Fresh from the latest of his series of quarterly tour of his Constituency, Sen Sadiq Umar, in this interview, gives an insight into the keen experience he garnered from the tour and explains how he is positioning himself to ensure that all parts of the constituency receives responsible representation from him.
This is an excerpt:
How have you been able to act as a senator at the assembly and in the constituency?
Thank you, that is a good first question to ask. To answer you honestly, I will say that it is increasingly getting clearer to me that it is easier working and learning in the Senate than it is in the constituency (Laughs). I can humbly tell you that I am a fast learner, and this worked for me in the senate in addition to the privilege of having to chair the Rules and Business committee. But understanding people in the constituency especially we the politicians is a herculean task, you don’t know what people want, whatever you do or you don’t do will come with complications, challenges and criticisms no matter how noble your intentions and actions are. And I get it, every politician has his interest to protect and everyone also has a better idea of how to do almost everything. I have learnt to be patient, tolerant and understanding whilst making amends continually since I need everyone to be on board this ship of rebuilding Kwara North.
SADIQ UMAR FOUNDATION (SUF) LAUNCHES N500M FOR ORPHANS, LESS PRIVILEGED IN KWARA NORTH
How are you navigating the difficulties in your constituency
Very simple! To remain clear headed with focus on the ball or the big picture. Because this is the only reason, I chose to join this difficult business of politics to make a big difference, because our people have suffered too much, therefore things have to change. And it is this same change that brought us to position, even though most people that supported this change might not have realised that the same change will affect everyone including themselves. Therefore, we all have to accept first and foremost that we must solve the basic needs of our people in order to bring as many people as possible out of poverty. And it is not rocket science that what we need to focus on is education, health, employment, infrastructure particularly roads and electricity, Agriculture, water, security and empowerment generally. This is the most important thing all of us in offices and all other politicians and leaders must focus on. And for this to happen everyone or at least majority must be carried along, the youth, the elderly, women, vulnerable and physically challenged and most importantly too the key stakeholders. And of course, those of us in offices must work as a team.
The real challenge is that the methodology and timelines in managing people and situations might not work for everyone. For example, in my case, my strategy was to first focus on the job I was given – to represent my people in the senate to serve Nigeria and get the best things back home- and so far I will say Alhamdullilah. The second phase even though it ran concurrently with the first phase is to plan and executive programmes and projects that will touch the life of the ordinary people in order to build their confidence in the struggle they all supported. This I had to do personally through my foundation since the national budget will require at least nine months before implementation and humans are not that patient, they want action the month you were inaugurated. The last phase I call stabilisation phase is engagement and patronage of the politicians and stakeholders, this is on the assumption that this class is experienced and can understand the realities since most of them have been in politics for decades and some of them have occupied offices as well, so one can safely assume that they will be the most understanding and patient class but alas, most people in this class are also impatient hence it is from this class that I am facing a lot of heat, that is despite my efforts of minor contacts and reach outs to them just to say I have not forgotten you ( laughs). But I am sure before I conclude my first year we shall understand each other because we must understand each other in the interest of our region. I believe we all need to be comfortable and happy for there to be peace and progress. And this will happen after the storm.
Seems you are keeping to your campaign promise of regular contact with the constituency through constituency tours, how did the second quarter constituency tour go and what were the challenges you faced?
Oh yes keeping to campaign promises is the key thing in a democracy if you don’t want trouble, and besides getting close to your people regularly helps you to understand your job better.
This second quarter constituency tour was intensive in the sense that we used the time to launch the Sadiq Umar Foundation in all the local governments, we visited ongoing projects sites from previous budgets, visited challenging sites, schools, hospitals that require intervention, we also had town hall meetings and spent the night at least a day in each of the local governments to enable me meet stakeholders, party officials, various interest groups etc. The strategy is to allow us take notes and pictures and listen to the people’s priorities, which can guide us in the budget season.
The key challenge for us was the death of our beloved brother who is also the Gwanara ward Chairman Alh Umar Kotosi, may his soul rest in peace and may Almighty Allah grant him aljanat Firdaus amin. This is still the result of bad roads I spoke of on the floor of the Senate, because when we stopped at the scene of the accident, you can count three deep pot holes aligned in a manner that will be difficult for a motorist that is not aware of such place to escape an accident, and it was the same place we lost supporters during the campaigns and we are also told we lose our people there regularly. I pray that we are able to do something about the Ilesha Chikanda road soon.
The second challenge was that of our inability to engage and carry along most politicians and stakeholders during the tour essentially because we were under pressure ourselves to ensure we achieve the second quarter tour within schedules despite my tight programmes. Anyway, we have learnt lessons and we shall find a creative way of resolving this in the next quarter inshaAllah. The third challenge was that of grumbling from almost all quarters of non-inclusion in the empowerment programme, despite our explanations that it will be continuous until we reach 5000 youth and women for the twenty-thousand-naira support. And 500 elderly and widows monthly five thousand stipends. For this we know it will remain a reoccurring challenge- you never can share what is limited satisfactorily. The last surprising challenge came from a few privileged young men who believe that the less privileged youth and women do not need twenty thousand support nor the elderly and widows needs to be paid five thousand every month, they argued that what they voted me for was to get employment for the youth particularly the educated ones, infrastructure development and other big government responsibilities. Anyway I had to take my time to continually explain that those are the primary responsibilities of government and why I was trusted to go and speak for my people unfortunately those projects don’t get implemented in a day and not without government budgets, and these are things I am working day and night for and the results will be clear for all to see when the time comes.
I believe in doing more and talking less, and if I must talk it has to be big, scientific and authentic. But I still think I owe those who need my help where I can afford it, including scholarships, health care supports, provision of water etc. and this is what we are using my foundation for.
What are we expecting for this quarter?
Something big. The biggest thing by my judgement (laughs) You know I am trained to see planning as everything, especially strategic planning and also teamwork. We shall be holding our Kwara North strategic integrated development summit in this quarter likely next month. The technical team; young and brilliant Kwara North youth and the academics have carried out research in the field in the last couple of months and the data that will speak to the baseline, that is where we are right now is being analysed and collated. During the summit we shall present our problems and where we desire to be, then hear from stakeholders, political office holders, experts in Kwara North on how we can get to where we need to be, which will lead to the production of a blue print for Kwara North development, a road map if you will.