Gov. Kwankwaso Spits Fire, Say Jang and His Gang Are Playing Elementary Politics
The ongoing verbal war Governor Musa Kwankwaso of Kano state and governors in the faction of the Jonah Jang led faction of the Nigerian Governors’ forum over the outcome of the recently held election may not be over any time soon.
Earlier last week, the governor berated Governors Gabriel Suswam of Benue state and Isa Yuguda of Bauchi state over their decision to quit the Northern Governors Forum, saying the two governors have made the greatest political mistakes of their lives.
As expected, the two governors—Gabriel Suswam and Isa Yuguda responded to Kwankwaso’s statement calling him a betrayal.
In what seem an apparent response to the outburst of the two governors, Governor Musa Kwankwaso who is not known to talk much spits fire back to Governors Suswam and Yuguda, describing them as novice in politics.
Read excerpts of the governor’s statement:
In The Beginning
I had the chance to be a governor in 1999 when the Fourth Republic started. And I am also happy to say that I participated actively in electing our first chairman, the then governor of Nassarawa State, Alhaji Abdulahhi Adamu who has always been my friend. I and very few others decided to nominate him and he was eventually elected. It was just like any other game and everyone was happy. The day was like any other game to us because we were able to elect somebody we respected, loved and liked. He was NGF chairman until 2003 when I left.
As you know this time around 2011, I was elected governor again and I realized that just before I came in, they elected the NGF chairman, which was Governor Rotimi Amaechi. As far as I am concerned, Amaechi is a good man. He has respect for all of us and I remember when I was member of NDDC, anytime I went to Port Harcourt, all that we needed to do was for my special assistant to phone them to tell them. He never allowed me to sleep in any hotel. I was always in government house, its presidential wing and I was treated like what it should be. And we kept on having good relationship and Gods-willing I became governor and we are in the same forum.
Source of NGF Crisis
You see, early this year when there was a meeting, he (Amaechi) raised the issue of election. And somebody said he should continue. Many of us supported but others said no. The constitution was brought, all sought of argument were brought in, at the end of the day, it was decided that it should be postponed because the constitution of the forum has given specific days’ notice. I think three days that must be given to all members and at that time, three days were not given and we all accepted, even those who were supporting him.
Another date was fixed and we all came in for the election, unfortunately, there were people who were desperately trying to kick against the election because they thought Amaechi will win. Now that election didn’t take place again especially when some people brought in an issue that we just had weeks to the handover day and people decided to say look, if we have an election, it means, you have to hand over, they said there was no problem, yet it was decided because of the desperation of some people to postpone the election again.
Along the line, some people suggested that PDP should have a leadership, and then many people thought there is linkage between that election and of course the appointment of the NGF chairman. Of course we now have chairman of PDP Governors Forum and we met immediately after the appointment of the chairman. Let me say that, at that meeting, we made it very clear that we are determined to ensure democracy in this country and if there is no democracy in Governors’ Forum, I begin to wonder where we can have democracy in this country.
And many people don’t understand how angry many people are. Many people here in Abuja don’t understand how committed we are to ensure democracy in this country. We are not even talking of governors’ forum. So we decided to stick to our guns.
What actually played out?
During the meeting of the PDP Governors’ Forum, we made the point, but you see, after the meeting we decided to call the Northern Governors Forum meeting. We sat down at the Benue governor’s lodge and at that meeting; the issue of Governor Shema came up. And I told Shema look, I am terribly disappointed with you that you are my neighbor, friend and you never came to tell me you were contesting the election and you are parading yourself like someone who was sent to us.
I advised him and told him clearly that I will never vote for him on that issue; I will never ask anybody to vote for him and I will make sure that he lost that election. I even told him to withdraw. Other governors present supported me. Isa Yuguda was there, Adamawa supported and others supported that he should go and withdraw. Unfortunately, some people took that opportunity to go and say that Shema had no support in the north. Later Shema was dropped and they brought Isa Yuguda.
Isa came to me and I told him that, ‘look, I am still a villager, I behave in many ways like a villager. In my village in Kwakwanso in Kano, if a councillor goes to a family and says I am contesting to become a councillor in the morning and they accepted, when someone comes in the afternoon, they will tell him that you are late.’ I told him clearly, ‘look, you are late’.
Let me also correct the impression that many thought North didn’t like Shema, No. That is not the issue. On that particular instance, we did not want Shema because we want to choose our own chairman. Now you are coming through the same route and I advised him, you must not try it, if you do that, you will lose. When he insisted of course it was in my house, I didn’t want to go as hard as I did to Shema whom we met in a neutral ground. I told him let’s see how it goes.
A day to election, he phoned me and I said still Amaechi is our target. On the day of the election, we went to the chairman Northern Governors’ Forum. You see, it was all politics; it’s ok. Some people were determined to ensure that Amaechi didn’t win the election and on the other hand, we were determined to prove to them that nobody can shave our heads in our absence. A situation where our colleagues are going round in Abuja abusing us telling them that they can do it alone, I don’t think that is acceptable.
That was why we proved to them that they are at the elementary level of politics in this country. By the time they went there, the Niger state governor’s lodge, of course we had serious deliberations. The question; was any of them ready to step down for the other? None was ready to step down. At the end of the day, we had as governors the privilege, the luxury of selecting who was to be the NGF governor.
Let me say that we are Northerners and I think we should be consulted on what we need for the north. Some people have decided that we should take chairman governors forum. That is not our choice. We know what we want in the politics of this country and even if that is what we want, we are not expecting anybody to choose for us, we should choose for ourselves. I think that point should be very clear.
What exactly happened in the Niger State Governor’s Lodge?
What we did in the Niger State governors Lodge was (that) we decided to say, ‘you can’t get Shema as chairman of the minority group, the G-16, you cannot even get your second choice, the Bauchi governor that they elected’ and our group decided under my leadership to give Jang as their leader. I nominated Jang and I asked the Benue State governor to support me; he did. And many people supported Jang to be the leader because we realised that they were very desperate. We gave them who we feel should lead the minority group of G-16. Now many of them were happy because they refused to take us seriously that Amaechi should continue; they thought they could play games.
They went and had a meeting and Jang nomination was accepted. At the end of the day, they brought him to the general meeting of the governors forum and at the forum, we told them clearly that Amaechi should continue to be our chairman and all efforts to frustrate voting saying that there shouldn’t be voting. Why shouldn’t there be voting when there is no consensus, this is democracy. They were hell-bent in removing Amaechi and were also determined to ensure that our friend whoever he is among 36 governors is the chairman of our forum.
There was an election. 35 of us who were there voted and counted with the exception of the Yobe State governor who was absent. At the end of the day, the votes were separated – Amaechi 19, Jang 16. I was really shocked when the governor of Akwa Ibom brought a paper that was signed in April. Initially I was laughing but when I thought about it deeply, it was very disheartening for a governor who was supposed to be our leader, the leader of PDP Governor’s Forum.
What is important (I believe in democracy) is people to appreciate the power of ballot papers. I am the governor of Kano by the Grace of God, but I got only 46 per cent of the vote. The three major parties, ANPP, CPC and ACN and others shared 54 per cent. But what could they do, they went everywhere, they went to court but I am the governor. It is very disheartening that even at our own level, governors will sit down in a hall, get ballot papers, vote, count the votes and then somebody is saying he doesn’t agree is referring to old papers that were signed weeks before that election.
I was very angry with some rascals in Kano who went on rampage immediately after the presidential election and I was telling everybody that what they did in Kano and other states was unforgiveable but when I experienced this election, I felt terribly sad.
Especially the chairman of the PDP governors forum, when he brought that paper, the way he is talking, he is talking too much. When you see him, tell him to talk like the PDP governor’s forum chairman. Because I am beginning to be ashamed if our chairman is behaving like that.
Like I said earlier, we should decide on what we want in the north. We are fifteen governors in number. If there is anything we should be given, it is chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum.
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