Alhaji Umar Mohammed Nasko is one of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s governorship candidates in next year’s election. He told journalists that Niger state deserved better than what it has got in the past three years under the Governor Abubarkar Sani Bello led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration and promised to do better if given the mandate in 2019.Chinwendu Nnadozie brings the excerpts:

In recent times many young men and women of your age are falling headlong into politics, what do you think is responsible for this particularly at a time when there is the campaign that young people should be given the opportunity to govern the country which is a clear departure from the past?

Well, it is possible we the youths feel we should relieve elders who have toiled over the years and are now tired and so needed we the youths to come and take over the mantle of leadership of this country. Our leaders present and past have over the years been referring to us as future leaders so to me, I believe the future we are talking about starts now. Our elders have tried their best contributing to what we have in Nigeria today and we believe they have contributed their quota to what we have today, we the youths just have to come up and take over leadership now.

You contested for the Governorship on the platform of the PDP in 2015 and lost to the incumbent Governor Sani Bello of the APC, why are you in the race again?

Losing election to the incumbent Governor, Sani Bello or that I lost an election in 2015 does not disqualify me from re-contesting if I so wish. That is what you see me doing. And for why I am contesting again, I believe as a Nigerian I am qualified and I have something to offer to Nigerlites if I win the primaries of my party, the PDP.

If you emerge Governor of Niger state in 2019, what will you do differently from what Governor Bello has been doing in the past three years ?

First, I will to do things the way I would have them done for us to move forward in Niger state. I will first of all form a government of unity and I mean unity across all parties, unity across the ethnic nationalities, religion and zones in Niger state because I believe that after being elected, I will become a governor for all and irrespective of political parties, religious inclinations and as well the people of the entire three senatorial districts in the state. I will seek the opinions of seasoned Nigerlites whom I think I know to have the capacity and passion to deliver and appoint them to various offices and form a team of vibrant people in government of state unity.

What are the areas you feel will need what I would call radical change for Nigerlites to reap more democratic benefits than what we have today?

If voted into office, we intend to focus on areas that will be of more benefits to the people because governance and democracy, succinctly explained, is a government of the people, for the people and by the people. Governance is not about building high walls around Government House and laying inter-locks along major streets/highways in Minna while the people wallow in pains for want of drugs and other facilities across virtually all the health facilities in the state. Government is not about looking the other way while the populace that elected you continued to suffer all forms of deprivation of democratic dividends such as basic health needs in hospitals exorbitant and discriminatory charges in the health sector. You once reported and that I later found out to be true how the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) withheld the results for all the candidates that sat for the exams in Niger state because the state could not pay for the number of students they had promised to pay for and that made the examination body to seize the result for everybody that sat for the examination in the whole of Niger state entire results withhold the results for everybody, this is not the kind of change we had envisaged in the state. Education is the bedrock towards achieving any development, so we are going to give the sector all the attention it deserved better than as it stands today. When you have a team of vibrant and well articulated people in government, as a leader who know his worth you will just think differently about what would be my major focus. We intends to form a government that will be looking at what you can do to make life better for every citizen of Niger state and not basically where you are from or what religion you profess.

Incumbent Governor Sani Bello is from the same Niger-North senatorial district with you, if you are elected the Governor in the 2019 will you not want to extend your tenure beyond the normal four years?

Yes, respecting the zoning arrangement is sacrosanct because the PDP is a party that was founded on certain ideals and these ideals kept the party running the state of affairs of this great country for 16 years and one of those basic ideals is that principle of zoning. Zoning in the sense that offices are rotated to certain zones under certain considerations, geopolitical zones at the national level and in the states within the zones to ensure that everyone is being carried along. The incumbent Governor is from my zone because based on the zoning system of the party, it is the turn of zone ‘C’ to produce the governor and he has already spent four years. If God willing I am elected governor, I intend also to spend four years and leave the stage for another zone to continue, spending four year to me would be as if I have been in office for 16 years because I already set the standards that will be very, very hard to surmount.

Are you still going to choose your Deputy or running mate from Niger-South senatorial district as you did in the 2015 elections?

Sure! The essence of government and governance is to give equal recognition to every citizen of Niger state, to have an all-inclusive and participatory government that every part of the state and every religion will be given that sense of belonging. We are not leaving out any part of the state in composition of State Executive Council and also in political appointments, that is the secret of having everybody say, this is indeed our government because we are all part of decision making for the good of all Nigerlites and that is the kind of government I would want to lead in Niger state

Don’t you think that with the political structure presently constituted, it may not be that easy getting along especially now that your party, the PDP is no longer in power both in Niger state and the national level?

The PDP in power now or not, yes but you should as well know that the APC was never in power before the emergence Governor Sani Bello and President Muhammadu Buhari at the national level. It is not about government that is in power before now. It is about what Nigerlites are yearning for and who can deliver in making every citizen of this miniature Nigeria feel at home, feel loved and cared for, feel that sense of belonging and not by anyway being discriminated against for whatsoever reason. I envisage a government that will bring us back together once more as a people united by God under one destiny.

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