In this exclusive interview with Emmanuel Akaolisa and Chikamso Okoye of The News Chronicle, the Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Redemption Party in the forthcoming 2023 elections, Mr Haruna Haro Zego, speaks on the Nigerian political, economic and social landscape, the 2023 elections and sundry issues of developing the country among other things.
TNC: Good day Sir, we are pleased to have you on our interview series. We will like to say congratulations to you on emerging the Vice Presidential candidate of Peoples Redemption Party, it is not an easy feat you have achieved, especially in a country like Nigeria. We will like to know more about you, your professional and political journey.
Mr. Haruna: Thank you for featuring me. I am Haruna Haro Zego, the vice presidential candidate of Peoples Redemption Party, I am the running mate to Mr Kolawole Abiola. I am from southern part of Kaduna State, married with two kids. First of all, I trained as an architect at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, I am more of a serial entrepreneur who is into different businesses. Politically, I started my journey in this party four years ago as the assistant national secretary, I have been involved in other capacities up to this moment where I am the standing as the Vice Presidential candidate.
TNC: The father of your Presidential candidate, MKO Abiola, is believed to be the winner of the most free and fair election in the history of Nigeria, and till today he is still highly regarded among many Nigerians, in fact, May 29 which was known as national democracy day has been moved to June 12th to honour him. Do you think his name and legacy will impact the party, and do you think Kola will be able to follow in the footsteps of his dad’s charisma and legacy?
Mr. Haruna: Yes, MKO Abiola is highly regarded in Nigeria and will always be, it was in 2019 that Buhari recognized him as a GCFR meaning that he’s the actual winner of the 1993 election as the GCFR title is only given to a president of a country. He achieved a great feat not only in the party but in the whole country. A lot of people do not know about the son, Kola Abiola; He was about 29 years in 1993 and was a part and parcel of MKO Abiola’s campaign. Kola was in the backroom and strategy end of his father’s campaign team, so he is not lacking any experience in political experience and campaigns too. Talking about business, Kola also has experience in that aspect as he was a very important factor in the then Abiola group of companies which was the largest employer of labour force in the whole of Nigeria. Kola is someone who has every experience and pedigree in business and politics needed to run this country for good.
TNC: Sometime ago, PRP accused the media of being selective in their reportage, of being mentioning only the likes of Obi, Atiku and Tinubu in their coverage, while sidelining other parties. But one would say that the media is only being objective looking at the historical patterns of election in this country
Mr. Haruna: It is the responsibility of the media to find out what is out there and carry everybody along, they do not wait for the news to get to them. The impression is that they are being partial and biased and that biasness can affect the audience. Politics is about your reach and how you appeal to the mindset of the people. There should be a level playing ground and equal opportunity for the contenders and the citizens to be able to choose and be chosen. I must really appreciate you people; you have done fantastically well coming to hear from us. News is not given, it is taken. So the media should create equal opportunity for everybody.
TNC: We understand there has been some internal crisis in your party where for example on of your presidential aspirant in the person of Abdulfatai Durojaye had to step down at a time, also your party did not have a representative in the just concluded Osun gubernatorial election, what is happening in the party?
Mr. Haruna: At Osun, the state executive council of the party decided that since the candidate had not been very forthcoming, it had to do a reality check on its stand in the polls. They thought they have evidence to the fact that he may be trying to abdicate his mandate, so they denied their candidacy and withdrew from the race because they do not want their name to be put in disrepute. Despite not having any crisis in our party, you cannot make everyone in a family happy at the same time. Every party has their ups and down, but your ability to manage the situation makes you a good political party. We manage our party so well not to let any internal misunderstanding destroy the party.
TNC: You made mention of being a serial entrepreneur which stands you out, it means you have a very good experience about running businesses, it should also imply that if you get into power, you will be able to put it into good use to benefit Nigeria. Yet some may say that you will not be fully focused on running your government office due to other interests, how do you intend to balance that?
Mr. Haruna: In the first instance, when you get into government office, the law clearly states that you drop down or strep down from every other office or role you had, It is everywhere in the world. I totally understand what it means to start and run a business, but when I get into the government, it becomes a sacrifice I will make, I will resign from my other businesses and focus on the government office.
TNC: With your architectural training and also being part of a construction company, Protech Ideal Concept Limited, one can say you already have infrastructural development knowledge, how are you going to use your experience for the good of Nigeria’s infrastructural sector and develop the nation If you get into the office?
Mr. Haruna: The problem of this country is not the fact that we are underdeveloped, but why we are underdeveloped. One of the reasons is that the cost of infrastructural development is way above board, costing for projects is too high for a country that has not successfully fed his citizens, provided jobs or paid salaries. Also, corruption is a major problem, for example, a road that should cost only a billion naira will be costed for five billion naira, so it reduces how far other projects can go.
Infrastructural development should really be a major focus of any government that really wants to revamp and turn the economy around for good. The job of the government is to regulate these companies they offer job of the development of the nation to, and try to not to interfere or influence in their business or how they run the projects. Infrastructural development influences a country for good, it gets a lot of people working, and when a lot of people are working money starts coming into the pocket of the people and the government too.
TNC: You spoke about entrepreneurship, so I would like to know your opinion on this case, sometimes you will hear the government telling youths to go and learn one skill or the other, it seems they are running away from their obligation which is providing jobs for the citizens among other things. I believe entrepreneurship should be inspirational, so what is your take on that and also your advice for people that want to venture into entrepreneurship?
Mr. Haruna: The norm has always been when you go to school you get your degree and then come back to look for job, we have not been trained to be independent of the government. But the truth is that the government cannot be the major provider of jobs, they do not run businesses, they only help to put policies in place that will help any business person to thrive. The cost of Nigerian government is so high now and it is not possible to provide jobs for millions of people in this country. So in as much as we are depending on the government, we should always seek other ways.
My advice should be consistency and smartness. Rome was not built in a day, it might be difficult starting up but with consistency, you will thrive. When opportunity meets preparedness, success becomes the result. You have to play smart too, because some people, when they start, they think they have seen money, and then start spending recklessly; you will definitely go back to ground zero. So stay in one path, be consistent and smart, you will thrive.
TNC: As we round up, I would like to hear from you about the election that is fast approaching, as a citizen and a part of the system, what is your message to Nigerians out there?
Mr. Haruna: As they go to the polling units, Nigerians should think Nigeria first, they should think about the future for them and their children. You have no other country but this, so do what is right.