I was offered N100m to step down – Volunteer teacher who ousted Yobe Speaker
In the just concluded governorship and state assembly elections, Lawan Musa Majakura, a 33-year-old man, defeated the Speaker of the Yobe State House of Assembly, Ahmed Mirwa Lawan with 182 votes to represent Nguru II constituency of Nguru Local Government Area. He contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview […]
In the just concluded governorship and state assembly elections, Lawan Musa Majakura, a 33-year-old man, defeated the Speaker of the Yobe State House of Assembly, Ahmed Mirwa Lawan with 182 votes to represent Nguru II constituency of Nguru Local Government Area. He contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview with Daily Trust on Sunday via telephone, the lawmaker-elect spoke on his political activities and how he achieved this feat.
How would you describe your journey so far?
I was born in Majakura in January 1990. I also grew up there and started primary education at Majakura Primary School in Nguru Local Government Area of Yobe State, after which I proceed to Government College, Nguru. I was later transferred to Government Science and Technical School, where I finished in 2009.
I bagged a diploma in Public Administration and Management from the Atiku Abubakar Collage of Legal and Islamic studies, Nguru in 2013. After that, I moved to the Federal Polytechnic, Damaturu for a National Diploma (ND) and Higher National Diploma (HND) on Business Administration and Management in 2020. But age limit disqualified me from the National Youth Service scheme; that’s why I received exemption certificate. I engaged in fish selling and other things that would give me something to sustain my demand. I have a wife and four children.
You established a primary school in your village, where you are also teaching; tell us more about it?
After my studies I sat down to think about our society’s challenges and what I could do to help. That’s why I decided to establish straw-hut classrooms where I was teaching kids. It was meant to help women and to build a better society. I was teaching English, Hausa and Mathematics. Later on, I invited three volunteer teachers. I used to give them N500 or N1,000 monthly, depending on how I earned profit in my fish selling business. We are teaching the kids free of charge. They are very understanding people; that’s why they have never lamented.
Since the state and the local government did not give us license to operate the school fully, we train them on some basic knowledge at primary level and help them secure admission into junior and secondary schools. I can tell you that we have more than 45 pupils.
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I understand that one of the serious challenges we are facing in our rural communities is backwardness in education, social amenities, potable water and effective health care facilities. That’s why I engage in many activities, including humanitarian and community services.
You have just been elected to represent your constituency in the state House of Assembly, have you ever contested for any public office?
Yes, I contested for a councillorship seat in 2021 when I was in the All Progressives Congress (APC) before I joined the PDP, but I didn’t get the ticket. Our people, specifically the youth, asked me to run because they thought I could do better. But God didn’t give it to us. So we prayed for a better position.
Some people said you were arrested and detained by security personnel three times for criticising the Speaker of the House of Assembly and other politicians on Facebook; what happened?
Actually, I was arrested two times. One of them was from a politician in the APC before I left the party, after I criticised him on Facebook. He told the police to arrest and detain me for five days. The second one was from the Speaker, who I defeated. I criticised him on poor representation and I was arrested and detained for 48 hours. It was last year during Ramadan. They arrested me for standing with my people. For example, whenever I heard that the state government approved a constituency project for state lawmakers, I used to verify where our own was executed and if it had any impact in our society? These were among the questions I used to ask myself. I even followed them to make sure the project was done. So I used to criticise him whenever I discovered that we had a problem he could solve but he failed to do so. And I would criticise with facts.
What motivated you to contest the seat against the Speaker, who has occupied it for 20 years?
Many issues influenced me to contest the seat. First, in the area of education, we are moving backwards at Majakura. We have seen how things are getting out of hand every day. Our classrooms are dilapidated. There is lack of job opportunities for our teeming youths. In the health sector we are doing badly as well. So I realised that we lacked good representation to address these challenges. That is why our people said I should contest the seat. Perhaps they think I will do things differently.
You said your people told you to contest; did they bankroll your campaign?
Yes, they bought the nomination forms for me. They also contributed funds for the campaigns. And they did not contact me to ask if I were interested or not. They just bought the nomination forms and said they wanted me to contest. And I didn’t ask them how much they bought the forms; I just filled and returned it to them for submission.
You know that when you are contesting a seat in any political party there is a primary election, but I won unopposed. No one bought forms to engage me on this seat. In short, I obtained an automatic ticket from our party, the PDP.
I stopped all my activities to focus on the campaign. When I kicked off my campaign from village to village on foot, I received a donation of motorcycle from one person from Jigawa State. Someone later gave me a car to mobilise and reach out to our people, especially the youth. I have not seen any of these donors, neither do I know them.
My village people, who are mostly farmers and fish sellers, also raised funds to fuel the car for our campaign. There were people who would call me on phone and wish us success, while some would send N50,000 or N20,000 to my bank account, all because they thought I could do much.
During our campaign, there were intimidation and harassment from some people out of political differences, but thank God that despite all the challenges, we were able to win the election.
It was not an easy task to challenge a Speaker of the state House of Assembly; did he reach out to you to step down for him during the campaign?
To be honest with you, he did not contact me to step down for him by himself, but a government official and some people I thought were his representatives came to me two times, telling me to step down. They promised to give me N18million, but I refused. Later on, they came back and offered me N100m, but still I refused. I told them that my village people bought the nomination forms for me because they believed I would do better, so I did not see any reason to step down for anybody. I told them to meet my people if they actually wanted me to step down for whoever sent them to me. I even told my people what we discussed but we all agreed that I would not step down, so we moved on with our campaign.
What will be your priority when you assume duties as a lawmaker; what would you do differently for your constituents?
We have always done things differently. For example, as I am talking to you, I have more than 25 girls and 30 males who have acquired secondary education through my support and training. The Speaker cannot tell you how many people he has helped to achieve this. In terms of good representation, I will prioritise education by renovating our classrooms. I will make sure that we employ good teachers and provide learning materials.
Secondly, our health care facilities need serious attention by providing drugs and medical personnel. We have more than 40 communities. Also, providing water points and empowerment to our rural dwellers will be our priority. We will push and beg the government to do it for our people. Additionally, I will table a motion to ensure that our dilapidated roads are reconstructed.
There are numerous people who have completed their studies but they have no work to do and our schools need them. So, I will ensure that these guys are employed by the government, be it casual or permanent jobs.
I will make sure that I am with my people every weekend to hear their problems and what I can do to sort them out. If I cannot solve the problems I will take it to the appropriate channels.
Has the Speaker or Governor Buni called to congratulate you?
None of them has called to congratulate me, but I have received felicitation messages from civil servants, politicians, journalists and civil organisations. The messages of these people encourage me, so I don’t care about the Speaker’s message.
We learnt that the APC has 22 lawmakers while your party has 2, meaning that you are in minority and it may affect your performance; will you consider defecting to the ruling party?
Only God knows what will happen today or tomorrow. I know that Governor Buni is a very humble man with leadership skills; therefore, based on my understanding with him he will not allow party differences to affect the development of Nguru or Yobe State in general.
All I can say is that I will do everything possible to make sure I deliver the message and problems of our people, who have been left behind, to the state government and appropriate channels, with the hope to address them. Insha Allah, I will never disappoint them.