Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State is the chairman of the Northern States Gover nors Forum, NSGF. Now in the last year of his second term, the former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Federal Capital Territory, MFCT, is presently a senatorial aspirant on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. In this interview ahead of his birthday, the governor responds to issues bordering on some of his past actions and assertions. Excerpts:
What is your reaction to the alleged plans by INEC to create an additional 30,000 polling units?
Well to me the controversy is quite unnecessary because it had been earlier agreed by INEC that no polling unit should have more than 500 voters but there are some polling units that have about 1,000-1500 among others. Usually, every country that wants to go into elections has provisions for continuous registration.
Similarly, I think there was a decision one time that you must not have a polling unit that has larger number of people that could make it difficult either counting or for the proper voting.
However, I think INEC should have embarked on real sensitization on the new polling units first for people to understand the issue but unfortunately, the approach was wrong. Indeed, it is a normal process because you add polling units as you register people.
I remember that there were some polling units in Kano where there were over 4000 registered voters in the units and it is only logical that you break them into sizable units. I think the INEC Public Relations Department should have done more of the talking.
Months ago when the northern governors went to the US, we discussed some of these matters and we said if election were to be held in February 2015, Boko Haram should become history this December (2014) and we were very happy when the president promised that by October 2014, Boko Haram would have been crushed.
I must tell you that we have been doing something both as individual governors and collectively as a group but I think we need to do more.
However, INEC has promised that elections can still hold in the North including the North East but some of us are looking to see that if by December this year (2014), the Boko Haram issue is over, then we will believe that elections can be held anywhere in the country and in the event that they cannot, I believe that there are provisions of the constitution and this time around, this should apply. Our prayer and hope however is that Boko Haram should be over before next month so that elections can hold in these areas in 2015.
Why are some members of the National Assembly opposed to the emergence of governors as members of the National Assembly?
Yes that is true, but it could be out of their own greed. I was giving somebody an example when they came to me and said do you know that so, so person did not even purchase the form for Senate but that it has been sent to him from Abuja.
I said yes, I am aware and I said what am I supposed to do? I am aware that people go out of frustration and are saying sentimentally that they should not allow governors to come to the Senate because they said nobody can control people like me and I said that I thought I am going to represent my people in the Senate.
If I win, I am going to represent my people in the Senate but it is not a question of who would control me. But the question that readily came to my mind is that how are you sure that in 2015 , you would be where you are that already you are planning or discriminating against them that you don’t want governors to be there because of two or three governors that were in the Senate and the two governors were giving them tough time or making things difficult for them and they are now saying they did not want some governors and they are even sending forms to people to come and contest election into the Senate against other people.
So, you see it is for their own selfish reasons , it was not for the benefits of the people or for the country it is protecting their jobs that they are doing so that the political differences that you see is not the one that is going to move the people.
How did your party actually come to endorsing only one candidate for the presidential election?
All the PDP governors came together and endorsed the sole candidature of Mr. President. All the PDP senators and all the members of the House of Representatives did the same.
The Board of Trustees of the party also did the same. The executive committee of the party ratified all these decisions.
Unless you are either not a party member or you are a trouble maker or you are looking for identity or you just want to be noticed by the society, you have to follow the line.
So about whether one form for the president was printed or not, we expect that for president, only one copy would be bought.
You were active in the G7 but you did not follow the five other governors to join the APC. Why?
Any member of the G7 was aware of my position. They knew I was not in that position to leave the party but to reform or correct what I saw were anomalies. When the president promised to correct those anomalies, I didn’t have any reason to leave the party.
So for anybody to keep up saying that at the appropriate time, others would join them, I think such people or person are doing it only to scare those who he or they thought might be scared. I am not the type. By the time I see something wrong, I will say it out and try to correct it.
Even the day they declared and jumped to another party, though I was not part of the meeting at initial stage but when I was later invited, I attended and when I got there and discovered that the meeting was intended for defection, I excused myself from it because that was not my aim.
The development does not however stop our personal friendship or relating together. We don’t all have to be in the same party to be friends, we can even share our political decisions together but when it comes to PDP and APC, you must go to where you belong