MAJIGIRI

Electorate may shun voting in unsecured areas –Katsina PDP chairman

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Alhaji Salisu Majigiri, the Katsina State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party and the party’s Federal House of Representatives candidate for Mashi/Dutsi Constituency in the 2023 general election, in this interview with OLAIDE OYELUDE, discusses the worsening insecurity in the state and maintains that the non-performance of the ruling APC government will work in favour of his party in the general election next year

How prepared is your party for the 2023 general election?

PDP is well prepared for the 2023 general election, both at the state and federal levels. The records of non-performance by the All Progressives Congress have really helped us as Nigerians see a better alternative in our party.

Added to this is the fact that our presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar is the most experienced of all the candidates in the election. He is a one-time Nigeria’s Vice President; he is a successful businessman and a detribalised Nigerian with friends and followers across the country. We are well prepared and are waiting eagerly for the election.

You recently expressed the fear that current security challenges might prevent residents of some local government areas in Katsina State from voting in the forthcoming elections. What is your stand following the Inspector General of Police’s assurance that the election is not under any security threat?

When we talk of a free, fair, and credible election, it means Nigerians will freely perform their civic responsibility without any form of intimidation or fear. It also means election materials would be delivered at the various polling places on time, and it means people would vote and readily elect the party of their choice.

Now, we have over 129,000 polling units across Nigeria where people will vote during the general election.

Unfortunately, insecurity tends to have worsened in Katsina State as the election inches nearer, despite the fact that security agencies are doing their best.

On August 31, there was an incident in Jibia Local Government where two soldiers were killed and others were wounded.

Similarly, our House of Assembly candidate for Kankia, Ibrahim Tafashiya, was abducted on Saturday night, although the police rescued him the same night. All of these are happening less than six months before the general election. There is no doubt many electorates may not want to come out and vote during the election, especially in some of the local government areas having security issues.

This is why I am drawing the attention of necessary stakeholders to the security situation in Katsina State so that necessary support will be given to security agencies to tackle these terrorists and hooligans who may constitute a threat to a free, credible, and fair election.

To be specific, how many local government areas are currently facing security challenges in the state?

Even some parts of Katsina’s central senatorial zone are not spared. This is aside from the 11 local government areas that make up Katsina South/Funtua Senatorial Zone. You also talk of places like Jibia, Batsari, Danmusa, Safana Kurfi, Kankia, Batagarawa, Malumfashi, etc.

When there is insecurity, how do you expect people to say they want to vote? How would election materials arrive on time at the various polling centres in these communities?

To sum it up, how could we have free, fair, and credible elections if we could have those challenges between now and the election?

What would happen during the election when security operatives would be overstretched since we are having the elections on the same day and at the same time?

That is why I am appealing to the government to act decisively now so that there could be elections in those places.

Are you saying that the security challenge is beyond what the government can handle?

No, the government, especially at the federal level, has the capacity to handle the situation. They can curtail the security situation. All they need to do is put in more effort and support security agencies.

Take for instance, Katsina here; Do the police have the necessary logistics, including operational vehicles and communication gadgets to tackle the security challenges? You and I are in this state, and we know the situation in many of our police stations across the state.

Our security operatives are willing but the government must support them with the necessary logistics, including modern-day instruments that would aid in crime prevention and control.

The Inspector General of Police has assured that the general election is not under any security threat, while the Information and Culture Minister has also said the worst is over on the security issue in Nigeria. Why then are you afraid?

All that I am after as a politician and as a concerned Nigerian is that we want to have a free, fair, and credible election in 2023. And I need to bring up issues that could derail the election.

The authorities concerned, especially the government at various levels, have the responsibility to ensure that Nigerians, irrespective of where they are in the country, exercise their civic responsibility during the general election. We are talking of the general election, which comes up every four years, and not the Electoral College.

All hands must be on deck, and everything that will make the election a success must also be put on the ground. We strongly hope that things will indeed improve. We are tired of statements without positive results.

What exactly are the things the PDP would do differently to tackle the security challenges if it wins the 2023 election?

First, we shall promote unity among all tiers of government, right from the Federal Government down to the state and further down to the local government. When there is unity among all the tiers of government, they would work in synergy, and everybody would be concerned about the progress of Nigeria.

When they work in synergy, there will be security in Nigeria. Second, the local government system should be strengthened. Our local government should be given real autonomy while various arms, including traditional rulers and community leaders as well as opinion leaders in the various councils, are involved in the affairs of the councils. These would assist in intelligence gathering and collation, especially with new faces in each council, and further strengthen security.

Currently, our local governments are just mere appendages of the states, with no autonomy in the real sense. All these would be corrected by the PDP government.

Fears are being expressed that the current frosty relationship between your party’s presidential standard bearer in the 2023 election and some party bigwigs may affect the party’s fortunes in the long run.

It is a family affair. It is also an internal affair, which will be resolved very soon. All the personalities who are involved mean well for the party.

Some Katsina residents believe that it may be difficult, if not impossible, to defeat the ruling APC in the 2023 general election; what is your take on this?

The election is just a few months away; let us wait and see. If it is a performance that will make a party win an election, tell me any achievement that the APC can point to in its almost eight years of ruling Katsina.

All the landmark projects currently under construction in the state are PDP projects. They were either executed by the late Umaru Yar’Adua or Shehu Shema. You have been in the state for some time, and as a journalist, you know this as well. The people of Katsina are very wise and well enlightened, and they would give their verdict in the 2023 election.

I will, however, appeal to the electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure a free, fair, and credible election. I will also appeal to the security agencies to be neutral and ensure prompt delivery of election items at various polling centres during the election, and I will appeal to the residents of the state to also troop out and vote during the election.

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