Kano state governor, Engr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso at the weekend, spoke with a select group of journalists in his office in Kano Government House, on some burning national issues. They include Boko Haram, the National Conference and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s alleged quest to hang on to power even beyond 2015. Edwin Olofu was there. Excerpts:
Before the convocation of the National Conference by President Goodluck Jonathan, you were among notable Nigerians that kicked against it. What were your reasons?
You see, in politics, like any other business, you know one plus two, plus three, as far as it is the normal arithmetic, everybody knows the answer; especially when you still have the capacity to understand that arithmetic. To me, since the 1st of October, 2013, on hearing the broadcast of Mr. President when he mentioned the issue of Confab, I knew very well that it was just going to be a waste of resources and time.
Now, what have we achieved in the Confab so far–in my opinion, nothing; except a situation whereby the government is using their usual means of divide-and-rule. This country is now being divided further by the Confab with the delegates talking about Muslims on this side and Christians on the other side. People in this country are also talking about the North on this side; the South on the other side. People are talking about those who have got oil, and those who don’t have oil. People are talking about ethnicity and all sorts of things; and when that was being discussed, I believe the same issue is being discussed in the Churches and Mosques; in the markets, even in beer palours. What we need today is how to unite our states and our country.
What are the implications of this?
At the end of the day, the poor will be poorer and the rich will be richer; and that doesn’t help the poor, and certainly, it doesn’t help the rich. What we want to see is fairness. Fair distribution of wealth, education, industries, electricity and so on and so forth so that Nigeria can move forward. Many of the goods that are coming from the South have big markets here in the North, but with crises, with violence, hardly can they sell anything. So many things that are happening in this country, as long as we don’t have peace in any part of the country, it affects all other parts of the country. That is why, in my opinion, I don’t see anything wrong with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But I have seen many things wrong with the operators. I think what we need in this country is to change the operators and bring better ones.
I remember during the Musa Yar’Adua days, there was this issue of militancy in the South-South, Yar’Adua came with his own version of support to that part of the country; and as far as I am concerned, it is working.
The worst is about the extension of the President’s tenure. You have seen recently how he took a bill to the National Assembly, wanting the National Assembly to approve a six-year one-term. He got two years after the death of Yar’Adua, now he is spending four years; and he wanted another six years of one term, making 12 years, at least, for now. That seems not to be working; now, we are hearing that they smuggled a new Constitution through the Confab.
Now, there is a new Constitution on the ground to start another eight years by 2015. And then, people are saying okay, another eight years, after six years; but do you want us to continue like this? With this level of corruption, this level of insecurity in this country; because we have seen that the only corrupt people in this country are APC! If you are not in APC, no matter what you steal, even the unbelievable money of Abacha , doesn’t matter–they have dropped all the charges and he is good, doing very well.
Even when you have about more than 10 countries outside this country that have cases, who have bank files and documents all that should be dropped. Look at even our Emir, Muhammad Sanusi 11–what is his crime? That he said some money was missing. You should listen to him. He shouldn’t be an enemy.ss All these are interference from the above. Look at other cases, look at Rivers state with five members–they wanted to impeach the Speaker, they want to remove everybody including the Governor. Look at Edo, they are being supported by the police. Look at what happened in Kano, just to appoint Emir, somebody who is under Local Government, Federal Government wants to come and put their friend here; even though they have been appointing our enemies–because of who? The last three appointments in Kano were from one Local Government–Aminu Wali from Nasarrawa Local Government, the Minister of Education (Ibrahim Shekarau) is from Nasarrawa Local Government, even Adviser on Agriculture (Baraka Sani) from Nasarrawa Local Government. We have 44 Local Governments but there is no sense of distribution.
Looking at these precedents you have enumerated. How do you see 2015?
Well, I don’t know; but we are praying it will be better. We are working to have free and fair elections. We want to see one united country; but from the way things are now, I think everybody is worried–both locally and internationally, because they want to take it by force. People are desperate. They want to continue by all means; and that is the whole idea of divide-and-rule, they want to rule forever; and I think he (Jonathan) wants to be the life president; because we have seen the precedents– look at this our 486 young men and women who were detained in Abia, almost 500 people were arrested. Now, this is a very serious issue, maybe, they don’t understand the size of the problem. The consequences of that, and probably that is what they want, if we close our trench leading to the South within one hour of two, you will get more than 500 people from the South-East, and by the time we do that, it becomes a crisis. And all this, put together is what is giving people the concern about 2015. My own father was attacked in the Mosque. People piled on him in the Mosque. Three people were killed and 13 people were injured because of insecurity. I am not supporting the insurgents or insurgency, or any crime. We are Nigerians; this country belongs to all of us. So, the best way to do it is to get a way of uniting us; looking at the areas of strengths not areas of weaknesses.
What Nigerians want is what is happening here in Kano. I have over 2000 young men and women of Kano state origin in 14 countries. We have given free education. All our children are encouraged to go back to school. I have over 200 students in Katsina, a private university; 250 students in Igbinedion University in Edo; 200 in Bells University; 200 in Crescent University; 25 in Auchi. Here in Kano, I have two Universities, everybody is going there. Everybody is engaged.
Recently you were an advocate for state police. Some of the delegates at the National Conference are also toeing the same line. Do you still believe that state police is what is needed to solve the problem of insecurity in this country?
You see, I didn’t like state police. But many of my colleagues, including Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers state, wanted state police. And that group was headed by Amaechi; and my group was being headed by myself. And literally, we stopped the issue of state police at that particular time. However, with the recent developments, and because, every day we are learning, I now support state police. I have seen what happened in other states especially, in Rivers, other states and also what happened in Kano. On Friday, the Emir (late Ado Abdullahi Bayero) died; on Saturday, I called the kingmakers, we chatted and I said okay, tomorrow come by 12 noon; before they came, it was already in AIT and Abuja that Kano people had installed their Emir and their party had congratulated him. That was when I said go and call the kingmakers because they were all there waiting. And by the time we went, and followed all the procedures, we came up with the real Emir. I can tell you that all the king makers had Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (who is now referred to as Muhammad Sanusi 11) as their candidate. But with the earlier announcement, the stage was set for crisis because they had already gone to the streets and started bonfires and all that. That was on Sunday; and that same Sunday, they planned more riot and they removed the police guiding me–about 75 of them. Up till now as I am speaking to you and I think today is July 12, only 25 were returned. Now, with all these, for goodness sake, why can’t I support state police? A Governor should be able to protect himself. Now it is one man who is misleading and misusing the police–one man. So, I am supporting state police 100 per cent.
Are you planning to meet Mr. President one-on-one and discuss these issues with him?
Governors don’t go to see Mr. President just like that; unless Mr. President wants to hear and listen. It is just like here, if I don’t want to see anybody, I cannot allow that person to come and see me.
When they withdrew your security operatives, did you make any formal complain to the President? What was his response?
Well, the response was amusing.
If President Jonathan emerges winner in 2015, will the North accept him?
Well, I don’t want to speak about northern Nigeria; I will better speak about the country. You see, I think Nigerians have seen a lot of weaknesses, a lot of lapses; and unless all these issues are addressed, we will continue to have problems. But somebody should understand the problem. It is unfortunate that even some security experts (I don’t know where they learnt their security from), they will go on air and say that people are killing themselves, killing their land because they don’t want the President! Therefore they are destroying everything, even their future because of him–that cannot be correct. If you target my father, my wife, my son and I, that is a different thing; but if people at the corner of the country started trouble and they are killing themselves and all others around–Muslims, Christians–bomb everywhere–bomb in the Church, bomb in the Mosque–bomb in the shopping mall–bomb in the market; and all these because some people don’t want him to be President? Is that the way to stop somebody from being President? if we need a change, we can only do that at the polls.
But Your Excellency, Nigerians want to know whether Boko Haram members are ghosts or a reality?
I don’t know what it is. I’m not in control of the SSS, Army or the police. All these questions people are asking about who these people are; I don’t know. But what I know is that the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces should be able to stop them; and this should be either by negotiation or by the forces–any of them. And I tell you that most of the confusion are coming from Mr. President’s handlers–the people around him, just to cause more problems.