Mr. Ladipo Johnson, a lawyer and politician is the Lagos State Coordinator of Kwankwasiyya Movement. In this interview with TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE, he speaks on the political tussle between Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, and his predecessor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, among other issues. Excerpts…
What is your take on the political face-off between former Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso and his successor, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje?
The problem in Kano State is basically the fact that a serving senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, representing Kano Central, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, had not been able to go into his senatorial district for almost two years now base on the fact that he keep been told that it is not safe for him to go back to Kano and that the mammoth crowd that normally support him whenever he is in Kano will turn to bloodshed and riot. That some people might hijack his visit and use it for breakdown of law and order. He was scheduled to visit Kano on January 30 but the Kano State Commissioner of Police, Rabiu Yusuf, wrote to him, advising him not to come.
The presidency later intervened and he had to postpone his going back to Kano.
The question begging for answer is; why would a Nigerian not be allowed to go to his home? Why would a serving senator not be allowed to go into his senatorial district? If in truth the police has an intelligence, which they claim to have that certain miscreants wanted to hijack his going back and cause trouble, why will police not apprehended those people? That should have been the normal thing.
They should have put necessary things in place to make sure that thing was peaceful in the state. They keep telling the man not to come. So, when will it be alright for him to go to his senatorial district? Surely as we move nearer to election time, the atmosphere will be more tensed and the problem is that incumbent Governor Ganduje and Senator Kwankwaso are not on the same page politically at the moment.
Why are they no longer in good term politically, considering that they were political allies for many years?
It is best known to the governor. Ganduje was the only deputy governor that got the support of his principal; who supported him, campaigned for him and ensured that he became governor. He was deputy governor to his principal for eight years. He was special assistant to Senator Kwankwaso when he was Minister of Defence. But within three months of getting into government, Governor Ganduje turned against his benefactor. But that is neither here nor there; people can disagree and be on different platforms but democracy has to be practised in civilise way. People has right to make their own choices as to who to support and what to do as whether you want to contest or not.
Don’t you think the tussle between the two political gladiators is about 2019?
I keep saying that if going to Kano by Kwankwaso has nothing to do with 2019; his being stopped definitely has to do with 2019. It is disturbing that a sitting governor will use the Commissioner of Police in that state to come up with spurious excuses as to why a state is not safe for one citizen to go to his senatorial district. It just doesn’t make sense. What he should have done if he has that intelligence report is to arrest those he feels want to hijack or cause trouble in the state. These are the issues that must be look at and you cannot blame people for feeling that it must be political.
Do you agree that the political drama in Kano State is a ploy to frustrate Kwankwaso’s presidential ambition?
The first question is; why is Ganduje afraid of Kwankwaso? The second question is; who else is afraid of Kwankwaso on a national level? It is clear that 2019 is around the corner and politicians have begun to jostle and I am one of the staunch supporters and believers in Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso. I believe he is dynamic and he has the capacity to move us forward as a country. So, stopping him from going to Kano is only temporary. He has to be allowed back into his house and back to his senatorial district. And if he chooses to move from being a senator to contesting for the office of President of Nigeria, they will find out that Kano State or incumbent governor of Kano will not be in a position to stop what would be a natural flow of support.
Don’t you think the disagreement between Kwankwaso and Ganduje will affect the chances of the APC in Kano State?
I bet to disagree. Two elephants are not fighting. Ganduje is by no means politically comparable to Kwankwaso. The grass may suffer if there is a breakdown of law and order and that is why Senator Kwankwaso agreed to postponed his visit to Kano. But it is frightening that in this present day, a senator is being prevented from going back to his senatorial district. It is unbelievable when people heard that Kwankwaso has not been to his senatorial district for over two years. Anytime he wants to go, they will tell him that it is not safe because of the crowd. It is not his fault that mammoth crowd do troop out to welcome him anytime he visited Kano having served the people of Kano.
Kwankwaso is believed to be among those interested in running for presidency in 2019…
Naturally for a man who campaigned for only 40 days in 2014 and came second in the APC presidential primaries to the current president; it would be assume that even if he doesn’t have the interest, quite a lot of people would want to ask him to consider throwing his hat in the ring for the presidential election. If you go through his profile, he has always been a man who has served his country in various offices from being Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives to Minister of Defence, representative to Sudan and Darfur, member of the board of the NDDC, governor for eight years and now a serving senator. It is reasonable to believe that he may be interested and like I said earlier even if not interested, people would tell him to throw his hat into the ring to move this country forward.
Personally, myself and millions of Kwankwasiyya Movement members across the country believe that this is a man that can push and move Nigeria forward. He has the capacity and passion for this country. The beauty about him is that those who like Kwankwaso and those who detest him have one thing in common; they will tell you he is a performer. And for me as a young person thinking about my family and future generations, we need someone that can move us forward drastically as a country. So, for me, I don’t know when he is going to throw his hat into the ring but I am personally one of those who will keep pushing him and tell him to come and serve Nigeria.
There is probability that President Muhammadu Buhari will seek for re-election in 2019? Don’t you see him as stumbling block to Kwankwaso’s aspiration in APC?
No, I have never seen Buhari as a stumbling block to Kwankwaso. What happened the last time as far as I am concerned is the fact that we possibly made our move from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to APC slightly late. And by the time we got there, the party structures had gone and we didn’t have access to the delegates.
I don’t see Buhari as a stumbling block, I am confident that if Kwankwaso and Buhari are presented to the people of Nigeria, I don’t think the choice would be difficult.
It will be left to Senator Kwankwaso and his advisers to determine how they will pursue the primaries of the APC. A lot of things may still happen.
What I know is that the two men whether presented within the party or outside the party from different parties; if presented to the people of this country, I am very confidence that the generation of younger Nigerians will cast their votes for a more virile, passionate, reliable and renowned performer who has a passion for the masses of this country.
There is speculation that Kwankwaso is being lured by the PDP and that he may soon defect to the opposition party to realise his presidential aspiration if the coast is not clear for him in APC…
I wouldn’t know whether he will be going to the PDP or why he should consider the PDP. I understand that the PDP is looking and shopping for presidential candidates that they believe can defeat or match the president in the North. I know for certain that with the work that has been done and the support base that Senator Kwankwaso have, especially in the North, the PDP may want to tap into that or may decide not to.
That is left to them. All I know at the moment is that we in the Kwankwasiyya Movement have been talking to people and working with people at the grassroots level because there are millions of Nigerians who are not happy with the state of the economy and who are not happy at the pace that of lack of development in the country. We hope and realise that 2019 is the time when we can make our votes count and bring about what we want in this country. (New Telegraph)