Senator Ali Wakili representing Bauchi South in the National Assembly, in this interview with Patience Ogbodo-Iwuagwu, speaks on the current hardship being faced by Nigerians as a result of fuel crisis and economy meltdown, PDP’s plan to bounce back in 2019 among other issues. Excerpts.
Since the last general election, PDP has been working round theclock to take over power from your party, APC in 2019. With the current challenges Nigeria is facing under the ruling party, don’t you think PDP will have its way come 2019?
I am just hearing that the PDP is still alive from you. I know they are bedevilled with leadership crisis. They have gone to take the person that has the lowest credibility and integrity to be their leader. You have seen how some of them are protesting against this man. Here in Bauchi, you have seen how they have to chase some of them away and you are still talking about PDP. I think it will be a dream for anybody to think that whatever crisis that bedeviled Nigeria, PDP will come back to rule Nigeria. They brought us all these mess. They know the issue of Boko Haram. The nurtured and brought it to us and kept us in bondage. They inflicted poverty of the mind and poverty of the pocket on us. They gave us hunger and made us to be sycophants. The problems that people are complaining about were foisted on us by the PDP because they don’t have anything. They resort to social media to denigrate on anybody. So what PDP are you talking about? Have you ever attended a funeral where you have put the person in the grave, bid him farewell and prayed for him and still resurrect?
As the Chairman, Senate Committee on Poverty, I am sure you are much in tune with the sufferings of Nigerians. What assurances is the National Assembly giving that the hardships will be turned around by the APC?
What assurance do you want better than the one given by President Muhammad Buhari? You will recall that he apologised to Nigerians. He knows that Nigerians are living under hardship but that it will be
temporary. If you look at the speedy manner and the meticulous manner we took in handling the 2016 budget, you know that we are committed towards the Nigeria state. You have seen where President Buhari himself has set aside N500b to address some of these social welfare gaps and we graciously in doing our constitutional responsibility approved it. Those in my constituency In Bauchi, they are going to form cooperatives especially the women, the artisans, the youths and we have said it that 500 youths will be employed under the Feed Nigeria programme. They will receive N27, 000 monthly, a crash
programme and they will be sent to rural areas to teach every junior staff so that we have a very good foundation of our educational system that is virtually going. We are trying to say that 100 youths again will be placed under certain stipends of not less than N10,000 after going through certain training. We have what is called the Conditional Cash Transfer, close to N3. 8 million Nigerians will be fed. Primary school pupils of one to six, so that parents can send their children to school.N65 billion will be given to people and another hundreds of farmers will be trained to have inputs to loans that are interest free. The Bank of Industry Programme, whereby the youths are empowered will be continued and enhanced. We are trying to ensure that entrepreneurship is enhanced, remember that in the NYSC, some of them are given the benefit to benefit from their entrepreneurship and they are being given N5 to N10 million depending on their capability and what they submit. These will address the issue of poverty.
Some APC governors are yet to conduct local government elections since the coming of the new administration of President Mohammadu Buhari, what is your take on this?
It’s very sad and very unfortunate. I can remember when we were campaigning for the 2015 election, we were castigating the PDP for not conducting local government elections so I will be part and parcel of those that will ensure that there is a democratically elected Local Government Chairmen in place. We are doing everything possible to see it happen. We have gone round and impress it on the party to ensure that all the APC governors put in democratically elected governance, you would have seen that Sokoto state government have done that, jigawa have followed suit and Lagos state also have done that. So, it will go round because we criticised the PDP for not conducting local government elections and I don’t think we are going to fall into the same trap.
How many schools benefited from the mobile laboratory equipment you distributed recently?
We distributed mobile laboratory equipment to some of our schools with a view to give proper foundation for younger ones because we are living in an era of information and communication technology. We are living in an Internet world and we need to sensitize our pupils and students to give them proper foundation so that they can meet the challenges of their colleagues in other part of Nigeria and other part of the world. We have given out these equipment to 11 schools in Bauchi federal constituency and there are other places to be donated to. This is just the beginning, by the grace of Allah we will continue to do this as long as resources permit us.
What motivated you to embark on this project?
I want to leave a legacy, we had challenges while vying for the office so I promised myself that I am going to make a remarkable differences as a Senator, even if it is for one year, four years or more than that. I want to leave a legacy in terms of education, in terms of human development, in terms of agriculture. We have dug some hand pump boreholes in the state to ensure adequate water supply. Over 271 hand pump boreholes have been dug in my constituency. Last year, we shared fertiliser to our farmers, we are establishing some information and communication centre especially in Kirfi and Dass, the completion stage has reach 90 percent completion and they are all part of legacy we want to leave. Sadly enough, my predecessor in office share some things like motorcycles but they were vanity because these things appeals to pedestrian politicians but I want to impact positively in the lives of people by embarking on human developmental project.
Northern states have been lagging behind in terms of agriculture, what do you think is responsible for this?
Bad governance is responsible for the failure of agricultural sector in the country. We should stop complaining of want to do for our youth but engage them in agriculture. Agriculture has been the mainstream of Nigeria economy but it’s sad that we are urging people to go to the farm and we are not given them the incentive to go to farm. Recently, you will discover that some dry season farmers are running at a lost, this happen because we are not encouraging them, if we have good governance , with 100 thousand dollars, we can have cluster of small scale industries, if we establish a small cottage industry, we can employ people in this industry and it will solve unemployment problem in the country.
Thanks to INDEPENDENTNIG