Bello: This is not a war but a campaign of violence
Hon. Ibrahim Bello Rigachikun, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC was the Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Cooperation and Integration in Africa/NEPAD in the 7th National Assembly and is presently a private legal practitioner. He is also the National Chairman of the Buhari Like-Minds Movement of Nigeria. In this interview, with Vanguard’s Dirisu Yakubu, he bares his mind on the lingering feud between Governor Nasir El-Rufai and Senator Shehu Sani, the Southern Kaduna killings among other issues.
What is the problem between Governor Nasir El-Rufai and Senator Shehu Sani?
A lot of people love our party in Kaduna State, and it is very unfortunate that this is happening today. We expect these two highly respected men to reconcile their differences especially since elections are over. But in my perspective, I often say that this is the first time in Nigeria political history that four or five political parties would merge forces into a single political platform that ultimately became what we call the APC today.
Do not forget that Comrade Shehu Sani came from the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) while Nasir El-Rufai came from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
You see, each man is protecting his political structure and I believe the leadership of the party in the state which could not comply with the manifesto and constitution of the APC is partly to blame.
For instance, the party constitution makes it clear that when a seat is vacant, filling same should not be automatic but that election should hold. The Deputy Governor of Kaduna State was the Chairman of the APC in the State, and he became the Deputy Governor. The Secretary of the party became a Commissioner and is now the Chief of Staff to the Governor. So, the flagrant disobedience of the laid procedures by the party became a huge challenge at the onset. So, if there had been reconciliation with those seats legitimately filled, I do not think these problems would arise today.
We, the stakeholders have shown concern by drawing the attention of the party leadership in the state to what is happening because if things continue this way, we may have problems in 2019.
Whether we like it or not, we need the cooperation of the governor, and that of the senator for they both have their strength. I must say that I am convinced that sooner than later, the two would reconcile their differences in the interest of the party.
Has there been any conscientious effort by stakeholders to bring the two together?
It has been quite difficult to bring them together because the leadership of the party at the State level is not strong enough. The party leadership has not been able to broker the peace largely because of this. It would be very heartwarming if they can sheathe their swords to keep the peace.
This is a crisis that ought to have been over two or three months after the elections, but here we are. Like I said, it is time to put their differences aside, and those who can call the senator and the governor to order should please do so now. But politically, some people are quite happy that the two men are fighting each other because that in itself is a source of food for them.
Do not forget that when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. It is rather unfortunate that people like us are no longer seen as relevant because were the reverse the case, we should have waded in to settle this matter a long time ago.
The only option is reconciliation but as things stand today, the opposition is very happy with what is happening to us, and they are praying for peace to elude us from now till 2019 when another round of elections would take place.
Governor El-Rufai was once quoted as saying that he has identified and paid off some people from neighbouring countries instigating the killings in Southern Kaduna, but there is still no solution?
Well, the governor may have put in his best in trying to quell the violence rattling that axis, but at the same time, it is very possible that those he compensated may not be the ones responsible for the killings. If you remember a few years ago, some people even claimed to be members of Boko Haram and succeeded in duping the immediate past government, all in an attempt to end the insurgency. But when President Buhari came, he vowed not to have any dealing with any individual or group until he’s sure that they were the real Boko Haram.
So when dialogue began, there was this confidence that something positive would happen and that culminated in the release of some of the girls a few weeks ago. Like I said, the governor may have dealt with the wrong people because I believe that if those guys who were paid some compensation were actually responsible for the killings, they won’t come back to unleash more violence.
Yes, there are criticisms against the approach adopted by the governor, but we should understand that no chief security officer of a state would fold hands in the event of such killings within his State without doing anything.
So, in his quest to restore peace, he embraced the window of hope but which unfortunately failed to work.
Do you share the argument particularly by the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) that most of the victims of the killings are Christians?
This is the most unfortunate thing about this tragedy. Tribe and religion have nothing to do with what is happening in Southern Kaduna. When these killers come to unleash terror, they don’t look for Christians or Muslims. They carried out their assignment and ran away. This is not a war but a campaign of violence by some unscrupulous elements.
So, let’s stop the blame game and help the government in its effort to bring about lasting peace to the troubled zone. If we must see the end of this problem, I plead with our leaders to stop sectionalizing issues by tribe and religion because this would not help us.
Are you impressed with the ongoing fight against corruption given claims it is sectional?
I don’t share the belief that the fight against corruption by the present administration is a selective one. Without a person like Muhammadu Buhari in the saddle, I don’t think we would be where we are today. No past administration attempted what the present administration is doing today in the effort to make Nigeria a corruption-free nation.