Nigerian politicians using religion to divide the people – Usman | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nigerian politicians using religion to divide the people – Usman

Posted: Apr 19, 2015 at 5:27 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Isaac Danjuma Usman won the recent election into the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Ibi/Wukari Federal Constituency of Taraba State. In this interview with Correspondent JANET AUDU, he speaks on his agenda for the people of his constancy and he proffers solution to the crisis that has ravaged the area. Excerpts:



Having won the National Assembly election to represent the people of Wukari/Ibi Federal Constituency, how will you describe your victory?

I first of all give God the glory. I will describe my victory at the poll as the voice of the people because they are the ones who asked me to contest for this position; I did not think of doing so. But, they beckoned on me to do so. They have proven to me that they meant their words.

Secondly, I describe my victory at the poll as the handiwork of God, who searches and knows every heart. The people preferred me and God knows who has a good agenda for the people. As you are aware, we were four that contested for that same position. We had the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, who is the incumbent member of the National Assembly and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate, who is the incumbent member of state House of Assembly. We also had the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate and my humbly self from the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). It is not that I am most experienced or most intelligent among them. I believe they have what it takes to represent our people at the National Assembly, with their political structures on ground. Yet, I defeated them in a landslide. I am a first timer; they have both served for eight years. With all this, God deemed it fit for me to defeat them. So, I can describe my victory as God’s handiwork and the voice of the people.

What was your experience before during and after the election?

It was not easy because the political terrain has been bastardised by desperate politicians. But fortunately for me, our people are now exposed and they live above money politics. All they needed was a change, hence my victory. With that awareness, money did not play any role in this election, even though money was dished out. It was my character and profile that came to play. My experience before the election was a nasty one. There was a campaign of calumny, attack on my personality, obstacles here and there.  But I overcame them by the grace of God. My experience during the election was shocking because people I thought  would not vote for me, voted for me overwhelming. My experience after the election was a good one because my victory taught me a lesson that I will never forget in my life. It was after the election that I realised how much my people love me. They surprised me beyond imagination, even though I was optimistic of victory, I was not

expecting the wide margin between me and my opponents. So, to answer your question I will say my experience before the poll was a nasty and rough one, while my experience during the election was a shocking one and my experience after the election was a good one because it taught me a lesson that I will never forget. I am so glad because the big dream I have for this land will, by God’s grace, see the light of the day.

The Ibi/Wukari Federal constituency can be described as war zone as it is prone to ethno-religious crisis. As a security expert, how do you intend to tackle the security challenge being faced by the people?

The crisis is unfortunate. I don’t want to believe or see it as religions crisis. Rather, I perceive it as political, not religious. Politicians just hide under religion and use it as a tool to cause problems, not only in my constituency but also all over the country. They use religion just to attract sympathy because religion is a very sensitive issue now. If you are not a Christian, you are a Muslim.

So, I call on my people to live above religion. Politics and religion are two different things. Looking at my background, I will bring my experience to tackle the issue of security in my area. Yes, that is my area of specialisation; I will bring my experience to bear. I will first sensitise them to know the danger of bringing religious sentiments into politics. After the sensitisation, I will find out the root causes of the crisis; do the right thing, which I will not disclose now. But  people will see it at the appropriate time.

Based on my investigation during campaign, I found out that  poverty is high here, and most of our youth roam the street from morning till night. So, in a situation like this, what do you expect apart from violence?  So, by the grace of God, I will use my good office to create jobs for them, even the Holy Bible says “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. By the time they are employed or engaged in skill acquisition, no politician will say Mr A or B come and take N10,000, go and kill so so person for me, because, he or she will be busy with one thing or the other.

We will also find a way to assist those who want to go into farming, which is also a lucrative business. I will bring in banks, who will assist them with loans. We will pursue this vigorously and will bring in security apparatus so that our people who fled their places of residence can go back to their villages and farms without any fear of being attacked by anybody.

You came out on the platform of APGA, a party that is not known in the North. Yet, you emerged victorious at the. What was the magic?

It was not magic. Yes, I can say this boldly; it was God, not any magic. What really happened was that my people did not mind the party, but the person. They were after personality, not platform. They just needed change. The PDP candidate for the National Assembly has done eight years at the state House of Assembly and another eight years in the National Assembly. Also, the gentleman who came out under the SDP had served first and second tenures, which is also eight years in the state House of Assembly. So, the people were sick and tired of them and felt that I am better. Thus, they came out en masse and voted for me overwhelmingly. My people are politically conscious, no more, no less.

Now that you have emerged, what should your people expect from you?

They should expect quality representation; they should expect new development. They should expect robust community participation, they should expect some change in our area. It won’t be business as usually, they will see a better society with me at the National Assembly. I will not say what I don’t mean. But with God on our side, we will bring government close to my people. They will see dividends  of democracy at their doorsteps to justify the  mandate they gave me. I promise them that I will not be a bench warmer, but an active legislator who will defend their cause in order to attract Federal Government’s presence to them.

Who is your political mentor?

My political mentor is no any other person than Sen. Joel Danlami Ikenya, the current Minister of Labour and Productivity. He is my political godfather. He chose me as a political son because he has confidence in me. He believes in me, just as I believe him.  He is a grassroots mobiliser, who is always in touch with his people. We call him political bulldozer because he has carved a niche for himself politically. Ikenya is a household name in Taraba.

What difference will you like to make in your political career?

I have a burning desire to serve my people. I hope to touch the areas where my predecessors have not touched. I will do what previous members have not done. I will identify them and do them. If they have done anything at all, the records will be there and I will do a different thing from what they did. I have a different agenda and programme for my people, let me not make too much noise. I will unveil them one after the other when we are being sworn in.

How will you describe President Goodluck Jonathan’s acceptance of defeat in the presidential election?

President Jonathan has proven to the world that he is a true democrat. He has shown that he is a man of his words and a visionary leader, who placed Nigeria above self. I see him as a man of peace, who was quoted as saying that his ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian. This is touching. He has surprised everybody as sees politics not a do-or-die affairs. He is not power drunk. In African it is not easy to defeat an incumbent president. Even if an incumbent president is defeated, he goes for appeal, but Jonathan did not just wait for the official announcement by INEC, but, he congratulated Gen. Buhari and accepted defeat gallantly. That is maturity, that is patriotism. I want to use this medium to congratulate Jonathan on that. That has make him a hero. I call on Nigerians to emulate him. With what he has done, his name will be written in gold.

What is your advice to the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari?

I have not met Gen Buhari face to face, but I have read about him. He is a person of impeccable character and of sound mind. My advice to him is that he should be wary of sycophants. Jonathan was surrounded by sycophants. Secondly, he should fulfil his campaign promises. If not all, at least some, he should deal with corruption, which has become a monster in the country. He should also use his military background to deal with the issue of insecurity in the country, especially in the Northeastern region. He needs to fight corruption headlong, because that has taken us back as a country. If you look at the issue of insurgency critically, you will see corruption playing a vital role in it. He should also resuscitate our education system.

What is your message to the people of your constituency?

My message to my people is for them to pray for me to succeed and to also be patient. They should also accept to make some scarifies. They should also bear in mind that I will not give individuals money, but, will pursue  projects and programmes  that will benefit all of them. In order to develop the community, those that are willing to go to school, but do not have the money, will receive scholarships. There will also be skill acquisition programmes. I will also empower our women who are into petty trading. I will assist them to be self-employed.

So, my message is for them to remain resolute. I will operate an open door policy and give them a listening ear. I will always be in touch with them. They should also be mindful of the fact that I am not in the executive branch of government. I belong to the legislative arm I have my limitss. So, they should be mindful of my limitations.