“Any government that cannot provide basic needs of its people means it is simply not there”.
Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano state has stated that the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, will ensure that President Goodluck Jonathan loses the 2015 presidential election just the way President Joyce Banda of Malawi recently lost to Peter Mutharika in the general election held in May.
The governor, who spoke recently with PREMIUM TIMES Managing Editor, Musikilu Mojeed, and the Head of Northern Operations, Sani Tukur, in his lodge in Abuja, also traced the genesis of the problem between opposition governors and President Goodluck Jonathan to the outcome of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum election.
Excerpts of the interview:
PT: What is your view on how the Federal Government is handling the state of insecurity in Nigeria, especially in the north?
Kwankwaso: The issue of security is key. Any government that cannot provide basic needs of its people means it is simply not there, that is why even the International Community feels like there is no government on ground in Nigeria.
A leader from America said his government has wasted too much time waiting for a government in Nigeria that is almost non-existent. He is not a Nigerian, and that is exactly the fact of the matter.
So many people have advised this government, especially on the issue of the North East . The North East should have a special Marshall Plan to support them. Every leader has his particular challenge, when President Yar’Adua came to power he had a challenge from the South-South, in the Niger Delta and he did his best to tackle that challenge. By the grace of God the situation is much better there.
Today whether you are from the South or North, Christian or Muslim does not matter; what really matter is how to get peace back. We have seen a situation in this country where some people are raising their own flags, It doesn’t help anybody. Every square inch of this country belongs to Mr. President; it doesn’t matter what religion, culture or people they are. People are being killed, maimed and even taken away on daily basis, like needles, people just disappear.
As we speak we have thousands of Nigerians in Niger Republic, Cameroun and Chad as refugees and nobody is even talking about them. They are just there at the mercy of their hosts. These are the issues on the ground that must be tackled instead they are going from church to church to bring in sentiment on the issue.
The people being killed and stolen are both Muslims and Christians, but it took them 18 days to agree that over 270 Nigerian children were stolen. They never wanted to believe that it happened. The woman leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was even asking for their pictures, asking what their names are? They were being mischievous over the matter.
A government in a blessed and rich country like Nigeria cannot protect its citizens. Any government that cannot protect Nigerians doesn’t deserve to be in office.
Being a president is not about personal enjoyment, it also does not mean protecting some and ignoring others. Once anyone is elected as a President or a Governor, you are no more the Chairman of your party, you are no more Edwin Clark, who is the leader of the Ijaw nation, but you are the President for both who voted for you and those who did not, those who like you, and those who do not like you.
We are seeing a situation where people are at the helm of leadership but still feel that they are cheated.
PT: Let’s talk politics now. Are we likely to see more governors joining the APC?
Kwankwaso: Of course, it is possible but what I know is that whether governors join us or not, the people are already with us. I have not taken the time to go to the South to study what is happening, but I had time to study the North. In the 19 states I don’t see any state where under free and fair election, people will go and vote for the status quo. The status quo is not good for anybody because they have failed to provide the basic services to justify why the people voted for this government.
They may think they are still popular, not only do they lack the capacity, the people around them are even worse, because they don’t tell them the truth, and that is why things keep getting worst by the day.
Funny enough, they don’t even have the true position of things. As far as they are concerned, everything is ok and the country is moving in the right direction. That is what they tell the President.
Well, of course, that is not good, but politically, I think that is good for our party. They will be shocked. Nigerians will do to them what the Malawians did to their government. We will Malawi them in 2015.
Jonathan will be number three. I hope APGA and Labour will stop deceiving themselves. If they can get a good presidential candidate, he will be number three. He will be number three pursuing third term.
PT: During the controversy generated during the appointment of the new Emir of Kano, we understand the president planned to go to Kano, but when the current emir was the one who emerged, he changed his mind. As governor, were you informed that the President was visiting?
Kwankwaso: Well, someone called me and told me he was coming. But, when they realised that they were inducing crises, he refused to go.
PT: On this allegation of inducing crisis, did you on your own reach out to the president, since it became clear to you that he had a hand in what was happening?
Kwankwaso: Well, I am yet to get in touch with them, but I will get in touch with them. I am sure they will know my position even through you. I keep on advising them that in democracy, governors are not important. Who are important are the local government chairmen, councillors, press men and the ordinary people.
They should open a channel of communication. That is the responsibility of the leader. In Kano for instance, it is very easy
for me to communicate with anybody, and if I don’t want to communicate with you, there is no way you can communicate with me. The same thing applies with the president.
The mistake started long ago, but reached its peak when we had our election at the governors’ forum and elected Rotimi Amaechi to be our own chairman. The Governors forum is like a club, an association, and at the end of the day, Amaechi won by 19 votes. But he and his party, recognised the man with 16 votes. That was the beginning of our problem. We have never seen something like that. That association is not even constitutional. It is just a union of group of friends, but under this administration, even governors cannot choose their monitor. They will have to decide for us. That was the genesis of the crisis and at the end of the day, everybody was kicked out except the 16. They are the ones getting billions of naira in the name of ecological fund. He just dashes them the money and that is unfortunate.
PT: But are you protesting?
Kwankwaso: We did and we are still protesting. We can’t allow them to continue getting billions, while we get nothing. Even the appointment of an emir which is ordinarily the job of the Local Government, the President wanted to hijack it. When it comes to appointment of persons at the federal level they put our enemies who are their friends. That is not fair.