Pharmacist Sadiq Umar is the Kwara North Senator-elect. In this interview with BIODUN OLADEJO, he speaks on how his district should produce the next speaker of the state House of Assembly, and the race for the leadership of the 9th National Assembly.
How challenging was your election be-cause you contested against the political structure of the Sarakis in the state?
I give thanks to God, the Almighty. Honestly, I cannot say there were serious challenges during my election. I can only say I am grateful to God for making me one of the lucky politicians during the period. Aside the movement challenge, due to bad roads in Kwara state, I don’t think that there was any other challenge that was a threat to me.
The Baruteen/Kaiama road is one of the worst roads in Kwara state. It was learnt that the road has been approved for construction and repair but no change has been affected on it. How will you address this challenge?
The truth is that Kwara State Government did work on some roads in the state though significant but not a quality work. Baruteen/Kaiama road is not one of them, it has been damaged for a long time. Roads that have been worked on are Ilorin road through Oyo state to Baruteen but not Baruteen/ Kaiama road.
While I am in the senate, I will ensure that the repair of Baruteen /Kaiama road is approved either by the federal government or state. The road can promote economic growth for the Kwara people by linking the Kaiama and Baruteen and even the Bode Sa’adu road. The people will no longer have to pass through Oyo state before going to their districts in Kwara as a result of Baruten/ Kaiama bad road. The repair of the road can also reduce poverty in Kwara North since it will boost economic growth there.
How did you manage to emerge considering your local government in terms of the population compared to the remaining local governments that make us the Kwara North Senatorial District?
Actually, I am not the first to have emerged a Senator from Kaiama. I have an uncle who had once represented Kwara North as a senator though it was short lived. During that time, Kaiama was still a local government during General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida regime. For me, I was able to achieve this because God has designed it to be. There was an understanding that it is time for Kaiama to represent the senatorial district. Though, the primaries were tough, with the people on my side, I was able to attain this position.
Ahead of the 9th Kwara State House of Assembly, there are sentiments that Kwara North should produce the next speaker. What is your take on this?
First thing first, I appreciate experience. Returning an experienced person to the state House of Assembly will be very useful. However, not all speakers, Kwara State has produced were returning members, so it is nothing new. Beside, this issue does not call for debate. There is a balance of power in practice all over Nigeria, where three senatorial districts share the major first three positions. This means that Kwara Central has the governor, Kwara south has the deputy and Kwara North should have the Speaker House of Assembly. So, there is no need for controversy just that everyone has the right to aspire.
Also, the race for who becomes the Senate president in the 9th National Assembly is becoming too tense. As a senator-elect, between the three candidates, Senators Ahmed Lawan, Ali Ndume and Danjuma Goje, who think deserve the seat?
To be honest with you, everyone seated in the chamber is capable of being a Senate President. If your people find you worthy to place you in the senate, then you can be a senate president. A senate president is the first among the equals. In other words, someone must lead. Based on experience, Ahmed Lawan happens to be the most experienced. He has been there since 1999, the current senate leader and also from APC, the major party. All APC has to do is to pick the caucus leader to be the senate president of which Ahmed Lawan is the person in question. He is also competent as a legislator and all elements are in his favour. It has been agreed and the president did not object to it. I think he is going to be the next senate president. So I don’t think there is an issue.
But it is rumoured that the PDP caucus in the senate is working underground to play the kind of game they played in the 8th assembly. What is your take on this?
Well, it is a rumour and rumour will always remain what it is which is rumour. PDP is the opposition political party. They should have their plans too. What I am trying to say is that, we should be fair in this democracy. The majority party should produce the senate president and any member of the senate is free to support any candidate of his choice. This is the right and fair thing to do.
What happened in 2015 was very unfortunate and APC as a party has learnt its lesson. They are ready to make amends and have taken corrections for the last mistake.
Finally, what is your message to the people of Kwara and Nigeria as a whole during this Ramadan season?
First, I say Ramadan Kareem to our Muslim brothers and sisters but I urge them to use this holy month to pray for Nigeria’s peace, progress and stability. To the people of Kwara, a new dawn has come, good things they expect but they need to be patient because things are bad now .But with hard work all our promises to them will be fulfilled. They should keep supporting us with their prayers and by the grace of God, we will take them to the promised land.