Pharmacist Sadiq Umar is the Kwara North Senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In this interview, he explains how the APC and its candidates will win despite the defection of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to the PDP. Excerpts:
Daily Trust: What are you going to do differently from what the incumbent senator who has defected to the PDP is doing?
Sadiq Umar: There are quite a lot to do. My interest basically would be to serve people’s interest. This would be achieved by engaging the right people to bring the desired change and federal projects that would make the life of the people better.
DT: Politicians are known for saying this but what strategies are you adopting that would make your promise different?
Umar: The key thing is understanding why you are representing the people. If you understand the reasons and respect them, that they are the people that sent you there and then you have to involve, engage and consult them. If you know their problems, of which I know, engaging them would give you a broader perspective of what their priorities are. The difference would be that you are going to be facing issues that affect them directly.
DT: Nigeria is presently not in a very good financial stance and Kwara North is not the only senatorial district in the state. What strategy are you going to employ to get the desired federal infrastructure to your people, especially that the National Assembly is statutorily for law making?
Umar: We all know that the National Assembly is where all appropriation takes place and who gets what is decided there. It is true that all parts of the country are affected by road infrastructure challenge. However, Kwara North is one of the worse as far as road network is concerned. We are the most neglected.
It is not only in road infrastructure, data on education and health, among others show that we are the lowest in the rung of the ladder. I think for equity and fairness, I should be able to make case for Kwara North for us to get the required attention from the Federal Government.
DT: Does it mean that the incumbent Senator, Mohammed Shaaba Lafiagi, has not been carrying the people along?
Umar: What I said is that the evidence on ground is that there is no much progress in my region. Government is a continuum and there have been other people before the current senator. There has to be collaboration. I do not see myself as the only one that can solve all the problems. One needs to work with other people. I have to collaborate with the House of Representatives, the local and the state governments and others. We can work together to get things right and address the issues that are most important. I do not think our leaders in the region have done well enough in the last 20 years.
DT: The politics of Kwara is said to be incomplete without the mention of the Saraki Dynasty currently led by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. Now that he has left the APC for the PDP, how do you think the Saraki factor will not affect your chances?
Umar: I have been asked this interesting question severally. What is happening now is the politics of the people. What I have seen while campaigning and with what happened during my emergence, it is clear that the people have made their choice. They want change and the change is the APC which they believe can deliver with me as their candidate to the Senate.
DT: How do you see the bandwagon of people supporting Saraki?
Umar: I am sure this has changed significantly, but we are not resting on our oars and we would continue to mobilise our people. We are going to continue to motivate them and to convince them using evidence-based arguments. From the feelers I am getting, they all understand why they have to change now. Times have changed and those changes will manifest in February, 2019, insha Allahu.
DT: What is your strategy to isolate Kwara North from the Saraki influence?
Umar: We cannot ignore the concept of bandwagon effect, what I can assure you is that it is the APC that would benefit from the bandwagon effect. We all know the presidential and National Assembly elections will come before the gubernatorial. What I can tell you is that we have decided to work together as a team, we have a synergy and the people are going to vote President Muhammadu Buhari, they are going to vote for me as their senator and they would also vote my APC senatorial colleagues and would also vote our gubernatorial candidate.