Following the death of the Emir of Kano and the selection of the former Central Bank of Nigeria,
CBN, Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, trouble descended on the ancient
Kingdom like a plague, forcing the new emir to operate from the Government House while security agents take over the palace.
But the state Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, in this interview defends the choice of the new emir, saying it was not influenced by any political consideration and accuses the Presidency and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, of instigating the violence to bring down his government. The governor also serves notice that his life is in danger and that Nigerians should know who to hold responsible if he is killed.
Why did you choose His Royal Highness, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as the Emir, of all the three names submitted to you by the four kingmakers of Kano?
You know the issue of the installation of an Emir in Kano has not happened since the appointment of the first governor of the state, Audu Bako, who was appointed in 1967. You can see that this appointment of an emir in Kano is entirely new to most of us. In fact, among the four kingmakers, who nominated Sanusi Lamido as an emir, only one participated in the selection of the late Emir, Ado Bayero. So, when I came back to Kano on Saturday since I did not want to give room for speculations and mischief-making, I decided to invite the four kingmakers and sat down with them and asked them to brief me, especially the only one who participated in the selection of the late emir. They briefed me and I asked them to go back and consult and they came back the following day on a Sunday and briefed me about their position. Of course, when I asked them to go back and consult, mischief-makers started their mischief. Before they came on Sunday we started seeing on television and hearing on radio that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, people as a ruling party of the Federal Government decided to appoint a new emir. And that was what started the whole confusion and when my attention was drawn to it I quickly asked the commissioner for Information to ask the radio and television stations to stop the broadcast of the false and misleading announcement. We sat down with the kingmakers and from the list that we received from them, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was the best and number one on the list and from the recommendations, the governor had every reason to choose from among the list of candidates recommended. In fact, in some cases the governor has the right to reject from the list and make his own choice but in this case the kingmakers made the selection and the governor only affirmed what they did in accordance with tradition of the kingdom.
So we made our own announcement and you can see that the stage was already being set by the mischief makers under the direction of the Federal Government and at the end of the day confusion started. And the hawks that the Federal Government uses in Kano started meeting in Kano from that Sunday and they began to demonstrate, burning tyres, destroying the good work that we have done, ranging from billboards to traffic light, trees and flowers. In fact, the bridge we built was attacked. They removed so many things from the flyover we constructed. I believe that what they did is wrong. But the fact of the matter in my own opinion is that the current President does not know where the powers of Mr. President start and where they end. There are certain things that are within the purview of the President: some of the things are under the local government, others within the state and others for the Federal Government. The mistake they made here was that they decided rather too early to dislike or kick us out of anything the Federal Government is doing, not considering that we are important in our own way. In politics everyone is important including the person in my village. Even a villager is important where every vote counts because you can lose election by one vote and you can also win by one vote against your opponent.
We have been advising the President to bring all the governors together but you will remember what the President did when Governor Amaechi won the NGF election and how the President decided to recognise the minority and refused to talk to us and said that we are not important and how money was given to non-APC governors to show that they are more important to us. In this case, I was expecting Jonathan to call me or to advise me whether he was comfortable or not comfortable with any of the six candidates, who had shown interest in the stool. That the President did not do that but engaged hawks, rotten eggs that we have in Kano, those who are being rejected by our people over the years and decided to go and cause the confusion, is shameful.
In selecting an Emir….
(Cuts in) The selection of an emir has nothing to do with the Presidency or the Federal Government of Nigeria; it is purely a state government affair. We heard so many stories including the fact that they should go and withdraw my security and still instigate some young men to go and burn the Government House and they tried that and we mobilised our people to protect us. The initial instruction they gave was that all my security men should be withdrawn but later on they reduced it to half. We thank the Almighty God that we are still alive and we thank the Almighty God that there is minimum destruction of property and many people were injured and it was purely done by those who announced the first decision of the Federal Government concerning the selection of a new emir. But the truth is that the more I think of the appointment of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the more I feel comfortable and happy because all the people who are friends to Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, the government and the good people of Kano State are very happy with his selection because he is qualified by all standards – educational standard, Islamic education and a proud grandson and son of an emir and all the qualities needed to appoint an emir, Sanusi Lamido has all of them in abundance. I believe he is the best. The truth is that some few people may not be happy with him and they want to do everything possible to create tension and crisis in the state but they seem to forget that crisis is not good for anybody especially leaders, because you can start it but you don’t know how it will end. We are a state government and we are determined to ensure that peace reigns in the state.
To maintain peace, what steps are being taken?
We are appealing to them to stop and allow Kano to remain in peace because we want a peaceful Kano. We have seen situations in the past where the government at various levels especially at the federal level tried to squeeze the government at the state level and the outcome has never been the best for the country. We are politicians and they are working hard to ensure that our states are on fire and certainly we will not fold our arms to watch that and we have one thousand and one ways of handling issues like this and I hope that they will understand so that we can work together for the peace and stability of this country. This country has sufficient crises now going by what is happening in the Northeast and the North in general and I don’t think we need additional crisis.
We have our responsibilities and they are very clear in the appointment of an emir and even those who are not comfortable with it should understand. They should try and cultivate good relations with us. I have always been telling them in Abuja to always consult us any time they want to make appointment in Kano and they have never consulted us for anything. This President has never consulted me on any appointment from Kano since he came into power even though I was in the same party with him. As far as this President is concerned the only qualification a person needs to possess to be appointed something by Jonathan is to be an enemy of Kwankwaso, the government and people of Kano State. That is what has been happening. Someone asked me don’t you know that the government does not like Sanusi and I said they did not tell me. I would have expected them to tell me what the problem is with Sanusi and we cannot work on suspicion, allegations and rumours. If you look at appointments from Kano they take time to look for the biggest enemies of the people and government of Kano State. If you doubt what I am saying go to the National Assembly and see the names they sent for confirmation and this is the man and other surrogates they are using to distribute money in order to cause confusion and crisis in Kano and I want to warn them to keep off from putting their fingers into the matter.
Was the selection of Sanusi political because there are allegations that you were under pressure from APC governors to make him the new emir? What was the business of the APC governors and chieftains in Kano at the time of the appointment of the new emir?
For those who know me, they know that nobody can put me under any pressure. By the grace of God, we have unlimited capacity to do things and I also go with my conscience and conviction in doing what I am doing. If something is right it is right and I will go ahead to do it whether it has to do with my party or not. If something is wrong it is wrong and I will not do it no matter who is involved. I can assure you that even in APC people have got different opinion about Sanusi. Some support him others don’t. So, it is not true that all members of APC back Sanusi. But the truth is that most of the people support Sanusi because he is qualified to become the emir of Kano. In all items, he emerged number one and therefore it is not right for anyone to say that there was any political consideration in his emergence. Maybe one can say that we need someone who is qualified to do the job and do it very well. In that wise, Sanusi is not only a known figure in Nigeria and Kano but is also an international figure. By his selection, I have been receiving calls from across the world congratulating me for the decision. And this is the sort of person you need as an emir – somebody who can project the image of the state and stand by the right thing and is contented with what he has; and not somebody who will be going to beg for alms from them.
You have also been accused of picking Sanusi as a trade off to get the APC ticket.
Sanusi is not a member of our party even though he is a progressive person, who wants to see progress in this country. I am sure Kano will reap from his wealth of his experience.
How many people were recommended to you by the Kano kingmakers?
In all, six people showed interest, three were recommended and presented and Sanusi was on the top of the list and as a result, we picked him. But let me tell you that is not even the issue: the governor has the right to take number one, two, or three or reject all and call for a fresh list. That is the position and nobody under the law can go and dictate to the state what it should do in appointing an emir. The problem we are facing is that we are not in PDP because recently there was vacancy in Gombe and nobody instigated any violence when the new emir was chosen. What they don’t know is that they are the absolute minority. Just before the last local government election, I called my kitchen cabinet to brainstorm on the election and some suggestions were made. But we said no, we have to do a free and fair election to show where we are. One of my officers told me that from his baseline studies, the APC has more than 92 percent support base in the state and that if the election was done, we would win with such a huge margin. The man said if we don’t win with such a margin hold me responsible and we took it and went for the polls. As the results show, we vindicated the man. But now they are instigating violence against the majority in Kano. We are in government in Kano and cannot go to demonstrate against ourselves. But now we have gone to the drawing board to see how we can counter this challenge in the state and Jonathan.
What is responsible for the new Emir operating from the Government House instead of the palace?
My information is that they are trying to withdraw security from the Government House; the whole palace is also being surrounded by security agents. But the good thing is that all the district heads, village heads and imams and the people of Kano State are 100 percent behind Sanusi Lamido.
Is it possible to rescind the appointment of Lamido given the spate of demonstrations against his emergence?
You see I told you earlier that the more I think about the appointment of Sanusi, the more I feel that we did the right thing. Everybody who is a friend and who is objective is supporting this appointment. If you look at it very well, you will see that it is only the enemies of the government and the enemies of the people of Kano State that are organising the protest and going for destruction because they are worried that we have the right person to do the job.
But did you consult the Sultan before the appointment?
Yes, we had discussion with the Sultan but not on who should be appointed as the new emir. It is our responsibility to appoint an emir and I am yet to discuss with the Sultan after the appointment. But you see because of their selfishness, even people who have no business with the matter especially from the side of our enemies, you hear them saying they don’t agree with the selection. It is none of their business because selecting an emir is different from electing a councilor, chairman or president. In that case, you are looking for an opinion of people and they take decision, they cast their votes and decide on who will rule them. But in this case it has nothing to do with people, federal government or its agencies. Here you have only four people who will advise you and at the end of the day you take a decision and you don’t even have to take from the number of those recommended. So, I don’t see any conflict there. People are just fomenting trouble in Kano for nothing. As I have always said, governors in a democracy are very important; masses and even the ordinary man on the street are very important and you have to carry them along in whatever you do as a government. We are not tools that you just keep so that any time you want to use them you just go and pick. You have to cultivate relationship and nurture it.
Have you received any petitions from any of the princes against the new emir?
Petition against what! If the man is not qualified you can say so and we look at the requirements. But he is one of the six that applied and he was recommended and I approved and where is the problem and what is the basis of the petition?
So, are you saying that if Lamido’s name was not on the list, would you have gone for him?
Well, in this case, he applied and was selected and I approved so there is no reason to go back to what did not happen.
The President accused you of not supporting him during his election and for not delivering the stipends meant for delegates in your state during the primary election. Why did you do that to the President? In fact he stopped short of calling you a bad person or a thief.
Well, it was not the first time the President would be calling me a bad man. But he made me very popular during that visit. The point is that if he gave me money to give to delegates and I did not give to them, is it Mr. President who should complain or the delegates? As long as he gave the money to the delegates it belongs to them and I have not heard any of the delegates complain. And the issue of I did not vote for him and so on, I don’t understand him. If he had known the circumstances of Kano he would have spoken well about me in Kano and that would have finished me but since he does not have the history and geography of this country and Kano and he has some folks in Abuja who will benefit from those who hate me, he should carry on. Some of these people have been fighting on ideological issues long before he joined politics. He just inherited them and these are the minorities in politics.
Look at even the day he came to Kano when the Nyanya bomb blast coincided with the abduction of the Chibok girls. Look at all that happened. Even the international community was unhappy. I don’t think the President scored any point in coming to Kano at the time he did.
And who were the leaders he came with to Kano? Just three governors who are my friends and colleagues went to Kano with him that day. I knew them long before Jonathan came into politics. Where were the rest? They are not with him as far as Kwankwaso is concerned. And we communicate and we are not fighting. So, the issue is not what he said but the issue is what is on the ground by always making us very popular, including the current attempt to politicise the appointment of a new emir because people are asking what is the business of the Federal Government or PDP in the matter to the extent that they are using security and everything to create crisis in the state. We have enough crises in this country and when Kano boils it would be a big problem for this country. He should thank us for working with the security agencies to ensure peace. But now we are seeing an attempt by them to induce crisis because of Sanusi, our choice, and because we have done our duty as stipulated by the law. And as I told the six contenders, I wish I had more than one slot to give but in this case, there is only one slot that had to be filled and that is it. It is not the duty of the PDP or the Presidency to approve such appointment and if there is the post of the Emir of Nigeria let them appoint that one and leave us alone.
Last week in Ekiti, the President said he was not missing the five of you who defected to the APC and that none of you can win election in your respective wards.
I did not hear that but if indeed, he said that he might have been joking or just floating and does not know what is happening in the country. But I saw the photograph of the dress he wore to Ekiti and he was looking like Kwankwansiya with red cap and white gown. But when he went to Kano maybe in a bid to annoy us, he was talking about the cap he was wearing and said that anyone wearing the cap was a devil. But that is not what I said. The point I made and have been saying is that when we started the party in 1999, we had a big umbrella accommodating everybody but along the line, since he became the President he has reduced the umbrella to a small hat which he is wearing now for himself and probably for his godfather, Edwin Clark. That is what I said but I have friends, who are wearing the cap and some are in APC and others in PDP and others in no political parties. But I am happy now that he is wearing Kwankwasiya dress like he did in Ekiti.
Are you keen on running as a Presidential candidate in APC because your name keeps popping up as one of the interested candidates?
Let me at this point thank Mr. President for making me very popular and relevant because when I was in PDP I was nothing. Even to present my ticket to me after winning the primary was a tough fight. They did not want to give me the ticket after wining more than 90 percent of the votes. That is PDP for you. But now I am in a party and I have not told even my wife and father or anybody under the sun that I am going to contest for the post of President and that people are mentioning my name as a likely candidate tells you much about our new party. It is the party that makes the difference. Even to get the ticket to become governor in PDP they did not want to give me. Now, I am just sitting here and you say people are mentioning my name; I thank the Almighty God for this promotion and popularity.
Do you still feel safe with the reduction in the number of your security men by the Federal Government? Are you not going to plead with them to restore your security?
Well, I know that they are playing a lot of games. We don’t know their intention and what they are going to do next. But I have to say like all other people in this country everybody is concerned about his security otherwise our lives are in the hands of the Almighty God. But the bottom line is that we have seen a signal that there is a level of mischief coming from other places and I want to put it on record that whatever happens to me, my family or my state, Jonathan should be held responsible.