2015: People’s Votes Will Count In Katsina State – Muhammad

Dr Kurfi Abubakar Muhammad is the national coordinator of a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) called Katsina Dialogue for Change (KDC). In this exclusive interview with ISAIAH BENJAMIN, he says every vote in the 2015 general elections will count in Katsina State. This is just as he rated the present administration under the leadership of Governor Shehu Shema as low and has been a government of pseudo intellectuals and semi illiterates. He also described PDP rule in the past 13 years to be characterised by massive corruption and inefficiency.

You are the coordinator of the Katsina Dialogue for Change. What is this NGO all about?
The genesis of this great NGO started when I visited a village in Katsina state, and I saw the level of poverty, the level of extreme deprivation and human suffering. I saw hunger, hopelessness and despair and I asked myself, how can people be living in this kind of condition despite the abundant human, natural and financial resources? I asked myself how come our leaders find it difficult to harness these resources for the overall development of our dear state. And it became clear to me, that the greatest challenge we face as a people is that of bad leadership, a leadership whose vision, mission and purpose is limited to only their pockets and the pockets of their cronies. We therefore came together to form this NGO to serve as a vehicle for holding our leaders accountable, a vehicle for ensuring transparency, prudence and accountability from our leaders. We sensitized the public to demand for what is theirs and to say no about what they feel is wrong. So far, we have organized two public lectures where we invited credible and patriotic Nigerians (Comrade Shehu Sani and Mr Sam Nda Isaiah), to speak to the people on transparency, accountability and prudence in public service. Alhamdulillahi, our membership base has dramatically improved overtime as we now have members cutting across all the local governments in the state.

Recently, Katsina was rated as the second poorest state by the National Bureau for Statistics (NBS). What’s your take on that?
To be honest to you, I think the results of that survey were rigged to cheat us of our first position. Look, this is a government that allocates 20% of it’s budget to road construction and only 1.5% to health and poverty reduction. This is a government whose miscellaneous expenses far exceeds its spending on education and rural development. This is a government whose focus is more towards appeasing the presidency than providing dividends of democracy to the populace. So, with due respect to all those sponsored pseudo intellectuals who were hired to deny the findings of this survey, it will take more than English to reduce the burden of poverty in this state.

As a medical doctor, what is your take on the health indices in the state?
To be honest with you, what the state government is providing is not health care, but rather disease care. That is, the state struggles to erect some structures, or rehabilitate existing hospitals so that if a patient falls ill he may receive quality services. But that is an anachronistic way of providing health to the populace. For any health system to be effective, it has to emphasise on prevention rather than cure. It has to modernize and revamp its primary health care services. It has to devise means of cushioning the financial burden of illness on the poor by rolling out a comprehensive social health scheme that will cover the majority of the people, as the present free maternal grandchild health program is simply a political tool that is not sustainable economically. It also must devise means of ensuring transparency and accountability in healthcare expenditure, the present system is only making millionaires out of some directors while the health workforce is continuously disillusioned.

How can you assess the performance of Governor Shema in terms of the development of the state in the past six years?
Right from the inception of this government, it has been a government of pseudo intellectuals and semi illiterates; it has been a government that believes it knows more than the people. It knows what we want; it knows how we want it, even without asking us. If not, how does one explain the displacement of priorities in the way the government handles its affairs. Allocating 19% of its budget to road constructions while it is rated second in the national poverty rating! How do roads put food on the table of the poor? Building a new government house when the state has no functional industry that can employ more than a 100 people, building a new orthopaedic hospital when the state has no single orthopaedic surgeon on its payroll. The absurdity is enormous. I honestly don’t want to talk about this government.

Security challenges across the country, who is failing in the discharge of his/her duties and what do you think is the way forward?
By now, it is clear to all discerning minds that this government has demonstrated inability to contain this menace that is threatening to consume all of us. This is further confounded by the gross incapacity of the government to provide basic necessities of life like food, shelter, and employment to Nigerians. As a result, we seem to be moving in a vicious cycle of hunger, deprivation, hopelessness and unending violence. Mr President has told us to live with it, until it fizzles out, but before it fizzles out he needs to do his constitutional responsibility of safeguarding the lives and properties of Nigerians.

PDP has been in power for over 13 years, how can you describe their performance?
You see, this is a question every Nigerian will readily answer. But for me, it has been 13 years of massive display of corruption, inefficiency and sleaze. It has been 13 years of poverty, hardship and hopelessness for majority of Nigerians. It has been 13 years of our inability to harness our God given natural and material potentials to discover this nation. It has been 13 years of lack of vision, focus and undue adventurism. All these challenges are further confounded by the current state of insecurity and fear across the land. People now rely on themselves for their safety, and as a result we have become more and more polarized along tribal, ethnic and religious lines. It is sad.

Recently, talks about merger of political parties is making waves, do you think it will see the light of day?
Look, no regiment of army can stop an idea whose time has come. Nigerians are tired of this evil machination called PDP and the resolve to eradicate it once and for all is universal across all regions, tribes and religion. With respect to this, Nigerians are united, no doubt about this.

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