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How I reclaimed my Kano Central mandate – Sen. Rufai Hanga

Senator Rufai Hanga is a chieftain of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and senator-elect for Kano Central. While featuring on Trust TV’s Daily Politics,…

Senator Rufai Hanga is a chieftain of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and senator-elect for Kano Central. While featuring on Trust TV’s Daily Politics, he spoke on how he battled to reclaim his mandate following the refusal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise him despite the defection of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau from the NNPP to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

You finally collected your certificate of return. What happened, because of course you’re the candidate, right? Why up to the Supreme Court? Why is it that it’s always the courts that decide who gets what in the Nigerian polity?
That’s a very difficult question to answer because it’s very abnormal. INEC doesn’t normally appeal cases of this kind. What happened was that the Electoral Act states that if somebody dies, withdraws from a contest, or resigns from a party, the law automatically allows the party to substitute him. Ibrahim Shekarau resigned from our party and withdrew from the contest. He wrote to us that he had resigned. He wrote to INEC that he had withdrawn from the contest. He wrote to the Senate that he was no longer a member of the NNPP. And that went viral; it was carried all over the media.
When my party decided to substitute me with him, we had our primary election, which I was lucky to win, and they took my name to INEC. INEC refused to substitute me for Shekarau. Shekarau phoned me and said, as a brother, he wanted to advise me not to waste my time and money on any campaign because he had spoken with the national chairman, and the national chairman was not ready to substitute him with any person; that certainly he would be the candidate.
Shekarau told you that?  
Yes. He told me that. He later said it in the news on radio stations in Kano. I said thank you very much, and I went and told the party and the party said this INEC was serious and they didn’t want to do it. So, we took the matter to the Federal High Court, and it gave judgment in our favour. INEC, yet was adamant. They appealed to the appeal court, which was not willing to accept me.
So, they appealed, but we won the appeal again on the same ground because the court said the Electoral Act is superior to the INEC guidelines. Because the INEC argument was their guidelines, but the court said your guidelines are not superior to the Electoral Act. So, naturally, the act would have to succeed. Then they appealed to the Supreme Court but again lost on the same grounds. So, this is the situation.
Now, have you called Shekarau to tell him that you’ve collected your certificate of return?  
There’s no point in doing that.
But has he called to congratulate you?
No, he hasn’t. But he’s my brother.
So, no ill feeling?
No ill-feeling.
I personally interviewed you in 2021 where you said the APC, President Buhari and those around him wouldn’t allow Tinubu to have an easy ride. Have you been vindicated?
Yes, I’ve been vindicated. Because you know initially there was this agreement—whether implied, expressed, written or whatever it is, it’s an agreement. But they denied it and were trying to make it difficult for Tinubu. And he has said that several times before.
 You said it in June 2021, I did that interview…
Exactly. We have all seen this now. Tinubu had to fight tooth and nail to get through. And he had to fight tooth and nail because he is a fighter; otherwise, they would not want him there. And in fact, most of them have lost hope. El-Rufai was talking about some people in the villa trying to do that, and they were doing it here and there. Well, it’s God, when God decides to do something, nobody can stop it.
But what made you make that prediction almost three years ago?
Because I am experienced. You know, it’s a matter of experience. I’ve been in this game for a long time, and I can read body language. And you know these people very well, I know Buhari, I know his people; we’ve been together for a long time. I know them. I know their utterances. I know their body language and so on and so forth. So, I made that prediction based on my experience, and it has come to pass.
Your candidate, Kwankwaso, was also in the race and he made a good outing, especially in Kano. But there is this allegation from the PDP that he scuttled the chances of Atiku Abubakar. Is that true?  
No, Atiku scuttled his chances. That’s what I want to believe. Atiku scuttled his chances himself, not Kwankwaso. Let me tell you this, we’re after a very competent, credible and trusted person. Somebody who has done it. Somebody who people believe he can do that again.
And who is that person?
Is he better than Atiku?  
That’s my conviction. Yes, he’s better than Atiku.
Is he also better than Tinubu?
Let me tell you why. If you want a leader that has delivered, a leader who can do it, a leader that is sincere. You want a clean leader that has no baggage: you get all these in Kwankwaso. Now, Kwankwaso is very educated. He has a PhD in engineering. Kwankwaso has worked. He worked with the state government and left service as a very senior officer.
Peter Obi has served as governor and Atiku Abubakar has served as vice president and was also a governor.
Excuse me, let me land. He served in the state service and became a member of the House of Reps and was the Deputy Speaker in the House of Reps. He became governor two times in Kano and his governance was very exemplary. He was the Minister of Defence, he didn’t fail in his stewardship as a minister. He was an ambassador in Darfur. With this pedigree, there are all these CVs. He worked successfully.
But he is seen as a provincial champion, and that’s why maybe he only won in Kano?  
Excuse me, he won only Kano as a matter of courtesy arrangement. One, they allowed him to win Kano.
Who allowed him?  
The powers that be. We’re given free something to do our thing and we won the election clean. And like in other places where people are contesting in them.
Are you saying there was an arrangement somewhere that the parties should win this or that zone?
That is what I believe. And that is why they kept on the propaganda that Kwankwaso has only Kano and Atiku and some people went on saying that Kwankwaso is not compromising. They’re making a regional undertone that Kwankwaso is spoiling things for Atiku; we want this man from the North, this Hausa man, Fulani man and all that kind of thing.
Who are behind the arrangement that Kwankwaso should be allowed to win Kano or North West?
They allowed us to do elections, and we won. But in places like Jigawa, we have tremendous followership, but the elections weren’t done properly.
So, are you in the school that believes the election was compromised somewhere?
Yes, it was compromised. They manoeuvred. Let me tell you many reasons why it was compromised. One, our logo and the party name were not there. The logo was very shady. You don’t know what is there. And in some places, most of the ballot papers had no NNPP logo.
Who are the culprits, who instigated that?
I don’t know; it’s not easy. We sat down and decided not to bother ourselves. We want peace.
So, are you not satisfied with what you got in Kano?
We’re not satisfied, but what do we do? We don’t want to scuttle the whole thing. We don’t want problems for the country; we want the country to move forward.
You have 19 House of Reps seats in Kano and one in Jigawa. Now, assuming that your alliance with the Labour Party worked, you’d be in the Villa by now.  
No. I think that is not true. We’d have been nowhere. Let me tell you why. What the Labour Party did was a strictly religious campaign. They campaigned in churches. And this was like Atiku; he was strictly sectional.
And what’s yours? Were you regional?
No, we’re Nigerians, like Tinubu. Tinubu is not regional.
So, now, would you go into alliance with him?
What kind of alliance, after the election?
Of course, because he has been propagating a government of national unity, will you agree to go into that?  
Well, I can’t speak for my party because I am not the leader. I am just a common member of the party. We’re very democratic, even our supreme leader, Kwankwaso.
So, he’s now a supreme leader?  
Yes, of course, he’s our supreme leader because the party is based on his ideology – Kwankwasiyya.
He is our supreme leader, but even the supreme leader doesn’t just come out and say, “Do this and that.” He calls his people, we sit down and discuss. And whatever is agreed upon is what he takes.
He doesn’t make unilateral decisions?
Is that why you’ve made headway;  succeeded this far?
Exactly. That is why we succeeded, and that is why he is going to succeed, and we are going to succeed in the future.
Okay, what are your chances now in Kano State for the governorship? Because many pundits believe that dynamics will change. What played out during the presidential election will not actually play out this time around?  
How will it change?
You’ve Abba Gida-Gida of course, that is your candidate. But there’s Gawuna of APC, and there is this ripple effect in politics that the government or the party that won the presidential election has the greatest likelihood of it going the other way.  
Not in Kano, of course. But in some other places, it can.
Why are you so confident, distinguished senator?  
Because it has never happened in Kano. Kano is always going the other way. We are going this way, and we are not turning back. That is Kano. We’ve already decided because our politics is the politics of ideology. We have Kwankwasiyya ideology in Kano, and we are going based on that.
In 2015, you can see the ripple effect across the North and even in some states in the South West. Simply because Buhari won, that effect resonated even in Kano…
There was a Buhari hurricane then, which is normal.
And he is no longer on the ballot now?
Yes, he is no longer on the ballot, and it’s regrettable that this happened. People are regretting it. It’s a hurricane, and it’ll never happen again. People are wiser now and we know better and I doubt if somebody would come and deceive people as Buhari did.
Has he deceived people? Because you left him…
Yes, I left him.
How did he deceive people?
Because he was posing himself as a messiah, as a pious somebody. Unfortunately, it’s not correct. You know, the best name he wants you to call him is Mai Gaskiya i.e. the trustworthy person. But it’s not true. He surrounded himself with people that have fat files with the EFCC, and he knows it. He surrounded himself with people that we know he had been accusing, saying they were this and that, and he surrounded himself with them now.
How would you rate him now compared to all the days you were with him in ANPP, CPC and APC?
Well, it’s disappointing because I believed in him then, but I have seen the right thing now. I know him better.
You don’t believe in him anymore?
Yes, because he is a total failure.
What do you think he would carry to Daura now? Do you think he’ll go to sleep confidently?
Well, he will, because he doesn’t know what is happening.
What do you mean?  
Yes, he has no capacity; it’s a fact that Buhari has no capacity. If somebody would take the country to where it is now and continue to believe that he is the best president ever in Nigeria; that he is the president that performed better than all others, and that is what he has been saying himself, that he performed better than all former leaders.
So, can you compare him with other presidents?  
He is a dismal failure compared to all the rest.
Okay, what is your prayer for Tinubu now?  
I pray he does well because I am a Nigerian and I wouldn’t want Nigeria to suffer. I certainly pray for him to succeed, and I know he’d succeed. The only problem {with him} he looks sick.
But what about the capacity?

He has much more capacity than Buhari. In fact, he has the capacity to select the right people to work for him. That one is another capacity. Buhari doesn’t have the capacity. The only capacity he has is that if you know how to massage his ego, ehen you’re there and the best. He picks you and would never turn back.

Watch full interview here

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