Kano Crisis: Kwankwaso Speaks Out

Kano Crisis: Kwankwaso Speaks Out
  • Alleges infringement of his constitutional rights
  • Says Kwankwassiya group still in the lead

Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is a household name in Nigerian politics.

He has served in various capacities at national and state levels. He is the Senator representing Kano Central Federal Constituency of Kano State at the National Assembly. Back home in Kano, where he worked as a civil servant  and is a two-time governor, Kwankwaso’s rendition of quality and striking dividends of democracy to the people of Kano led to the development of a philosophy and political movement called “Kwankwasiyya.”. He was also the Deputy Speaker in the House of Representatives in Abuja, member of the Constitutional Conference in 1994 and 1995 as elected delegate, as well as Minister of Defence.  He also served as a member of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NNDC Board.

He spoke with FIDELIS YUGHUR on a wide range of issues that you cannot afford to miss. Excerpts:

Nigeria as a country is now enmeshed in crises ranging from kidnapping, cattle rustling, armed attacks with killings and series of clashes between herdsmen and farmers. As an experienced leader, what do you think is responsible for these vices?

Now you see the issue of security in Nigeria and any other country in the world has to be resolved with many things. In Nigeria, many people see it from the angle of using the Police, Military, State Security Service and other paramilitary security bodies. When you are talking of security, you are of course talking of the security of lives and property; you are talking about security in the area of health, job creation, infrastructural development and all other areas. And I want to point out that security is everybody’s business and I believe our security agencies are working very hard but certainly, they need to do much more than the approaches seen so far. And government at all levels must involve everybody, the civil servants, businessmen and women, farmers and the security agencies themselves, the pressmen and women collectively. Every sector and every group of our communities must be involved in security so that at the end of the day, we can overcome the challenges that we have been facing in the last many years.

When one goes to Kano, “Kwankwasiyya” is on the lips of almost everybody. Are there other secret things you do to these people that the public is yet to know that gives you this multitude of supporters?

No, you see the great secret in politics is of course to convince your people and that when you get they will also get, meaning if you win any election they are convinced that you will treat them well. Once they are convinced that you are going to do the right thing, I can assure you these people will follow you as far as you can go. And that is precisely and probably what they are saying in Kano. The average Kano man, in fact, most of the people in Kano, even the enemies believe that once we succeed the success will benefit everybody. Of course it depends on which group you are, the politicians, the businessmen and women as well as other people who have worked so hard for the successes I have seen in Kano, I can assure you most of them if not all of them benefitted in one way or another. And the ordinary people on the streets and so on have also benefitted. If you go round the city and the state generally, you will see so many projects and programmes that the state government executed under my tenure as the Executive Governor of Kano state. Now, even if you cannot get contract or appointment or any form of support directly from government, you can see that if you go round Kano before 2011, we had so many places that you waste a lot of time to move forward in terms of traffic. Now, we have fly overs and under passes and of course we have expanded the roads, provided walkways, drainages, street lights and so on. Everybody in Kano whether he was in our party or not certainly was a beneficiary. If you supply water to the people, everybody will benefit. If you clean the city or state, everybody will benefit so also if you send a good health workers with their equipments for medical treatment to the people, only God knows the number of people that will benefit from that single gesture. So the point is that our colleagues and friends who are politicians have failed their electorates. They must have to learn the reality and language of politics and power that if you are there, do not assume that if you are happy everybody is happy. Do not assume that because your wife is happy then everybody’s wife is happy. Do not assume that because you are there everybody must be happy. So I think these are the issues that many politicians especially at a very high level don’t understand. The way to be in the game, of course, to be above board, you have to be credible, you have to have the interest of the people in mind, and at the end of the day, the reality is whether you steal or you don’t steal,  at the end of the day, you will be richer or better when you started and therefore you have the option to either steal and not to steal. Many wise people would choose to take our monies, especially the sort of monies we have seen today in this country that have no limit. Before now we were counting in thousands and that has increased to millions, and now we are talking of billions, and I am sure many people will start talking of trillions. And you ask yourself, what you are going to do with the money and you will realise that it is just greed. Somebody is just looking for one thousand naira because his wife is in the hospital and he doesn’t have and the wife doesn’t have and she is dying and you are collecting billions for yourself and your small nucleus family. But I think these are the issues on ground; once people realize that if you succeed they will benefit from that success you have great supporters around you. Once that is done, I can assure you that whereever you go people will be looking for you. Yes, you said the situation in Kano, no I don’t think it is only Kano, maybe it is even across northern Nigeria and to a very large extent across the Nigeria. People are looking for the best and getting the best now is very difficult.

Your diehard supporters are calling for you to contest for the presidency come 2019. What is your take on this?

Yeah, that is the point I was telling you. You see if you are a deputy governor everybody who believes in you will be praying that one day you should become that governor or president; if you are a vice chairman in a local government your supporter’s prayer is that you should be chairman one day. For those of us who have seen so many things across the country as you rightly pointed out, all prayers now especially from brothers, sisters and friends is that you should become President, vice President or you get a better or big job than what you ever had. You can understand that such prayers will continue coming due to the fact that when you get, they also will get that from you. Yes, we can answer that prayer when the right opportunity presents itself. So I think that is what we have seen but on the issue itself ,you see most of these things must be calculated .We are now in APC and you must have heard what the party is talking about the extension of the tenure of our leaders from ward to national, and many of course are of the opinion that the President should continue. So there are so many things happening in APC, PDP and other parties and so on and so forth. But what we usually tell our friends especially the press men and women let’s wait and see the unfolding events. Of course, we are politicians first, we are in the game and we are working very hard and at any given time if we have to take decision in our interest and the interest of the country, I can assure you, you will be told and you will be there to witness our position.

On three occasions, you were prevailed upon not to appear in your own constituency in your own state.

I think there are so many people that think they are politicians but they are not really politicians. But every day we wake up, we get up to see and hear new things but our experience now of preventing me not to go to Kano, they call it advise not to go to Kano,  I think it is not best for them at all levels. This is not democratic. You don’t use Police and other security agencies in this type of thing. Political issues are discussed by politicians and resolved amicably but anytime you have a vacuum normally some people come and fill the gap, some by their wives, some by their friends and relations, some by security agents and so on. And the worst thing is that the security agencies have taken over the political space because they will look at it from the security side of the whole thing which in most cases is not so. Politicians look at issues from the political point of view. We believe in sitting on table, discuss, resolve, agree and disagree, and at the end of the day, you go out as one family especially when you are in the same party. So I don’t think that was a good decision but I can tell you for “Kwankwasiyya,” it has always been a win- win situation because of our good intention, because of our good work and we always get an upper hand. We are now waiting for the security agencies to say that it is safe for me to go to Kano, because all they wrote was a letter advising me not to go to Kano that some people are planning to attack. That I told the security agencies that since you know them, it is your responsibility to protect me and not me protecting myself .For example, if we ask our supporters to come out and protect us, it is like we are taking laws into our hands. And as you say rightly, at least in Kano, we are the majority. And under normal circumstance, we run into unnecessary anarchy does not help the government and doesn’t help the people. Anarchy will not and does it does not help anybody. So everybody was surprised and terribly disappointed that people can go to this extent .Now in the last, probably three years now, I went to Kano only once when the Governor lost his mother, I think in March, 2016, and I have never gone back. But the good thing is that, as you know Nigerians, not only in my constituency of Kano state. Nigerians are generally good people; both north and south, Christians and Muslims with various tribes are good people. They are very understanding and they are, first of all, their requests or needs are not too big to solve. You will find out that if you do the right thing to them, they continue to appreciate it. I have not been there technically since I left that seat on 29th May, 2015 but I am happy you have noticed the level of support that we have instead of criticizing that he didn’t come. Understand that it is better that I stay here but politics or democracy is the best system because of the time limit. Here, people would come and support you and you just candle it alone. In Kano for example, the President got about 2million, also the governor I got about 760 thousand votes and so and so forth. So if you look at it nobody can do it alone. Now if for example you win the elections and at the end of the day you look back and start abusing the same opportunity that you garnered support and came to power, it is the worst mistake any politician can make. And democracy is not like monarchy until you die or military government that until you decides to go. Democracy has got time limit of four years in our case and that is why I think people have to be careful. And that is why you know if you have been elected on day one, you feel on top of the world and feel everybody is not important, I can do without anybody, I am so lucky and so important, you feel everybody likes you, you think you will never ask them for anything, some may go to an extent of believing that four years will never come, but now as we are, we are already now in march 2018 and by next year this time, we would have finished our elections. You have people who say they are Governor elect, State Assembly elect and all these elect and those who have lost are lost and asked to pack out their things .So you see democracy is good for this country and for every other country.

Why have some of your political protégés turned against you and are even saying that you are not a good material for the presidency?

Well, you see, while of course we believe our people are generally good but there are some that are terribly treacherous at all levels and there is nothing you can do. And in politics which is a game of numbers, you have to move with the good, bad and the ugly. That is politics, it is a game of numbers, it is not a game of quality but a game of quantity. So if you say you will not do politics with the bad ones, of course you will run into the issue of numbers. So I was with such people. We started very well and we were moving very well and we give everybody opportunity and it depends on them either to handle it or to squander it. So we are happy that many things are happening and you can see that whatever that is happening  at all levels, are to our advantage in the sense that God, because that is very important for us as a people who are Muslims or Christians we believe in God and God is always there for us, is working for us and that is why in most cases some of these things that happen we decide to keep mute because you can see that at the end of the day those who are campaigning against us or abusing us depends on papers and other media are just like helpers. Every day you open papers north and south you hardly finish reading without seeing Kwankwaso or Kwankwasiyya.

And that is very important whether they are praising or abusing us but at least it indicates that are important to be on that newspaper. Some think they are abusing us but they are not. Those that don’t understand will think that they are abusing us. When I see it I laugh and say thank God, that these people are working for us.

Finally, what is your sincere advice to your teeming supporters especially in Kano and across the states of the federation who believe firmly that you should come run for the presidency  come 2019?

I didn’t say I am contesting to become president but I know of the movement called “Kwankwasiyya”. Kwankwasiyya people are working and that movement is everywhere in the country, people are working; people believe in the movement or the ideology. So I wish to thank them and I will urge them to do more, and also ask them to expand and get many people as possible. Kwankwasiyya is all about good governance; it is all about rendition of dividends of democracy. And ordinarily, good men refer to the people who are working out to earn a living in the villages, towns and cities. Whether they put a red Cap or any of our identities, they are automatically Kwankwasiyya members and group. So we thank them, we are not paying them, we are not giving them any money but you can see how people are coming to put their best in terms of their intellect, in terms of their resources; people are going to the extent in their localities to rent a place where they sit down and discuss issues about Kwankwasiyya. Some would buy caps and some would even buy gowns and so on to distribute to people. So we thank all of them. We are still moving and at the end of the day we will come together and ensure that the right thing is done.


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