Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for Southern Borno Senatorial seat in 2019 election, Kudla M. Satumari speaks to newsmen in Abuja about his chances in the forthcoming election and other issues. Excerpts;
Introduce yourself, sir.
My name is Kudla Satumari popularly known as Haske. If you go to Borno around North-east Haske is a brand that has come to stay.
What are your plans for your people?
What are my plans for the people of Southern Borno. First and foremost it is to provide positive and all inclusive representation. This is one thing that is lacking. From opinions I have heard, there is this general consensus among people from Southern Borno that they want change. Never in the history of Southern Borno politics have the elites, the youth, the woman, opinion leaders and religious leaders have unanimously reached a consensus that there is need to change those representing us at National Assembly, especially the senate. And they have been looking for a type of representation that will be all inclusive, people that have the passion, the competence, the capacity and the commitment to drive the interest of our senatorial district in every aspect of their representation.
And from all indication, from things that I have done- actually I did not seek to want to contest but my people have identified the things that I have done and kept doing as things that endeared me to them to urge me to come and represent them. There are several things that if you look at all index of development in Borno State, North east in particular we are far behind compare to other geo-political zones.
Then when you come to Borno in particular we are lagging behind. So we want to drive this change that will bring all our issues to the centre stage that people can understand that there are issues that are peculiar to our people and there people who understand those issues and want to drive them. And that is why I offered myself to represent our people at that level.
Every candidate that wants contest, one thing common to them is I want to offer purposeful representation, in specifics what do you intend for your people?
Let me make a very clear difference between me and other candidates. Other candidates will tell you “I promise when I get there I will do this I will do that”, me I am already doing those things. And I am not seeking to be a Senator of Southern Borno.
I am contesting to be a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, representing Southern Borno senatorial district.
There are difference between Southern Borno Senator and Senator of the Federal Republic. When I go in there I am going with larger understanding and bigger perspective of how I should function and contribute to the development of the nation in the context of representing and becoming the voice of my people.
So when people say I will offer them this, I will offer that; they are going with limited understanding of what the job of, the responsibility of the Senator of Federal Republic, means. So you would hear people say “I will bring this, I will bring that” even promises outside of what you could offer, your office restricts you. You are going there to pursue and suppport rules and legislations that will enhance good governance. People go in there and tell, and make promises of things that only the executive can provide.
I have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a legislator and also not of a legislator, a Senator. So the clear difference is I know the issues, and I know what I can do, and I want to contextualize it, in the context of representing the nation, being an eye, ear and nose of Southern Borno senatorial district.
I mingle with people, I know some people that have been working nationally, so I can lobby for interventions and development. So people will tell you I will bring infrastructure, I will bring succor in terms of enhanced security, I will enhance agriculture by providing inputs and other things. It has to be within a context and I know how that can be. I have sought for and obtained interventions from international bodies, from local organizations to support my people. I know how to lobby; I know how to persuade people to do things as an individual. That I have been doing. Now what if I go in as a Senator, there is a difference. And that is why I am contesting, and that is clear difference between me and other Senators that may have been there or are aspiring to go there.
There is nothing the Senator of Federal Republic that represented Southern Borno or is representing Southern Borno have done that I have not done more than them in individual capacity. And I believe, if I go there as a senator I will do much more than they have done because I know what you can use the influence of the office to attract to your area. And I know how to situate what a Senator needs to do and bring development, even as a legislator to your area without necessarily conflicting the difference between the jobs that executive will do and the job that a legislator will do. I know it. I have influenced certain things, even as an individual. And that is why I am eager to go in there and show the difference between what ought to obtain.
Borno State has always been an enclave of the APC, ANPP, APP, and CPC up till today. What do you think that make you think that you stand a chance?
The issue is not standing a chance. We are going to take what has always been rightfully ours in the sense that we have always won election as PDP in Borno state especially in Southern part of Borno. In 2011 there is this rhetoric that people keep saying. Of the three Senatorial slots, two of them were won by PDP in 2011. The sitting governor lost his election to Senate in 2011 to PDP candidate. They are saying oh, that time it was because PDP was at the centre and there was some kind of influence and what have you. You know that time; ANPP was the party in place which went into merger with some other parties to become APC. As at that time ANPP was united as one party and the governor of the state had the final say.
There were no any factions or disagreement within the people and yet PDP won against them. So I read recently when people were saying, that time it was because of this.
Now the people are not happy with situation on ground particularly my Senatorial district. I have said it, never in the political history of Southern Borno has there been such a consensus among all strata of people that they need a change. And the manner with which they conducted their primaries has factionalize the APC to the point that unity is what also they are struggling for, because even the little disagreement we had among ourselves in PDP, some people have said that they are the ones that fueled it.
So, now that they are not as united as they were and yet were able to win, and it goes without saying that also this is the right opportunity and again. Studies have shown that every eight years, that window of opportunity for opposition to kind of have a level playing ground in the sense that the governor has finished his term has also presented itself; because when we had that election in 2011, the governor then was leaving.
So everybody was like, to your tent O’Israel. So when the governor was struggling to get his senatorial seat he was busy also focusing on how he will win his election. So presently that is exactly what is happening with this present governor. He is also going for senatorial seat. I know that there are other variables that are different from that time, but talking about Southern Borno in particular my brother, I will repeat over and over I have never seen. This is my third time going for elective position; I have never seen this kind of consensus.
And our people were able to bridge what some people use to their advantage, bringing religious issues, bringing gender, tribe and what have you. Our people have gone beyond that. There is that synergy; the unity of purpose to make sure that there is a change at the national assembly this time around.
And you know what, as a politician I don’t believe anything that I see. This people are matching their words with action, action with word, whichever you put it.
When somebody is talking the truth, the level of commitment with which they speak… and Hausa people say, if somebody talks foolishly, the person listening is not foolish. You could see their sincerity, it is so tangible that you can cut it with Knife, that they really want change. And it is not about me contesting this position; it is because I am the available best alternative to what is there. And our people have two major parties, APC and PDP. Any other party has not established that kind of structure that can attract followership because they feel they won’t want to identify with party that will not win election. So I became the natural choice to fit into that gap. So that is why I am extremely confident that winning the election this around baring any other unforeseen circumstance like what you saw in Osun and Ekiti. I am just waiting for the time to come.
The president has cult-like followership in the North, so much so that all one needs to do is just to put his name in his poster. How do you intend to fight this?
As a matter of fact I can confirm to you that yes in some areas in the North he has cult- like followership even in my senatorial district there are areas where he has cult –like followership. I won’t because of politics say things that are not true. People like Buhari but they don’t like APC anymore. But there is no way you can divorce Buhari and APC. And again there is a permutation that is different from what it was in 2015. Today we also have our own contesting on all level. They are the same on Buhari, in terms of the sentiment that we whipped.
This election is not going to be about Buhari and Atiku, it is not going to be about PDP and APC, it is going to be about the last best chance for a North-east president to emerge against a Northwest candidate that they have always had in the past. So the sentiment that is being whipped now is let us, have one of our own, no matter who he is; will attract development to our area.
Buhari did not beg for University from Amaechi when Amaechi, tried to bring a Maritime University to where there is no water, no river to take from that side and bring. Buhari did not ask for railway line to pass from Daura to other places. But simply because he is the president people around him want to bring something. And my people also think that if we vote somebody from Northeast, this time around even for the mere fact that he is the president, development will come. And we feel that when development comes, if there are any other issues other than what you and I know that is the cause of insurgency in that place. Job opportunities, poverty are being addressed and other things may bring some solution to the Northeast. That is just a digression.
As regards people having cult-like followership, you will be pleasantly surprised that in Biu, one of the senatorial districts; I was driving through one day I saw my picture with that of Buhari put together. And that is to tell you that the followership is coming from opposition party who want key point in Southern Borno. And key point in Southern Borno they want change.
It can go to any other person if I were not the one. So I don’t have any fear. They will say for president those who have chosen to vote Buhari will give Buhari their vote and give me PDP senatorial candidate their vote.
That is to tell you extent how things have gone. I as a politician who have contested elections, I am going for the third time now, I will not be taken by the fact that this is what is happening but I also know that I am sensitive and observe that this election is not going to be like it was in 2015. So there is no influence and I don’t want to begin to analyze for you. Let’s take for instance Northeast, Atiku may not win all the states, let’s assume. But which will he not win even if he doesn’t win all the states in the Northeast, the total vote – he will win what will give him a large margin.
Come to North central, with all sincerity do you think Plateau will vote APC, I doubt. Which state will he not win? Do you think Benue will vote APC, I doubt. Do you think they will have an easy ride in Kwara, I doubt. The only place you will likely say you cannot predict is Kogi. Even Niger I doubt. So it is only Kogi and Nasarawa that you will say, Ok.
Then go to the North-west, Sokoto they will not have it easy there. Kano, Kano is not like it was before. Kaduna is not like it was before. All the KK states have issues and those are the only places that you and I are looking with our common eyes; can say this is the strong hold of the ruling party. I am as sure as I can be that South-South will give PDP they may not give Atiku but they will give PDP. South-east will give. There is no single zone that APC can say that they have put in their pocket now. There is contention all over the place. Look at what happened in Lagos the change of Ambode and what have you. Some people are still smarting with these things.
Yes. There are some states that you could say APC could win but there is no single geo-political zone that you will say that is in their pocket, as it was in 2015, but PDP can comfortably tell you that there are two or three (I am being very conservative) that they already have in their pocket. You can only rig where you are strong. So how will you rig me out now in my own village, in my own local government.
You cannot rig me out, you can only win free and fair but you can’t rig me because my people will protest. So the permutations have changed. Buhari is contesting against Atiku who is a Moslem. Atiku is a Northerner, unlike last time that sentiments were whipped. It was the North against the South. It was Moslem against Christian.
It is not going to be like that and there are so many other issues. There is no one single state in the entire federation where the ruling party held primaries that there are not issues that came out of it. Yes, PDP have issues also in some few, but their issues were not as higher. You are all living witness Zamfara don’t even have candidates to contest. So anybody who knows what happened in 2015 and compared it with what is happening now will know that good name and integrity that is being projected of Buhari and cult- like followership will not win election this time around. They have to do much more than that, because people have tested; another advantage they have that time was that nobody have tested them to know what they would do good or not. People have tested, whatever type of administration you are doing, six months is enough to give people a taste of the things that will happen in the remaining period. We could not even appoint a minister in six months.
How do you think you will win in Borno South?
Well in Borno South, we have nine local government areas that constitute Borno South, and Biu is our senatorial district and Biu is like a gateway to enter Borno South from Gombe. We have very, very terrible road infrastructure. There is no single local government that you could say is having very good road. In fact a journey between Gombe and Biu will take you about three to four hours while it used to take us about one hour to one hour twenty minutes when the road is good. And this is the major senatorial district, what will you say of Shani, the roads are terrible, what will you say of Kwaya Kwasar. And these roads they are not hundred Kilometer roads that you will say you will spend so much money to fix them. The only clinic in one of the local governments is about a two bedroom bungalow, half of it is gone.
So health needs attention. Roads need attention. And these roads, you don’t even need to spend so much money because the topography there is not that bad that a one Kilometer road you do there or rather a one Kilometer you do in some part of this country the cost of doing that can do five Kilometer road in our area because there is no gully erosion and other things that are that bad. Yes there are some parts that have topography issues, but it’s not as bad as in South east and South-South where you have gully erosion that you have to build bridges and do some roads.
So we need to address those issues. I know that it is not the job of a senator or house of rep members to start doing or providing these things but we know that there are earmarks that are being provided for constituency projects. Not necessarily the money is given into their pockets, but why are you there. We are members of committees and from your committee if you are not in the committee of works, you can lobby because they also will lobby you.
You can attract that development. What will it take for you to include those things? I see a lot of state governments completing projects, especially federal roads and they claim refunds. That is not done; the problem is anywhere you are coming to Borno State, either from Adamawa side, or from Gombe side. From Gombe side to the border of Borno state, beautiful; from Adamawa side to the border of Borno state, beautiful. What is the problem?
So these are some of the problem. I told you that one of the major things is inclusive representation. Nine local governments with different issues! So we need to ask people and work with people. What do we need to provide? In education, education and educational infrastructure are the things we need focus on. Some local government it is water, portable drinking water that is of paramount importance.
So what I am bringing to this local government may not necessarily be the priority of that local government. So there is a balance. My people went on a recky visit to one of the local government and they want to Shani local government and the commissioner of education of Borno State is from that local government and the classroom they saw was blown off. Children were sitting on blocks. If you are the one that is the commissioner of education and in your own local government, in your own village situation is like that what will you say is the reflection. If you go to Borno State, majority of the projects are concentrated within the state capital and you know what, within the state capital and express road so that it gives you the perception that all the places are done well the way it is. But if you go even some places inside the state capital, we are still yearning for facilities to be provided. We thank God for federal government situating the military university in Biu. But how will you feel that they brought this kind of thing to your area and the schools are not producing people that will meet the qualification to enter university in that place. And that is why I am going to be concentrating on; what can we do for education and educational infrastructure including the quality of teachers? Simple things that you can do within your capacity like setting up competition among the teachers by providing a kind of incentive in terms of the best teacher award which will motivate them to do something. I can do that even with my personal allowances. So education and educational infrastructure is key. But you know that it is not only in Southern Borno, the entire northeast, security is the major challenge. So that will also be one of the areas.
And how do you enhance security? Federal government has been battling with this for how long, but you are supposed to bring this issue to centre stage every time you have the opportunity.
Liaise with the police, liaise with the military, liaise with all the right government security apparatus, support their budgets to make sure that equipment and all they require to do their job well is provided, by performing your oversight function.
Abandon projects are all over the place. I may not be in a committee for that and that but if is situated in my senatorial district I take interest and monitor its implementation so there are priorities of Southern Borno people. Their acronym is actually my name, Haske; Human capacity development. We need to develop capacity among our people. “A” is Agriculture; our people, that is their main stay. We need to find a better way of enhancing productivity in agriculture. We need social infrastructure and security and we have to have knowledge based approach to solving our problems. My people are calculating, how many primary schools do we have there? How many male are there? How many female? What is the demography in this particular area? So that when we are providing solution, we are providing solutions that address the problem. When you don’t even know how many people that are in that primary school. When you don’t even know how many primary schools that are there. There is knowledge based approach to solving our problems; it is one of our agenda and finally education and empowerment.
Education, education, education and empowerment of our people, some of our legislators will just wait till the year of election. They will go like sales men package what they already have and go and give you instead of going as a marketer to find out what they need before you go. They will go and buy grinding machine, they will go and buy this Keke Napep and give them. After two, three months Keke Napep is broken. Is that asset or liability?
Grinding machine; is it not when you have food to eat that you will go and grind. So provide them with what they can do for them to generate sustainable income that they can live on. And these are the approach that we are bringing. So when you talk what class do I have for several of them? It is all encompassing because all these things that I am telling you are all intertwined. And that is why I started by saying that we have to enhance human capacity and that human capacity is not only go to school, train this, train this; Even the change of the mindset that big man should go and represent us simply because he came with money to give you. Collect that money still go and vote who you want. By the time we are able to tell this people that look we want people that genuinely have the interest, that have the competence, that are compassionate and that will provide the kind of leadership we want. If they don’t, we change them after four years. In fact the level of consciousness, political consciousness among my people, I want to believe that if they even want to call for recall of a legislator, they may achieve that because the kind of feeling they have now is too unanimous.
Security is number one because without security you cannot provide all the other ones I have mentioned. And that is sometimes when I want to talk; I talk about the smaller ones because it is a national issue and is a general issue. And I also, always want to say that we don’t have a religious problem in the North East. What we have is evil, it has crept into our country and it is manifesting itself in form of religion, in form of corruption, because if you don’t change the narrative there is no way you can bring religious harmony. That is why instead of focusing on the symptoms every day this ruling government is making us go apart instead of uniting us.
You said that you have been doing something with your money without being in government. What have you done that those candidates have not done?
Well, like I said, I ventured into politics by accident; accident in the sense that people were beginning to get tired of the kind of representation that they have seen. And the things that the people campaigning about, I will do this, I will do this; my people saw that I was doing them. Like for instance when I went to a village I saw a primary school in twenty first century the pupils were sitting under tree and they got nine inches block and they cut it into half, made the have as chair the full block as table. I said never again. Primary school that was built in my place I think it was as early as 1923 or so and in two thousand and; how many years there is nothing. I said no, whether I win election or I don’t win by the grace of God, if God gives me the enablement I will build class rooms. I built classroom for them, the furniture I produced them from Abuja here and shipped it in lorry and furnished it.
I bought them books. I did two boards, black board this side and white board that side. I tiled and did everything. Within months of that, enrollment increased by forty percent and it was shortly after that, that Boko Haram struck and affected the progress.
Culverts, empowerments here and there, scholarships; I was doing that because I want to help. I was not doing it because I wanted to contest election. So people gathered and said look, if you are doing these things with your own resources, if we allow you to go in there then you will channel those resource in the right place because they know.
Until recently, in the beginning during Obasanjo we know how resources were given for constituency projects. It was like people were not genuinely utilizing it. And even now, even though the money is not given directly, but you can influence who does it. And people are not monitoring these things.
I grew in a background where we were thought to be very modest and even our religious teaching says if you give something with left hand don’t let the right hand know. Sometimes people come in here and say they will vote for me, they will defend my vote even at the risk of their lives because this is what they have done to me. I start cracking my brain because I can’t remember when I did those things. So to begin to count what I have done; is the drilling of boreholes where they need water? In this town, there are so many people that are driving Huba that I provided them with the kind of vehicle that is required for them so that they can operate.
And some of them came back after six months to tell me that they have added additional one. Anywhere I can help – and sometimes I may be running on a very tight budged, even if I am unable to take care of my immediate needs but if somebody comes, if my problem is hundred naira and I have only twenty naira and your own is twenty, I will say let’s solve your own because that twenty cannot solve my own. That is, whoever gives God will open opportunity for it to return. So there are so many things. May be my campaign people are beginning to compile them because they say I should be talking about what I have done and truly I did it because of God and not for politics. So I don’t even keep it in mind, but if you need some of the details I will speak to them and they will provide you.
In the North, including Borno you will see able bodied men roaming the street, morning, afternoon, evening doing nothing, what will you do about it?
Like I said, we are going to have knowledge based approach to solving our issue. We are going to be very innovative. Those young people that are there, we will go and have a census of them and find out everybody’s capacity. You will be surprised, those young people you see there, there are some people with Diploma, there are some people with very good results from GCE, but they are unable to gain admission or they have gotten that admission but somebody cannot pay their school fees and that is why they are hanging around.
Significant number of those people I have placed them on scholarship. We will find; what do you want to do? For those who want to learn trade, we will empower them, those who want to go to school – school is what I encourage no matter how – because once you have that knowledge it will help us, first and foremost not to even provide you with what to do.
It is ignorance that is propelling them to do what they are doing – those who unfortunately joined this insurgency, because of this boredom, and lack of anything to do and also because the doctrine that they are easily indoctrinated. If you are intelligent and educated, you will reason critically before you do something. So we are going to really take care of those ones. Like I said, I have already started doing something for those who want to go to school to the best of what I can do.
I brought master trainers here who trained about twenty four trainers who went back to train other trainers and they began to train larger group in different skills from soap making, from fishery, from all those things and I provided them seed money. I think I will leverage on the success of that to do it on a larger scale because, when people see the effect of what that has done I think any government agency that has programmes, instead of going to be sharing ten thousand naira on the street, we will focus that money into; let me see what you have done, and lets us help you improve on it. We will be able to mitigate insecurity and take care of the boredom.
We can also engage them by providing supporting facilities. It the evenings let them go, come and dissipate those their excess energy, back in the right they are tired they will sleep well.