The controversy that trailed the CPC governorship ticket in Kano during the 2011 elections is said to be the major factor that militated against your victory. What lessons have you learnt from that crisis?
At that particular period, many things happened but the most important thing now is that it has become history. It reminds me of how some people who claimed to be leaders while they were not went to declare themselves as candidates without necessarily following the rules of the game, they declared themselves as winners of the primary election, while they did not win it. And they went to court, causing all that had happened. The scenario has shown us that up till today, the ethics of democracy have not been fully understood by most of us that are calling ourselves politicians. These people are actually not supposed to lead, because they have violated many cultural ethics. They lack the capacity to serve their nation or state, as the case may be. From the 2011 elections, I have learnt to do the best I could in trying to cover all fronts. I will not assume things to the extent that I will be thinking that everybody is sincere and quite nationalistic. I came to know that people can be very self-centered and very untruthful on what they do and so I am careful. And right now I am trying to see how I can assuage the situation in such a way that the Kano situation I went through in 2011 does not repeat itself.
Your jingles are dominating the airwaves of local radio stations here in Kano, yet you are ambivalent about your ambition, what is really the matter?
No, it is not so. As we all know, INEC has not brought out the electoral guidelines on 2015 and I made it clear that it is not yet time for one to declare his intention and if actually someone is doing this to offer leadership, he would be seen to be contravening the law of the supervising establishment, INEC. So I am very mindful of this and I am still consulting and talking to friends. But about the jingles you said, they are not from me directly. The jingles are coming from supporters, those who are calling on me to vie for the governorship seat in Kano State, come 2015. But that decision hasn’t been reached by me, I am still looking at it and consulting and looking at the possibility or otherwise.
Only recently, reports in the state metropolis had it that the incumbent governor has said he would be succeeded by one of the aspirants in his political movement, Kwankwasiyya, how would this affect your aspiration?
In the first place, you know I am a Muslim by birth and by practice and I’m of the conviction that it is Almighty Allah that actually controls everything. I don’t believe that anyone could decide on issues such as this just by the simplicity of wearing a particular colour of cap, but to follow the criteria of good leadership or the criteria of good performance. So he as an individual is free to make his comments and make his statement, it is allowed in this country. I see no problem in that and I think his statements are within the bounds of his understanding.
Are you not afraid that the governor may decide to impose somebody on the people of the state?
I do not think he will do that. I believe actually he has done a lot of work in Kano and one of the things he will want is to bequeath the state to somebody who is capable to carry on from where he stopped and somebody who will be able to move the state forward, just as he tried to do in his own way. I think this is most important to him because after all he vied to be governor of Kano State because Kano means a lot to him. This is his own state, this is where he has his history.
So I don’t think he would want to belittle Kano or actually make Kano to regress. You know his performance, he has been a progressive type and I believe actually he will look for a progressive mind and somebody of proven capacity, somebody who has pedigree to move the state forward from where he stopped.
What do you intend doing different from what governor Kwankwaso is doing?
Well, he is doing a lot of work like I said and many of the things that he is doing I admire them quite alright. I am not going to say that I am going to do things differently because the idea is how do you encourage continuity? One of the problems we have in this country is that we always try to encourage discontinuity whereby any government that comes would like to look at things differently from where they had been and this has been at great cost to the state and to the people because a lot of money has been invested in the projects. So I think first of all, you need to look at what he has done and to look closely at how he has done them and that would be a guide on how to go about doing further projects or what not to do or change something a little or continue with something. That is the best way to continue so as to allow the state to benefit and the people to reap greater benefits from its resources.
Why do you want to be governor of Kano State?
Because I believe very strongly that I have something to offer in helping Kano State to move forward in many aspects from agriculture to commerce to health and also security. As a military man, if I’m given the opportunity, I will be able to do something that will help the state on this issue of security challenge that has been facing the nation.
Weeks ago, tension was high among APC members in Kano following the endorsement of Kwankwaso for President against the wish of the people that are pro-Buhari. How did you feel?
In the first place, as far as I am concerned, I have not heard where Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso stated that he is contesting the position of president of Nigeria. Of course, I know of many people that came out calling on him to contest, he himself has made mention that he is consulting. So I am waiting to see when he will declare his stand on this issue and don’t forget that as a citizen of Nigeria, at his age and his level, he is free to declare his intention to vie for something. But what I know is that among all those who want to contest for the position of president of Nigeria, not only in APC but in all other political parties, I am yet to see somebody who has better credentials and records, who can do better in office, who actually has better followership than His Excellency, General Muhammadu Buhari. After a careful assessment, I think from what the situation has been in the country, starting from insecurity down to issue of integrity in the country, I think General Muhammadu Buhari has better credentials for us to believe that he is in the better position to deal with the cancerous issues that have been our problems for many years today.
But people are saying that he has contested thrice and that now a younger person should be allowed to contest…..
The issue is leadership, not age. Leadership actually depends on capacity and contesting three times is not a big deal. I have seen leaders who have contested more than three times. President Clinton of the United States of America contested the Arkansas governor about five times before he became governor. He turned out to be the best President in that country today. So I do not see that contesting three times should be a big issue and besides don’t forget in all the contests he has been to court. Going to court after election means that there is an aggrieved party and if there is an aggrieved party it means that the aggrieved parties are not satisfied with the way the elections were conducted. I want to believe as many people believe that somewhere along the line General Buhari won those elections not once, not twice. But somehow he was not declared the winner for whatever reason, I cannot say.
How best do you think the president can tackle the security challenges bedevilling the nation?
Well, with due respect, I think the president is properly positioned to be advised by his myriad of advisers starting from the military and police to the security elements in the country. So, I believe he has somewhere he can receive better advise than I can give him in this regard. But if you want to know my view, I believe that this issue has been with us for too long and the federal government and the president should do everything possible to bring it under control, so that we can have peace and tranquility in our great country, Nigeria.
How worried are you about the taking over of some parts of the country by insurgents?
Of course, I’m very worried as a Nigerian and I feel humiliated over this because I know the capacity of our soldiers, having been in the service myself, and I can attest to their performance, also having been at the United Nations where I supervised military personnel in different parts of the world, where they performed and got laurels and a lot of praises. Today, switching here at home is becoming nebulous for us to control. This is of serious concern to me and I am praying that we will soon get to the bottom of it and address it because I know that our military has the capacity and courage to deal with any situation, including this insurgency.
This interview would be incomplete without you talking about the 12 soldiers that were sentenced to death over alleged mutiny in Borno State. How do you see the judgment?
I don’t have much to say on this because I have not read the case file. I don’t know what the prosecutor has presented; I don’t know what the defense has presented. I don’t know what was before the learned court martial. So it would be very speculative of me to express any kind of opinion on what I have very little knowledge about. But it is a sad situation; one would wish it never happened. But I am not in the position to say exactly what happened other than what has been reported by the media and it all depends on what media is reporting and what is the inclination of that media. So, it is very difficult to make comments on this, I am sorry.
During your time as a military man, Nigeria excelled in military missions and peace-keeping abroad. Suddenly, things changed. Where did we go wrong?
Sincerely speaking, I want to believe that it is not only the military that is having challenges in Nigeria today but all aspects of human endeavours. Name it, health delivery system to education, commerce to industries. Totally, our situation is becoming so difficult to understand and given the fact that Nigerians are hard working people and we have highly intelligent people all over the world, there is nowhere you cannot find Nigerians excelling. Why has this happened? I have so many points to advance on this to the extent that it is a question of debate and from where are you looking at it and who are you speaking with? But the thing that you cannot argue is that we have challenges in all aspects of human endeavour in the country.