Gov’ship poll: I’ll take Kogi state to greater heights – Murtala Ajaka

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Alhaji Murtala Yakubu Ajaka is the deputy national publicity secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Ajaka is also a frontline governorship aspirant in Kogi state. In this interview with CHAMBA SIMEH, he explains his mission and vision for the development of Kogi state, if he wins the election billed for November this year.

The governorship election in your state will take place in November this year. You have already expressed your interest to run and become the next governor of Kogi state. Why do you want to become the governor?

This is very true and I have long declared my intention to contest for the seat of the governor of our dear state by collecting the Declaration of Intent form from my party, the APC, and I am ready to slug it out with other aspirants that have equally shown interest to contest for the seat at the APC primaries to elect the party’s candidate for the off-season election coming up later this year.

Why are you interested in being the governor in the next political dispensation in Kogi state?

Simply put, I am in the guber race of my state because I want to build on the foundation laid by the administration of Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the present governor of Kogi state. The new direction government of Governor Yahaya Bello has really redirected the state from the time when the state only wanders in the wilderness and I am appreciative to this administration for building the needed strong foundation for successor to improve on because governance is a continuum.

The next stage after the successful reclaiming of our land and restoring our values in the state by the APC-led administration of Yahaya Bello is putting the state back on its development trajectory because of the retrogressive tenures we had under the previous administration of the PDP in the state likened to captivity by many. The people of the state were held captive by those who decided to see the state as their personal fiefdoms; only for themselves and their cronies. Like the present administration or not you cannot take away the fact that it really reclaimed our state for the people and eliminated the issue of godfatherism from the politics of Kogi state. I am, therefore, contesting for the governorship of Kogi state to bring development to the entire state. This will restitute for the good intentions of our forebears who fought wars and sweated to see to it that as one people we have a state to call ours.

I want to be that leader of the state whose development strides would be excellent as a way of paying homage to those who came before us and on whose labour our generation should be building upon; our forebears of ages past who bequeathed to us virtues of honour, integrity, and dignity; who bonded us together as one indivisible confederacy called Kogi state, and fought wars to liberate us from external forces who sought to subjudicate us. They thought that only in fighting together can we truly win.

The fight against external forces had been truly won by them on our behalf but here today are the internal forces that have for long risen against the development of the people of our state and are planning again to subjudicate it. Our ancestors, who we have learnt about in history books and majorly from the oral tradition of our Griot’s, are similarly assembled in the great beyond as a cloud of witnesses cheering us on as we embark on this journey set before us and doing nothing was not an option before us. To answer your question, I amthrowing my hat into the ring to contest for the governorship seat of Kogi state as a deliberate way of answering the call of our destiny by leading the way to build on the lofty foundation of our present governor and take the state to greater heights.

Interesting; hearing from you seems that the urge to serve is a divine mission which you can claim as your destiny to serve?

You can say that again. I simply want to be the instrument through which this divine mandate is actualised in Kogi state. I am sure that I know the problems of Kogi state and their solutions better than virtually anyone else. I promise to do right by my people by honouring this divine call and mission on their behalf and it is a promise they can all take to the bank.

What does this aspiration of yours represent?

I think our people know a good leader when they see one because the lessons of past failures by leaders in the state have made our people to become politically sophisticated. I represent in this race the best hope for the state because with the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the president-elect of the country, we are indeed entering a period of renewed hope. And because I believe in hope, I am going to bring renewed hope to Kogi state. I have been sharpened by the hands of fate and provided with sufficient experience, compassion, and skills needed for a time like this. Rarely do governorship aspirants come really formed and ready like me.

I am a moderate man who has never shown or exhibited any form of religious extremism or any tribalism. I am at home with both Christians and Muslims. Tolerance could be said to be my middle name because at this point in our state when the issues  of inclusion and marginalisation are at the centre of our politics and always the source of sectarian crisis and conflicts, I am that broad-minded leader who through my words and actions will bring everyone together and heal the wounds of division, hate, and bigotry in Kogi state because we are one people.

You are presently the national deputy publicity secretary of the APC. Some are wondering what more you really want; are you not simply using this opportunity to negotiate?

Well, I don’t know what the few pessimists who I know are well informed optimists in our midst think I want to negotiate for. But importantly, all I have become, particularly, the one you just mentioned, I got because I am a Nigerian. And now that I can see Kogi state going down after Yahaya Bello, if there is absence of a functional and capable leadership, it is time to deploy my experience; I gained vantage experience, as the deputy national publicity secretary of the party

As deputy national publicity secretary, I have been in a position to know what leadership demands and this would help me in giving the state a focus. I understand the challenges of leadership and have the clarity of what the solutions are. Short of experiences like this, nobody can rule a state like Kogi. Today, I am better equipped by my experience and training, by my knowledge of our state, to be in the best position to help redirect Kogi state on the path of growth, peace and development.

I have heard many call you ‘the new Prince Abubakar Audu’ because they say you are likely to bring back the glory days of the late governor.

Oh, my. The late Prince Abubakar Audu is the father of modern day Kogi state with development projects scattered throughout the nooks and crannies of the state. He left a mark which any aspiring leaders should emulate. The developmental and Infrastructural projects he initiated and executed will always be a memento for all of those days when government cared about the people. I am very sure he is one of my political heroes that I would want to emulate. May his soul rest in peace!

We heard that you like development and many people have attested to your development strides in Kogi state even though you are not yet in an executive position in the state. How true is this?

I am an apostle of a new type of politics dispensation and the people are the basis of all I seek to do in life. Giving back to society in one little way or the other should be the essence of the life of those of us who are fortunate. I have done a little based on the resources available to me to fill the infrastructure gap in Kogi state and would continue to do my best.

I have assisted in the electrification projects of many communities in the state. I have awarded scholarships to the tune of about N300 million to indigent students from all parts of the state, etc. I don’t believe in advertised philanthropy and not one to blow my trumpet but my people know I am always with them.