Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, a senator-elect for the 8th Senate, in this interview gives reasons why Jonathan failed in his re-election bid among other issues. Excerpts:
Having won the presidential election, how prepared is your party for the challenges ahead?
I am sure you have seen how the naira appreciated, how the stocks also appreciated, and I think that is a good sign to this country. I am sure the president-elect when sworn in will do whatever it takes to get the politics right.
We feel very happy that things are happening positively and I am also happy that it has been peaceful and the election went very well and the results were internationally and locally accepted as free, fair and credible.
This victory was seen as a surprise by many Nigerians; can you recount the experience?
Well it didn’t come as a surprise to us. It would have been a surprise if APC lost the elections when you must not forget that this last administration of PDP made so many mistakes, most of them huge mistakes. Some people would have been surprised if they were re-elected.
So much has happened in the party negatively and they were blindfolded that they couldn’t even take care of it talk less of doing something to stop them, and at the end of the day, this is what has happened to the party.
It didn’t come to us as a surprise; it came as a result of hard work, real organisation within the party, sacrifices among members and so on.
The government made mistakes in the issue of security in this country. The process started very small and it was allowed to grow and the insurgents were allowed to have the capacity and even took a large chunk of the country as well as some forces.
At the end of the day, we really don’t know what happened, but government decided to improve on the political will and you have seen what happened within just six weeks.
How did you manage to give the APC the highest votes in the entire country?
I deliberately joined the contest to become a senator firstly, to ensure that Buhari got the maximum number of votes. It wasn’t a matter of just winning in Kano but to get the maximum number and to make sure PDP didn’t get 25 percent.
Buhari is a popular man in Kano and many parts of the North, but my candidature and his on the same day were needed to boost that figure; that was why I accepted the offer by my people to contest for the senatorial seat.
For the presidential candidature, I am very happy that I participated and I was second in terms of votes nationwide.
What will be the effect of the large defections from PDP to APC due to the outcome of the elections?
In politics, there are various groups, but I think you can categorise them into three: the first one are the first class with the quality of people who can take risks and work hard to chart new ways and changes. Others will sit on the fence to see where the success is and start falling in line. Others will stay where they are.
Majority of them are those who are looking around to see where success is so that they could join it.
Some of them want appointments and some won’t stay there because they want to benefit from the success of the party and it is not new. Many people are in PDP because of the government.
I think we started on a good note. APC came with tremendous goodwill not only across the country but across the world. All over the world, people were so happy when they saw what happened and Nigerians, including PDP members, were happy that they were given what they wanted.
Some groups have called on Buhari to make you FCT minister despite being senator-elect; what is your take on this?
In this game, if you look at it very critically, what you need to do is just to be a politician first. You don’t go there with a fixed mind.
I contested to be an APC candidate for the presidency where I came second, and when I went back, the person who won the primary elections of our party thought I would be a good asset at the National Assembly and many other well-wishers came to ask me to contest, which I accepted and now I am a senator-elect of the Federal Republic.
So many things have been done, and the issue you are raising is an issue that I have also seen on the newspapers, social media and so on. I have heard some residents of Abuja asking the president to appoint me minister of the FCT.
I can assure you that I don’t know any of them and they have their reasons. I don’t see them as enemies; I see them as people that want to benefit from similar projects that have been done in Kano. My position has always been that whatever I am doing, I do with an open heart. I am here to support the party at any position.
There have been agitations about zoning Senate Presidency and Speakership; what is your take?
I don’t want to be particular about Senate President or Speaker or majority leader or anything. I think what is important is to have a fair distribution, all zones must be represented and I think it is one of the mistakes of the PDP where they decided to lump so many positions while others had no slots.
I think that has gone a long way in really killing the party. This country is not for Muslims or Christians; it is not for only North or South, Yorubas or Igbos or Hausas or any other tribe. This country belongs to all of us.
At any given position, leaders must come out because if you decide to do otherwise certainly you will run into crisis like PDP.
I believe the party shouldn’t waste anymore time because the implication of delay is that some people will go round the country to mobilise support for themselves and if the zoning decides to come late, they will be very strong in their campaign to the extent that they can disobey the party just as we have seen during the Tambuwal thing in 2011.
Your deputy, who is succeeding you, said he would continue with your projects; won’t it look as if his administration will be submissive to you?
Putting the deputy governor there means enforcing continuity over the years. In 1992, when I was deputy speaker, he was a director here in FCDA. He became commissioner in the Sani Abacha administration and in 1999, I picked him as my deputy governor. In 2003, when I was minister of defence he was my SP.
In all these, if you get any literature you will see his handwriting everywhere on how to organise ourselves and we are now so successful to the extent that I think we are the only people in this part of the country that can jump from Point A to Point B or D to C and we will go with our people because we are all based on the same ideology.
I believe that based on what we have built over the years, it is a wise decision, because it is like everyone will put his hands on the deck for him to succeed and his success will ensure his continuity till 2019 and beyond.
People are calling Jonathan a hero for accepting defeat. Do you concur?
Yes, I believe the president is naive because he had all opportunities; I don’t blame him. He didn’t play the sort of game for sometime at the national level; he didn’t know who was who in this country.
Our leaders who have been in this game before us, especially those who were in the First Republic, told us so much about our friends in this country. He happens to come from South-South where they were very close to our leaders.
We have done everything possible to work with him, but he vandalized the opportunities. He didn’t handle it very well up to the extent that most of us saw that we didn’t have any future as PDP members and as individuals; that was why we had to come together to organise ourselves to defeat him.
Look at what the wife was saying; ‘northerners are this and that’ how could you say that to northerners? You can’t insult us and think you can get away with it. This democracy is a game of numbers and that is why we went back and put almajiris together to get about two million votes.
There were allegations that most of the Kano votes were produced by under-aged persons; what do you have to say about that?
I think it is only in Kano and few other states that we had real elections in this country. We had about 4 million accredited but just 2 million voted and you are saying under-aged and all rubbish.
Almajiri here is a positive word, but they see it that we are beggars, that we produce children we can’t take care of, and that was what the First Lady was saying. We kept quiet because we had our own way of answering her and we did exactly that on March 28.
So, we are happy that things went this way and what happened is a lesson that we won’t allow anybody to go to the villa and reduce the whole thing to religion.