Dr Joel Ewuga Adagadzu is a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) aspirant for Nasarawa North Senatorial District. In this interview with CHEKE EMMAANUEL, he speaks on his aspiration, the performance of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state and at the centre, and why Nigerians should not return it to power in 2023
What prompted you to join the senatorial race for Nasarawa North seat?
Firstly, I was prompted by the need to provide the type of leadership that will bring development to my people in Nasarawa North. This is a zone that has suffered the most neglect by successive governments in Nasarawa State. All the visible developments are sited in either Nasarawa South or West. Secondly, I felt I have the necessary competencies to contest and win election as senator to represent my constituency.
Also, I am convinced I can outperform those we have been supporting to win elections and who soon after abandon the electorate and their constituency. Party officials put in everything and work very hard to make sure that their candidates win elections. However, these candidates soon forget the officials who toiled for their success and even despise them.
Thirdly, I have contested as an aspirant in 2019 but lost but I have joined the race to try my luck again. In 2019, the party tinkered with zoning but this time around, the contest for positions has been thrown open to anyone who is interested.
You complained that you lost the primary election for this same position in 2019 because zoning was not strictly adhered to. What are your chances in the race without zoning arrangement?
Zoning can be useful and also serves as a means of providing those with disadvantages to participate in elections. It also has its drawbacks or disadvantages. The last time the party did micro zoning we lost to the All Progressives Congress (APC) because we pursued fairness and equity.
However, if we want to win elections as a party, we must take several factors into considerations. We should look for the candidate who has the greatest potential to win. In our situation in Nasarawa North as it stands, we cannot be talking about fairness or equity, rather we should be discussing about wining for PDP and for the electorate. It is needless to stir up the issue of sentiments for now.
The simple truth is that if the PDP is determined to win the Senate position in Nasarawa North, it must find a suitable candidate, who has all the pedigree to defeat the current senator who is of the APC, and I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that I have the pedigree to win for PDP.
What do you make of the recent amendment to the Electoral Act that provides for electronic transmission of election results?
Truly, we all are hoping and praying that the system will work and that election results will be transmitted directly from the polling units to the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as provided for in the new Electoral Act because it is at the collation centres that all the manipulations of results, all the changes, all the snatching of results take place.
We cannot afford to continue practicing democracy the way we used to; a situation where a sitting governor for instance will change election results in his state by compromising election officials, using security personnel and even the courts at times. So, I am hopeful that the Electoral Act (as amended) will make it difficult to manipulate election results again.
In an ideal democracy, the votes of citizens should count. I pray that the opponents of the PDP will not circumvent the new electoral law by devising ways of manipulating the system again. I thank God for the new electoral law that has been signed by Mr. President. I wish to also suggest that results of primary elections and all congresses conducted by the political parties to elect party officials and candidates should be transmitted directly to party headquarters in a similar manner with the national elections.
This will ensure that the processes are not tampered with thereby reducing frivolous court cases that at most times distract the parties in their bid to win elections. One other thing I would have loved to see happen is direct primaries instead of indirect primaries because in Indirect primaries, those with huge resources at their disposal are able to pay their ways through by buying the delegates. This is unacceptable and does not allow for credible candidates to emerge.
So, you are advocating for direct primaries…
Yes, I prefer direct primaries, where all party members will chose their candidates. No one can buy a huge crowd no matter how wealthy he or she is. The parties however should decide which method is most appropriate and acceptable to use and this includes consensus for as long as credible candidates will emerge.
Are you sure of wining the primary election, whether through indirect or direct primaries on order to fly the party’s flag?
No one can be sure of anything except God. However, if the party is looking for the best suited aspirant, one with experience and requisite qualifications, one that has served the party faithfully and is committed and one that can win beyond the primary election, then I should be entrusted with that responsibility. I am sure I have the capacity to win the Senate seat for the PDP and our teeming supporters.
When you talk about capacity to win election, some people will ask the question: who is Dr. Joel Adagadzu?
I am Eggon by tribe. I was born in Akwanga some decades ago. While I was just about a year old, my parents relocated to the newly founded town of Nasarawa Eggon. I started school in Nasarawa Eggon in 1958 and completed my primary school in 1965.
I then got admission into the famous Government College Keffi in 1966, where I completed both the West African School Certificate (WASC) and Higher School Certificate (HSC). From Keffi, I proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, where I studied Pharmacy and graduated in 1976. In Government College Keffi I was House Captain of Niger House the most popular House then in the College.
I was a member of the School Hockey Team and played other significant roles in the College. At the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, I was involved in so many activities. I was chairman of the main hall, Ribadu Hall and a member of the Students Representatives Assembly.
I was elected President of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigerian Students (PANS), Ahmadu Bello University chapter. I was also the team Mmanager of the University Hockey Team. Upon graduation I joined the Plateau State Civil Service as an Intern Pharmacist in June 1976. I went for National Youth Service Corps Scheme (NYSC) in Lagos and served in three units of the Nigeria Railway Corporation Medical Services.
After my NYSC, I returned to Plateau State and was posted to General Hospital.Lafia. I served in a few other places before transferring my services to Federal Government in 1987. I worked at the Federal Ministry of Health until my retirement as a director in June 2011.
While I was in government, I held several positions and I did my best. I was reliable, hardworking, dependable and trustworthy and retired without any blemish at the end of 35 years of service.
After my civil service career, I became a consultant and consulted for some organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), West African Health Organization (WAHO).
I also consulted for the Borno State government. I was part of the consulting team that reviewed the National Drug Policy, and just last year, I was part of the team that concluded the development of the Nigeria Vaccine Policy. I am the founder and chairman of the Eggon Development Foundation, established to protect the culture and tradition of the Eggon people and to promote enterprise and development among the Eggon people. I hold the traditional title of Dan Madamin Eggon. I joined politics immediately I retired from service.
The reason is simple. I wanted to be relevant and to support my people.
Looking at the Senate, are there things you would like to do differently when you get there?
The first thing is to get to the Senate. When I get there, I will study the situation on ground fairly and quickly. I will identify like minds; those we can work together with, especially from my party in order to bring about changes in the Senate that will enhance its democratic appeal and lead to the achievement of lofty democratic dividends.
What is your assessment of development in Nasarawa State, especially since the inception of Governor Abdullahi Sule’s administration?
To me, Governor Abdullahi Sule has not performed creditably well as expected of someone with his pedigree. We have not witnessed any development of worth in the state. All the things he promised to do, we have not seen them on ground.
He is from my zone, Akwanga, but he has not made any impact to justify his coming from our zone. Go to Keffi Zone, they have everything; go to Lafia Zone, they have everything but come to Akwanga Zone, there is nothing. Nasarawa North is the most deprived Zone in Nasarawa State.
The only institution we have, which is the College of Education in Akwanga was a gift from Plateau State before Nasarawa State was created. So, Governor Sule’s poor performance has made it mandatory that our party, PDP, must step in to rescue Nasarawa State from its prolonged stagnation.
What is you expectation in the 2023 elections?
In 2023, our party, the PDP will kick out the APC from power and I mean it. This is because APC has brought nothing to our people except misery, poverty and death. APC has brought a lot of suffering to our people, APC has increased the tempo of criminality, APC has increased poverty, APC has increased joblessness, APC has increased everything that you can consider evil, leading to backwardness. Nigeria is now a huge debtor nation on the brink of total collapse.
The country has not moved forward under the APC government. Instead, we are moving backwards. Nigeria under the APC has been embroiled in a type of Nigerian tribal dance where the dancers take one step forward and a few steps backwards. It is like you are generating motion without movement.