Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso of the northern Nigerian city of Kano spoke to some journalists in Kano on midnight of Saturday, July 12, in his private office at Kano Government House. There, he accused President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of using the National Conference to stay put to power even beyond 2015. Pointblanknews.com monitored the chat. He also spoke on insecurity, ethnicity and religion.
Your Excellency, you could recall that before the convocation of the National Conference by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, you were among notable Nigerians that kicked against it. Can you tell us your reasons?
Let me thank you for coming and also thank you for supporting the state government. I am very happy some of you have been here for a long time; let me also go straight to the question. 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 a waste of time. And not only that, I knew it was going to be very harmful to the people of this country. Now, the Confab is nearing completion, and I think even those who could not understood what I was saying, can now have every reason to believe that we were doing the right thing and that we said the right thing.
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. You see people talking about Muslims on this side and Christians on the other side. People in this country is 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 sort of things; and when that was being discussed, I believe the same issue were being discussed in the Churches and in the Mosque; in the markets, even in the beer palours—all those things are being discussed; and that was the biggest reason why we thought Nigerians don’t deserve this treatment at this crucial time. What we need today is how to unite our states, how to unite our country, how to unite all those differences that were being mentioned.
Now, you have seen it, 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, fair distribution of education, fair distribution of industries, electricity and so on and so forth so that Nigeria can move forward. But what we are seeing now will certainly not help anybody; and whether anybody likes it or not, there is this correlation between poverty and what we are seeing today in this part of the country. They don’t want to hear that, they have been disputing the fact; but everybody outside this country—all our friends: the United States of America, Britain, Germany, anywhere you go, the same story—it is common arithmetic, like the one I have said one plus two, plus three—all of you here I am sure will not be too happy to go and terminate your life. I am not even talking of Northwest or here in Kano, by the Grace of God, even by the history, has not been too bad; we are not doing too badly, but states in the Northeast are appealing to the Federal Government to show interest. If you are talking about distribution of wealth, now you are talking about additional five per cent to 13 per cent, additional this to that; now at the end of the day who is losing because it is the same project. If you are talking this that you take from point A, to transfer it to point B, somebody must be a winner and somebody must be a loser; and from what we are saying, everybody knows who is going to be the loser. The implication of that, in my opinion, the way the issues appear now and with this level of insecurity, the people are made to be poorer; and it means more insecurity and insecurity does not help anybody in this country, does not help our neighbours and does not help our friends and even enemies all over the world whereas, everybody has reasons to lose one or two things. Many of the goods that are coming from the South have big market 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. I don’t see anything wrong with formula of this country. 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. Every part of this country should participate, every part of this country should come out—that is what we need and that is what I have been advocating. So, I knew very well that the Confab was going to be a waste of time and a waste of resources. It was allocated N7 Billion and in the budget, only N2 Billion was allocated to the Northeast to alleviate poverty. What is N2 Billion?
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, to a very large extent, it is working. And that is the type of thing the Federal Government should come up with, and not to take money, not to take money from the poor and send it to areas that under normal circumstances, they shouldn’t complain. We seen so much money going to that particular part of the country, but we are not angry about it; but what we are concerned about is that fairness should be shown to people from the other part of the country. That was why we are telling our representatives, the delegates to the Conference that they should do whatever possible to ensure that for the peace and unity of this country remain—the poor should not be made to be poorer, they should as it is, and not to worsen the situation, but I am surprised that many of our delegates unfortunately went there, as far as I am concerned, not to represent us; because anybody who will go and say he is giving them additional five per cent, 10 per cent, must go and also ask for 100 per cent. We have seen a situation whereby monies are being allocated elsewhere which is against the constitution and against any law of the land. That is why many of us are concerned, not because of the poor, but also because of the rich, because if you make the poor poorer, that means the rich cannot sleep.
Your Excellency, shortly before the President organized the Conference to further make the North poorer. How do you see this notion?
That is what I am saying. I agree with that notion 100 per cent and I said that the day he mentioned it; and the worst is all about the extension of his tenure. You have seen recently that he took a bill to the National Assembly, wanting the National Assembly to approve a six-year one-term. The implication of that is that he wanted to lift himself. 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 seem not to be working, now, we are hearing that they smuggled a new Constitution through the Confab. The arithmetic of the handlers there is saying that they want to throw away the six years, have a new Constitution and 2015 start another eight years because we have seen it during the first term of these governors of Yobe, Taraba, Ogun, Kogi—these were friends that were governors during the aborted third Republic and people took them to Court so that they their first term; and their Court said no, no, no, these is a new Constitution.
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. If it were in your newspapers—This Day, Daily Trust, The Nation, somebody come to say some monies are missing, you should listen to him. He shouldn’t be an enemy.
Look at what happened in Ekiti, with arms, they surrendered people with arms! Look at what is happening now in Adamawa, I was involved. I was there, I sat down with all of them, we discussed, especially, the Governor of Adamawa who knows the situation better than anybody, all is interference. All these are interference from the above. Look at other cases, look at Rivers state with five members—they want 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. Who can fight him (Kwankwaso) whether they are from the same family it doesn’t matter! In Nigeria, we have two senior Ministers from the same Local Government—Nasarrawa Local Government, just to come and destabilize the state. I have never seen anything like this where the beneficiaries of this democracy are working towards destabilizing it.
Your Excellency, 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 they are working now, I think everybody are 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 precedents— look at this our 486 young men and women who were being 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. By the time I ask my people to come back from they are in the South, other northerners or people from Kano, most of them, if not all of them will come back. And that we may not know the consequences of it. And all these put together is what is giving people this decisions and concern about 2015. Now people are being detained, we all know they just had 486, we don’t know whether they are more, we don’t know what they have done. We are here in the North; everybody is concerned about the state of insecurity. 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 fighting it here. By the grace of God, with the police, with the Army, we have been promoting peace in this state. But some of these decisions that people are taking because of their selfishness will continue to create problems; and unless they understand and I hope they have the capacity to understand, I foresee a situation where we run into more crises. 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. Many of you here are Christians, I never looked at anyone of you to even imagine or to say Oh, you a Christian—we are all friends, and we shall continue to be friends. Christians and Muslims should see themselves as one. Recently, we had a meeting with the leadership of Christians under General Yakubu Gowon and all the leadership of Muslims, different sects—they were all here; and we talked about how we can work together. And any politician in this country who decides to divide this country from these lines is not a politician. That is why we have political parties. I see my friends from the South as my brothers and sisters, the same party. If there is election today, I am ready to go there and do whatever I can to support them; and vice versa. But when you start to talk about the South, North, they are abusing themselves. But we know that at the Confab, that what is happening is much less than what we are expecting; and the agenda certainly is wrong, even though we are yet to see the end of the Confab, but we told our members to be vigilante, though the outcome will go to the National Assembly, but we want a situation where what can get from the Confab will be good enough to be presented at the National Assembly. I f you have so much and I have nothing, you should assist me, and vice versa. Now, look at what is happening there, people are saying we are Middle-Belt, far North, South, we have oil and all that cannot help us. We are dividing ourselves.
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 Igbinedon 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. We have 24 Institutes which almost on daily basis, they are graduating people, some three months, five months or one year Courses. People are happy.
What is the way out of the Adamawa political crisis?
I don’t want to go into the details of what Governor Murtala Nyako has done right or wrong, but all I know is that he is not the worst Governor in this country. He is not. Look at Nassarawa and see what is happening there. They are only after the APC Governors. Look at how billions are being looted from Abuja in the name of ecology or whatever and nobody is talking about that. It is only APC Governors that they are after—destabilization! They want to destabilize us. Look at what they did here. They instigated young men with money and bribes that we are fighting. They came to streets of Kano and were destroying street lights, setting bonfires simply because we selected our own Emir through due process. They sponsored these young men to destroy bill boards and what have you, blocked the road to the Emir palace, simply because this is APC state. But it is only foolish men that can start cater-cater in his own domain; and we don’t know where it will end. People who are beneficiaries of this democracy are the once that are getting the masses to start the crisis; but this will not help this country. Divide-and-rule doesn’t help the leader and will not help this country.
Do you foresee Governor Nyako going back to PDP?
I don’t know what is written in his mind, but I know very well that right in him, the last thing he will want to do is to go to PDP. But as they are using the Federal might that they were supposed to use to protect him, to protect the people of Adamawa state who are under emergency to attack him, who knows their plans. In fact, we read that the military were sent to the Judge’s house and elsewhere. I don’t think that will help anybody, even the PDP; what will help them is free and fair election. I had an election here in 2003, and I lost the election, I went to the house of the so-called Governor-elect and congratulated him, much beyond what Fayemi, our brother in Ekiti did. I appealed to the good people of Kano to support his government; and I parked my things to Abuja and that is how it is supposed to be. But what we are seeing here, I think some people should better start thinking positively about this country.
Your Excellency, in the recent past, you advocated for state police. Some of the delegates at the on-going National Conference are also toeing the same line. Do you still believe that state police can be part of the therapy 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, in recent development, and because, every day we are learning, the recent development made it necessary for me to support state police. I have seen what happened in other states, especially, in Rivers; I have seen what happened in 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 had installed their Emir. And everybody, even the Social Media and their party congratulated him. It was here that my boys came and say look at AIT—that they have congratulated him. And 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 procedure, we came up with the real Emir. I can tell you that all of them had Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (who is now referred to as Muhammad Sanusi 11) as their candidates. All kingmakers of Kano sat with and they said okay let us go and think about it. And we came back and we agreed that by the time it was announced, the stage was set to crisis because they have already gone to the streets and started burning bonfires and all that. That was on Sunday; and that same Sunday, they planned more riot and they to remove 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. If you look at what is happening elsewhere, it is the same story. Police from other states from the South and other parts of the country like Kano should know the geography of their state. If you are talking about abuse of power b y the Governors, we have 36 states and 36 governors—now you can see democracy—some APC, some PDP states, some Labour Party and other ones APGA and so on. Now it is one man who is misleading and misusing the police—one man. So, I am supporting state police 100 per cent.
Going by what is going and what you know about the problems of this country. Can’t you meet Mr. President one-on-one and discuss these issues with him?
Governors don’t go and see Mr. President just like that; unless if Mr. President wants to hear and to listen. It is just like here, if I don’t want to see anybody, I cannot allow that person to want to see me. But some of these things are so simple and so easy.
Your Excellency, at the time they withdrew your security operatives here. Did you make any formal complain to the President? If you did, what was the response?
Well, the response was so 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 and a lot of lapses; and unless all these issues are addressed, we will continue to problems or even more of it. But somebody should understand the problem. It is unfortunate that even some security experts (I don’t know where they learn 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, if you target my wife, if you target my son, if you are targeting me—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—bombs everywhere—bombs in the church, bombs in the Mosque—bombs in the shopping mall—bombs in the market; and all these because some people don’t want him to be President—is that the way to stop somebody. Politics is all about the game of number. Why are you killing yourself? Simply because you don’t like him. Some lecturers, PHD holders will be shouting in the radio—that people are killing themselves because they don’t like him. If you want to stop him, then you can ask him; and now we are not in the position of asking him why they are doing it, what is their motive or whatever—but what Nigerians are saying is that all these must stop. Mr. President should stop it by all means. Then, if we need a change, we can only do that at the polls.
But Your Excellency, Nigerians want to know whether Boko Haram are ghost or a reality?
I don’t know what it is. I’m not in control of the SSS, I am not in control of the Army, I am not in control of the police. All these questions people are asking that 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 stoppage should be either by negotiation or by forces—any of them. And I tell you that most of these confusions are coming from Mr. President’s handlers—the people around him, just to cause more problems.