Dr Tim Nda Diche is a risk manager and one of the governorship aspirants on the platform of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kogi State. When he met journalists recently in Abuja, he spoke about his ambition and how he intends to transform the state if he is elected.
What do you want to bring to the table that this administration has not done?
Since 2003 under PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) leadership, the state has lost focus. The state is not only stagnant but also backward. It lacks physical infrastructure, and the people are just in squalor, poverty unemployment and all that. The state is not united across various ethnic, regional and even individual backgrounds for one reason or the other.
If you go to Kogi State today, you hear about power shift, retention and zones, but the state is supposed to be one despite our diversity. These are the areas I want to fight and bring development. These three things if they are achieved inKogi State, other things will come. We need critical investment in infrastructure in Kogi State. We have no roads, no schools, hospitals; we need water, we need many things. We have to create employment for our people, develop areas where we can have employment for our people through microfinance.
Wealth creation is very important through various programmes. I stand a better chance to unite the state based on my background as a minority person from a majority zone. The state has three zones: the east,the west and the central. The east seems to be the largest zone, that is where the governors have been coming from, but I happen to come from that zone, but from a minority. I believe that my other brothers from other zones who are minority are also clamoring for that, because we are for power shift.
You talked about marginalization, how prepared are all the minority groups in the state to take over the mantle of leadership from the so-called majority group?
You must be a governor of the minority and majority and if you know that you belong to the two areas, then it’s your luck. The truth is that, as the next governor of Kogi State, I am not going to represent any ethnic group or any zone. I will be the governor for Kogi State but being that I have more advantage such that I am a minority and from the majority zone, I think it is just a selling political point for me to have sympathy both for the minority and the majority. I will never go on power shift; I will never go on power retention. If it is power retention, I am at advantage, if it is a power shift as a minority, I’m at advantage.
You are still an aspirant. What makes you feel you have an edge above the former governor, Prince Abubakar Audu and other aspirants?
The former governor, Prince Audu, is our leader. He remains a father to me. Personally, he is more than a party leader. He is like a father of the state. So I cannot, in all modesty, agitate with him; rather I will learn from his wealth of experience as a father of the state but, constitutionally, you will realize that I have the right to aspire to be whatever I want to be in Nigeria or the state.
Are you intimidated with his presence?
Like I said, I should be overwhelmed with his presence as a leader in our party because we have two steps to become the next governor of Kogi State, the primary and the governorship election. For the primary, he is aspiring to be the governor, I am also an aspirant. At the end of the primary election, we are also going to meet as a party. So, we should not dispel anybody at this moment. We must work for individual interest now. He will work for himself, I will work for myself and at the end of the day, I will need him for my general election.
So the point is that Abubakar Audu’s interest in the primary election is never an intimidation to me rather I look at him as somebody that will make me double my strategy in winning the primary election. I think it is good he is coming but I will not dispel that. The advantage I have above him is that everyone is talking about generational change, so like I said, he is a father. I am no looking at him as a politician.
He is a father and I know he can father the state in the general election and again the issue of power shift is what is being ascribed in Kogi state. Like I said, I am an aspirant with double value. So I think I will overwhelm him with that standard. People from the minority will see me as from the minority; people from the East will look at me as from the east. So I have that double value to overwhelm him and also people are yearning for change. The change in APC is not only from PDP to APC. People are yearning for change in Kogi State from the way things are being done in the past, from the old generations to new generations, from old faces to new faces, from PDP to APC so these are the areas I think by the grace of God we will overwhelm in the general election. Talking about other aspirants, I am not dispelling anybody. Everyone has his own strength but I can assure you, I have advantage over them.
Your aspiration to be a governor is coming when states find it difficult to pay salary. What kind of ingenuity do you want to bring on board to generate revenue for the state and ensure the state do not go bankrupt?
That question is critical. You see, in managing public sector, what we have now where states are bankrupt is because they only visit Abuja to get allocations and these allocations which are sourced from federal revenue are gotten from oil. You know the oil price is dwindling and the quantity being sold has reduced due to oil theft and bunkering.
As a state government, if you put your eggs in one basket and you start expecting monthly allocations from Abuja, it is a problem. We must also look into other avenues to see how you can fund projects and create wealth for your people. Internal Generated Revenue IGR is very important; we must generate IGR for our people. The state is blessed with solid minerals, agriculture and another advantage we have is that it’s a gateway to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). If we can develop our local potential, there is no way we cannot generate tax. Once we do this, we can use the revenue combined with the allocation to do better things. There are some partnerships we can create with international organizations, financial bodies and individuals from the state to develop the state. So, the issue of money is very critical and we are very broadminded to ensure that we get revenue beyond federal government allocation.
You are from Kogi East, what is your level of acceptance from Kogi Central and Kogi West?
Like I said, one selling point for me is because of my double value, the value of minority at home and the value of peculiarity from the other side. I have been in politics for over 12 years so I have cultivated friendships across the 21 local governments across Kogi State as well. So I am leveraging on that. I have visited the two zones. The level of acceptance was overwhelming, just like the prologues. The level of interaction was very acceptable and my peculiarity fits into them.
What is the Unique Selling Point (USP) of your party?
The wheel of change is already on ground, not only in Nigeria but in Kogi State as well. The performance of the present PDP government in the last 12 years has been so dismal. That is one strong point which I did not ascribe to any individual. The PDP performance was very dismal, there is no structure, no development, salaries and all that.