By Maiwada Dammallam: When Katsina State’s APC gubernatorial candidate, Umar Dikko Radda (PhD) flagged off his gubernatorial campaign Katsina South Senatorial Zone; deep inside the southern part of the state enveloped by the menace of banditry, in Faskari, headquarters of Faskari Local Government which shares border with Zamfara State, undoubtedly the epicenter of banditry in Nigeria, many observers thought it’s a one-off political bravado to score cheap political mileage by the former SMEDAN Director General. For better appreciation of this observation, Faskari is one of the 3 LGAs in which about 130 innocent citizens were slaughtered in cold blood in one night in the dying days of PDP back in 2015.
However, to debunk this one-off bravado notion, long after ignoring advises not to flag-off his campaign in Faskari, Dr. Radda, once again, defied insecurity and traversed deep into the bandits’ enclaves in the central senatorial zone of the State to meet with citizens of the areas to not only showcase his suitability as a gubernatorial candidate but assure them of his commitment to be with them as a leader while presenting his blueprint on how to end the menace. Pessimistic as his traducers could be, those who know him closely could easily agree Dr. Radda’s courage to ignore threats of attacks on his campaign train to visit hostile areas is not a mere display of bravado but an expression of who he is, what he stands for and his perception about leadership.
The decision to go deep into Jibia, Batsari, Safana and Danmusa Local Government Areas by Dr. Radda is quite in line with a sincere desire to connect directly with the citizens of the area rather than play politics with a monstrous problem as being deliberately misconstrued by cowardly politicians whose idea of Katsina State is more of a virtual than a physical community housing people with worries and concerns. Those who sat with Dr. Radda at the various meetings held to organize the campaign tours could attest to his insistence to physically tour the entire state to speak to the people and listen to their problems to, among other things, create the critical bond for easy and progressive governance. Quite pragmatic.
Dr. Radda’s brave decision not to be a “City-candidate” — opting to go rural — is as impressive as it’s paying off. The overwhelming outpouring of love, admiration and support he received in especially LGAs touted as no-go-areas like Jibia, Batsari, Safana and Danmusa says more than enough to prove the connection and trust he established with the people is truly genuine. This is beyond being a skillful politician. It’s more about sincerity of purpose than political dexterity. Dr. Radda exudes confidence, selflessness, commitment and camaraderie. It’s also clear he’s focused. Once on the podium, he concentrates on his manifesto and how he intends to implement. He rarely talks about other political parties much less, their candidates. One could easily assume he’s contesting against nobody given his aloofness to the torrents of attacks on him by especially the opposition PDP. Apparently he’s fully subscribed to the idea that there’s no value in flogging a dead horse.
And it has paid off well. In all the 230 wards of the 23 out of 34 LGAs of Katsina State he has visited so far, the outpour of love and support is as undeniable as it’s overwhelming. Even kids barely out of their diapers seemed well subscribed to the suitability of Dr. Radda to carry mantel and continue from where Governor Masari will stop. This is easily provable from their enthusiastic chantings of “Sai Dikko Radda” while they participate in the events in exceptional orderliness as if they were there when he was harping on orderliness of the campaign train at the beginning of the season. Apparently he enjoys a very strong bond with children. Much as their votes won’t count for not being of voting age, I’ve since learned to have confidence in candidates popular with children. Their innocence inform the purity of their support and is suggestive of popular communal disposition.
Put children aside, for the people of Danmusa, Batsari, Jibia and Safana to be out in their numbers to welcome Dr. Radda where the opposition prophesized he will be stoned, more than anything, explained the better understanding of the history and complexities of the insecurity problem by the locals than majority members of the opposition who are either disconnected with the situation or insensitively planning to cash on it by deceiving the locals with distorted or even fabricated versions of the crisis. Truly, it’s emotional watching the people of Batsari joyously welcoming Dr. Radda with enthusiasm and obvious expectations of finding a way out of the inherited problem of insecurity asphyxiating their area that he promised a home grown solution to solve.
Truth is, it’s a lot more easier for the people in these areas to believe Dr. Radda will undoubtedly walk his talk when given a mandate to lead than to believe the lies about him being peddled by the minute in the social media by the opposition in a blind drive to score leadership for self-aggrandizement and egocentrism as made obvious by their lack of a cogent blueprint and road map of how to make better what’s on the ground. That he is a versatile and experienced grassroots politician beside being well educated gives him an edge over other contenders. His provable, verifiable and believable record of public service from a classroom teacher to the office of a Local Government Council Chairman through the office of the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Katsina State and the office of the National Welfare Secretary of a ruling party down to the very engaging office of the Director General of SMEDAN, all the more put him on a pedestal higher than maximally required for the leadership duty he is offering himself for and a lot higher than what’s available on the political shelve for citizens of Katsina State to choose from.
Perhaps, this may explain the neither-here-nor-there torrents of press releases being released by the minute especially by the closest albeit distant opposition party, the PDP, as they trepidatiously monitors Dr. Radda’s campaign train snaking through the smooth and rough terrains of Katsina State to connect with the people. The last of such press releases was the one questioning the veracity of the defection of some 1,900 members of the opposition to APC in Danmusa out of 142,261 registered voters in the area certified as authentic by the PDP yet, without questioning the veracity of the “defection” of 92,000 members of APC and their “reception” into the PDP by Atiku Abubakar in a half-filled 35,000 capacity stadium.
If nothing, one could always trust PDP to be careless with details. Facts and logics means nothing to it. Since PDP discovered “16 is greater than 19” in its inglorious days of power drunkenness, its world has never been the same and the once biggest party in Africa (big for nothing if you like) is yet to juxtapose and make sense of its declination and steady decimation with its bad habits. PDP is so inept and lacking even the simple ability to copy and paste civilized methods like those Dr. Radda is freely infusing into democratic system.
Take for instance, Dr. Radda’s insistence and ability to run a civilized campaign devoid of the usual violence and bloodshed introduced into the system by PDP in its inglorious days, instead of PDP to simply copy and paste such a civilized disposition even if to create a make-belief impression of growing up, on the day of the flagging off of its campaign tour in Funtua, the most noticeable aspect of the event were the dangerously armed urchins (supporting picture attached) of barely voting age imported from neighboring states to create an overblown impression of a support base. One could only ask, what’s so difficult in being civilized when being civilized is a lot easier and cheaper than being uncivilized?
I’m sure it didn’t cost Dr. Radda anything to tour even the hostile parts of Katsina State without armed thugs. Actually being civilized must have saved his campaign lots of money beside preserving his dignity and emphasizing his maturity, sincerity and determination to run a civilized government when elected. Listening to him expressing the flexibility of his blueprint; always emphasizing it is not a religious scripture that cannot be tampered with to be adjusted to accommodate missed or unforeseen exigencies, one could easily measure how much a level headed Governor he will make. He’s very cured of the know-it-all syndrome afflicting your average Nigerian politician. Simply put, Dr. Radda is a one-stop-shop gubernatorial candidate well packed to make a difference. A confluence of knowledge, experience, determination and sincerity.
This may explain why Dr. Radda is enjoying the support of political leaders, clerics, elders, youths and women of the state almost at par with their skepticism and discomfort with other candidates especially those with hazy and unverifiable records. Dr. Radda’s steady political progression and unblemished records are enough to convince even a chronic pessimist that he’s not aspiring to lead Katsina State for fun or for self-aggrandizement but to have a chance to implement on a bigger scale positive dreams he has spent a lifetime learning and teaching in classrooms at different levels. With him, it’s not the usual trial and error or learning on the job situation.
Dr. Radda always make it clear he’s going to lead from the front not from behind. He’s already at it as could be seen in his bold decision to defy any threat or problem to visit every ward of each Local Government of the state. Needless to say, that’s to update himself and be well prepared to not only hit the ground running but to hit it running in the right direction. He’s walking his talk as, his most memorable remarks during one of the various meetings held to organize the campaign were:
“Our tour of the entire state is to avail us the critical opportunity to speak directly to the people and tell them our reasons for aspiring to take the mantle of leadership. The aim is to connect with them and fine tune our ideas and developmental blueprint to cover all their problems and aspirations.”
What more could one ask for in a candidate?
May Allah SWT make this the opening chapter for the beginning of a new history for Katsina State.