…Laments lack of capacity in this regime
…Speaks on how to tackle corruption and insecurity lInsists poor economy is a symptom of other failures
By JideAjani, General Editor
Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso joined the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in 1998, and became Kano State governor in 1999.
In 2003, he lost the bid for second term in somewhat complicated circumstances to a teacher, Ibrahim Shekarau; and then President Obasanjo appointed him minister of defence. By 2007, he represented the North West geo-political zone in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. He returned to win the governorship in 2011 on the platform of the PDP but, in 2014, he left PDP and moved into the All Progressives Congress, APC, on what has now become a forlorn expectation to effect change. He, along with four other PDP governors joined the APC and dealt serious blows to the PDP.
According to him, the raw deal he got in PDP during the primaries in his home-base, Kano, this year, coupled with some other factors, made him dump the party to join the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP. But contrary to thinking in some quarters, the NNPP is not a new party. In fact, the party was registered about 21 years ago but the movement of Kwankwaso into the party and as its presidential candidate birthed fresh life into it.
Kwankwaso wants to become Nigeria’s president next year – although he sought the APC ticket in 2014 but lost to Buhari.
He’s a man of few words. The following are his thoughts on how to drive the ship of the Nigerian state, leaning more on his achievements as governor of Kano State. He can be held down to what he has promised to do in the areas of education, anti-corruption, security, economy, among others, in the event that he wins the 2023 presidential election.
Failure of APC & PDP, and the strength of NNPP
Here we are, having tried to convince both APC and PDP in terms of good management of the party and of course the government itself, it’s like all what we are praying for could not be achieved so, many of our colleagues, many of our friends thought that there should be need to bring something new. All we want is to have good democracy, good elections, good parties and good government. That’s why we thought another choice should be given to Nigerians. We have seen the performance of PDP for 16years. And we are now seeing the performance of this party, APC, and we thought things have to change, from economy, to security, education and other things that have to do with the lives of Nigerians and that’s why I, along with other friends from across the country and millions of others decided to move into NNPP. And we are giving hope to those who do not want APC or PDP.
Unfortunately the change that we believed was the best for Nigeria turned out to be the opposite. That really, in the interest of the country, in 2019, we should effect another change. We did our best going by the votes, but for obvious reasons, Buhari had to continue.
The NNPP is based on the talakawa (masses), voters and good people of this country who believe in us. Nigerians know the APC and the PDP very well and they’ve failed. The two political parties themselves know that they’ve failed. The only chance they have is to buy votes. That’s what we’ve seen in Ekiti State. The masses don’t want the PDP or the APC again. The people want a change. Nobody is happy with insecurity, the level of poverty; nobody is happy with the entire happenings in this country and it is because of these challenges that the NNPP, by the grace of God, will win the 2023 presidential election.
The New Nigeria People’s Party was registered about 21 years ago, and before we joined the party about four months ago many people knew very little or nothing about it. However, since our group, the Kwankwasiyya movement and the national movement, joined the NNPP, the party has become a household name. We’re everywhere.
All these issues are intertwined and the issue of the economy is a product of other failures in this country. Of course, we will assemble the best brains we can find in this country and even beyond to sit down and handle the issue of the economy together with us because we have seen areas where FG has already failed, we have seen areas that require improvements and, therefore, we will work together with all those stakeholders based on professional advice on the economy. Right now, we have a committee that is studying the situation on the ground so that we can move very fast. Like you know, setting up government structures was one of the problems we had with the APC government in its failure to quickly appoint ministers until after about six months. This time around, and like I did in 2011, within a week, we were able to inaugurate our state assembly and that same week we were able to send the names of our commissioners to the assembly for screening. And we had our first Exco Meeting that same day of inauguration.
We all know what is happening in terms of the Ministries, Departments, Agencies, MDAs. It’s like everybody is operating his own country and money is being pumped especially now that most of the money is now borrowed. And it’s most unfortunate that it’s like nobody is supervising to make sure that whatever that is sent to those places is utilized effectively for the people of this country.
It’s a sad story that a government will borrow money and spend it on recurrent expenditure. And that explains, really, how bad the economy is being managed. In addition to the economy itself is the issue of infrastructure especially the electricity, the roads, the rail-lines and so on that can allow people and goods to be transported from one point to the another.
If you look at what we have done in Kano in 1999 – the records are there – we had a huge burden of debt and before 2003, not only were we able to pay the debts but we were able to do projects and programmes that were good enough to be compared to the eight years after our regime. When I also came back in 2011, my predecessor and successor took both local and international loans and before four years, we were able to pay the entire debts and did projects in areas ranging from security to education, agriculture and other infrastructure. What I left in 2015 was zero debt for Kano.
I am sure you don’t know that for the eight years I was governor, I never borrowed one naira from anybody.
What we need is the prudent management of resources. I don’t see any reason why our government will go on borrowing all over the world. This means our future, including that of our children, is already sold to Europeans and Americans; that means whatever they are going to do in the future, their hands are tied. We are told that whatever we are borrowing today is equivalent to what we are paying as interest tomorrow.
So, it is unfortunate that leaders in this country are so careless and sometimes very selfish. They take money from everywhere without accountability. Unfortunately, these loans are to be paid in hard currency.
When I was governor, in 2003, Kano was not indebted to anybody in this county or anyone or anywhere in the world. When I came back in 2011, I settled the money borrowed by successive governments in four years and did all that you are seeing today in Kano. So, the management of resources is very key. Now, we have the federal and state governments borrowing money, when I know and I have proved it that there is no need to borrow for governance. So, all these things put together is the meaning of Kwankwasiyya.
My experience in government both at state and national level has shown that lack of capacity is the problem. Capacity to plug the areas of wastage.
There is enough money in this country to the extent that if we decide to do the right thing, we are not likely to borrow money from anybody.
As governor (1999/2003) and as minister of defence (2003/2007), it was clear that chief Obasanjo paid back our debt and left the economy on a clean slate.
It is doable to have a Marshall plan once the issue of corruption is tackled positively and I can tell you in this country we have good people in all LGAs.
You only need good leadership that can lead by example. Civil servants are very flexible. If you come with an agenda of corruption, they will help you and guide you to succeed in that direction . But if you come as a credible person and you’re upright, civil servants can always change and support whatever agenda you bring at all levels. The issue of corruption is a cankerworm and it is a big issue which we can tackle and tackle successfully.
It’s very sad that we found ourselves in this terrible mess where corruption now is the order of the day in ministries, departments and agencies. And that has even trickled down in almost everywhere now even the ordinary people are thinking of how to cheat each other. I think these are the areas that must be addressed.
Talking about the economy, one cankerworm that eats deep into the economy and drains the system is corruption. And some people feel they are sacred cows, that they can’t be touched.
Security affects everything in our lives. It affects education, religion, economy, agriculture; it affects all aspects of our lives and that is why we cannot afford to take the issue of insecurity with levity. Especially in the North, the other parts of the country are not going to wait for us in the area of development that is why we should put our differences aside and work together for a sustainable solution to the issue of insecurity
We live in a country where victims of insecurity are constantly being ignored while still being accused of exaggeration, lying, or both. The APC proved to be worse than the PDP; that’s why I left and almost everyone is disturbed about the ruling party’s inability to tackle certain challenges that the nation is facing currently which include insecurity and a failing economy. These are the two major problems that we are facing in Nigeria, in addition to poor education, which no one is even talking about.
If you look at the issue of security which is very critical now because most people are finding it difficult to move from Point A to Point B, not only in the northern part of the country, even in the south, it’s a big issue. We have the issue of people going to the villages to destroy the places, picking up people in their houses, on the road and so on. So, that reminds me of my association with the military as their minister.
I believe that with the right political will from the leadership in the country, with the supply of arms, ammunition and the other equipment with good provision for the welfare of our armed forces and of course, our other security agencies, I have no doubts that the military has got the capacity we require for them to finish all what is happening today.
Our military still remains competent and regarded as the best on the continent, going by their performances in peacekeeping missions on the continent and beyond. The challenge of insecurity in the country today is one that requires the support of everyone, irrespective of political party or tribe.
Any right thinking Nigerian and friends of Nigeria must condemn what is happening in the North today. We need a united and strong Nigeria where everyone goes about his or her legitimate business without fear.
Government should be more serious about security. As a former minister of defence, I never thought insecurity would go this low in this country within a short period of time. I always sit down to ask myself ‘how did we find ourselves in this mess?’ But as we always say, our issue is leadership
We live in a country where victims of unemployment are accused of laziness, where universities and other tertiary education institutions are frequently being shut down for months, and our children’s future being jeopardised while leaders are busy throwing out hundreds of millions of Naira to purchase party forms.
My major concern is education.
Education, education and education, but that does not mean we are stopping there. What I meant is that education is the key and in Kano State, we have done so well in almost all the areas that we can remember. My major concern is education. Education is my priority and we believe also in creating job opportunities for people. In Kano, we used education to tackle insecurity. This is where and how we tackled the issue of insecurity in Kano State. We invested heavily in education. Educate the people and you get them off the streets.
Aside from primary and secondary school education, we also established 24 different institutes in the state, ranging from institute of film, reformation and sports among others.
Even in Agriculture, we were told that a bag of fertilizer is more than N30,000 now. I am not sure if people have got that money to buy. The minimum wage is N30,000. So, your salary can only purchase a bag of fertilizer which is very unrealistic. So, I think there is a lot of work to be done. That’s why we are putting our heads together now to convince Nigerians to vote for us because we have the capacity, the experience, we have done it before and I am sure if we have an opportunity, this time around, we can even do better. If you cannot feed the people, what are you in government for? With good management of resources, we can grow agriculture in such a way that our export earnings will be so huge compared to what we have now.
Ineptitude and lack of empathy have dealt a damaging blow on Nigerians as even arrogance and sense of entitlement have further widened the fault lines in our country, and their attitude towards the core functions of the government are causing a dangerous escalation of insecurity, uncontrollable inflation, scandalous unemployment statistics among the collapse of the tertiary education system and the general collapse of social services.
You see, from our own experience in Kano, once you have a good government, strong government for that matter and one that keeps its eyes on what is happening in the ministries, departments and agencies, there won’t be any problem. People will key in. One area which is very key in fighting corruption is the civil service. You find out that if you go as a governor or President, if they know you are very serious about fighting corruption, you will find everybody keying into the programme of fighting corruption. If they realize that you are corrupt and ready to condone corruption, they will even teach you how to do it. And from our experience in Kano, we can say comfortably that these people are very flexible. The same people, they get corrupt persons to help them. The same people, if they are sure that that is not your area, will keep off and support you to succeed. They supported us to succeed.
Let us come together and work towards healing our country. We must endeavor to face the challenges of the moment, rise together and work together to build the Nigeria of our dreams. I like people of the South-East so much that even this Kwankwasiyya you hear, many thought it is Okonkwo and Sons. They said because an Hausa man can’t say Okonkwo and sons, he now turned it to Kwankwaso.