Alhaji Ahmad Hallir Sawaba is an indigene of Kano State but born in Ibadan. Sawaba has become a household name in Ibadan where he has lived his adult life. He is a leader in the Arewa Community in Ibadan. Following entreaties on him by his friends and admirers many of them Yoruba and members of the Arewa Community, Sawaba is now contesting for Ibadan North Constituency 1 seat in the Oyo State House of Assembly on the platform of Labour Party. He speaks in an interview with Correspondent ADEOLA OLADELE…
Could you give us a little about your background?
I’m an indigene of Kano State but born in Ibadan in 1970. I schooled in Ibadan at Army Day Children School, Mokola between 1980 and 1984. After that, I proceeded to Kano State where I had my secondary school education. Unfortunately for me, I lost my dad and then came back to Ibadan. Due to the demise of my dad, I could not further my education so I had to venture into business, the bureau de change business. I got my licence. Among my mates in the business, I’m the first person to have a licence in Ibadan in 1996. I have so many other businesses where I act as director. After that, some of my friends invited me to join politics. I initially rejected the offer, because of what is happening in the country. But as they continued to mount the pressure on me, I accepted because I knew I have the opportunity to be in politics. Initially, I became a leader of the Arewa Community. Along the line, the party I joined asked me to contest with other Yorubas within the party irrespective of my tribe. They all assured me that they would work with me so far it will bring progress to the party and the country. So I asked them if I’m entitled to run for a seat in the Oyo State House of Assembly. They all agreed to support me. I then got the courage to proceed with the opportunities of the links I have made in Ibadan and the popularity I have in the Arewa Community and the support I received from the Yorubas in Ibadan. So that is why I obtained the nomination form to signify my interest to run for a seat in the Oyo State House of Assembly.
But why the choice of Labour Party?
The reason is not far fetched. Labour Party does not discriminate. The party gives us a free hand. Other parties do not allow that. They engage in intra party wranglings. I see LP as a party that will bring Nigerians together irrespective of tribe and religion. And everybody can see the way I came out to pick the nomination form. Some people were of the opinion that non-indigenes cannot come out to aspire for any political post in a Yoruba speaking state, but Labour Party gives chance for that. That was the main reason I chose the party. I can recall that there are some non-indigenes serving as Special Assistants to Governors of Ondo and Osun States and Labour Party promised to give us such an opportunity. That was why I decided as an Ibadan Northerner, born in Ibadan North, I have the opportunity to transform Ibadan North Constituency 1.
Unfortunately, in the community I was born, whenever they call Hausas, they will be thinking of beggars, criminals or hoodlums. They are giving us bad names which is not good enough. Sometimes, I refrain from calling myself an Hausa man, because we don’t have good leaders in our community. They are corrupt. They always look for what they will benefit for their selfish interest. They don’t care about our people. But if I’m elected, I will bring transformation in terms of empowering youths, skill acquisition and so many things. I will empower widows and the less privileged irrespective of tribe. I will not represent Hausa alone, I will be representing Ibadan North people.
What has been your experience so far since you ventured into politics?
Well, I have had many experiences in politics. The first experience I encountered was that before i joined politics, I did n’t normally mix with everybody, but since I joined politics, people that I’m not supposed to mix with are now my political associates. I will interact with them, know their feelings so that we can know how to work or assist them.
Similarly before I joined politics, I was on my own, but I used to assist the needy around me. I enrolled so many children in schools in Ibadan, giving them scholarships which nobody knew of, but for the sake of God. If I now have the opportunity to be in government, I will do better. I pay some hospital bills for the people that are not financially strong. That’s why I said if I am opportuned to be in this position, I will do better.
Do you think you have what it takes to win the election?
What is happening now is that the electorate vote for politicians based on merit. They are not voting for candidates based on the party platforms, but on the quality of the aspirant. So I don’t have any fear of any other candidates. I believe in God and He will do it. Nothing is impossible.
How do you view the defection of Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala to Labour Party?
Thank you very much. The defection of the former governor to our party is a good development. It will further boost the prestige of the party.
Besides, that was the consensus of the party and all the governorship aspirants agreed without any wrangling. This has shown that Labour Party is a party of peace and development. Such a thing could not happen in other political parties without causing internal wrangling. All the aspirants, however, promised to support him, because they knew Akala is a formidable man who has what it takes to become the governor. It is a very good development and I know Labour Party shall be in government next year in Oyo State.
As the 2015 general election is fast approaching, how do you view the election bearing in mind the fact that your party does not seem to have any presidential candidate.
Actually 2015 poll is approaching. People are supposed to be wise enough to know the right person to choose. Nigerians are not supposed to vote for party. They are supposed to be wise and vote for credibility. I think that is the only thing that can help us in this country come 2015 general election. Nigerians should be wise on whom they want to lead them.
What is your advice for the electorate?
I will advise them to protect their rights through their votes. One man, one vote. With that, I think we can overcome what is happening in the country. They need to protect their vote.