APC presidential primary: Despite coming second, I feel like a winner, Says Kwankwaso

Kano State Governor, Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso was the runner up to General Muahmma du Buhari(rtd) in the presidential primary of the All Progressive Congress (APC), which took place in Lagos. Reflecting on the experience of the primary elec tion, Kwankwaso, in an interview in Kano, explained that though he came second, he is fulfilled by the outcome of the ex ercise. He also took time to comment on his next political move now that the presidential aspiration is over. He tipped General Buhari for the presidency come 2015 and held that his military back­ground will well guide him to deal with the Boko Haram insurgency.

Now that the presidential primary is over, there are speculations that your next move is to pick the party’s ticket for Kano Central Senatorial Zone. To what extent is this true?

A: Thank you very much. Let me wel come you to my office and let me take this opportunity to thank you, in fact, all of you. Let me also, at this point, congratulate our leader, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) for such a wonderful performance and so also the other aspirants, namely Atiku Abubakar (Turakin Adamawa), my friend Rochas Okoracha and of course, my friend, who is also your friend , Sam Nda Isaah. Just as we predicted, the primary election was a family affair. It was done in such a way that all of us are winners, and all of us pledged to support the winner before the primary and even after the primary. I thank Almighty God and I also want to thank the delegates and all those who have supported us through various means to at tain this result. I started very late and up till this moment, it is not up to two months that I joined the race. Many people felt that I was not known in the South and other parts of this country. Despite that, we have seen the performance. I was second after our candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari. I am happy that I am now known across the country and that is a good story and a good story for all our supporters in this state and across the country. The result didn’t show only the votes from Kano, but showed votes from across the country. You have seen or heard from the counting that you will hear “Buhari”, “Buhari” and then “Kwankwaso” “Kwankwaso”. It means the support is from the whole country, even from the states that we have governors and states that have no governors, we have sup porters there. And I want to pledge that we would continue to support the party, so that at the end of the day, APC can win the elections not only in Kano, but across the country.

On the issue of the senatorial seat, you know that we have just finished counting our own Kano North Senatorial Zone. The result was announced late yesterday. As we finished the primary in Lagos, we have to go and handle the Kano North Senato­rial Zone because we had to do it before 12 mid night yesterday. And the next thing for me now is that I will come and consult my friends and colleagues right away to dis cuss the future, that is, the political future for my humble self and of course, the other people who are working together with us here in Kano in the next dispensation.

How do you compare the issue of internal democracy between APC and PDP, looking at the primaries of the both parties that were conduct ed yesterday?

You see the difference is very, very clear. APC is now the PDP of those days, espe­cially in 1999. That was how we built PDP. We allowed aspirants to show their interests.

The party supported and encouraged those who are interested to go and campaign. And it has a lot of advantages, especially if you look at it from my own context. One, I had to go around the country and con vince many of my friends, those who were in APC as well as those who were in the other parties. As a result of that, we have so many people who have now joined APC as a party- not because they were APC or they wanted APC ordinarily, but because they knew that my leadership would be good for them and would be good for the country and I can assure you that now none of them, none of the persons would go back to any other party. They would stay in APC and support it from the bottom to the top. And so also are other candidates and aspi rants of the party who had gone out to cam paign, especially Sam Ndah Isaiah. Many people didn’t understand the importance of those10 votes that he got. You know that you can win or lose elections with 10 votes. In fact, not only in the election like the one we had which used delegates, even in general elections, you can lose or win a general election in this country with ten votes. These ten votes could certainly bring hundreds, even not thousands of votes in favour of the party. So, we are not talking of the votes that were recorded for Rochas, Atiku and the ones that were secured by the winner , Genera Muhammadu Buhari. So if you put all these efforts together, the ef forts of five aspirants, I am sure that would go a long way. Of course, you have seen a lot of changes in the last few months es pecially as it relate to General Buhari him self. Ordinarily, General Buhari would not have taken so much time, so much effort to go round the country to convince people. Now, he is full-fledged politician who has gone round to ask for support, to ask for un derstanding, he has worked like any other politician in this country. And that is what we want to see, we didn’t want to sit down in a room and look at him and say let us dash him the ticket. Now, he has earned the ticket for himself and that has gone a long way in strengthening the party, it has gone a long way in deepening democracy in this country. If you look at what he was say ing yesterday and even before, he was like any other polished and experienced politi cian. That is how it should be. I am sure that when, by the grace of God, he gets to the Villa, he would be a wiser politician who would value every delegate, who would value every state , and who would value every religion, tribe and other differences across the country. And I am very happy that our party decided to give us all a level playing ground.

Considering the efforts you put in place before the APC primary and the outcome- which is known to everybody- do you feel betrayed by the result?

When I was going into it, I felt certainly I was going to win, but I became number two . And if you look at the quality of the people in the race, their experiences, their wealth , I think that everybody should con­gratulate me. Many people, especially my friends , I am sure they have seen on paper that twelve of my colleagues ganged up for Buhari. And even my former colleagues, many of them were supporting Buhari. When I read it, when people were telling me, I was just laughing. I remember.

So, what I believe is that everybody who voted for Buhari is a friend and if they had known the relationship between me and him… I am sure you must have known that he was telling the whole world, when asked if not him who will he support?- he was telling that whole that he would sup­port Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. What else do I want? Somebody of his age and his personality in the society, passing out this information, not to me but to the hearing of the whole world. So to me, it is as good as I had won the primary election.

Nigerians have enjoyed your role in calling government to order. Are you will keep quiet now that there is nothing at stake? Secondly, in the past, we have people who contest ed presidential elections against the PDP- Shekarau, Ribadu- but are now with the PDP. Sir, would you go the same way?

I think that there is a lot of difference be­tween me and many other people. For me, I decided to go into politics as a politician. I didn’t go into politics just to get into posi­tions and enjoy myself. No I am in politics to better the lives of our people. When I left service in 1991 to join politics, I wasn’t dis missed; I did go out of the service as a re sult of frustration. In fact, they have to give me two weeks to go and think. That was after I gave them my resignation letter. And they wanted me to stay there because they knew my worth.

I was a professional by any standard when I left service and I was committed to it. But I felt that I would be useful to myself and the country if I go into politics. So, I am a politician first and foremost. If anything comes my way in terms of elected posi tion or appointed, I welcome it and keep on moving. And that is why over the last 20 years , I have been in and out , in and out and I think that I am one of the very few who have been enjoying this experience of going into different positions and coming out. And it always good to have sucj expe­rience- because now I am in government, I know how sitting governors feel.

And then outside, because I was outside the government before, I know the feelings of those who are outside government. So first and foremost, I am a politician and I am still there and along the line, if I had won the election yesterday- for example-it would have been a big challenge. Now, what we have is another challenge because I am now back to the ground to make sure that PDP is defeated in this state and across the country. In other words, I want to de liver Kano per cent to APC. And some of the people I met yesterday after the primary were saying that you have to be in that Sen ate- saying with Buhari as the presidential candidate and me in the senate, it would be very difficult for anybody to mention any other party other the APC on election day here in Kano.

While the APC presidential prima ry was going on, there was another bomb blast in Kano. i want your of ficial reaction to the blast and also, your suggestion of how to end this insurgency in the state.

I want to take this opportunity to com­miserate with the family of all those who were involved in the last bomb blast and even to all those who had been involved in the previous killings in this state and across the country. It is very sad, it is very unfor tunate that we have to be facing this chal lenges at this crucial time of our history. If you are looking for the answer that would end the problem, I believe that the answer is to have a committed and honest and de termined president as the Commander in Chief. Somebody who has the political will to stop the killings, not only in Kano but across the country.

Every day, after that bombing, if it is not in Borno, it is in Yobe. If it is not in Yobe , if it is in Adamawa. It is Bauchi, it is Kano, Just yesterday, we learnt again of bomb in Plateau and so on. So, it is a national issue which must be addressed by the Commander-in Chief. I want to say that General Buhari, we are lucky, has a military background and that would go a long way in helping him and guiding him on what to do. And by the grace of God, whether from the house, my own house in Kwankwaso or from Kano in Gandu Alba­sa, or from anywhere, we would continue to support him by the grace of God when he becomes President to succeed. Because that is very important, he has his version of experience, I have my own version of ex perience, especially experience in the area of security. We would rally around him to help him to succeed.

Because his success is not only my own success, it is not only your success. It is the success of this country and even beyond. Because even our friends elsewhere are so worried, especially those who have invest ed their money, especially those who want to invest in this country and also those who like to respect this country. These people are wondering what is happening in Nige ria. To answer that question is that we need a good Commander in Chief and in my opinion, if Buhari goes there, I see no rea son why all these rubbish would not stop.

From the backdrop of what you have just said about Buhari’s mili tary background, are you saying in earnets that military Generals are better than politicians in tackling …?

A: No, I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that. But still- even though it is not the best ques tion- you see in this particular area, a Gen eral who has gone through the system over the years , under normal circumstance, is in a better position to handle the issue of se curity. It is very important. But that is not to say that he can ……. Let me not go into that. Next question.

If, after your consultation, you were asked to go for the senate, would you accept the offer?

I am consulting and this consultation would soon end because it is not an open ended thing. We have to take decision. I don’t want to say anything. I don’t want to say anything that would appear in the dai lies tomorrow or on the radio today, with out consulting with my friends here and elsewhere. Because in politics. This is very important.

You may make up your mind but in poli­tics, you have to touch your friends and ask them what they think should be done. It is just like my contest for the seat of the presi dency, I had to consult widely and out of that consultation, several people were com mitted to the project to the extent that now you have seen the result and I think that the result is good, in fact very good while because who came first- I told his position – and I am number two in the contest de spite the fact I am just some entered the race about two months ago. The Sun


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