Saturday, January 11, 2014

2015: Buhari Should Anoint Kwankwaso –Salah Jili


Comrade Saleh Jili, in the course of his membership in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kano State was the secretary of the party’s state elders committee.
He was also an ex-officio member of the North West Zone’s executive committee of the PDP. In this interview, which dwells on a number of topical issues, he told DESMOND MGBOH of the need for General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) to stand down his presidential ambition of the All Progressive Congress (APC) for the Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. Excerpts:
How do you assess the recent defection to All Progressive Congress (APC) by the aggrieved new PDP governors, including the Kano State Governor, Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso?What is the implication for democracy in Nigeria?
Well, I think that it is the best political decision that these governors have taken in their political history, especially as it relates to the governor of Kano State. I definitely would not have advised him to act otherwise or to go in a different political direction or path, given the issues in dispute between these governors and our former party. The truth is that at some point, the dispute had reach a point where something must give in, either the party accept their demands or they must go elsewhere if they are to remain alive politically.
The conflict, as you know, was worsened by the stubborn stance of the PDP national secretariat. Do not forget that there were several efforts to get the national secretariat of the party to listen to their challenges, to come to the table and resolve the issues, but as is typical of the PDP, all the cries by the well-meaning members of the party did not melt their hardened hearts, all the public pleas were ignored despite their knowledge of the fact that politics is dynamic and certain changes are inevitable.
So, I will be the last person to sympathize with them and I will surely be the first person to celebrate with our courageous governors for defecting. For us in Kano, it was the very best move, a dream joker because once again in typical Kwankwassiyya masterstroke, he has realigned the party to the desire of the ordinary people of the state. As you can see, the people here are naturally more at home with a non-PDP party and APC is just the right place to be for us.
What is the reception like for you people moving in to join APC in Kano State? How have you been coping? Let me say that it is too early to say with exactitude what the future holds but that notwithstanding, I will say that our defection to the APC has been welcome by some members of the party despite a few protest against the position of Engineer Rabiu Kwankwaso as the leader of the party. Yes, I know that there are a few hitches here and there regarding those who are opposed to this decision.
Yes, I know that there are these Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau people or loyalists, who are complaining and protesting in Abuja. But seen generally, I want to state here that there are far more people who are home with Kwankwaso as the leader of the party than those who are opposed to him. Do forget that the other day the members of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change of the APC in Kano State, led all their leaders to the Government House to pledge their allegiance to Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
If I remember that delegation included the like of their gubernatorial candidate, Brigadier General Jafaru Isa (rtd),the former deputy governor of the state, Engr. Magaji Abudullahi, Alhaji Aliyu Danmaraya, Alhaji Haruna Ungoggo, Alhaji Sabo Nanono and Alhaji Hamisu Buhari among others. So, you see, I can rightly argue that the party we are going to is happy to receive us. And in all fairness, they have every reason to be happy with our coming. Their fortune, individually and collectively, have been boosted by the admission of the governors to their party. They would be in better position to defeat their rivals in their political areas because they would be drawing from the enormous goodwill of Engineer Kwankwaso in Kano State.
A number of persons have argued against Kwankwaso as the state leader of APC in Kano on the grounds that Shekarau is a former governor of the state and a prominent personality in the APC merger deal. Is it fair to now efface him and his contributions by subordinating him to Kwankwaso? I also want you to see it from another perspective, the perspective that a few critics often elect to forget. And which is that politically speaking, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau is actually junior to Kwankwaso if we go by the fact that he succeeded Kwankwaso as a governor; if we go by the fact that Kwankwaso has a better political pedigree, which spans from being a deputy speaker of the House of Representatives to being a former Minister of Defence and so on.
So, if we must rank the political achievements of both men, Kwankwaso had been in politics long before Shekarau’s accidental plunge. Kwankwso has more trophies and Kwankwaso is better manager of men and resources. I think those who want to deploy seniority as basis of their argument must employ all the facts, rather than select them, and make sure they see the dynamics correctly.
What has been the relationship between Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and General Muhammadu Buhari since joining the APC as a party? From the distance of where I am at present, I can say that it has never been this cordial. Both men are enjoying a very frank and open relationship politically. Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso respects him for his age, his experience and his accomplishments. He is such a gentleman that you cannot afford to respect him.
And I want to speculate that General Buhari equally respects our governor for so many reasons including the devotion and dedication with which Kwankwaso had approach the issues of statecraft in his beloved state- Kano. These two heavyweight politicians, I am sure, are working together for the good of the people. They are talking all the time and they are thinking for us. And I must tell you that they are lucky to be together, because they almost think alike on such topics like corruption, bad governance, morality and even politics. So, given their shared visions on a number of subject matters, it has been very easy for them to locate the problems and agree between themselves on how to solve the problems.
I am honestly happy for the turn of events. We are also happy with how General Buhari, as one of the leaders of the APC, is piloting the affairs of the party and the result is self-evident given the wave of defection that is being recorded in the party across the country. We hope that General Buhari would do something more as a statesman, we hope that he would kindly drop his presidential aspiration and pass on the baton to his political godson, Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
That is our most fervent and ardent prayers. General Buhari would do better from the point of guidance and support to Kwankwaso. He, as an elder, as a former Head of State, I am sure that if he puts up Kwankwaso in the presidency and stays back to guide him through the paths, I think that Nigeria would be better served that way. Don’t forget that this people – or let me say that a person like General Buhari is not in the democratic struggle for any personal benefit. He is there to liberate the masses and I think that this one more sacrifice for the people is not going to be too heavy for the General.
You were recently deployed to your councils to sell APC to the people in the rural areas. What is the experience like for you and your colleagues?
His Excellency, Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso had directed all his immediate lieutenants to immediately return to their local government areas to canvass for support, but most importantly to enlighten them on the defection to the new party. For me, it was a life time experience. I am from Rimi Gado. We held a bigg rally. We even aired life. What we did was that we made sure that we involved all the three dissolved parties in the area namely ANPP, CPC and A C N and you cannot imagine the turnout of people that flooded the venue of the rally. All their leaders came on the stand to make very touching statements.
What do you want in APC, elective or party position?
I am in politics to serve the people and ,therefore, I don’t really have a choice of my own. It is whatever the people want, and not what I want. Also, as a very loyal politician to His Excellency, Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, I think I will be looking up to whatever he wants or whichever capacity he deems it necessary for me to serve in the new dispensation, under the APC. You see, he has a very good idea of our competence and he knows the challenges better than any of us. So, he is in a better position to decide my future in the new dispensation. Hence, whatever position he assigns to me in the APC, is good enough. I assure him that I will do my best.

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