Dr Muhammad Adamu Kwankwaso is the Head of the Department of Education at the Bayero University Kano (BUK). He was one of those attacked by hoodlums during the just concluded gubernatorial and House of Assembly election in the state. In this interview, he shares his ordeals. Excerpts:
In the just concluded gubernatorial election, what role did you play?
I am from Kwankwaso in Madobi Local Government Area and I served as a party collation officer for my party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) at Madobi.
Can you narrate your experience during the election?
Before the election, there were anxiety, tension, side talks, abuses, and the likes. The atmosphere was tense because no one knew what would happen. However, this kind of scenario is normal during election.
Then during voting, there were issues here and there—panic and anxiety, over what was going to transpire at the end of the voting period, but the most important thing was to see that people exercised their rights peacefully.
With the security personnel and other architecture available, the voting period was relatively calm. However, around 2am in the midnight, I was highly traumatized; my house was vandalized. Supporters of the party that won (New Nigeria People’s Party, NNPP) went round the village, identifying every stakeholder of the APC like myself for attacks. My house and about four more houses were attacked but mine was the worst.
Around 7am after the final declaration, we experienced a worse situation. My house was attacked; and then a group of hoodlums were assigned to destroy my house and to kill me. But alhamdulillah, God in His favour and mercy helped me, and I was able to escape. I don’t know how I escaped but I did by the mercy of God. I was attacked at home alongside my family members because I concluded that it was better for me to die for my family, my children, siblings and my mother. I asked them to go back home because of the previous experience that I had.
I can’t imagine the situation and the kind of politics we play now, where you can’t vote or support whoever you want to without risking your life and property. And I think a lot of issues like lack of education and illiteracy have contributed a lot to this kind of situation.
The hoodlums broke down my gate, broke my wall and entered my house by force but I was able to escape to my neighbour’s house. In the process, they damaged a lot of things in the house.
What about your family members?
My wife was traumatized, my children were threatened and locked inside their wardrobes to escape the mob who were threatening to set them ablaze together with the house. Luckily, together with three of my siblings, we were able to go through the ceiling and rescue them.
We have a police outpost in my community but unfortunately despite drawing the attention of the outpost close to us to what was happening, they couldn’t report properly to the DPO. Then I decided to call him (DPO) directly with the only phone that I had left on me that hadn’t been stolen. Immediately we finished speaking, he rushed down to my village and I am telling you, if not because of him, I would have been killed by the hoodlums. The DPO and his reinforcements rescued me.
How were you able to make your way into the ceiling in that short period and in that condition?
Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. You know in Psychology, we have this theory that when the tension is so high, you can succeed. Maybe if you panic sometimes, anxiety will make you more creative.
How is the situation with your family now?
After the DPO and his team arrived, they barricaded the area, dispersed the mob, and apprehended three persons from the mob. When the situation was calm enough, my children and the other people inside the house were rescued.
At what point did you realize you and your family were in danger?
At first, I thought it was ordinary celebration, until I realised that they are after my life. It was at that point I called the security.
What steps are being taken over this?
I heard that three people were apprehended and are in the custody of Madobi LG Divisional Office. The other suspects we saw with our own eyes are still moving around in the village, but the District Head had summoned a community meeting, which comprise of stakeholders from our own part (about five of us), and five from the other party, the chief imam of the village and other important stakeholders. We really appreciate the role played by the district head, that is the Makaman Karaye. After that, he promised to liase with the security personnel to see that the culprits are brought to justice. He promised that nobody will do this and go scot free.
So, those are some of the steps, and we are now monitoring these steps. The district head has asked other stakeholders who attended the meeting to go and implement the resolutions with their people so that people can live in peace. He drew the attention of the village head and even queried him as he is a member of a political party, which everybody knows. He even invited him to today’s meeting but he refused to come. We have drawn the attention of the Divisional officer to do the needful.
With this experience, will you be willing to participate in future election? If yes, why?
Yes. You know this is the worst as far as I can remember, and I have seen several scenes like this. We cannot surrender now, because of our people. I mean, we the educated ones, the intellectuals, I am not saying we should be partisan politicians, but we should be participating in politics. We should not fold our arms and allow illiterates to come and dictate for us, that is wrong. We have to be monitoring things as stakeholders. So, I cannot disengage myself because of my people.
What do you think can be done to prevent such experiences and ensure peaceful election in the state?
It’s quite unfortunate the way things unfolded. Nobody will prevent you from celebrating when you win election. When you contest in election, it’s either you win or not. But government property was stolen and vandalized, especially the area around Sabon Titi, Madobi. So, I think education is the key. Youths should not be brainwashed to be against good government policies. They should be educated, let them participate in politics but with decorum. Nobody will prevent you from exercising your right. Take what happened to me for example; all my clothes were stolen, and even the chickens in my house were slaughtered. This has to stop; we should not instigate youths to do things this despicable.