Are you worried about the new trend of terrorist attacks, where female suicide bombers, who are teenagers, are used for the dastardly act?
It is a very sad development. Before these crises, you wouldn’t believe that a Nigerian can kill himself, let alone involve suicide mission carried out by women. This is another dimension that the people and security agents must keep their eyes open, on. It is not only in Kano, we have heard a similar case in Katsina, where a young girl was arrested with IEDs by security agents. So our security agents must have more experience in handling this crisis. As usual, I want to appeal to the people of this state to continue to support the security agents and the President, because these are some areas that he needs support to manage the ship that will take us through to 2015. We need strong leadership, strong enough to get rid of insurgency and criminal activities. It is sad that we are still going through this situation which should have been over for years. This is not good for any leadership, every leader, every time, should try to stop such things, Nigerians are now thinking of who can stop the insurgency? The situation has made everybody to be afraid, irrespective of religion, tribe or location, everybody is afraid. Even the President himself is afraid, as he cannot go to Chibok. General T. Y. Danjuma, made a very expensive joke which made everybody to laugh, when he asked Mr. President to lead the people to Sambisa forest in Borno State. I am sure T. Y. Danjuma must be angry with the current situation in this country, especially if he remembered how 40 years ago, he himself could go to every length and breadth of this country and even beyond. Now, this is not the situation. I hope they would now change their tactics and listen to everybody including their opponents, because that is the best way to governs.
What is your opinion on the special fund launched for victims of terrorist attacks?
We watched an event yesterday which billions of naira were collected for the victims of terrorist attacks. This is a good initiative but what we are saying here is that, we want more sustainable ways of handling the issue of Northeast and other parts of the country. It should be sustainable, reliable and should come from reliable sources. That is why we are saying that there must be a marshal plan,s that can support that area, because we believe every government and every leader must face challenges, but the current challenge is huge. Even Late President Umaru Musa Y’ar Adua faced a similar challenge and everybody knew how he handled it and he succeeded to a very large extent. But, I don’t think this issue of begging people to donate money would help us out of this situation on the long run. What should be done is that the government should accept the reality and tackle the problem. Illiteracy, poverty and unemployment are correlated with violence, insurgency, etc. This is the reality that they don’t want to accept. I am not from the Northeast region but I personally believe that unless the issue of northeast is resolved, we would continue in the crisis. We have the type of people who can be recruited in the army, who would be happy and willing to die any day and any time. So, we will just keep on praying for peace to reign in the northeast, northwestern, north central and even the southern part of the country. We are aware of the level of insecurity in the south but we don’t know how they are managing it. May be it is because they have the radio, TV and newspapers to control their coverage. But our people who are there are telling us the level of insecurity in the south generally. It has reached the level that any Nigerian would want to see change, I think that is why the issue of “change” comes in. I believe APC will ensure peace in the country because without peace we can’t go to school as we have seen in the northeast. I hope, God willing, this madness will stop as soon as possible.
Just last week we witnessed an attempted assassination on General Buhari and Dahiru Bauchi, how do you view this?
First of all, let me use this opportunity once again to commiserate with General Muhammadu Buhari and Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, their families, followers, friends and everybody that is close to them. While commiserating with them, I also congratulate them because their lives were saved. Only God knows what would have happened in this country should anyone of them or the worst, two of them had lost their lives. It is very sad that they went through that trauma at their age and their level in the society. But this is the situation we have found ourselves in. Everybody has his own share of trauma, attacks. Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi is a bit older than my father and my father had also gone through this kind of attack in a Mosque in Kwankwaso, in the night. He survived the attack, but unfortunately three people were killed and 13 others injured. Now, you can see that the problem cuts across different segments of the society. The late emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, was also attacked on the street of Kano. So also all other sections of people, including politicians, civil servants, police, etc.
A lot of people are saying that it is not only leaders that are being accused of doing bad things. But leaders can also be accused of not stopping the bad things. We have seen in the past when Muslim/Muslim ticket was sold in this country and everybody was happy. Even though they are all Muslims, here in Kano, there were those that voted for them, not only because they are Muslim/Muslim, but because they believe in democracy. Our son, who is also our leader then and now, Alhaji Bashir Usman Tofa, was a candidate. We are from the same ward and polling unit but people came out at that time and voted for Abiola who won. In our polling unit, ward and our local government, and Kano State. He won with a very huge and unbelievable margin. We voted for him irrespective of his region. Look at the case of Obasanjo. We were supporters of Obasanjo, against our son here, Late Abubakar Rimi, who contested in 1999 but we didn’t support him. I had over 90% of the votes and my vote then was the highest number of votes.
In 2003, people knew my history, I lost election here. My commissioners and advisers came to me and asked me to leave Obasanjo’s ticket, and voted for me. I told them that it was politics, it has nothing to do with village, local government, state, region or even religion. We stood for him and as leaders of the party, we made a promise among ourselves here that we were ready to make that change. And we did it, lost the election but did not regret it. Unlike at this level, at the national level, the government is reduced to provincial government.
What are you doing to bring investment to the state?
I think what Kano or other states can do in that area is very much limited. We have people who should protect our interest but working against our interest. If you talk about investment, there are airlines that are interested on their own to operate in Kano, but some people are based in Abuja blocking it. It has gone to the extent that some of them have surrendered, and even those that were allowed to operate in Kano, like Emirate, which everybody was happy for its coming to Kano. Ironically, it was supposed to come on the 1st August, but some people blocked it. That was after getting all the papers, and selling all the tickets. People are still holding the ticket but they said they shouldn’t come to Kano. Within a few weeks Emirates sold all the tickets but they have been barred from coming to Kano. Now how do we bring investment here? What have we done? I personally went to meet the Emirate’s chairman in Dubai. We had a meeting. I saw everybody there including the then Minister of Aviation. The last time I talked to her was when we were entering a meeting, I said to her, “Honorable minister, when are we going to have the approval to get these airline operate in Kano?” Her answer was “it depends on the outcome of this meeting.”
However, we admit that we have done so much in the state. We have invested in terms of infrastructure, empowerment. We thank Almighty God for that. We also have the support of every responsible person in the state, those who are there for development and progress. The only thing, as politicians, especially at our level, we have to be contending with enemies and people that are anti progress.
As a chieftain of APC, how did you view the impeachment saga in Nassarawa State against Almakura?
I don’t think everybody is happy, whether in APC or any responsible persons in this country, especially who are conversant with democracy. Democracy is about winning election, and while you won election, somebody would have lost, even if it is two party system. And in our constitution, there are many sections that have talked about the opposition. Ideally, governments, across the world, especially where they have natural democracy, would support opposition in their own way. In this country, we have Commander-In-Chief, who is very powerful in terms of dealing with opponents. He is ruthless and doesn’t wait for anybody to pass. That is what we have seen in Ekiti state. They armed the people, taking votes for a particular party. That doesn’t help with the security agencies themselves, because if it is the army, it is the Nigerian army, if it is the Police, it is the Nigerian police, they are not Villa police and do not belong to any political party. The implication is that the whole security agencies would be politicised. This Nigerian army didn’t come from a particular village, they are from all towns and villages within the state. The military and the police are not all Muslims or Christians. They shouldn’t go and intimidate voters during elections. That was what happened in the state, as far as I am concern.
They also went to Adamawa, the same security agents, using every opportunity that they had. The opportunity has to do with the welfare of people that are in government and those that are in the opposition. They took Adamawa by force. I am sure the papers reported what happened at the Assembly and so on and so forth. Now, we are in the final year for those who are in the second term. The primaries will hold in few months time. There will be elections in February. But it is sad to remove the person that is in his 8 year of governance by force. I have forgotten the number of local governments in Adamawa State but I know there are more than 20. There are about 25 members in the Assembly, but they took the position of the governor that was elected by millions of people and gave it to the person that came from only one local government. They used the weaknesses of the constitution, cajoled the young men in the Assembly and at the end, enticed them with their power to remove the Governor. I am aware that they wanted to mess up all what he did for this country, brought in all sources of allegations, took all those they wanted to take and disgraced him. In my opinion, it is they that would be impeached because that is the headquarters of corruption and bad politics. I am not here to defend any Governor, I won’t say somebody is right or wrong, but certainly we should put it in a balance to determine the right course. We are aware of cases of direct stealing of dollars and crude oil. When our Emir, then CBN Governor, disclosed the missing amount, $$$20bn, instead of them to investigate it, he was the one that ended up being investigated and they wanted to send him to jail. But God is wonderful, now he is the Emir of Kano, I don’t know whether they are still contemplating it. So, all these are issues that are of great concern to all of us. Look at the case of Nassarawa State; I think the youth in the state did the right thing by chasing members of the State Assembly out of the state to the Villa where they belong. They don’t protect the interest of people of Nassarawa State. They want to use the weakness of the constitution whereby 20 people would come and remove a person who was elected by millions of people. I don’t think they know the meaning of the 1999 constitution. They are conniving with enemies to remove APC Governors from their seats. We had wanted to go to Nassarawa, because the Governor is a gentle man. But in this game, he has to have so many signs and faces because a gentle man cannot be a good Governor. We mobilised people to go there and fight injustice. We later decided not to send foot soldiers, and go there ourselves. A day to our proposed visit, the Governor asked us not to come, but we didn’t know the meaning of that.
You have enumerated the power of the presidency, are you afraid that you will receive the same treatment in Kano?
Well, I want us to finish this democracy by at least 2015. They tried it. You know they came here and took all the principal officers, not because they stole anything but because they didn’t want us to go and pass our budget. The EFCC came late in the night and started arresting them like criminals and took them to Abuja. We had to follow them and there was just no answer, nothing. At the end of the day, I don’t know what happened. They gave us a day and we returned. I have never seen this in my life, where authorities would come in the night and arrested Assembly members, who were elected by their people, take them to EFCC and lock them up. We had similar case recently, after we joined APC. They came here and met with the principal officers and gave them money. They thought everybody would follow them.
Buhari once said, the biggest beneficiaries of this system are the ones destroying it. I am among those that are happy because we have done well, we have performed well, we have done so many things, so we have every reason to be happy. They are using forces to take power. They used it in Ekiti and Adamawa, they are now using it in Nassarwa, and I am sure they will want to try it in Osun State. These are the forces that they should have been using in the northeastern states to curb insurgency. During Ekiti’s election, the whole state was taken over and dominated. I don’t think Ekiti is as big as Sambisa forest. What they don’t know is that, taking Governors’ seats by force would not guarantee them or Presidency automatic success in 2015. In 2011, I did not have even a single councilor in this state; I had no local government chairman or commissioner. Even our friends who were supposed to help us in Abuja didn’t believe in us, but we eventually won the election.
I heard that some people wanted to hold one million-man march in Abuja, but I wanted to hold a ten- million man march in Kano. May be they were advised not to hold it and I am happy they couldn’t do it. It didn’t take place.
How true is the rumour that you are contesting the presidential seat in 2015?
I have answered this question many times before. But whenever you ask me, I will give you the answer. We are not after who becomes what, we are after change. We have good materials in APC. They are people who will deliver if given the opportunity; I have no doubt about that. They are conversant with that Villa for many years. Look at the issue of these Chibok girls, they are still arguing on their whereabouts. Over 200 girls were kidnapped but up till now they can’t find them.
One of the reasons why I like this country is that we have people of high caliber, in all the regions and the states. These kinds of people are what we see in the developed countries. They fight for people and help the people. They are protectors of the people. The last time I went to Abuja, I saw many adverts in different places. While some people were advertising, #BringbackOurGirls, some people were advertising, “vote for us to maintain the status quo”, with smiling faces on the posters.
If you were the President, what would you have done?
From 2011, you have witnessed a lot of projects visible in the state. We have huge projects which no state, even the states that are getting more than what we are getting have, like Challawa and Tiga dam projects which will cost N14.2b. The government is handling the project and we are finishing by March, latest. Look at the Kofar Nassarawa flyover which is about a kilometer. Look at the other one near Kano Radio station, which we want to name Obasanjo Flyover. Look at the one in Sabon Gari area, about two kilometers. That one is costing over N11bn. Look at Wuju-Wuju, almost N10bn. Look at Northwest University, 5-kilometer roads in all the 44 LGs. Look at the dualisation and street lightening of over 200 kilometers of roads across the city. Look at the 24 institutes, and so on and so forth. We are not talking of education, which is our trademark. Free education at all levels, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Look at the over 2000 of our children, whom we sent to study abroad. Some are carrying out very expensive courses like pilot courses. Each one of them will cost us N10million. These universities are in 14 countries in the world. We are now sending another batch of more than 500 students. Look at law and order in Kano. Look at street lights and drainages. We have changed the attitudes of the people of Kano State. We have no almajiri here. I hope when those guys from this side of the country finish their job in Abuja, they would send them to their almajiri schools. We don’t have almajiri here. We only have Nigerians of Kano State origin, who are ready to compete with anybody in this country. We told our children to go back to school because we don’t want to see anybody on our streets. If we see them we will arrest them based on the law that permits that. It is just leadership that has made us do all these. If you are a leader, you are a leader. We hardly see the presence of JTF on the street nowadays, what is happening?
That shows clearly that you are not a criminal and insurgent. If you leave them on the streets, you are scaring your investors. People would have been complaining. How can you put armies and police in the street, even the few that we have are scaring people. Those who are at the other side know where they are, so I don’t have to tell you.
What do you make of the deadline given by some state governors recently to end insurgency?
Well, I hope so, if they can finish it today, it is going to be better. But we should see all that is on the ground. They are now looking for $1bn and I don’t think they will be in a hurry to do anything without collecting that money. So these are serious issues and deadlines that should come from better places. We don’t have police, military and the SSS are also not under our control. They are the ones to tell him to finish by December. I hope they finish it next week. The governor who is controlling a small portion of the country and has no any serious security outfit is not in the position to say that.
Less than a year to the elections, what qualities do you expect your successor to have?
I am lucky to have so many of them that are qualified and competent enough, with all the integrity required to be the Governor of Kano State. Recently, we had some people coming from other parties. The issue is just to get somebody with high quality that can manage the affairs of the state. Many of them have been tested in terms of reality and hard work. It is not time now to pick Mr. A, B or C, it is the time now to finish our programmes, score them and complete them before 2015.
The President has just appointed a new Inspector General of Police; do you have confidence that he will be able to change the image of the police?
I am happy that he is our son, because Jigawa and Kano are almost the same. I hope he would work hard and honestly. He should be committed to change the direction of policing in Nigeria. Police should be our friends and protect us. They should be neutral during elections. They have lost the respect now, because by the time you are stealing from Mr. A and giving it to Mr. B, certainly Mr. A would not respect you. And I want to appeal to them to stick to their ethics. They should always go by the rule of engagement and respect themselves and respect everybody. That is the only way the police, as an institution would be respected by all. That is my appeal to the new IGP. I wish him all the best.