired confiscated. For those who are not also public officers, the laws we already have against such offences should be visited on those found guilty without any option of fine or plea to free the offenders. This is the only way out to send strong signals to those who might be planning to siphon government resources and force them to be cautious.
As a member of the National Assembly, most Nigerians now see you people as â€œSuper richâ€ especially with the recent revelation of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN that 25% of the nationâ€™s resources go to you members. How do you defend this?
That comment by the governor of Central Bank continues to baffle me because it is untrue. Remember that, the Chairman the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission has also come out with his own figures on how much goes to members of the National Assembly and till now, the report has not been faulted. He came out with his figures contrary to what the central bank governor gave. So how the CBN governor came about his figures, I donâ€™t know. As far as I am concerned, it is mere allegation except he can prove his claims.
Having spent only one term as a legislator, why didnâ€™t you aspire for a second term instead of eyeing the governorship seat?
My aspiration for the governorship did not come from me. The clarion call is from my people. Left for me, my first term as a legislator is even enough for me because I had no plans for second term. However, there is a call from my people not to even continue with my present position but to open a new political chapter in my life and it is not my personal decision but a call by my people to serve them in a bigger capacity.
Does it mean you are not satisfied with the achievements of the present administration in the state?
It is not whether I am satisfied or not but the reaction of the electorate. If the people are satisfied with the developments in the state, they wouldnâ€™t have invited me to come and serve in that capacity. So, I think it is the masses that are not even satisfied, hence the call.
You are vying for the seat under the platform of All Nigeria People Party (ANPP) and the party seems to have crumbled in the state and broken into two factions, which led to Gen.Muhamadu Buhariâ€™s exit even at the national levelâ€¦
The believe or insinuation is wrong. The party is even stronger after the exit of Gen. Buhari especially at the national level. I have told people that even if there are only five members in the party, we will continue to forge ahead and even remain stronger. Even in Niger State, the party is still intact. There is no faction in the party and I am telling you this authoritatively. Some people say they are of the ANPP (Tiger) and the other ANPP (Hyena). There is nothing like that because INEC has not registered anything like that. There is only one ANPP with our original logo still intact.
From what is on the ground in the state, we have a group led by Barr. Hussaini Garba while the other is led by the gubernatorial candidate of the party in the 2007 election, Barr. David Umoru. Which one is the original ANPP?
Well, the one recognized by most people and even INEC is the one led by Barr. Hussaini.
So, David Umoru is on his own
Of course, he is an aspirant
Under which party?
Under which faction?
Under his own faction
So you donâ€™t belong to that faction?
I donâ€™t even see it as a faction but a group (prolonged laughter)
But with the role he personally played in the last election, that is to have given the present state administration a tough fight, one would have expected you i.e. party members to accord him respect and recognition. Have you personally met him to put your house in order and forge ahead as one?
If he had done well, who says others cannot do better than what he did?
What would be your reaction if I put it to you that you are being used or planted by the present state administration to destabilize the ANPP because people believe that you are being sponsored by government?
This is rumour being spread by no other person than the leader of the other group who is looking at me as a threat against his ambition. How can anybody think that I am being used by government at my age and political achievements? I think it is very insulting to my personality.
INEC has registered 63 political parties in the country and many of them are just existing only in name and nothing else. As a politician, do you think these political parties are viable?
You see, it is wrong to deny anybody his or her right. The next election will surely determine how many parties will remain especially with the new law in the National Assembly which stipulated that only the political party that is able to produce not only governor or members of the state Assembly but a member of the National Assembly will remain as a party. So even if they are thousands registered, they will find their levels after the forthcoming elections. This will surely show how many parties that will remain because each party will now be registered through the effort put in place in the next election.
Do you foresee the INEC conducting a free and fair election in the country?
Why not? We have good laws guarding general elections in this country but it is always unfortunate that the implementation of these laws are bad. For instance, those found or arrested to have committed Electoral malpractices during elections should be dealt with according to the stipulated law. It will serve as deterrent to others.
Are you really prepared for this job i.e. Governor?. What should the electorate expect from you?
My ambition is to serve them creditably and sincerely especially since they are the people inviting me to serve. I hope to address issues according to peoplesâ€™ need and this is the first step to success. If you take time out to visit a rural area, you will shed tears due to the type of life they are living.