BY VICTORIA N. IKEANO
Nigeria’s democracy had thrown up all manner of people in leadership positions, including, sad to say fraudsters, which is why perhaps our politics is sufussed largely by rancorous cacophony and brinkmanship. However, it appears a new set of people – highly educated, experienced with new ideals and mindsets are rearing their heads, though you many say they are still few and far between. Yet they are worth celebrating if only to underline the fact that there is still some silver lining in our country. One of them is Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress party in Nasarawa.
Engr. Sule has literally travelled the world, lived and worked in the United States for several years; the exploration and exploitation of oil has taken him to diverse places as Atlanta and Serbia, mingled with some of the world’s most influential persons, yet he does not carry himself about with supercilious pomposity as many Nigerian elites are wont to. He dresses simply most of the time (except perhaps when he is in suit) probably because by virtue of his profession he was used to wearing overall, helmet and boot. He is not given to emotions and is calm, at least from the little interaction one had with him.
For example, he answers all questions, the good, the bad and the ugly, with even tone unlike others who would fly off the handle or betray their emotions when certain tough questions are thrown at them. And he is quick to apologise, unlike many of our elites for whom the word “sorry” does not exist in their dictionary. For example he apologised to a group of people who had come to see him and talking to him standing saying it is not in his character for people to converse with him while he is sitting down like a king and they standing. He also personally ushers his visitors to their seats, unlike the practice where the staff do this.
So what does a day in the life of a governorship candidate look like, this writer asked him. His answer was direct, “Consultations, meetings, media interviews, in one word, unproductive; I am used to producing something, to developing an economy”. As a gentleman can he really fit into Nigerian kind of politics, you wonder. ‘Nigerian politics is said to be full of intrigues, backstabbing, as a complete gentleman what has been your experience of the Nigerian political milieu, especially coming from the advanced countries where politics is a decent game’, I ventured.
“Nigerian politics is just the way you described it. No matter how clean you are, they must find fault. And there are people in Nigeria who do not believe in displaying what they can do, but engage in destroying the opponent, for them that is the only way to win, to destroy the opponent, so the opponent is not electable , so elect us. That is their idea. I don’t go about my own politics in that manner. I always believe in telling people what I can do, how I can do it and how I will approach it. Yes I have been in the US; I have also been in Nigeria for a while now. I have been managing director of Dangote for ten years now and earlier than that I was managing director of African Petroleum for six years, I have associated with some of the biggest politicians in the country and lived with them”.
“I am gifted with honesty and patience. So I am able to take a lot of heat, a lot of insults without necessarily responding to what people are saying because I am focussed on the direction am going and I will not allow myself to be distracted by such. People insult those who are higher than me and better than me. So who am I not to be insulted or blackmailed”?
On the narrative being peddled by some people that he is not a native of Nasarawa state, Sule averred that the narrators would have to decree his hometown, Gudi, out of existence on the map of Nasarawa state for it to hold water. He disclosed that his father as the traditional ruler of the area is the one that signs the indigeneship form of the people to confirm their indigenship of the local government and Nasarawa state to wit.
And the notion being bandied that he is stingy, tight fisted? The industrialist turned politician prefacing his reply with a proverb that says only a beggar knows the home of a stingy man recalls, “I have seen people tell the governor to his face that he is stingy; I have seen people tell Dangote to his face that he is stingy”. He says he is stingy when he needs to and spends when the need arises. He detests throwing money around because the money he has did not just fall unto his laps. He adds that he spends money on worthy causes and things that could add value to the individual and community.
The Nasarawa APC governorship candidate dismissed the claim that he would do the bidding of his erstwhile boss if elected, explaining that in so far as Dangote’s interests in Nasarawa State are the same as those of the state which is job creation and empowerment of Nasarawa people, the question of doing ‘Dangote’s bidding’ does not arise. Ditto the talk that he would pander to Governor Umar Tanko Al-makura’s wishes. Sule describing himself as an independent and knowledgeable person who probably has more experience than the governor because of his varied interactions and relationships worldwide, said that the governor’s wish would be for him(Sule) to perform better than him in office. While stating that the governor had laid a solid foundation for the state, Sule stated that his goal is to build solid structures on it, adding that in line with his professional training, he had already undertaken a survey of the state’s needs and prospects as well as how to achieve his set objectives for the state by way of models and approaches. According to him he would have had no qualms working with any of the ten other aspirants that contested against him had any of them emerged victorious at the October primary election because he has one relationship or other with them all.