Wednesday, April 23, 2014 2:27 pm
Penultimate Tuesday, President Goodluck Jonathan visited Kano. The occasion was the Unity Rally of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, organised to welcome former governor of the state, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, to the party. Shekarau, one of the foundation members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, left the party upon the decision of the party’s national secretariat to hand the party’s leadership wholesale to Rabi’u Kwankwaso, govenor of the state. Since he left PDP at the wake of the protest of the G-seven governors of which he was a major player, Kwankwaso has been an ardent critic of Jonathan’s government.
In fact, he has severally accused the President of consciously marginalising Kano in terms of projects and appointments. Kwankwaso has also declared Jonathan as incompetent and incapable of presiding over Nigeria. He is also indicating interest to take over Jonathan’s job in 2015.
A day before Jonathan’s visit, Kwankswaso told the media that Kano people would not welcome the president because, according to him, Jonathan has not done anything to impact on the lives and wellbeing of the people and the state. Kwankwaso, while APC elders at the Government House said he regretted voting for Jonathan, because the President has disappointed Nigerians. “I am regretting for voting President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 Presidential Election, as he has done nothing to move the nation forward,” he alleged. He added that Kano people are not welcoming the President for Tuesday’s state visit since there was no project in any part of the state that Jonathan’s federal government has or is undertaking. The governor said that since Jonathan assumed office, nothing has been done towards the development of the nation, lamenting that under President Jonathan, corruption, insecurity and embezzlement of the treasury have become the order of the day.
“Only a few people are enjoying in Nigeria at the expense of the generality of the citizenry,” Kwankwaso said, lamenting that despite the President’s manifest inadequacies, the incumbent was bent on being reelected in 2015. Declaring that achieving such an objective was impossible, Kwankwaso noted that people were still waiting to hear the truth about the missing alleged mismanaged $20 billion Federal funds, which led to the suspension of the CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. “If someone alleges that N20 million is missing in one of the Kano state ministries, first of all, I will investigate the matter and if I find the allegation as true, I must commend the person (investigator) for a job well done and then take the appropriate action on it,” Kwankwaso said, adding that Kano people would not welcome the President on a state visit because he has done nothing to make life better for them; rather he has unjustifiably sacked Sanusi.
He urged the electorate to vote for APC in 2015 in order to form central and state governments, disclosing that APC is now the most powerful party in Africa. Kwankwaso accused PDP of planning to disrupt unity among the party members by deploying money to buy people over, pointing out that already, APC has taken measures to tackle the issue. The governor appealed to APC supporters to be very patient as the party has set up the necessary machinery that would ensure victory in the 2015 General Elections, noting that in Kano alone more, than 2.3 million people have registered as card carrying members of the party. According to Governor Kwankwaso , those who are calling on the Independent National electoral Commission, INEC, not to conduct elections in 2015 in north-eastern Nigeria have lost focus and are aware that their party would not win any election in that region.
Displaying his annoyance over Kwankwaso’s attack and refusal to welcome him, President Jonathan disparaged Kwankwaso and also used the occasion to mention a number of Federal Government projects in Kano. The President accused him of lying and tampering with Local Government funds. Jonathan openly chided Kwankwaso during the PDP Unity Rally, insisting that PDP will recapture Kano in 2015.
President Jonathan also challenged Governor Kwankwaso to account for over N225 billion Local Government funds he received from the Federal Allocation within two years. “We read in some of the daily newspapers that the Governor of Kano State, Kwankwaso, said he regretted voting for me. Let me tell my good people of Kano that Kwankwaso did not vote for me or Vice-President Namadi Sambo whether in the primaries or the main election. We have accommodated a lot, but we talk less. Those of you from Kano in PDP knew what happened; that when we entered that Eagle Square, by the time the counting got up to half-way—when it was clear that I was to emerge as the candidate – Kwankwaso left the venue.
“Even the little money my campaign office provided for refreshment and transportation for Kano delegates, Kwankwaso refused to give them that money. He did that so that the Kano delegates would be angry, so that they would not vote for me. Even in the main election, the little money my campaign office sent to Kano State, Kwankwaso refused to release that money to anybody. Now, how can Kwankwaso tell me that he voted for me?” President Jonathan wondered.
As the crowd cheered, the President continued: “Some of you will be asking questions why is it that today, your President is not wearing the PDP dress. I decided to appear this way because there is somebody here in Kano who has been campaigning that the person wearing this bowler hat is a devil. I am here to tell you briefly what the Federal Government has done to Kano people and I want you to ask yourself whether such a person who has been able to do all these things for you is a devil.”
The he listed the projects. The Federal Government, according to him, has taken Kano as a major focus for its agricultural transformation agenda and the farmers of Kano are benefitting enormously from Federal Government Growth Enhancement Scheme. In the last two years, he said, a total of 760,000 farmers in Kano have benefitted from the Federal Government’s subsidised fertiliser programme and free improved seeds for maize and rice.
Jonathan also said that over 70 per cent of Kano farmers are benefitting from Federal Government’s fertiliser subsidy scheme and that within a period of two years, about 76,000 metric tonnes of subsidised fertiliser have been supplied to Kano farmers. He also used the occasion to send his condolence to the families of those who lost their lives in last Monday’s Abuja bomb blast. “Let me at this point express my deepest condolences again to the family members of those who lost their lives in the bomb blast in Abuja on Monday. I was at the scene of the incident, I also visited the hospitals, but I was so shocked that I couldn’t even talk. Again, I express my condolence to the direct family members of the victims and, indeed, the whole country; and I want to re-emphasize that terror will not stop Nigeria from moving. We will continue to move from strength to strength. We also continue to encourage security agencies. We are looking at different options and we promise Nigerians that we will do our best and we will continue to do our best to make sure that we live peacefully in this country,” Jonathan said.
President Jonathan expressed appreciation to Kano people for the warm reception accorded to him, saying, “Let me thank the good people of Kano state for the reception. From the airport to this venue, people lined up to welcome us.” While formally welcoming Shekarau, President Jonathan described him this way. “He is a man of the people. You all know Shekarau very well. He is a man of the people. When he was a governor, he was a member of ANPP, I visited him two or three times as the Vice-President of the PDP; but because Shekarau is a Nigerian, a well-learned man, an intelligent man, he received me on all the occasions I came here. These are the kind of people that Kano needs to project and follow. We thank Shekarau for joining the PDP today. He is fully welcomed and fully integrated into the party,” President Jonathan said.
Malam Shekarau, during his speech described the day as memorable and promised to protect and promote the interest of the Kano masses so long as he remains in politics, no matter the party platform. “As long as I remain in politics, I will be dedicated and do all within my ability and capability to remain loyal to the party so as to do everything within our power to show our solidarity and support to the party. I wish, first of all, to pledge my commitment and that of my new members who made the choice to join PDP with me to work ardently together with the party to achieve the ideals of democracy, inclusion and development to which our dear party, PDP, is committed at the local, state and national levels.”
However, Governor Kwanwao could not swallow it. He accused President Jonathan of being insensitive to the yearnings of Nigerians, lamenting that at a time when the nation should be mourning the Nyanya bomb explosion that left many either dead or injured, the President decided to embark on what he described as “merry-making trips”.
“When many of the victims are in hospital seeking blood donations to survive, the President is gallivanting round the country in the name of PDP unity rally,” said the governor at the second matriculation ceremony of students of Northwest University, Kano, at the Government House lawn, last Tuesday, wondering why the President would be travelling aimlessly with taxpayers’ money, while the common man was being killed daily because of the Federal government’s failure to adequately protect life and property.
Kwankwaso chided the President for justifying, promoting, and sustaining corruption, pointing out that despite the allegation of corruption against the Minister of Aviation and the missing $20 billion oil funds, for instance, the President remained silent on such issues during his visit to Kano. “The man came to Kano to smear our image but thank God, the man gave me free publicity by mentioning my name over 50 times in a 15-minute address,” the governor stated.
He added: “The President, his Vice and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation are vultures. They want the PDP to die and feed on its carcass,” he said, asserting that personally, their present disposition was fertilizser to his future political aspiration. “Supposing I decide to contest for the number one seat in this country, I will ask APC, APGA and Labour Party not to cast their votes for me – I want to assure you that with the PDP vote that I will garner, definitely I will defeat the incumbent President hands down,” he maintained.