By Ayuba Ahmed
To all who know him, the one consensus about Isa Kawu is that he is a gentleman whose sense of honesty permeates in all his engagements with people or conduct of official commitments. A man of unassailable probity, self-effacing humility and diligence, not a few people were surprised when he decided to go into what is generally perceived as the turbulent murky waters of partisan politics. In response to the seeming puzzle, Isa Kawu has repeatedly explained that, politics which translates into craving for power of control over affairs of the citizenry is too important to be left in the hands of people who do not care or are incapable of working for the good of the wider society. Indeed, he has ever since proved the nobility and altruism of his goals as well as the point that, politics can only be as dirty a game to the extent that good people abstain from playing it.
Along the way, before venturing into partisan politics, Honourable Isa Kawu’s working experience began with his appointment as Community Development Inspector and later Information Officer in the Gbako Local government Council of Niger State, 1988 to 1990. A graduate of Sociology, ABU Zaria with Post Graduate Certificates from respectable British institutions of Journalism, he was also the Editor of Gbako Voice, a community-based publication which he used as a platform for social engineering, promotion of human rights, mobilization and enlightenment at the grassroots. As General Manager, Niger State Broadcasting Corporation, 1999 to 2001, he left and enduring legacy of equity and prudent management of scarce resources. His other stations between 2001 and 2006 include his stints as Director, Public Affairs and Special Assistant to the Governor on Special Duties.
His track records as a public civil servant endeared him so much to the people in his Bida II Constituency that he won a landslide victory to the Stat House of Assembly when he contested in 2007. His outspokenness albeit his trade-mark character traits of humility and honesty made his fellow legislators to elect him as Speaker in 2012 and in 2015. As a Speaker, Isa Kawu who retained his rented one bedroom apartment was also known to have rejected the use of an official SUV, Prado Jeep because he regarded it as an unnecessary waste of scarce resources. Of course, the powers that be in the Executive were not comfortable with his crusading and austere life style. Then Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu was widely rumoured to have engineered by way of instigating his colleagues to impeach him as Speaker.
In his manifesto presented at a press conference in Minna penultimate week as governorship candidate on the Action Democratic Party, ADP, Right Honourable Isa Kawu cut the image of a visionary on a rescue mission and driven by a burning passion to offer a selfless and quality service. Visibly seething with anger over what he called on going “very bad experience in governance”, Kawu’s manifesto can as well be described as lamentations or outpourings of a heart burning with heroic anger.
In his words: “We salute the courage of the people for wanting change in 2015. This is not however, what the people bargained for. Let us make up our minds for another change-the real to change to rescue our state”. He made a solemn promise to keep faith with his manifesto, because of, “Our utmost conviction that we cannot continue to play politics with the progress of the people.” He went on to read out, if elected, his plans and programme in almost all the social and economic spectrums of the state.
Lamenting the prevailing poor condition of civil servants which has inevitably retarded productivity, he said an ADP government under his leadership will give the priority and attention to the welfare of the state civil servants in terms of salaries, wages, housing and training. Also, promising to clean up the “present clumsy pension administration”, he announced the implementation of a “pension programme that is unified and caring” that will solve the prevailing painful experience of unpaid and late payment of pensions entitlements.
With a programme that aims to establish modern and functional health care facilities in all Local Governments Areas to enhance healthcare delivery to a vast majority, the manifesto also envisions a revolutionary approach to agriculture and food production. The state which is the nation’s largest with 10% of its land mass, Mr. Kawu said, is capable of producing surplus food and other agricultural produce for the entire country and even for exports. Mechanization and subsidized improved seedlings and other farm inputs, he said will form the fulcrum of his agricultural policy.
That is in addition to a promise to radically engage in programme of transformation in the education sector by way of expansion in the number of schools, renovation of decapitated structures, provision of incentives to teachers and students through scholarship awards and a feeding programme for primary school pupils which he lamented was an administration “which has been shamelessly abused in Niger State”.
Very significantly, the ADP governorship flag bearer frowned at the existing paradox whereby, in spite of being home to the country’s four hydroelectric dams, Niger State is one of the poorest with regards to power supply. Promising that his governments will “immediately pursue a concrete ‘DEAL’ with the Federal Government as soon as we are in office”, Isa Kawu, in his manifesto blames the unsavory situation on, “the short-sightedness of succeeding state governments and the absence of concern of the Federal government”. In the same vein, the lamentations and manifesto of the Action Democratic Party for Niger State, identified and proffered its own panacea for crises in the transport, housing, environment and a myriad of other critical sectors, “now crying for fundamental and surgical approach for their restitution”.
At the end of the day, there are certainly those who may dismiss the prognosis contained in the text of Right Honourable Isa Kawu as the usual lofty words and promise of utopia by politicians that are merely ranting and gimmicks proclaim for electoral victory. However, on the other hand, given his antecedents of someone with demonstrated character traits of integrity, deep-seated palpable commitment to the upliftment of his society, there would also be the multitude that believes that, Niger State may have found in him, a messiah. The poignant issue then is, to which side will the pendulum swing? On the side of the austere man of integrity, unblemished character of probity and altruism or, the way of the visionless, clueless and self-seeking old order which perceives power as no more than a means to personal fame, name and glory of family?