Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Sen. Dr. Kabiru: The Living Legend of The 21st Century



Former Kano State Governor, His Excellency, Senator Dr. Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya was born on June 16, 1952. He is a four-time senator representing Kano South Constituency, Kano State, Nigeria under the ruling party, All Progressive Congress (APC). He was also the Executive Governor of Kano State from 1992-1993. In addition to that, senator Gaya was elected as the Vice President, Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) African Group in 2016. He is also a member of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) and the Nigerian Large Scale Farmers Association (NLSFA). Due to his countless contribution to human capital development in his constituency, Kano State and Nigeria at large, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the University of Science and Applied Management, Porto-Novo, Benin and recently, another doctorate honorary degree by Liberal Bilingual University, Togo. In this interview with TOPFLYERS MAGAZINE INTERNATIONAL, the distinguished senator talks about how his political career started and why he has been a senator for over a decade.



Good afternoon senator. Can we meet you sir?

First of all, I thank you for being here and for having an interview with me. My name is Senator Dr. Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya. I was born over 65 years ago in Gaya Local Government Area. I did my primary and secondary education in the present Jigawa State after which I went to advanced college in Kano State. Thereafter, I moved to the university where I had my first and second degrees in Architecture. After that, I started my own business where I practiced Architecture. I did a lot of projects in Abuja including the Ship House which is now the headquarter for the ministry of defense. After that I did many other projects within and around Abuja and the country, Nigeria. I am so proud of being an architect. Later in 1982/1983, I started Politics and in 1989/1990, I contested for governorship election which I won in 1991 as one of the youngest governors of Kano State. We used to crack jokes with the late Yahaya Abdulkarim former Governor of Sokoto State--may his soul rest in perfect peace—when he used to stand and say he was the first civilian governor of Kano State when it was combined with Jigawa and I would say I was the first governor of Kano State when Jigawa was separated from Kano. I worked as a governor for two years before we were booted out by the military. Abacha came in and booted us out. However, politics remained a profession for me and in 1889 when we were allowed to start politics again, I started campaigning for governorship under the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC).That was the time when the young were said to be allowed to practice and I was one of the youngest governors in Nigeria, specifically, the second youngest governor in Nigeria. We ran there for two years and we left office. When I came back I was playing politics, after a while many parties were formed and finally I joined APP which transformed to ANPP and finally to APC. I have been a senator for over 16 years. I was selected in 2007, 2011, 2015 and again I was selected in 2019 as senator from Kano South. Kano South is a Senatorial Area with the highest number of Local Governments in Nigeria. By population it is higher than most states in the federation including Gombe, Ekiti, and many other states. It has about 16 or 17 Local Government Areas. I am one of the ranking senators in the senate presently. I am among the three highest ranked senators in the night assembly for now, so I thank God I am a senator and a former governor. I enjoy(ed) playing both roles and I must state here that initially when I was invited to contest for senate, the first and second time, I refused. It was the third time I accepted. When I finally came in, I found out that being a senator is entrusting because it deals more of national than state politics. So I am happy I am in that field.

Has your pedigree performance as a senator won you any recognition and awards?

Yes, a lot. Infact recently I was awarded a doctorate degree from a University in Togo. This is not the first time. I was also given a doctorate degree from the University of Science And Applied Management, Porto-Novo in Benin Republic. I am fully a member of the Nigeria Institute of Architects which is the highest honour from the institute. I appreciate working with Nigerians and I am happy to be into politics and a senate member.

Are you married?

Yes, I am married with children and grandchildren. So far, I have 15 children and 19 grandchildren.

At what age were you elected as a governor?

I started campaign in 1936/1937 but I was elected in 1938. So I became governor at the age of 38. So, I was less than 40 years when I became a governor and I believe I can as well ask the young generation to join us. I remember then, Jolly Nyame was the youngest Governor that time and was a governor at the age of 33 in 1991 and brought into office in January 1992. So, he was the youngest among our colleagues. One of the oldest among us was late Michael Otedola who was the governor of Lagos State. Others include Saidu Barda of Katsina State and Akpan Isemin from Akwa-Ibom. A few of us were young men who turned friends.

In specific terms sir, what position do you occupy in the senate currently?

In the senate, for now, I am the chairman incharge of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). We are now rebuilding the electoral act to make sure that we introduce electronic voting in the next dispensation. We are going to try to do a mock election/trial for Ekiti State other states that would be holding their election next year. But the main ones would come up in 2023 and we hope to do electronic voting by then.

You made mention that you are one of the high-ranking senators at the night assembly, what position do you occupy specifically?

Well, I was nominated principal officer in the senate as a deputy minority leader in 2007. Now we are in the main body, APC so we only have to do much to maintain the government and our party. So, I am just Chairman of INEC and I was also in 2016 elected the vice-president of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU). It is a global organization of national parliaments. It began in 1889 as a small group of parliamentarians, dedicated to promoting peace through parliamentary diplomacy and dialogue but it has since grown into a truly global organization of national parliaments. Today, the membership inches over closer to being universal, with 179 Member Parliaments, 13 Associate Members in 187 countries. It is a union and we have senators and house of representative members. One or two or more representatives from each country depending on the slots of posts each country is given. Some countries are given just one opportunity. So, I was the Vice-President to the union which was the highest position that ever came to Nigeria.

How long do you have left as Vice President (IPU) African Group

The duration lasts for four years. So, for now I am a floor member but there would be another election soonest. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic we have not been able to have a meeting which we do in Geneva once a while.

You have been in the senate for quite a long time. What do you think keeps giving you a re-nomination opportunity?

First of all I thank Almighty Allah because it is He who gives positions (Power) to who he wills. So I am happy He gave me the power to come back repeatedly. Secondly, I try to work on my people; I try to act as their servant. Whenever they make complaints, I try to ensure it is provided in the budget and also implemented. Within the last twelve years, I have over 220 class room blocks in my senatorial area and each block of class room has 3 classes. I have over 465 solar power bore holes. These are boreholes that use Solar energy. I have over 500 hand pumping borehole. I have about 18 skill acquisition centres and every year we graduate about 60 students from that small training centre. Apart from that, I have done a lot of empowerment. We have helped in the employment of over over 600 people into federal appointments. We have also extended training to about 16 people to go abroad and do their masters degrees. We have also done a lot of roads within the community and a lot of things were done for the interest of the community. So we have done a lot of things. We do a lot of poverty alleviation programmes providing tricycle, motor cycle, sewing machines, grinding machines to help the community. So I think that is what the people remember me for and that is why they keep voting for me again and again.

Permit us to ask, if an opportunity comes, would you like to be a governor again?

Well if God sends so for me, I will go for it. It is God’s decision. Some people want me to remain a senator while some want me to go for the governorship position while some are praying for a better position for me than the aforementioned ones. But whatever comes my way I will be happy and I will thank God for it because the other time when I went for the governorship position, it was God’s decision before people started voicing out and I agreed with them and became the governor by God’s will. Being a senator for four times too is God’s will so I thank God. It is not my decision. In my area, hardly does one become a senator more than two times so I thank Almighty Allah for that decision and opportunity to serve my people.

Senator Sir, what are some of the challenges you have or have had as a senator?

First of all, the challenges as a senator are enormous. One, we are directly exposed to people without adequate protection like that of governors. As you can see in my house in Abuja, people troop in anytime…

(Interviewer cuts in): It is because they love you.

It is not because they love me but because I have a responsibility to them so I have to manage to take actions to make sure that they are atleast happy sometimes. So my challenge is how to serve the people as everyday they come with their demands. I do the best I can and the ones I cannot I tell them clearly and plead with them to bear with me till I have the opportunity to do it. Being with people is one of my major happiness. If I am in Kano, almost 200 people visit me par day and if I am in Abuja, 30 to 40 people visit me par day. It is not easy but I thank God Almighty for the strength to cope and be with the people.

You were recently awarded a doctorate degree by the Liberal Bilingual University, Togo. What does the doctorate degree mean to you?

Well, I thank them for giving me the doctorate degree. I was not aware initially but when they came and told me how they came about choosing me, I appreciated them and I thank them and hope the university continues to prosper so they can give opportunities to many other Nigerians.

Two awards were recently conferred on you by Liberal Bilingual University. One of the awards was based on your intelligence while the other one was based on your contribution to human capital development. How come people in Togo are aware of your great contributions to human capital development in Nigeria?

First of all, even you as a journalist, if you go around my constituency, there have never been any senator that has performed as much as I have. I am not bragging but I have over 200 projects in Kano South. Some once, others twice or even more like schools, hospitals we have 18 hospitals in that constituency (Kano South Senatorial District) with borehole and irrigation farms. I gave over 6, 000 irrigation farms to my community. There is a river that runs through my senatorial area and by the side of the river I gave people their irrigation farms and that is why when the issue of Boko Haram started, it never reached my area because my people are busy on the fields and do not want to join Boko Haram. So, if you go around my constituency as a journalist, you will definitely give me an award too.

What are your closing remarks sir?

I thank Almighty Allah for giving me life, strength and energy till today. I hope I can continue to do better for my people. I thank all my people who have supported right from the beginning of my political career and during my campaigns. I pray for those who are in business to prosper, those who are sick to get well, those who are dead, I pray Almighty Allah to grant them (Aljannah Firdaus Ameen) and those who need jobs to get jobs. I pray for so many people’s wishes to be granted in my constituency and beyond. I thank all those in my constituency, senators, house of representative members, party chairman, local government chairman, all APC members and even PDP members who supported me during my elections.


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