Benue South senatorial candidate for the All Progressives Congress, Chief Steven Lawani, in this interview with JOHN CHARLES, says there is the need to improve infrastructure in the area
Benue South Senatorial District is believed to be the home of the PDP. How does your party intend to win elections there?
Well, you are quite right. Of the three senatorial zones in the state, Benue South is mostly for the PDP. That clearly puts me in a slight disadvantage, but this is an election, which you have to tell the people what you are going to do for them.
You have been in politics for a long period. What would you say the people of Benue South have benefited from your political sojourn?
Well, I have done a lot for my people. When I was a deputy governor, I ensured that the office of Secretary to the State Government remained in Zone C (Benue South). Today, where is the position now? Look at many things l have done using my influence on the governor. I was able to construct the road from the Ado Local Government Area to Otukpo to Igumale and the one from Utonkon to Okpoga, to Owukpa to Orkam. All these were done because I was able to influence my principal.
Age is no longer on your side. How are you going to face the rigour of legislation if elected?
I think I am blessed by my Almighty God. I am in good health and this probably has to do with my past activities in sports. I was a footballer and cricketer. I did sports to the national level. I played cricket and football at the junior level for my country. All these have helped me to keep fit. I don’t think I will be found wanting.
The PDP is alleging that the APC members are saying they will deploy federal might in the state for all elections. How true is it?
I have not heard about that. In fact, I have just heard it from you. I am a top member of the party, at least in this state, and if such information is true, it should have been known to me. Therefore, it is not true.
How far have you gone with your campaign?
I have done my best and we do have problems here and there, but I think we still have a few days before the election to mop up things, especially in those areas that have not been sufficiently covered. We will cover them before the election. I am optimistic because I have got wonderful reception in all the places I have been and I have listened to people. In my case, don’t forget that in 1997 I won an election to the Senate and it was the death of Abacha that stopped our inauguration.
What are some of the problems you have identified that are confronting the zone and how will you tackle them?
Well, don’t forget that the position I am contesting is in the Senate, so it is different from the executive position which I have held before. This one, apart from making laws, you are always lobbying for projects to be brought to your people. What I have noticed now is accessibility. You see from Makurdi to Otukpo, there are many bad roads, so infrastructure is the major problem. Our farmers are unable to bring their produce to the market because of bad roads. Rural roads will be attended to. Otukpo is the economic, political and cultural capital of Zone C and it doesn’t have enough hospitals and it wouldn’t be bad looking for the possibility of setting up a federal medical centre there.
There is this fear that you may want to spend so many years on the seat if elected because the incumbent(David Mark) has spent about 20 years in the Senate. Do you intend to do so?
Tomorrow does not belong to me and David Mark is lucky to have spent 20 years. Those of us who are aspiring to go there now and whoever goes there should be able to get a tenure at a time. I want to do my best, take one thing at a time. Take one tenure at a time, thereafter, God would determine the next step, not me. It is stupid to say I want to be there for 20 years. That is absolutely stupid.
What is your view of the recent killings in the state. Don’t you think they will affect the conduct of the general elections and by extension affect the chances of the APC in the state?
Is there any killing going on now? If the electorate ask people in government about what they would do, instead of stating what they would do, they go back trying to say they are defending Benue Valley rather than saying what they have done for the people. I think there is relative peace and I think that peace will continue; so no such thing would affect elections in Benue.