Hon. Bitrus Kura Tanko is the immediate-past Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the chairmanship candidate of the party in the forth coming area council election in the territory. In this interview with Peoples Daily Weekend, Kura alleged that the fight against corruption by the present administration is a direct witch-hunt against the opposition in the country. He noted that the promised change of the ruling party is not change for progress but change for poverty and retardation. He also spoke extensively on the coming election.
ow prepared is the PDP to face the formidable APC in the forth coming area council polls in Federal Capital Territory (FCT)?
Well, we are fully prepared because the All Progressive Congress (APC) to me and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not a threat. We are working hard and mobilizing our people and we believe that the confidence that our supporters have on the party is still evergreen, especially now that the people have realized that the change which APC were preaching and promising is not change for progress but change for poverty and retardation. If you can make your inquiries very well, you will get to hear the feeling and frustration of the people as well as the disappointment that the people are expressing over the way and manner that APC administration is being run. So to me, I think it is an advantage to PDP because most of those who voted for APC are regretting for ever working and voting for APC.
The AMAC administration under your party had concentrated two much effort in urban centers, thereby neglecting the rural communities in FCT. If elected, are you going to give priority attention to the rural areas?
Well, I beg to disagree with you on that, I think that the successive administrations in AMAC and other chairmen in PDP controlled area councils in FCT had done well in the areas of rural development. If you visit most communities in AMAC, the villagers will be confident and proud to point out to you various projects that were executed by AMAC under PDP leadership. When you talk of rural electrification, our party had provided that to most rural communities in FCT. When you talk of construction of schools which is education, we had done well in that, is it in the areas of health, agriculture, roads, and provision of clean and potable water, we had provided all that to the people at the grassroots. These are the reasons why they are still appreciative of PDP in the territory and I can assure you that they are really longing to vote for PDP again and again.
Which areas of the economy will you give priority attention if elected?
I believe in continuity because I had observed that our major problem as a nation in terms of provision of infrastructural facilities and basic amenities to the people is lack of maintenance culture. So I will continue from where the present administration is going to stop and ensure that the infrastructures that they had put in place are properly maintained before I think of embarking on new projects. One problem we have is absence of maintenance culture and lack of continuity on the part of our leaders. If we do not maintain what we have, we will lose it to dilapidation and you know that it is more costly to build new infrastructures than to maintain existing ones. Therefore I will lay more emphasis on maintenance of public infrastructure. However education will be given priority attention it deserves because it is the bedrock of every development. Without education, there will be no development and peace. This is because if people are ignorant, problems and restiveness are bound to thrive; therefore, education will be given good attention. Health care delivery will also not be left out. We also need to go back to agriculture to ensure food security. I will also introduce programmes that will make our youths to be self employed by partnering with local and foreign NGOs to train our youths in contemporary skills that will make them self reliant. Government cannot employ every graduates but every graduate can be self employed if they have the zeal and are well trained. These are some of the few areas out of so many I intend to give priority attention if elected.
Your call to the electorate as the election draws nearer?
The call I have for the electorate is to remain resolute, to remain committed to the ideals of democracy, to vote according to their conscience and to come out in their numbers to vote for candidates of their choice.
What is your view on the local government joint account system with states in Nigeria?
There is no doubt that the constitution has recognized that there shall be a third tier of government which are the local government areas. And in terms of revenue allocation, local governments also have their own share and I feel that there is no reason for a state government to hijack local government allocation in the guise of joint account. I will not seat and watch a situation where local council funds are diverted by the state government for other uses. Because these chairmen are accountable to the people who elected them into office and if these funds are diverted, they will not be able to fulfill their campaign promises to the people. I will challenge it to any level even though such ugly practice is not obtainable in FCT.
What is your view on the ongoing fight against corruption by the federal government?
In fact, I believe that the fight against corruption is selective. Selective in the sense that we are all Nigerians, our behavior and thinking pattern is almost the same. Either in All Progressive Congress (APC) or Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a Nigerian is a Nigerian. We think and behave almost the same way. You cannot tell me that it is only the PDP members that are corrupt. The president is surrounded by corrupt people and he is pretending not to be seeing what they are doing or what they seem to have done in the past. Take the issue of Dasuki for example; everybody in Nigeria knows that the President is on a vendetta mission, I want to tell you that this fight against graft by APC administration is bound to fail. If truly the president is serious and sincere about this fight, let the fight be holistic. This is because our people say that charity begins at home; therefore let him begin with his party, APC. Come to think of it, how did he get his campaign funds? Even when he openly told Nigerians that he borrowed money to buy his expression of interest form, but he ran a multi-billion naira campaign at the end of the day. Where did he get the money from? Let him come out and tell Nigerians how he raised his money? Who are those that sponsored him? Who are those that financed his campaign and what was the source of their funds? You can fool some people sometime but you cannot fool all the people all the time.