Alhaji Bashir I. Bashir, a mechanical engineer, is the Labor Party’s gubernatorial candidate in Kano State. In this interview with MUHAMMAD KABIR he talks about the state of the nation and why he wants to be the next Governor of Kano State
How will you, as a Nigerian, assess the current security situation in the country? Are you happy with what’s on the pitch?
It is troubling to talk about the current security situation in the country. The situation is like going from a frying pan to a fire.
Can you elaborate further?
Yes, let me give you an example. When President Muhammadu Buhari arrived in 2015, the whole issue of insecurity was contained only to the North East. And even in the Northeast, it was in the suburbs, not in the cities. There could be attacks in Nigeria or elsewhere, but in the city there was relative peace.
Although outside the cities, there were few local governments where Boko Haram operatives were fully in charge. However, the only two states where it can be said that there was relative peace were the states of Kano and Jigawa.
This means that insecurity is growing exponentially. From the Northeast, he has conquered the entire Northwest, and even other states in the South and South-South regions are in trouble. There are serious problems of insecurity such as kidnappings, banditry and all kinds of terrorist activities.
Initially the disputes were based on the activities of Boko Haram now it has become transactional. No matter where you are at home or in the workplace, no one is safe. I think it’s going from bad to worse.
What do you think of the attack on the Kuje Correctional Centre?
It was a national disgrace. You call it National Correctional Center located in the heart of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, where the President and Commander-in-Chief sits together with the Chief Justice of the Federation, President of the Senate, IGP, Director General of SS, President , Director of the NIA among others but yet the attack was successfully executed.
Although we learned that reports from the DSS indicated that it was likely to happen, there was advance knowledge of what was to come; Boko Haram or whoever they are and those who attacked the Kaduna-Abuja train in transit gave their conditions before the attack.
Their main condition, besides the monetary aspect, was that they demanded the release of their fellow criminals who were apprehended and detained in correctional centers across the country. They demanded the release of their commanders.
It was pedestrian knowledge. You don’t have to have high security knowledge to know that the targets of these people were correctional centers all over Nigeria especially the Kaduna-Abuja axis where you have the preponderance of these people who are held there.
In fact, they are combative enemies and the question is why should you apprehend terrorists all these years and still keep them in such a porous area? This is because Kuje Correctional Center is like an island that you can virtually approach in 360 degrees.
When the United States captured all the members of Al-Qaeda, they took them to Guantanamo Bay. If anyone is there, they would be spotted 10 miles away and picked out. Why should you keep these hardened criminals where you house these petty criminals? You are given petty criminals to gain access to bigger criminals and tend to recruit them.
Two, the vulnerability of the place is too much. I think the whole security architecture of this country has collapsed and that is due to weak and bad leadership on the ground. A leader is supposed to keep a cool head when others lose theirs. He should be able to think for the nation and be proactive
How do you see the decision of the senators threatening to impeach the president?
I looked at it from two angles. First, Abuja has been surrounded by terrorists and bandits and there are over 10 different DSS reports to this effect. As for me, that too was long in coming. The senators did this not to save Nigeria and Nigerians but to satisfy their personal aggrandizement.
I think Abuja was once a safe haven for them because they all abandoned their constituencies and converged on Abuja with all their school children there. Interestingly, Abuja is no longer safe. Let me refer you to a popular American movie called “Nowhere to Run” and now they claim they would like to impeach the president.
What about dwindling economic fortunes? What is your opinion on the shape of the national economy today?
As I am talking to you I just sent someone to go and change $2000 for me and said the dollar is now 710 naira to the dollar. You see, I had the opportunity to travel a lot and I lived in some countries. From 1994 to 1995, if you traveled to Saudi Arabia, the United States, China, parts of Europe, the United Arab Emirates, the value of the dollar stabilized.
If you go to the United Arab Emirates, the dollar against the dirham is exchanged for 360 and for 15 to 20 years it has been like that, why not in Nigeria? So you can’t give what you don’t have. It is the only government that glorifies incompetence. You have ministers and the only two ministers who have been sacked are those of Finance and Communication.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born in Kano State in 1968 into a humble line of Islamic scholars and merchants. My parents are Hajiya Rabi’ah and Muhammad Bashiru Alkalin Jahun, the son of Alkalin Sumaila Isyaku, the son of Hajiya Hannatu, the daughter of Waziri Gidado, the son of Hajiya Asma’u (Dodo), the daughter of the famous Islamic scholar Liman Zahraddine (Liman Zara).
I am an engineer by profession. After my primary school, I attended Bagauda Technical College. After passing out, I went to the City and Guilds of London Institute, where I studied Mechanical Engineering, then did a Masters in Gas Engineering and Management at the University of Salford, Greater Manchester, UK.
I graduated with a graduate degree in financial management from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University. My varied areas of specialization are diverse due to several years in the oil and gas industry.
I was trained as an Exxon-Mobil lubricants engineer at the Exxon Chemicals training center in Abingdon, UK, I was several times production manager of the largest and most modern plant in blend of lubricants from Africa, producing different grades of synthetic and conventional industrial and automotive lubricants. lubricants for domestic consumption and exports.
I was the team leader in the design, construction and laying of the first-ever indigenous natural gas pipeline; just behind the then famous Engr O. O Gaslink, a subsidiary of Unipetrol Nig. Plc.
Outside of my professional vocation, before I even ventured fully into politics, I was a financial supporter of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) of the time; Later, I became the Kano State gubernatorial candidate of People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) in the 2015 general election and finished third after APC and PDP.
In 2019, I was the PDP’s top gubernatorial contender and now, in 2022, I was the APC’s top immediate contender, but was kicked out by the Ganduje cabal.
While vying for the seat of Kano State Governor in the APC, I led a well-articulated campaign focusing on energy/electricity supply, improving health care, agricultural development and job creation. I regularly appear on radio shows and am well received by my supporters and experts.