In an exclusive interview with AFRIPOST’s Managing Editor, DAVID ABAKPA in Abuja on Tuesday, the All Progressive Congress (APC) Bwari Area Council chairmanship candidate, Hon. Haruna Audi Shekwolo spoke on his passion and drive for joining politics and how he would make impact on the lives of the people of Bwari Area Council if given the opportunity to serve.
People join politics for different reasons, how did you join politics?
Politics is something that has to do with passion. I did not just come to say I want to be a politician. My elder brother has been the one in politics and he didn’t just jump into politics too. He joined politics through my father. Some time ago during my secondary school days, one of my uncles wanted to contest for Bwari Area Council chairmanship through the influence of my father who was a pioneer politician then. After my secondary school in 1997/1998, my elder brother contested for counsellorship and he won. That was the time I started picking interest in politics. I participated actively in my brother’s campaign and election and from there I became interested in politics.
I have been voting for and supporting aspirants but I have never been a card-carrying member of any political party until 2016 when Hon. Musa Diko was contesting for chairmanship. I supported him because we needed desired change in Bwari Area Council. Even then I was not a card-carrying member of the party until recently when registration for new membership was in progress and I then decided to register as a full member of APC.
What role did you play in making the desired change during the regime of Hon. Musa Diko whom you supported so much?
During the tenure of Alhaji Musa Diko as the Executive Chairman of Bwari Area Council, I was appointed as a supervisory councilor on Environment and Sanitation, and on my people’s assessment of my performance, they commended my efforts and goodness to them. I worked tirelessly to ensure that I kept the Council Area clean. Bwari Area Council then was neater than what we have today. Then we put modalities in place to check and enforce guidelines on illegal refuse dumping, regular evacuation of refuse, cleaning up drainages to ensure easy flow of water, and so on. But today, the reverse is the case. The people engaged in keeping the environment safe are being disengaged by the present government. All drainages are being blocked, people now dump refuse anywhere even on roads and we all know that dirty environment endangers people’s healthy living.
It may also interest you to know that when I was a supervisory councilor, I did not use my salary for myself throughout my tenure. I dedicated my salary to human capital development and solving the problems of the needy.
Back then, issue of House of Representatives Members came up. My friends and colleagues said I should go for it but I said let my elder brother go. He contested but it wasn’t God’s time for him and he lost in the election.
Were you adequately prepared before the guidelines for the Party’s primary was released?
The answer is NO! The guidelines for the next year’s chairmanship election came impromptu. As at that time I was still a civil servant and I decided to put up my resignation letter immediately on 31 March 2021. Instead of applying for leave of absence pending the outcome of the primary election as allowed by law, I decided to resign fully and even paid March salary to the Bwari Area Council in lieu of one-month resignation notice as stipulated by law and full approval for my resignation was given with effect from April 1, 2021. That was how I resigned to answer the call of my people as stated in my letter of resignation.
After due consultations and overwhelming feedback, I purchased the nomination form and at the due time, we went for the primary. We were six(6) in number that bought the nomination form for the primary and I came first in the election with 134 votes while second aspirant had 65 votes. I thank God for that victory.
Why did you have to resign fully without considering the outcome of the primary to join politics?
As to why I am in politics, the answer is very simple. I am driven with passion to contribute my quota to the development of Bwari Area Council. I have discovered that for anyone to effectively impact the lives of people, you must follow the path of politics. If you are a civil servant and you want any project in your community, you must lobby. But if you are a politician and you have the red biro, you can approve it.
I also discovered that our people (the locals) need empowerment. There is need for human capital development. Our local women selling on the streets, for instance, need to be empowered. This does not take the Area Council anything to give these women certain amount of money as interest-free loan to boost their business and ask them to return the money at an agreed period of time.
How do you intend to address the issue of teaming unemployed youths if given the opportunity?
On the youth facing sharp unemployment problem, we all know that there are no jobs for the teaming graduates of Nigerian tertiary institutions today. So alternatively, there is a need for the youths to look for something tangible to be doing. They could learn handiwork that could help them.
Having identified these needs, how would the Area Council help in this situation? It is the duty of the Council to open a skill acquisition center where these people would be trained and given start-up capital with which they would buy their working tools to establish themselves. The training could be in the area of catering, plumbing, electronics, tailoring, handset repair and so on. I believe these are simple but viable handiwork that would take our teaming unemployed youths off the streets if they are properly trained and empowered.
On education, in FCT here, building of school structures is under UBEB. The salaries of school staff are under Area Councils. But this does not stop the Area Council from giving some needed supports to them because they are the closest people to the locals. Today we have some classrooms without seats for the pupils/students and some classes without roofs. These are some areas that the Area Council can come in.
You will also agree with me that Buhari Area Council is second in FCT when it comes to landmark and IGR after AMAC. There are ways Bwari Area Council can generate revenue but the reason why the Council is not generating revenue is simple; Social amenities and infrastructures must be provided by the government for the people to be able to pay their royalties. Why Lagos people pay royalties today without asking question is because what they needed to ask question on, are being provided for them by the government.
Ushafa you know before has only one access road until I became the Supervisory Councilor of Environment and Sanitation. I used my office to persuade SCC Construction Company to construct the new SSC road the bridge. Not only that, but we also provided land for the community senior secondary school. Today Ushafa community has about 1.3 hectares of land where the secondary school will be moved to.
Ushafa is not a community that is hiding. Bwari Area Council is not hiding. For instance, people pass Ushafa and Bwari Area Council on daily basis to Kaduna. The location of Nigerian Law School and JAMB Headquarters in Bwari have also put Bwari Area Council on world map. With that, there is need for better plan for Bwari Area Council in terms of road, solar street lights on the major roads to make them more colourful.
On scholarship, there is need for the Area Council to send, at least, one student from each Ward on scholarship to study medicine abroad because we have clinics that need attention of doctors. If you send medical students on scholarship and upon return, you ask them to work under the Area Council on the payroll of the Council, they will. These are some of the things we are passionate about that if, given the opportunity to serve, we will improve on them. We believe power comes from God. We are trusting Him to give us the power to get there.