On Saturday, you and your governor would be presenting yourselves to the electorate seeking re-election. What message are you sending out to the people of Borno on why you should be given another chance to govern? We have long presented ourselves to the people of Borno through the good works carried out by Governor Kashim Shettima. And the people of Borno have long appreciated Governor Shettima and I and have all endorsed that we deserve another term which they would formalise come April 11. But I still want to reiterate to the people of Borno that when our mandate is renewed, we are still going to be the same good people that we are and even do better for them. It is not only the people of Borno that appreciate us, even those from outside have their admiration for Governor Shettima that is why he has been receiving all kinds of awards from Leadership Newspaper, from the Politico News Magazine and several other bodies. The people of Borno know that if not for the insurgency, a state like Borno under Governor Kashim Shettima would have been transformed into a mini Dubai. But they still share in our dreams that is why they promised to vote for us massively, the way they did to General Muhammadu Buhari, the president-elect, come April 11 by the grace of God. We still remain the best team compared to those contesting against us. Even the PDP as a party is still in court over who should be the candidate for the governorship. What are the things you have done that give you confidence you’ll be re-elected? Talking about the best project of our government that touch my heart the most, is like asking me to disown some of my children, because all our projects are very important to the needs of our people. But I would say one of the projects dear to me is the Gunda-Garubula road in Biu local government which was not in existence and travelling within that area took hours in those day. When we came into office, he decided to construct that road within a year. We have been yearning for that road since time immemorial but it did not get the attention of any government until Governor Shettima’s which decided to construct it for us. That road is a legacy because it has helped to boost agriculture in that area and also enhance commerce for the people. Another project is the construction of Legacy phase one, phase two and phase three housing estates which are in total of about 1200 units of houses. The site where we have the Legacy phase one and two used to be like a slum where mechanics of all kinds of vehicles have their workshops - but the place is in the heart of Maiduguri. We have over 8500 persons working there and we had to compensate the real owners of the land as well as those who are tenants on the land because they are labour providers before moving them out of that area to another place. That project is also dear to my heart because it has changed the face of Maiduguri today. Another project that is dear to our hearts is the Maryam Abacha Specialist Hospital built from the scratch by our administration. It is going to be called Maryam Abacha Specialist Hospital for Women and Children. We also have numerous township roads within Maiduguri metropolis that are very dear to our hearts. But the most important project is the agricultural project of the state government which for now, unfortunately, has been interrupted by the insurgency, but by the time it is completed majority of our people would be fully engaged. Our government had procured agricultural equipment worth N30 billion, and these equipment are on ground, by the time the insurgency is over, most parts of Borno State would witness massive transformation in the area of agriculture and food production. We have a lot of achievements to showcase and we have those that are yet to be showcased due to the ongoing insurgency. But God willing in our second term most of these projects would come to fruition and the people of Borno State would be the better for it. It is just a matter of time, for the insurgency to be over, especially with the coming of the Buhari-led administration which has shown commitment to ending the insurgency. How would you describe the governor? Since we came on board when I was nominated to be his deputy before we went for elections, we really had a very good and cordial relationship and understanding. And when we eventually got elected as governor and deputy governor, the governor and I sat and he made it very clear to me that he would want to work in cordial relationship with me; that formed the confidence we have in each other and a cordial relationship till date. As a subordinate, I made it a duty to really study him, tried to know what he wants and what he does not approve of as a person or even in the discharge of our official duty. He is always a very serious person when it comes to discharging his functions as governor; he is calm, determined and tolerant. He is the very forgiving type - a leader with open mind. Giving the way the two of you relate, one would want to ask if your relationship predates 2011? Well, I would be honest to say that I had never had any close relationship with my governor before the year 2011 when I became his running mate, except probably when we were in Government Secondary School, Potiskum, where he met me as a science student, and after about a year I had to leave for Government Secondary School, Damaturu. So I can say that over 20 years before I met His Excellency, Kashim Shettima, I had never had close relationship with him. We have seen governors and their deputies always locking horns or even not in talking terms; how do you relate with one another especially in private? Well, this is something that you don’t find in every person; but it is part of Kashim Shettima’s character; he respects people and I am not exceptional to his kindness. One thing is that if you are a good person or a bad person you cannot pretend to be otherwise. His excellency, Governor Kashim Shettima, is an extremely humble person. He is a complete departure from the past. We had a governor in this state that openly called his deputy by his first name in a very rude manner but my boss does not call me by my name whether in public or private - he rather addresses me as ‘your excellency’ - he gives me due regard of my office and it makes me more humble before him. That is why I remain ever ready, just like arrow from a bow to go any where he directs me to or carry out any task he assigned me. That is why he is always proud to tell whoever cares to listen that I, as his deputy, has never failed him in any issue or assignment given to me.You do not hold any cabinet position but you chair most of the powerful government committees including the one that involves the multi-billion naira Legacy Garden housing estates, as well as being a permanent Amirul-Hajj for the state. How does that make you feel as you both work together to deliver on promises to the electorate? One thing people must understand is that the governor is an achiever and a goal getter. All I do is to follow his footsteps. As regards those housing estates of which I am the committee chairman for their construction, I think the governor put me in that position given the trust he has in me. And in doing my job, I too try to do my best by working with the right people in order to ensure things are done in the right manner. That is why it is now a common saying within our government that if you want faster results you give the job to the deputy governor or the former chief of staff - but that does not mean there are no other persons with equal military dispatch in the discharge of responsibility given to them. On my part, honestly, I operate with openness of mind and if I am to work with a committee, I allow the members to make contributions and from what we discuss I make my deductions. I try to be very democratic and not imposing opinions on them. I feel happy and honoured being tasked to chair committees on projects that are dear to the heart of the governor. Is that why you are described as one of the most powerful deputy governors in Nigeria? Well I don’t believe in that saying that one is the most powerful deputy governor or something. I think that is the opinion of some people which I don’t share. All I know is that I am a loyal deputy governor who is loved by his principal. Perhaps people would say so giving the kind of relationship I enjoy with my governor who allows the office of the deputy governor to function as it ought to function.
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