Yusuf Goni Kaka is the All Progressives Congress (APC) youth leader in Yobe state. In an interview with BUBA M. MUSA, he speaks on how the voting power of the youth made a difference in the last elections.
How correct is it to say that Yobe state is home to the APC?
Yes, Yobe is the home of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Since the coming of democracy, we have been maintaining almost one political party in the state. From the governorship to members of state House of Assembly down to the local government chairmen, they are all APC members with the exception of one legislature that was elected recently on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). So as a matter of fact, Yobe is an APC state and will continue to be. The number of votes we recorded for APC at the just- concluded elections was impressive and has testified of the question you asked.
Has APC government been able to deliver on the dividends of democracy to the state?
APC government has delivered dividends of democracy in all the 17 local government councils of the state ranging from roads construction, water supply, agriculture, rural electrification, among others. It may interest you to know that the APC government under Governor Ibrahim Gaidam had saved many lives of retirees by paying their entitlements. When a government refuses to pay retirees, in other words, you are planning to kill them. As a youth leader, I am saying this without any fear or contradiction that what we witnessed from APC government in Yobe, our unborn children will testify in future that once upon a time, we had a government that cared for her citizens. As I am speaking to you now, in the last two months, the government has approved billions of naira for the execution of new projects in the state as well as payments of gratuity to retired and next-of-kins of deceased civil servants. Also, hundreds of schools burnt down by the insurgents have been rebuilt, students scholarship schemes both within and outside the country have been settled. Above all, our health facilities have all been upgraded and new ones established. If an international body can present $29m to Yobe for performing credibly well in heath sector, that’s a great milestone. To us, the APC government under Gaidam has done more than expected and remember too that he does not owe any debt.
More than 50 per cent of Yobe population are youths. What have they benefited from this government?
That’s true. Youths have benefited in many empowerment programmes in the state especially those taken to Kano and Yola to learn trades. On completion, they were given starter packs. The quantum of youths being sent abroad to study are numerous that is why doctoral degree holders are now many in the state. To those who could not attend school and those who could not learn trades, the state government employed them as casual staff at the Yobe State Environmental Protection Agency (YOSEPA) to keep the state capital and the major cities clean. Others were assisted with faming implements and fertilisers to engage in irrigation farming so that they will not be lured by the Boko Haram terrorists. So I believe the government has tried its best.
Before the general elections, youths in Yobe promised 95 percent votes for Buhari and Buni. Was that achieved?
Yes, we promised 95% votes to President Buhari and our governor-elect, Mai Mala Buni. During the presidential election, we polled at least 85 per cent and for the governorship, we gave a total of 444,013 votes representing 79.3 per cent.
At Geidam and Buniyadi, the home towns of the incumbent governor and the governor-elect respectively, they were attacked by the insurgents on election day but that did not stop people from going out to vote. This tells you how dear the elections were to them. In a nutshell, we achieved our target having come out en-masse. Our votes counted and we won.
Thuggery especially among youths had always been a challenge in elections. What is your experience in Yobe?
In Yobe, that menace has been reduced to the barest minimum. As youths, we took campaigns to local government levels and sensitised them not to involve in Thuggery. Anyone causing violence or hiring youths as thugs is against our future, so we said no to it in Yobe. I am happy to state here that in the political history of the state, this election was the most credible and violence- free because we did not record a single violence or crisis. Any where you hear of thugs, you first blame the stakeholders because these youths cannot afford to buy the weapons, so we had minimal cases of political thugs during the elections.
There is a general saying that Gaidam paid political price for the governor-elect.
What does that mean?
The governor-elect Mai Mala Buni got the blessings of the incumbent governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, and was elected the national secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Late last year, because of the level of acceptance and confidence in Governor Gaidam, the APC stakeholders asked him to recommend his successor and after consultations, he named Mai Mala Buni again, that was why people were saying he paid the price for him. It is a known fact that because of the trust and dividends of democracy witnessed, we told Mai Mala to stay at home without going for campaigning while we deliver the state for him but he said for the reason of respect for our people and relationship, he will go for the campaign.
All those who had some grudges or lost the primaries, he visited them and promised to carry them along. Recently, the governorship candidate in the state, Iliya Umar Damagum, who contested with him, said he will not go to tribunal to challenge the election, therefore congratulated the governor-elect. Also, the governor-elect once said at Fika local government that he had not spent up to N10,000 in printing campaign posters but were all done by his supporters, so the price Gaidam paid was not in cash but kind; he paved the way for Buni to land on soft surface.
What do you want the incoming government to do for the youths?
Thank you for that question. Happily, the governor-elect is one of us, probably the youngest among all the governors-elect.
He already has youth at heart that was why in every rally, he recognises the youths. He had outlined programmes in which we will benefit from. As a reminder, though, we want him to consolidate on the previous works done
by the incumbent government and create job opportunities for the youths by
rehabilitating the flour mills in Potiskum, oil mills in Nguru, Fertiliser company in Gujba and Dofarga bottled water in Gulani. With these, the youths that will be employed will reduce the burden on government and also develop the state economically. By the way, every sector should be funded very well so that it can create jobsnespecially in agriculture. The youths can be engaged in irrigation and
earn means of livelihood.
How would you rate the performance of INEC at the general elections?
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did well in the conduct of the elections. They were able to sensitise the public to collect their Permanent Voters Card, set up committees and carried stakeholders, religious leaders and media along.
They were transparent in all their activities, so I give kudos to INEC in Yobe state.No tags for this post.