How prepared is the PDP for the next elections in Niger State in the face of the mass movement of people to the APC?
Did you say Mass Movement? Well, I haven’t seen that in Niger State but I know for a fact that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is an amalgam of some opposition parties that we in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are very familiar with. The APC is the product of the merger of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and some PDP dissidents. And don’t forget that these are parties that we have defeated individually in the past. So, if you ask me, I’ll say that the APC as presently constituted in Niger State does not in any way pose a threat to the chances of the PDP in Niger. Members of the APC are people we have defeated in previous elections and we will defeat them again at this round of elections.
It is said that the popularity of General Buhari would rub-off positively on the APC governorship candidate in the state. What is your take on this?
Honestly, I prefer that reporters or whoever is making such analyses should base them on concrete evidence and not on mere conjectures. Elections are not won through hypothesis that are formed on speculations, rather, party faithfuls and supporters vote their preferred candidates based on evidence on ground. For instance, the good people of Niger State have been voting PDP because of the good work that we are doing. The electorate have been voting for us consistently because of our robust policies and programmes.
The ruling party has become a household name because the Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu administration has left developmental imprints that are difficult to ignore. Our priority areas of education, health, agriculture, infrastructure and social security have seen progressive achievements in the last seven and a half years.
Also, our Ward Development Projects (WDP) which ensures that each of the 274 wards in the state receives N1m monthly is also a huge success story. Under the initiative, each ward takes full responsibility for proposing to the state government, development projects that the Ward Consultative Forum feels deserves priority attention. These are all the good things that will continue to make PDP the preferred choice of the people of Niger State and not any band wagon effect that you think the candidature of General Buhari will create. The people of Niger State will vote for the PDP in all the elections.
The recent defection of the deputy governor to the APC is said to have ruffled feathers in the PDP. Don’t you think that the development can affect your party’s chances at the polls?
This question has already been addressed by the Chief Servant himself. His immediate reaction to the defection of his deputy is that the development will not change anything; both in terms of their relationship and the fortunes of the PDP at the upcoming polls. But having said that, let me reiterate that Niger State is a PDP state and nothing will change that. Suffice it to say that the party has a formidable structure; the type that no other party has.
Our presence is felt in all the 274 wards in the state. An instant revelation, like I mentioned earlier, is the Ward Development Project which ensures that development gets to the grassroots. As we speak, we have about 7,000 projects spread across the 274 wards in the state depending on the needs of each of the wards. Now, tell me why PDP won’t win elections?
The current administration has done a lot to better the lot of its people and these cut across all the critical sectors of the state’s economy. We shall continue to do all the things that have made Niger State a home for all. We shall continue to stamp our seal of excellence in all spheres of human endeavor so that whoever comes here would want to live here forever.
Let me also assure you that the incoming PDP administration of Umar Muhammad Nasko will consolidate on our landmark achievements in all the sectors of the economy, with a lot of attention on agriculture. You know that from 2007 to date, we procured 400 units of tractors and distributed to the Tractor Hiring Units Implementation programme in the 25 LGAs and the aim is to boost agricultural production. We also revitalized agricultural extension infrastructure by renovating nine (9) centres across the state and distributed 100 motorcycles to facilitate the movement of the extension workers. This has given meaning to the lives of our rural farmers and would be sustained by the Nasko administration Insha Allah.
Nigerlites should also expect more work to be done at the Niger Rice Investment Consortium (NSRIC) Project which we established in order to boost rice production and position Niger State as the major producer of high quality rice in the country. I recall that to get the project off the ground we established and equipped 5 Agricultural Equipment Hiring Centres of the NSRIC Project in the rice producing communities of Doko, Jima, Mambe, Ndaloke and Gaba.
Irrigation programme has also enjoyed a boost with the reactivation of 16 schemes across the state to boost all year farming. We have also registered over 270,000 farmers under the Growth Enhancement Support (GES).
It is because of our modest efforts that the state was selected as one of four additional phase II states for the implementation of the Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP II) in collaboration with the World Bank and French Development Agency. And I can go on and on to justify our belief that the electorate will return all the candidates running on the platform of the PDP.
How is the PDP managing the discontent that now pervades the party in the aftermath of the primaries?
You see, there is no big organization, anywhere in the world, whether political or otherwise that does not have problems. Our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has got its share of problems. I know some of our party men are not very happy with the outcome of the primaries but a lot of efforts have gone into reconciling and bringing back aggrieved party faithful. I am glad to inform you that these efforts are already yielding fruits. But let me also say that the party expects that all those who lost out in the primaries will accept the will of God since in any contest, there can be only one winner.
But beyond fence mending, I insist that our major selling point is the fact that we have performed wonderfully well in all the key sectors of the economy. Our health care delivery services are among the best. In the last seven and a half years, we have been providing free medical services for children under five, pregnant women (up to 40 days post-delivery) and the aged over 70 years of age.
We have constructed and equipped three ultramodern, hi-tech General Hospitals in the three senatorial zones of the state. Do not also forget that between 2007 and now we have constructed over 200 Primary Healthcare Centres across the state in partnership with the MDGs office aside the renovation of all existing general hospitals and primary healthcare centres in the state.
We have done so much and therefore I have no doubt that we will sweep the upcoming polls.
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