Ladipo Johnson, a lawyer is the Lagos State coordinator of the Kwankwasia Movement, the political group of former Kano State governor and now Senator, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. In this interview with PATRICK OKOHUE, Johnson speaks of the power game that made Senator Kwankwaso leave the All Progressives Congress (APC) to his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and what his next political move will be.
You are the coordinator of the Kwankwaso campaign group in Lagos State.
Well, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso has not stated that he is contesting. I am the Lagos State coordinator of the Kwankwasia family. The Kwankwasia movement. If and when we decide to run either for senate or presidency, we will announce it and then have a campaign team.
Well, he has just left the APC under whose platform he became a senator and returned to PDP where he was minister and governor. What do you think informed this?
Is it irreconcilable differences, is it because of the governor that was said to try to run him out of town in Kano? Or the presidency? What is happening? Why is he joining others to abandon APC that they built together?
The first thing I always tell people is that please do not do Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso the injustice of trying to compare Governor Ganduje to him. Ganduje cannot begin to try to run Kwankwaso out of town.
He doesn’t have the structure, he doesn’t have the people even as a sitting governor. Better still as you well know, the two people with the biggest political structure in Kano have come together, former minister, former governor Ibrahim Shekarau is now working hand in hand with Kwankwanso.
So Ganduje is an infinitesimal decimal in Kano right now. Now we all know Senator Kwankwaso contested against the President. He was runner up at the primaries.
He didn’t talk, he didn’t complain. He worked, he talked for the party and even oversaw Jigawa and Kaduna states for the APC in the general election and you know the votes that came out from those states.
In any proper political setting and this is the second set of mistakes by the current administration of the President.
It would be normal, even at local level, we do it, at state levels we do it, it would be normal to say okay, come together, the different people that came together to win the election, how do we move forward regarding appointments.
How do we make sure we put square pegs in square holes. Don’t get me wrong, those who may be reading this will say ah! Politicians, they want to share. It’s not about sharing.
What about being loyal? Loyalty is a two way thing because the question you are asking me is why isn’t Kwankwaso loyal enough to remain in the party.
But loyalty is a two way thing. The husband must be loyal to the wife and the wife must be loyal to the husband. Whether she is in the other room or in the sitting room.
They have to be loyal to each other. I used that so that the person concerned will understand. So they have to be loyal to each other.
Now, when someone is in charge of three states, he delivered and gave you the highest votes, 1.9 million from his state, it’s not that he brought all the votes, but he was overseeing it, surely that person should be part of some of the decisions about your moving forward,
but when from day one you shut that person out and then after a short while you go, like they did in Kwara, you go and without a congress take away the political structure from the person, then you have pushed the person away.
And Nigerians are amazing people. Why would you expect that you take the structure of a party away from someone without going to the field as we say, you take the structure away from him, and you are still talking to him to stay within the party.
Does it make sense? Why is it that everything that is being done in the APC or that has been done in the past one to two years is about ensuring that no one else comes up to test democracy to contest for the primaries.
When you do such things, you chase people away. So it is only natural that if you are not loyal to a set of people, they will find a home elsewhere.
Now even if they have moved back to where they had left before, maybe it is because those that they left before and who lost election now realise that oh, there is an opportunity that we can win again and they are more than willing to welcome them.
So, all that has happened yes, as Nigerians we say when do we outgrow crisscrossing and politics of interest, unfortunately our country, the politicians or politics in Nigeria has not reached a stage where we are playing ideological politics.
Where you know that this person is right or center, left or center, and he wouldn’t be found there in the other party, but it will continue to be like that when the party or the people entrusted with upholding the constitution of the country, rule of law, fair play and the political balance of the country tend to want to move things towards their advantage, it will keep getting the same problem so what you have seen is a reaction.
For every action, there is definitely going to be a reaction and the reactions will continue all the way to 2019 and the people of Nigeria will join in the reaction because they are not blind and they see what is happening, so you cannot keep fooling Nigerians all the time.
By saying every Nigerian is a thief and I’m the only one that wants to deal with them, if I deal with them, you will be alright. They’ve seen enough to know that oh, the people who surround you are not spending money as if they are not thieves. They have seen enough to know that.
Well, your principal Senator Kwankwaso like you said has not declared that he’s running, but in 2015 he did run and the body language seem to suggest he would run again.
If indeed he decides to run again, what chances do you think he has against the plethora of aspirants in this dispensation especially the younger people and then, some are saying people above 60 shouldn’t even bother?
The good thing is that Alhaji Kwankwaso himself is just 61 years old, he is probably more than 10 years younger than Atiku Abubakar and of course baba, the President. But we try not to talk about age.
We talk about capacity. You can have a 40 year old who is incompetent like you can have a 70 something year old who act as if he is inexperienced.
So maturity, experience doesn’t come with age. We believe that Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has shown enough over the years that he knows what it takes, he is experienced and he’s administrator per excellence.
Friend and foe alike in the political sphere will tell you that Kwankwaso is a performer. All you need to do is look at the miracle he performed in Kano.
So. yes the body language, his whole body language I hope is adjusting to the body language of also the supporters. I personally want him to run.
I keep talking to him about running as with many other people because we believe that he is dynamic and he knows and have what it takes to move this country forward in the next four years. I believe his chances are very bright.
Strategically, I think it is clear that if you look at the election result, the past two or three election circles, you will find the incumbent now is usually there getting some seven million votes from the North West.
The key to this election is the North West and there is only one man with a political machinery at the moment that can defeat or match the incumbent in the North West and that is Rabui Musa Kwankwaso and I believe that that is the key the PDP will be looking at while trying to pick their flag bearer because the PDP have 10 or now let me say 13 states with those who are crossing over.
That is a platform and it is safe to say that a lot of states will be flipped over from the green blue of the APC to the red and green of the PDP in the next national elections.
So I think that his chances are very bright. He is very experienced from the time he was in the National Assembly as deputy speaker under the SDP through to Constituent Assembly, through to being governor twice, a total of eight years.
Minister for Defence, well, he was not ambassador, but representative of the envoy of the President to Dafur and Sudan.
He was also on the board of the NDDC (Niger Delta Development Commission), representing the North West. So he’s got the experience and most importantly is one that has passion for Nigeria.
He has a passion for the youth, for education, health care and welfare of the people and I think that coming from an administration that had promised so much, including five thousand naira welfare to the unemployed, I think that a lot of the masses in Nigeria will know that there is someone who is tested with the masses and that he would deliver. That is the key. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
Recently, the President sent a budget from INEC to the National Assembly. He had earlier complained about the National Assembly members imputing projects into the budget without his knowledge and
now he’s sending a budget for INEC telling the National Assembly members to take money from those projects they included to put it for INEC and some people are seeing it as the President wanting to truncate the election, but wanting to blame it on the National Assembly. How do you react to that?
Well, we are not fools. It’s clear. It is clear it’s something that is not workable, something that may not happen and if the executive feel that they will play to the sympathy of the masses over it, the masses have seen enough to know that we have two people to watch here, it’s no longer blaming the National Assembly all the time.
They’ve seen now, they’ve seen what they did in Benue. They’ve seen enough even in Ekiti to know that this administration is not holier than thou.
The APC is not holier than thou. They have seen what they spent on elections in Ondo, what they spent in Ekiti, it’s an open secret, so Nigerians are not fools anymore.
Don’t you think that even if the President had not asked for INEC’ money though virement, that six months to election it’s too close for the President to talk about budget for the INEC?
When did INEC send their request? That’s where we should start. We shouldn’t just blame the President. When did INEC itself send the request, but if they sent it earlier, then we can shine our torchlight on the Presidency.
What did you wait for to submit, what I don’t understand is why is it so high? Why is it so expensive? What was the budget in 2015? And what is the proposed budget now? It’s hefty.
Do we have to spend so much on elections all the time? If INEC bought vehicles last time, are those vehicles all gone? I don’t understand. I just don’t understand it. Every time it keeps going up. It’s as if we are not serious people.
In any proper political setting and this is the second set of mistakes by the current administration of the President. It would be normal, even at local level, we do it, at state levels we do it, it would be normal to say okay, come together, the different people that came together to win the election, how do we move forward regarding appointments. How do we make sure we put square pegs in square holes. Don’t get me wrong, those who may be reading this will say ah! Politicians, they want to share. It’s not about sharing.