By Olalekan Bilesanmi
Senator Saidu Dansadau is a front line politician. One of his strongest points is integrity. Rather than go with the crowd because of pecuniary gain, Dansadau would rather stay alone.
His rejection of a brand new car gift offered him by then Governor Ahmed Sani Yerima of Zamfara State stood him out. Until he declined to return to the Senate in 2007, he was a member of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP.
Dansadau, together with like minds, formed the newly registered National Rescue Movement, NRM, which he chairs. He is the governorship candidate of the party in Zamfara for the February, 2019 election. In this interview, Dansadau explains why he is contesting the election and what his party is offering Nigerians.
What makes your party, NRM, different from other parties?
Of the 93 political parties registered by INEC, the National Rescue Movement is the most creative and most resourceful party. We want to introduce a new style of government through a constitution, manifesto and other party policies that are different from those of any political party in Nigeria since independence. We are the only political party in Nigeria today whose registration can be done online and whose structure is up to polling unit level.
A Nigerian in any part of the world can register as a member of the NRM in his home. The National Rescue Movement model of restructuring is the party miracle. All revenues accruing to the party will be shared to the five levels of the party structure as follows: National level 10%, state level 5%, local government level 5%, ward level 10% while 70% shall be deployed to the polling unit level.
The plan, when we get to the presidency, is that our capital budget structure will take the same pattern. That is, 70% of our budgetary capital allocation shall be deployed for executing projects at the grassroots.
This is the NRM restructuring program. This is our own type of true federalism in which the federating units are more powerful. It is also in the NRM constitution that local government chairmanship is for retired bureaucrats and technocrats who are credible and have experience and exposure to ensure prudent, just and fair management of government funds. One of the early bills NRM presidential candidate will send to the National Assembly is A BILL FOR AN ACT TO AMEND THE REVENUE ALLOCATION FOMULA in such a manner that states shall get more than the Federal Government from the federation account while LGAs shall get more than states.
We challenge PDP and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to tell Nigerians how they plan to restructure Nigeria because Nigerians have since learnt their lessons from APC and President Buhari who promised Nigerians ‘change’ without telling them how they will bring about the change.
NRM plans to increase derivation fund from 13% to 15%. However, to ensure justice and fair play at all levels of government, 70% of the derivation fund shall be spent on the development of oil producing areas while 30% and statutory allocation shall be deployed for the rest of the state in which the oil producing areas are located.
The essence of the NRM Model of Restructuring is to fast-track basic amenities, equitable distribution of national resources, justice and fair play as well as the development of rural areas in the country. That is devolution of power and resources of the nation from the centre to the other components. In party administration, we have devolved the power of disciplinary action from the national executive committee to the polling unit level. This is unlike what is obtainable in other political parties where disciplinary action is only taken by the national and state executives.
What is Dansadau doing in politics? Why is he running for governorship?
I am in governorship because of the socio-economic challenges Zamfara has experienced since 1999. Zamfara is one of the unfortunate states in Nigeria that have not got good leaders. That is why the state is going through insecurity and other challenges. I also want to mentor the youth in Zamfara on governance. I also want to show Nigeria and, in fact, Africa that it is quite possible to provide good governance.
If God gives me the governorship of the state in 2019 and helps me to get second term and helps the party to govern the state for a minimum of three terms, we are going to make Zamfara the envy of other states in the federation. There is a plan to make Zamfara Africa’s center for commerce and SMEs. We will make the state a model for mechanized agriculture. Everyone will be treated the same in all respects.
What are your chances against established parties like APC and PDP?
Those who know me as far back as when I was in school know that I don’t believe that nothing is impossible. Whatever I plan to do, I always put justice, fairness and equity. The manifesto and constitution of the NRM make the party unique and, if implemented, the country shall get out of its current socio-economic and political challenges. Our performance in the first four years will enable us win the subsequent presidential election. However, even if we don’t win, I am an optimistic that, by God’s grace, the worst that may happen to us is to win two states.
What is your take on the two big presidential candidates?
If you observe the campaign strategy of President Muhammadu Buhari, they have no policy plan. Many people, with what this government has done in three years, have seen that Buhari and his party are incapable of providing good governance.
All APC and Buhari do is hammer on one single issue that Buhari is the only credible person that can rule Nigeria. All other politicians are thieves. That is the only thing they are talking about. And Atiku’s opponents are painting him black, that he is corrupt, and that the disposition enabled him to be rich contrary to the reality on ground. Again, the common man has developed the mentality that anybody that is rich is corrupt. Unfortunately, even our clerics preach that people who are rich to the level of Atiku are thieves.
And because you know that there is no bloc in Nigeria social structure today that influences the opinion of people like clerics and the press. They have forgotten that even in spiritual history, as we are told by the Bible and the Quran, there were disciples and prophets of God who were rich. Some were engineers and successful businessmen. That shows that business, entrepreneurship is a noble career. Since prophets and disciples in our spiritual history do businesses and they became very rich, it is wrong to assume that whoever is rich in the society is corrupt. My analysis of Atiku, every individual has strengths and weaknesses.
The biggest strength of Atiku is in the area of business such that any business he touches becomes a huge success. During the first tenure of Obasanjo, Atiku was the Chairman of the Privatisation Council and, being a shrewd businessman, he saw a lot of investment opportunities as he understudied different companies to know which of them was lucrative, both local and foreign. I can also tell you that you cannot trace any corruption activity to Atiku unlike many other politicians, whether in office or out of office.
As the Chairman, Public Accounts Committee of the Senate for two years and a member of the committee for eight years, I was in the position to know that there was no corrupt practice traced to him. So, why the campaign against him being corrupt is having effect is because clerics and the press influence such rhetoric.
And I think the sentiment no longer works because people are wiser now. People know there is no evidence; nothing has been proved at the law court. If I were them, I will come up with something different. This accusation is stale. Let them come up with something more creative. You can’t keep on singing the same song and expect people to keep dancing to it when, in actual fact, the melody of the song has since gone. And that is why only very few people are dancing to it. The spin doctors are not creative at all.