I can confirm Yarima will soon join PDP Shinkafi
Category: Inside politics
Alhaji Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi succeeded his boss Ahmed Sani Yarima in 2007 as governor of Zamfara State. Less than a year into his administration however, the cordial relationship between the two turned sour and Shinkafi dumped ANPP for PDP and in 2011, Yarima fielded Abdulaziz Yari as the ANPP flag bearer and he won the election. Shinkafi in this exclusive interview with our correspondent, spoke on wide range of issues including moves by his estranged boss to join PDP and the continued killing of innocent persons by armed bandits in Zamfara. Excerpts:
How has it been since you left office?
So far, so good, because the difference is not much from when I was in office and now that I’m out of office. There are so many people that were with me when I was in office that we’re still together. When I was in office I was very careful about my lifestyle. I did not allow power to change my lifestyle. I know the difference between government’s money which is public fund entrusted to me and my personal money.
Have you collected your entitlements?
I got half of it
How much were you given?
I cannot remember at the moment but I know I got half of it. I paid myself.
Why did you paid yourself only half?
I think because there wasn’t much funds when I was in government because then, each time we pay salaries we are not left with much. Our salary was N1.3 billion per month so there wasn’t much funds then. There was this low production of oil because you know most of the revenue coming into Nigeria is from oil.
Our internally generated revenue was not much then, so when we pay salary, our treasury becomes empty. That was why we couldn’t finish some of the capital projects we started. But the state economy by then was running very well because paying N1.3 billion every month means the economy is pumping money and the local governments workers salaries was about N470 million. That is approximately N1.8bn. When you pump that kind of money into Zamfara State economy, things will definitely work
You lost an election as a sitting governor, why?
As a Muslim I know God does not make a mistake. So I am comfortable with that. I know it is the wish of Allah because everything happens with reason. We have a good followership, we campaigned everywhere. We committed enough finances for the election but we lost.
In 2007 when I won election I got about 390,000 votes and my opponents in PDP then got 100,00 votes. That is not up to 500,000 votes. In 2011, I got 452,000 votes and the ANPP got 520, 000 votes. So you can see how the votes were manufactured. It was the same number of voters that voted in 2007, that voted in 2011.
I have reasons to have 450,000 votes, but where did they get the 520,000 votes? The population of people that came out to vote were not up to a million. That was why supporters of PDP went to court. We lost in the court. We just accepted that as what Allah wished.
Some say you lost because Senator Yerima was more popular...
Yerima lost his local government and PDP won that LG. PDP won the House of Representatives seat in Yarima’s constituency, same with the State House of Assembly seat in his constituency. PDP won the two seats. During the Senatorial election, Yerima lost his local government Bakura, he lost Anka and Maradun. So where is the popularity? Yarima lost his Local government and two others in his neighbourhood. We know real votes and we also know the ones that were manufactured.
You were the only deputy governor in the country that succeeded his boss, what tore you apart?
It was the will of Allah that I will govern Zamfara State. Well, I don’t have to say much but I know that I never sat with anybody to conspire or to cheat. I depended on Allah and that is why I am happy. I don’t have any problem with him.
How did the strained relationship between you and Yerima affect your administration as governor?
I did my best in Zamfara state. Whether somebody said it or not, I know I did my best in Zamfara State in all aspects of development. I developed the education sector and I am comfortable with the roads constructed, level of water supply and the economic development of the state.
Even the CBN showed that there was economic development during my tenure as governor. If you go to Zamfara today and see what is happening, you will know there were more economic activities during my time. The traders had much to do then. Their businesses were booming because at least I was pumping N1.3 billion into the state every month, while about N470 million was pumped monthly to the local governments. All our banks had high turnovers during my time. There were some banks in Zamfara State which had higher turnover than their head offices during my time.
These got us economic development and it was mentioned by the CBN. Nobody can take that away from me because I know I did well as Zamfara State governor.
Did your misunderstanding with Yerima affect you as governor?
No, it didn’t stop me from my activities. I was elected as governor from2007 to 2011 and I did very well because my people are happy with me. Nothing stopped me from doing what I was elected to do. I am comfortable and satisfied with what I did as governor. I left the seat in 2011 but I’m satisfied with what happened. Whether Yarima did everything to stop me or not, I don’t regret it.
So how’s the relationship between the two of you now?
We are not enemies.
Can you explain that?
We all know the meaning of ‘we are not enemies.’ An average person knows who is an enemy and all I know is that we are not enemies.
Why did you dump ANPP?
I like development and I can do anything for the development of my people. I decamped to PDP for development.
Did you get the development?
Yes I did. I am happy with what I did as a governor. You can go and find out. I performed a lot on education, roads, social services and in the area of security. So I am comfortable with what I did in Zamfara state. I am a successful governor.
There were reports that Yarima is making moves to join you in PDP, how comfortable are you?
He is welcome into PDP. We’ll welcome him. We are going to receive him.
Has he called to intimate you of his plans to join PDP?
I am aware of everything, everybody knows there was no secret. Whatever anybody is doing politically everybody knows.
How soon will he join?
Is Yarima joining PDP along with the Zamfata State governor, Abdulazeez Yari ?
Only Yarima for now, but I know the governor will not be left alone. The governor too will join.
Larger percentage of the projects you embarked upon were not completed, why?
Most of them were completed during my time and I commissioned them.
But people are saying most of the projects that you could not complete are being completed by Governor Yari and he’s taking the credit...
I really commended the governor for doing that. Out of 100 percent of the capital projects I started I commissioned almost 60 per cent. So to commission what I did about 60 per cent to 40 percent is really a good thing. Government is the same, governors come and go but the capital projects are for the people of the state. So completing our capital projects is good and I like that. I commend him for that.
Hundred of workers you engaged during your administration some few months ago were sacked by the governor, what is your take on this?
The wage bill was too much for the governor and that was why I earlier told you that when we paid salaries we were left with nothing, especially from 2009 when the economic meltdown started. The Federal Government and all the 36 governors were affected by the meltdown. That was why we have uncompleted projects.
But you know it is very important to pay salaries, when you pay salaries the market women, all the traders, schools, hospitals, commuters and those in the transportation business will be vibrant as everybody will be doing his thing. But when the economy is cut short by like N500 million, the economy will be down.
But the government’s argument for sacking them was that due process was not followed when they were employed....
Politicians must always have their reasons for what they do. The government cannot just send people away without telling them one thing or the other.
Immediately the result of the governorship election was announced in 2011, you and other top PDP officials went on political exile. Some have stopped going to zamfara, why?
I go to Zamfara every week. People are only saying all sort of things. Go and find out.
During your time as governor, your friend; Musa Zubairu is the one running the government while you were asleep, according politicians. How do you react to that?
These are all my political opponents that were saying all these so as to abuse me. It is not true. Let me tell you when I was the governor I allowed everybody to work. I allowed my commissioners to their work. My local government chairmen I gave them their money hundred percent. Special advisers I allowed them to their jobs without interfering. So I allowed the party and everybody to work in Zamfara state.
When Alhaji Ruwandoruwa was the ANPP chairman he did more than Mallaha did. When Ibrahim Nabature was ANPP chairman he did more than Mallaha and Musa Zubairu did. When Abudul’azziz the present governor was ANPP chairman, he did more than what Musa Zubairu and Ibrahim Mallaha did. So when I allowed Ibrahim Mallaha and Musa the secretary to do what they wanted in the party what is wrong with that?
it’s just that people were not comfortable with me and they couldn’t come directly to say it. That was why they went behind me to say all these. But it’s not true because I allowed everybody to work in Zamfara state.
During your administration there were no reports of killings here and there. Now, over hundred people have been killed in Dansadau axis . Did you receive any security alert with regards to that area and how did you tackle it ?
From 1999 up to 2007 when I was the deputy governor, over 80 percent of the security meetings held in Zamfara state I chaired it. As a governor from 2007 - 2011 I chaired all my security council meetings. All I did was that I gave all my local government chairmen all their monies and I told them to do what the police wanted them to do. From my office I did give out directive to the police and army.
We met with all members of the security council, the traditional rulers, and the chairman of the traditional council of chiefs. Local government chairmen cannot pay for all needed to secure the state. So there is the need for security vote. Our security vote at that time was only N40 million every month and there are some governors who have up to N200 or N300 million as security votes. But I only take N40 million which I share with all security agencies.
I also asked chairmen of local governments to give as much as is needed to security agents at there local government areas.
What do you think accounts for these killings because people are worried?
We have to take action, there is need for the government to pay for all it takes to secure their territory. Traditional rulers, councillors who are close to their people when you have that network from the state traditional rulers, local government chairman, commissioners and everybody should be involved.
How will you assess the state governor?
Well, he is trying. A lot of people know what trying means.
What is your plan for 2015?
We are political animals so it depends on the minds of people. We only want to make their lives better. We are only after the upliftment of the lives of our people. We are only after that. So I am only advising the government now because good governance is about advising the government to be better.
If there is no security there will be no government so security votes should be made use of as they come. If government can protect the lives of the people it will be right.
You mean PDP is still strong in Zamfara state?