Mr. Paul Tsado Tswanya is a professional with background in finance, government and multilateral agencies. He is a frontline aspirant for the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket for the 2019 Niger South Senatorial poll. In this interview, he spoke on his foray into politics, his plans for the people of his senatorial district, among other issues. Excerpts:
Daily Trust: Why do you want to represent the people of Niger South Senatorial District in the Senate?
Paul Tsado Tswanya: First of all, let me say that I am eminently qualified to run for any political office in Nigeria. But beyond being qualified, I am offering myself for election into the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because of the desire to amplify the voice of the people of my Senatorial District and by extension the people of my state.
My ambition is borne out of the desire to add value & transform the Niger South (Zone ‘A’) Senatorial District into a model for other zones to emulate. Essentially, I intend to help tackle the socio-economic challenges that are currently confronting my people, especially the under-reached. We shall use constructive engagements and proper stakeholder management to achieve results.
DT: You have been a businessman all through your adult life. But many believe serious businessmen hardly make good politicians…
Tswanya: I have been a professional most of my adult life &equally true is that professionals, make better politicians. Presidents and Senators of bigger democracies in the whole world have significant number of private sector trained and moulded politicians! So what point is that making? The impression that one has to be a “professional politician” before he can make a mark in politics is unfounded.
Indeed it should be the other way round. Like the former President of France, Charles De Gaulle said, politics is too serious a matter to be left to politicians only. What this means is that those who have made success of their chosen careers should present themselves to offer service to their people. This is the reason I’m throwing my hat into the ring-to serve my people.
DT: How would you assess your chances, given the fact that you are considered a greenhorn?
Tswanya: Well, you may be right to take the view, that this is the first time I will be vying for an elective position, but the fact is that I have been very active in the events that led to the emergence of the current All Progressive Congress (APC) administration in Niger State. Also, if you consider the various roles that I have played for over a decade to support politicians clinch elective positions, then you won’t call me a greenhorn.
Secondly, the job of providing leadership for a Senatorial District like ours requires someone who possesses knowledge, reach, experience and an impressive track record of achievements. I fit, and sit pretty into this description.
Thirdly, our political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is a party whose manifesto resonates with the yearnings and aspirations of the people. And require persons with my disposition to support the delivery. I believe party faithful’s will recognise this and deliver me at the primaries.
At the General elections, The APC has a lot of real strides to show for its being in government during the last three-plus years. This I believe will resonate with the people and is a goodwill that will throw brownie points my way.
Also do not forget that I am a young man, so I represent the youths in this race and will not betray the confidence of elders as a veritable bridge.
DT: At the last count, over ten aspirants have indicated interest for the Niger South APC Senatorial ticket. How do you intend to fare, as many of them joined the race before you?
Tswanya: I have made this point before but suffice it to say that I have been in the race to serve my people in various forms for over a decade and I make bold to say that this race will be based on a number of factors like good track records, reach, experience, humility and grassroots support. I have no doubt in my mind that I will emerge victorious since these are some of the qualities that I am bringing to the table. I am very optimistic that I will emerge victorious at the primary election and go on to win the general election come next year.
But many have argued that money and not track record of performance decides who gets what in our politics. Some have expressed the fear that only those who have huge resources and are able to bribe delegates will emerge as candidates. What’s your take on this?
It has been alleged that money plays a big role in deciding how elections were won and lost in the past. I believe this is fast changing. My entrance into the race is to bring credibility, experience and direction to many things in the political space. So we are pursuing issue based conversation with the people.
DT: So, what is your understanding of the challenges that confront your people?
Tswanya: To place in proper context with broad strokes, the primary responsibility of a Senator is making laws; executive oversight and projecting the interest of his/her people.
If elected Senator, I would meaningfully and in a sustainable manner utilize my far reaching contacts and connections to better the lot of my people in the areas of health care, agriculture and education. The Niger South Senatorial District comprising of Agaie, Bida, Edati, Gbako, Katcha, Lapai, Lavun and Mokwa are largely agrarian and to this we already possess a blueprint complete with deliverables and stakeholder responsibilities to deliver sustainable and rewarding jobs to the youths and women of the Senatorial District.
I am aware that the Niger State Government under the leadership of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello is making significant progress in harnessing our natural endowments in the rice value chain. Once I am elected into office, we will work together with other stakeholders from the public and private sector to position Niger State as the major producer of high quality rice.. globally. I have a soft spot for the current administration’s rice programme because my Senatorial Zone is the potential headquarters of rice production in Nigeria.
In terms of health care, I will leverage my contacts within and outside Nigeria to ensure that Primary Health Care facilities are strengthened so as to address the problems of maternal and infant mortality, control of communicable diseases, and other health issues which have remained a huge challenge to us.
For education, we have a clear line of sight on a short to medium and long term plan that focuses on content and quality of output to create a formidable labour pool that will service investors we shall attract to the Senatorial District and the state at large.
I am mindful of the fact that funding is a big challenge, but that’s where my reach within the private sector and international community will be leveraged upon.(Daily Trust)