Alhaji Haruna Sa’eed is the Socialist Democratic Party (SDP) governorship candidate in Kaduna State. In this interview Sa’eed who contested and lost in 2011 gives an insight into what will shape his policies as governor if elected in 2019.
You did well when you contested as CPC governorship candidate in 2011 but people say you have not been able to sustain the clout. How do you react to this?
When I contested as governor on the CPC platform, I did not only put up a good showing but I won the election and many factors were responsible for that. Some of the factors are still there and I believe we have been able to sustain that visibility.
A candidate is rated in politics by his capacity to transform political environment. So far we have done a great job in turning around a party that was not in existence in Kaduna State. From nowhere, the SDP is now being rated as either the first or second most formidable party in Kaduna.
The party currently in government and the one that was in government are known quite alright, but when we came to SDP we turned it around to the extent that in every polling unit, SDP is represented and there is no position at either the ward or local government or state level that are not being maned effectively. This is what politics is all about; for a party to have structure that can stand election and win. We are able to field candidates that believe in the party. What I have done in terms of turning the political environment has remained firm and solid.
In fact, we have succeeded in doing that more in the SDP than we did in the CPC. In the CPC, there were places we were unable to fill certain positions especially at the ward level but now people are even fighting to fill such positions.
Does that mean you believe your leaving the APC was the right decision?
Let me say for one minute that I have never regretted leaving APC because the factors that led to my leaving the party are real as you can see from the crisis within the party in the state. The dominance of one person in the affairs of the party, the inability of the party to give people a free level playing field and the lack of cohesion and relevance of the party in governance have continued. Nothing has changed despite our warnings.
What will be your focus if you win?
Ours is about trust; today’s government has lost that trust from the people. There is no trust and we need to rebuild that because you cannot govern a people that do not feel they have a government in place nor believe in it.
Secondly, Kaduna state has been awash with crises over and over. So, we need to have peace, we need to restore peace. Also, insecurity has also become an issue and we want to work on that as quickly as we can. We are sliding down in terms of agriculture we need to work on that.
Kaduna State used to lead in education in the north but now we have lost that position, we need to recover. We are also losing our quality of accommodation where people used to feel at home whenever they were in Kaduna. These are areas we need to work on quickly. Beyond these, we need to develop the state by focusing on capital projects that will aid the growth of the economy and ensure that we are focused. Our urban centers are losing the sites that other urban areas are known for so we need to work on that. We also need our health system to get back or at least improve from where we are. We have a lot of work to do; we just need to be focused and Insha Allah we will get there.
So you feel the current administration is not doing well in these areas?
You see, insecurity, preventive measures are better than reactive ones. Apart from that, what you do after an event shows whether you want to alleviate the sufferings of the people or otherwise. This government has failed completely in terms of pre and post-crisis management. They do not even know how to go about it. The way and manner you handle relationship with people determines how they react to certain situations. So if you don’t take care of such likely reactions before they occur, the consequences will not be easy.
The governor said his inability to get the World Bank loan affected his plans.
The loan was denied him because of a number of issues surrounding the application. In every loan you have a number of critical issues to look at. One is the purpose for obtaining the loan, then the amount, the timing or duration you need the loan and then the cost.
You don’t just go to borrow for borrowing sake. This was lacking, they failed to spell out the purpose for which they were borrowing. That is a failure on the part of the government to demonstrate clearly and transparently what they wanted to use the money for. Not just to say we want to do infrastructure, it must be spelt out in the budget that is transparency, two the amount is an issue. You are looking for 350 million dollars in an economy that you know where you stand in terms of revenue. You must match the grant with stability of repayment and you must show how much you are getting now, how you are going to repay. Even if the repayment will not start during his time what burden is he leaving behind on other people and government of the state? That has not quite been demonstrated. So, the capacity is of essence, you must show that you are able to pay. These are the things that denied El’rufai that facility.
The State Governor said his coming back in 2019 is a done deal. As one of the candidates who will be contesting with him what is your reaction to that?
I think he got his feelers wrong. Those around him that have caged him are telling him lies. We know for a fact the social media boys are all telling him lies and what he wants to hear so they are deceiving themselves. But for anybody to think of Nasiru’s reelection as a done deal I think that person is not thinking right.
Some of us did not see any reason to contest until we had seen there is going to be a vacancy in Kaduna State. If his reelection is a done deal a number of people will not be bothering to contest not just Haruna Sa’ed but many other candidates will not bother to contest. But because there is a wide possibility, that is why a lot of people are showing interests.
How are you coping with the burden of shouldering a party that almost had no structure on ground?
There are number of factors that will support or go against you in any party. In an old party you have things to contend with like stigma of the party, dominance of few and weakness of the institution, these three and many more are there in APC and PDP. So, what you lack here you gain elsewhere. We don’t have that sigma that other people have. Yes, we may be weak in the sense that people want to be given money all around. No individual who doesn’t steal will have the capacity to do that; no individual who has not been supported by crooks will be able to do that. We can say for sure that we are burdened by the fact that only few individuals will be seen shouldering much of the demands but that doesn’t give us any reason to regret.
So what will you say is working for you?
As a party, we have worked to bring an alternative to two parties that are not needed anymore that is working well for us because the APC and PDP have lost it. So the people of Kaduna have yearned for a new party which they have gotten in SDP. Again the absence of tainted people in the party is helping us and another thing is the organization of the party. The system works here in Kaduna State. The party is well organized; it has a purpose, guiding the activities of the day not individuals who think they are too powerful to determine whatever they want to do.
That gives me the leverage as a candidate and I am happy with that. Secondly, I am known by the voting populace. Three, they know I won an election in the past but I was denied access to the office. There are other things. We put the other candidates on a scale and they did not come close. We talked about capacity, character, commitment, contribution and collateral. These five as you have them in the banking sector when you digest them you will realize that we are equally ahead.