The immediate past Kano State Deputy Governor, Prof. Hafiz Abubakar, who resigned in controversial circumstances last week, highlights reasons for his action in this interview with TED ODOGWU
Why did it take you so long to resign, since you threatened more than a year ago to quit the Ganduje administration?
My relationship with Governor Abdullahi Gandauje did not start when we contested the 2015 general elections on a joint ticket. In 2011, when Ganduje was elected deputy governor in the Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso administration, I was also appointed as the Special Adviser on Political Affairs to the Governor. The same year, Kwankwaso appointed me as the Commissioner for Finance. I worked in harmony with Ganduje under the supervision of our leader.
In fact, during the 2015 general elections, we sold our candidate and the party to the good people of Kano on the campaign mantra of ‘’Continuity, Consolidation and New Projects’’ under the Kwankwassiya Movement. This presupposes that our government was an offshoot of the immediate past government, where Ganduje was the deputy governor.
So, when did you start having issues with the governor?
No sooner had we won the election than the template for the current needless crisis began to manifest. The transition committee was constituted by the Governor-elect and he surprisingly, directed that I, as the Deputy Governor-elect, should chair the committee. I find this strange because the governor and the deputy governor, elected on the same joint ticket are supposed to be recipients and executors of the report of the transition committee. Unknown to me and my unsuspecting party members who are loyal to me, a plot was hatched to manipulate and misconstrue the report of the committee, to create an impression that the outgoing governor, who is our leader, was leaving a huge debt burden for the incoming administration and it was to be presented, as if I, being the transition committee chairman, discovered the ‘scandal.’
The motive was ostensibly to embarrass Kwankwaso and create a negative impression about him. It was also aimed at rubbishing the achievements recorded by his government. The ultimate target was to create an unnecessary bad blood between me and Kwankwaso. The sinister and mischievous moves continued unabated even after the handover, with the hawks in government, always bringing one divisive or negative tendencies, all with a view to creating the impression that our benefactor, Kwankwaso, did not mean well for the incoming government.
Was the governor in support of the ‘hawks’ actions?
The hawks with the active but behind the scene support of the governor, tried to bring me into their agenda with the sole aim of tarnishing my name and damaging the good relationship I enjoyed with the distinguished senator. In all of these, my approach was to resist being dragged into it and counselling the governor to be wary of those hawks, attempting to plunge the government and the state into a needless crisis, which will not augur well for anyone.
My continued principled position of cautioning the governor on this was deliberately and mischievously perceived and sold to party members and government officials, to mean harbouring a divided loyalty. When appointments started coming, I waited patiently for likely offers for those, who contributed to our success in the elections through me, but nothing was forthcoming. Even the members of staff that I had to work with, in the Deputy Governor’s Office, I had to put an extra pressure on the governor to appoint them and lobbied before he would approve a few things for my office.
Also, during appointments into cabinet and agencies, initially, the governor would hint me reluctantly on his intention to appoint someone into one position or the other, pretending to be seeking my views. When I offered my honest opinion, the governor would then turn around and divulge the confidential discussion we had to those, who out of my honest assessment might have lost out, all with the intention of painting me black. Then, we entered another phase, where I only hear appointments made by the governor through the radio, like every other person on the street or on the social media platform. Even though I had no quarrel with that since it is his prerogative. I think consultation here is a matter of courtesy.
At a stage, both the Deputy Governor’s Office and the Ministry of Education, which I also oversee, began to suffer from cash starvation. Later, the cash starvation started migrating to the Deputy Governor’s Office, extending even to my legitimate rights, as the deputy governor. My BTA and that of my convoy for official trips began to suffer another systematic blockade in the same manner as approvals are given with no cash backing. The unpaid allowances started accumulating.
Apart from this, my official quarters, which is my legitimate right as the deputy governor and which had accommodated all previous deputy governors was slated for renovation at the inception of our tenure, with the assurance that it would not take up to three months to complete but unfortunately, it was deliberately abandoned for three years now due to the nonchalant attitude. I have been residing in my private residence since I was sworn in, alongside the security personnel attached to me and every day, I had to drive about 40 kilometres to and from the office. To make matters worse, I have been driving, for two years now, the old and rickety vehicles, which Ganduje used, when he was the deputy governor. These catalogues of woes and many more informed my decision to quit the scene, as no solution was forthcoming.
Is it true that you quit in order to escape an impeachment?
I quit the party not for fear of impeachment but to find solace and peace of mind, as well as to end the unending persecution in the hands of the Ganduje administration. Under these circumstances, no right thinking person will continue to associate himself with these anti-people, dishonest and diabolical elements in the corridors of power in Kano State. It was in view of all these and after due consultations, with various segments of the society, including major stakeholders, elders, committed and responsible party leaders, political associates, supporters and well wishers that we collectively arrived at the painful, but necessary decision of resigning my position, as the deputy governor of Kano State, with effect from August 4, 2018.
What is your main grouse against the governor?
My main grouse with the governor is that he is deliberately persecuting me. It was common knowledge that when the APC was formed, all the party faithful were full of hopes that a new dawn had been ushered in where party members would be able to express themselves and accomplish their aspirations, according to the dictum, tenets, and values of internal democracy. Following the new found zeal, party members and leaders at all levels participated actively and supported physically and financially and the party succeeded during the 2015 general elections. No sooner had we been sworn-in than the true colours of the undertakers, masquerading as party leaders began to appear in Kano State.
Imaginary conflict was suddenly hatched in order to balkanise the party for selfish ends under a pre-determined hidden agenda. All of a sudden, the party became factionalised and committed party members and the executives at all levels, who worked hard to ensure the success of the party were blackmailed and coerced to show allegiance to the hawks and usurpers, who illegally hijacked the affairs of the party. Failure to succumb to the wishes of these monocratic elements means disloyalty to the government. Committed members and legitimate leaders of the party at the wards, local government and state levels, who worked very hard for the party were branded as antagonists of the party, simply because they resisted and refused to toe the line of politics of bitterness and hatred within the same party. Those perceived to have aligned with the truth and maintained a principled position, which I stood for, were harassed and removed from their positions at various wards, local government and state levels.
In my own local government, over 80 per cent of the wards and local government executives were arbitrarily removed and replaced by persons, who have no idea of how the party evolved and how it secured landslide victory during the 2015 general elections. The political persecution and humiliation aggravated to the level that even in my ward, I was no longer involved in any party activity. It was the same at the local government and state levels and the governor did not see anything wrong in that. That’s how it continued until this time. Interestingly and without being immodest, in spite of all these unpalatable and injurious treatment I was receiving, I remained loyal and resolute in serving the government and the people, with all sense of responsibility and sincerity.
I make bold to say that there was never a time that the governor or any other person for that matter, found me wanting in the discharge of my responsibilities, both as the deputy governor and as the Commissioner for Education.
Did you resign because of Kwankwaso’s defection to the PDP?
It was quite surprising and demeaning how all of a sudden, the quest to quench the angst of Kwankwaso’s defection became an excuse to launch a more vicious and vitriolic attacks on my person and office, as if what I have been going through was not enough. A new machination started to emerge on how to frustrate me out of the party and government or I risk the hammer of predetermined impeachment for no just cause other than maintaining my principled position.
That was when we received intelligence report about how government was planning to commit huge resources from the treasury at the time salaries in some local government areas have not be paid, to orchestrate and organise a sponsored protest and hate rallies against me, with a view to creating a negative impression about my person and integrity to the unsuspecting members of the public. The entire plot was to give a dog a bad name, in order to hang it. Fortunately, we got wind of their diabolical plan and nipped it in the bud.
What is your next move now?
My immediate action is to formally resign as the deputy governor of the state, following indefinite persecution of myself, as the deputy governor, my office as the Commissioner of Education. As if that was not enough, the Kano State Government dragged my innocent daughter, who graduated with a first class degreed into the mess. Few days after my formal resignation, I addressed a press conference, during which I read out a graphical picture of my persecution in the hands of the governor from the first day that I was sworn-in to this very moment that I resigned and defected to the Peoples Democratic Party.
I defected to the party to enable me to support my mentor, Senator Musa Kwankwaso, to enable him to succeed in his future political ambition. Also, I believe that pitching my tent with the PDP will give me peace of mind and hope, as well as fulfillment and a sense of belonging. I will not be sidelined, as I was in the APC but would be carried along in their decision making process.
What are the chances of the PDP in Kano State?
The chances of the PDP would be very bright, particularly with the gale of defections of members of the APC to the PDP. It would be a miracle for the Governor Abdullahi-led APC in Kano to clinch a second term in office. The battle to recapture Kano or record a landslide victory, like we did in the 2015 general elections would now be a mirage, following the cracks in the wall of the APC in Kano State, both the Assembly and ward levels, where numerous APC members and the Gandujiyyar supporters have swapped allegiance to the PDP to enable them to join their political godfather, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
At the end of the day, the future of the PDP would be bright, as the incumbent ruling party will never have a smooth sail, as before, particularly due to the ongoing gale of defections, which I believe would continue till 2019 to pave the way for the PDP to recapture Kano.
What are the chances of Kwankwaso in the PDP Presidential primaries?
Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has built a formidable political structure, spanning over 30 years, which would be difficult to dismantle. I must categorically declare that Kwankwaso is the top contender and most favoured to pick the PDP Presidential ticket at the primaries. Tell me, who has the pedigree to defeat Kwankwaso, who emerged second after Buhari in the 2015 primaries for the presidential ticket? The bottom line is that Kwankwaso’s chance of picking the PDP presidential ticket is very bright.
Do you think Kwankwaso will remain in the PDP if he failed to pick the party’s ticket?
The question of whether he will fail should not arise, as I am confident that he will pick the Presidential ticket and go further to restore the lost fortunes of the PDP. So, let’s not talk about defection because he just dumped the APC for the PDP.
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