Alhaji Mahmud Yayale Ahmed was Head of Service, minister of defence and later Secretary to the Government of the Federation. He is contesting for the PDP governorship ticket in Bauchi State. He spoke to newsmen on his ambition. Excerpts:
Why did you join the governorship race?
My joining the race is surrounded by a lot of deliberately created controversies. We join any boat in order to steer it out of danger. And if majority of the people in the boat invite you to come and do that, and few are resisting, then the boat is in good shape, you have no option but to allow yourself to be in the boat for the purpose of rescuing it. However, if you come to show that you have the expertise to do the job, people who are used to their way of doing things, will definitely find it unattractive. While I could not continue to resist my desire to subject myself to the service of my people, I am not unaware of the fact that you cannot also force people to love you.
Since my joining the race I have added more experience that it is not too late for you to offer service if it’s required but it’s not also good for you to insist on offering service if people think it is not required from you, so you need to balance the delicate issue. My guiding principle in life is maintaining my integrity. When you go into government you have so many options, you can decide to be absolutely corrupt, irresponsible, insensitive or you can decide to be a little bit upright. I have gained in over 30 years in service , more than half of my life’s integrity and if I cannot add value and integrity to any system , I refuse going near that particular system and everybody knows about that.
Politics should not be commercialized, it should not be an investment of reaping ill-gotten wealth and should never be something that you will do in order to make yourself so comfortable with something that is not yours. Bauchi state was created in April 1976 and I graduated in June 1976, the year of my graduation and the year of Bauchi state are virtually the same. We are the young pioneers of Bauchi State, we came and submitted ourselves, dedicated all what we can to show that Bauchi State will excel and we were happy that by 1983, Bauchi State was far ahead of so many states created the same time with it, like Benue.
I remember no sooner than I transferred my service to the federal government than somebody from Niger came to my office and said that IBB was interested in knowing why Bauchi was developed and Niger was not, and it took me about one hour to explain how we were able to do it under the guidance of our leaders who were selfless, extremely hardworking and full of integrity.
That is why within seven years because of our hard work, few of us attained the position of permanent secretaries in Bauchi while our seniors were lagging behind. So, by the time we finished with Bauchi State and were still young, we started a new career in the Federal Service.
Some say you are being imposed on Bauchi people….
I only succumbed to the call of some people, but I personally take responsibility for my decision to contest. I will never allow somebody to push me because I am too old to be pushed and I have my reasons for accepting service where it is required and needed. So I know exactly the danger and the challenges I am facing but as some of you will ask, ‘look at this old man, at the age of 62, he has become SGF and he is coming back to Bauchi to serve’ but I will say that I see politics as not commercial venture but service and if I am asked to go to my ward and serve as a monitor or chairman to make sure we tackle our sanitation problem, I will go and serve. If however it is an issue of coming to accumulate ill-gotten wealth , even if you ask me to go for higher service I will not do it.
That is why when the challenges of saying they don’t want Yayale and the demonstration came up, some people came out and said they were going to counter it and I said no, those people who did the demonstration did not even know me, how can I waste my time, secondly they were hired and I can’t hire people for that but I am very loved and liked by people of Bauchi State.
What is your plan for Bauchi State?
I am lucky I’m in PDP, the state has been ruled virtually by PDP except the brief period of Mallam when he came as ANPP man with a PDP manifesto. I feel the current challenge is the rising level of insecurity in the North East and in Bauchi; secondly, unacceptable corruption; thirdly dilapidated infrastructure, whether it is in education, health, water supply either of these that we politicians would like to tell you as you vote and in a developing setting public expenditure of any government must ensure that it reflects on health, education, water supply, electricity and other things which is the expenditure pattern in a development administration which Bauchi is. We will also like to concentrate on provision of infrastructure that is road, bridges, buildings that will stand the test of time and so on and so forth. All these cannot be done without a public service that works for the people; we started the Bauchi public service, we are lucky in life to head the federal civil servic so we have a fair knowledge of what public service is all about. Public service should be well motivated, well educated, ethical and subordinate itself up to political power. Bauchi community and state has a very interesting history, to always maintain the integrity and well being of each other. We will restore that dignity, the lost glory of Bauchi, so that if you go anywhere, even if you are a reporter assigned to Bauchi, people will say they are good and accommodating, these are some of the core values that we intend to build, in doing that we have to get the full cooperation of people, we cannot get the full cooperation of the people if we are not sincere. I have been a citizen of applying sincerity to the management of the public service so sincerity will be our watchdog.
I therefore require the understanding of all the people of Bauchi State, if they feel that they can try me from the level of the primaries to general election, I will dedicate myself and serve them. If however they have an option which goes with democracy, I will thank them that I have offered myself to serve again because service is not going to be an easy thing, good things of life arw not easy to come by, exposure is not going to be an easy thing, dealing with challenges is not going to be a new thing to me but I have to now situate it to circumstances of the environment I found myself. I made consultations before I decided to finally declare, including with Yuguda my governor who is the leader of our party, highlighting why I am in and other leaders including the national chairman but with deepest sense of respect to both of them, each of them knows that nobody can force me to do what I am not convinced to do but if anybody says Mu’azu is imposing me on Bauchi or Isa, they know that I am too big to be imposed and I will like to take the pride and say nobody can impose me on anybody, I am convinced at my own level that I can offer myself for services. I have offered myself so it is left for the people to accept or decline, and in accepting or declining I do not ask anybody to cause confusion, controversy or violence.
There are speculation that Governor Yuguda invited about three aspirants to contest the governorship election. Who invited you to contest?
Allah invited me to join the race and I stand by Allah. The governor is also doing it knowing fully well that Allah has the final decision, whatever is decided for me I will not say that you have denied me the governorship because where were you when Allah gave me all the other positions, is it now that I will complain because I did not get this one?
What assurance will you give to the people that you will be fair to all due to the issue of Katagum zone that is agitating for state creation?
You know this Katagum/ Bauchi dichotomy is a new thing to me completely, when I came to this state as assistant secretary, Abubakar Umar of blessed memory was our secretary to the government; he carefully selected those of us who made second class upper and posted us to serious ministries that require hard work. Shehu of blessed memory was my permanent secretary in the ministry of finance, he was virtually like my father, there were permanent secretaries from Katagum. Wazirin Bauchi was my second permanent secretary in the ministry of finance and he wrote a good report about me, so when they say there is this dichotomy, I begin to wonder why. People try to create dichotomy because they don’t have anything to offer.
There are allegations that you sponsored an ACN candidate in 2011 while you are a card carrying member of PDP, how true is this?
Whether I sponsored ACN or not or I was identified with ACN candidate during the last general elections in 2011, my boss – the president – knew about it, I did not hide it. There was a time we came for campaign with him and somebody went to the podium and rained abuses on me and called Jonathan saying, ‘we want you to know that the person close to you is an ACN man.’ He was talking and I translated what he said to Jonathan, that what he was saying is that you should not trust me.
So if they say that I am an ACN man in Bauchi and PDP man in Abuja, I have no apologies. I did it with deepest sense of conviction. -DailyTrust