Malam Ibrahim Shekarau
About 24 hours before announcing his defection to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), a former minister of education and former governor of Kano State, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, sat down for a chat with reporters from Daily Trust on Sunday at his residence in Kano, where he narrated how the disagreement between him and Kwankwaso, which he blamed Prince Uche Secondus for stoking, got to a head, leaving him with little or no option but to defect. In the interview, Shekarau also talked about the kind of relationship that should be expected between him and President Muhammadu Buhari in the APC, his rumoured senatorial ambition, among many other issues.
By Lawan Danjuma Adamu & Yusha’u Ibrahim
There have been a lot of contrary reports about your defection, such that it will be right to ask: which party do you belong to?
At the moment I belong to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Of course, there are issues on ground, there are developments around the party, vis-à-vis my state branch, in respect of the national headquarters of the party. So we are rather at a crossroads at the moment. Sometime last week, the party pronounced the dissolution of the party structure in Kano and the whole of the family of the PDP in Kano objected to it. Worse still, the party, after this illegal and unconstitutional dissolution, went ahead last Monday to constitute a caretaker committee that is one-sided, which we also objected to.
So, as a result of that, we are particularly in consultation with my colleagues, stakeholders and political associates. But so far, I have not taken the membership card of any other party because a collective decision will be arrived at, whether or not to leave or to take the membership of another party.
A few hours ago, the national leadership of the APC visited your residence in the company of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and your discussions were suggestive of your impending migration to the APC. How soon is that going to happen?
Well, I think there is nothing new when leaders of other political parties decide to visit other leaders other than their own party members. Naturally, if I were in their position I would go out to woo the support of others. What they have done (which is not surprising or new), is that they cash in on the crisis in the PDP in Kano, particularly with its leadership at the national headquarters, and they came in to extend a hand of invitation, and I have told them: ‘we are still on consultation and this will be concluded very soon.’
I’m pretty sure this matter will be put to rest in the next 48 or 72 hours, at maximum. I have assured them that there are problems with the PDP structure in Kano. Yes, the party in the state has problem with the centre and I wouldn’t blame any other party coming in to cash in on that and extend their hands of friendship.
More so, as the national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Ganduje reminded us of what I have been saying for a long time, I’m one of the key players in the formation of the APC. In fact, three of us led the exercise for three months – myself from the ANPP, Tom Ikimi from the ACN and the late Garba Gadi, a former deputy governor of Bauchi State, from the CPC – much later, APGA joined under the leadership of Governor Rochas Okorocha and APC was given birth to. I played a very significant role in its formation and, of course, circumstances made me to leave in 2013, barely six months after the APC was formally registered.
So the visit today by the topmost level of the APC is an indication that they are coming to extend hands of friendship and see to the possibility of my coming in. But I have assured them that we are finalising our discussion. In fact, in the next 24 hours, we are going to have a major meeting with stakeholders in all the 44 local governments, all the PDP leaders from the wards, local governments, to state, will all be assembled and we will put the matter on the table and find out what the position of the stakeholders is. It is either we remain in the PDP and swallow this bitter pill of embarrassment of dissolving our executive unconstitutionally and appointing a caretaker that is populated by Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso’s men or we leave. We just cannot take this.
You cannot take it?
Yes, we cannot take it because it is unlawful. It is wrong, a very lopsided decision. If two parties are disagreeing and you decide to dissolve, the least I expect from them is to appoint a caretaker ccommittee with a neutral chairman from outside the state and a neutral secretary. This has been the tradition in all parties; if you are forming a caretaker committee to handle a state, usually the party brings in a responsible leader from another state, a responsible party man from outside the state as secretary, and then you pick from the disagreeing parties on an equal basis. We had this in 2013 when we came into the PDP from the APC. Of course we did not find any elected member on the ground. We met a caretaker committee being chaired by one Alhaji Kafayos from Yobe State. When we came in, it became obvious that because we were not involved in the caretaker committee, it was lopsided, so the party dissolved the caretaker committee and appointed one Colonel Mana to be chairman and appointed one Nahuce from Zamfara State as secretary and each side was asked to bring nine members, which we did. But in this case, a seven-member caretaker committee was formed, five of them are known to be full members and disciples of the other party, that is Kwankwasiyya.
So, the party literally handed over the Kano structure to Kwankwasiyya. Again, there was even a court injunction stopping the dissolution three days before it happened. Some concerned party members that were suspecting the dissolution because of the protracted crisis went to the High Court in Kano and stopped it. They were served the order of the court on a Wednesday, yet on a Friday, three days after, they pronounced the dissolution in spite of the court order. So I think a pre-planned script was being executed.
How did the disagreements begin?
The bottom-line of the crisis is when Kwankwaso came under the umbrella of the rAPC; they negotiated with a technical committee set up by the party, which was led by former Governor Liyel Imoke. The negotiation led to an agreement of some privileges offered to members of the rAPC and they took the final report to the chairman, but none of the stakeholders of the affected states was carried along. They were supposed to carry the demands of those coming in through the party leadership; that these people coming in are requesting for ABC. Then the party will invite the stakeholders (for example in Kano, myself and Aminu Wali are the well-known leaders and elders of the party) and say, ‘this is what the former governor of Kano is requesting, what do you say?’ If we have objection, we raise it and then the two of us will be brought to the table and negotiation will take place. When we arrive at a final decision, jointly, they will be asked to go back to the state and implement it. But none of us was involved and up to this moment, neither Aminu Wali nor I have seen the template, agreement or the terms. They are being kept under the table. But Kwankwaso, as a member of the technical committee from the rAPC, had the privilege of the complete agreement document and he called his men and told them and even released some of it on the social media. So we are getting embarrassed.
People kept coming and asking us, ‘Kwankwaso has been granted 51per cent and you are going to take 49per cent, automatic ticket for all legislators that came with Kwankwaso.’ And we asked, ‘when did this happen?’ We protested and the party leadership referred us to the Liyel Imoke committee that handled it. When we went to them, they asked us to please go and resolve and work together with Kwankwaso. We said, okay.
A meeting was convened in Kaduna at the instance of Kwankwaso. Really, we were to meet in Abuja, but he said he would be in Kaduna that day, we all went – Aminu Wali, myself, Senator Bello Hayatu Gwarzo and Senator Mas’ud El-Jibril Doguwa, the state chairman. We met with former Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso. He asked us: ‘Where is your copy of the agreement?’ We said we didn’t know about it. He said he had his own and that if we didn’t have there would be no discussion. So the meeting collapsed.
Our leader reported back to the committee and it initiated another meeting between the two groups and said each should bring five delegates. So, from our own side, Aminu Wali, myself, Senator Bello, Senator Doguwa and Engineer Sarki Labaran, who is an ex-officio member of the National Executive Committee (NEC), went, but Kwankwaso unfortunately did not attend. He sent an apology that he had some campaign already scheduled in Akwa Ibom and sent in four of his men – he would have been the fifth.
So, I raised issues with Imoke and asked: ‘Your Excellency, can you tell us the indices used in arriving at the conclusion that Kwankwaso deserves 51per cent of the structure in Kano?’ And there was no explanation. Nothing! We asked: ‘what informed your decision?’ We said we saw on social media, which we believe came from Kwankwaso’s men, about sharing of offices and told him we didn’t know about it, ‘can we have details?’ So, he said yes, there was some proposed sharing, it is the template, it is not necessarily to be applied, it is for a guide. We said, ‘can we have a copy?’ He said no, he too was having a copy because he was privileged to be a member. I asked: ‘what kind of argument is this?’ A and B are to go and negotiate, A has a copy of some terms while B hasn’t? So I started suspecting some foul play. But they said, ‘please go and negotiate, don’t mind the 51per cent.’ Still we could not arrive at anything.
Aminu Wali, out of his wisdom, decided to convene another meeting, a third one; this time, about seven of us, members of the NEC – Aminu Wali; myself; Senator Bello Hayatu; Senator Doguwa; former Speaker Salisu Buhari; Alhaji Wada Masu and Sarki Labaran. Kwankwaso came, and we made observations. Our quarrel was the 51- 49, which to start with. We did not even accept, even if it is true, so how do you even implement it? Who do you look at in the face as an elected officer who has two more years to go, because the congress was held in 2015, and tell him you are removing him? When you come to the state will you remove the chairman? Would you remove secretary? If you say go, a Kwankwasiyya man will come in, you are violating two or three sections of the constitution. The first one is that whoever is elected and having been returned as elected has been issued a certificate by the party and only four conditions will lead to such officer leaving his office – death, resignation, impeachment or disciplinary action. Anything outside this four, if you remove any officer and he goes to court, you will lose. We said these were the issues and also asked them, ‘why do you want to disrupt the leadership of a party six months to an election? You are going to go with a parallel leadership within the party and Kwankwasiyya is not a party. It is a personal organisation that is personal to him, and whoever he brings to occupy an office is representing his personal interest, unlike an elected person who is representing the generality of the party. So, you are going to have two parallel executives; one answerable to the party and another answerable to an individual. This is not neat. And you want to go into an election with this kind of disparity?’
Thirdly, the constitution provides that for any person to qualify to occupy an elected office in the party, you must have been a member of the party financially for a minimum of 18 months unless you are granted a waiver. And the process of the waiver has been explained. So, even if we are to go with this, they won’t qualify except they get a waiver. Another section of the constitution says any member of the party who defects and returns loses all the seniority and privileges he was enjoying before he defected. So why are you giving these people these outrageous privileges when the party’s constitution says they don’t deserve even one? We wrote all these to the party but they have not replied us.
At the third meeting, we went with a proposal to Kwankwaso, saying let’s not touch the elected officers. The next election that is around the corner is the election of ad hoc delegates. We said, since this had not been conducted let’s see how we could share it. Since there are now, principally, three groups (we were operating two: the group of the old PDP who remained after the departure of Kwankwaso and the old ANPP that transformed into the PDP and when Kwankwaso came back we became three groups), it is fair to do a tripartite arrangement that will allow us share the three delegates, one each for the three groups. Kwankwaso will bring one, Aminu Wali, one and Shekarau, one. The matter would have been solved before going to voting. For the local government national delegates (we have 44 local governments in the state), we came up with a formula because they are not divisible by three, we shared 15, 15, 14. This was not done arbitrarily. For each senatorial district, we listed the local governments alphabetically. We also listed our names in an alphabetical order – Aminu, Ibrahim, Rabi’u. Kano Central has 15 local governments. The first five went to Aminu, the second five went to Ibrahim and the third went to Rabi’u. That way, nobody would say, ‘why did you give Aminu local government Y or X?’ And nobody would say, ‘why are you putting Aminu’s name first?’ This is because Aminu comes before Ibrahim and Rabi’u. The Kano North has 13 local governments and Aminu took the first five, Ibrahim four and Rabi’u, four. We took the Kano South, which is 15 and Aminu took five, Ibrahim took six and Rabi’u took five. So if you add horizontally, Aminu has five of the Kano Central, five of the Kano North and five of the Kano South, making 15. Ibrahim will have five of the Kano Central, four of Kano North and six of Kano South, making 15. Rabi’u will have five of the Kano Central, four of the Kano North and five of Kano South, making 14.
We said each of the three of us should go to each of the local governments ascribed to his name and get one delegate. Rabi’u said, no, that what he wanted was 51-49per cent. He said he was not going to recognise that we were three groups, that Aminu Wali and I were one and he is one, so it is two groups and the sharing should be 50-50, and that his party has granted him 51. We said we could not take it and that meeting collapsed.
Two days later, Liyel Imoke’s committee invited Aminu Wali to go and broker some peace, as an elder. He talked to me, talked to Kwankwaso and demanded that the three of us met. As a result of the appeal and my desire to end this protracted issue, I consulted and came up with a proposal that the state executive be shared into three. It was a big sacrifice. They are 29. My argument was that if you limited disruption at the state level only, they are fewer in number, they are more matured to understand the situation and they will easily adjust among themselves, unlike the village man at the ward level where the hatred and the displeasure will be more. So we said the 29 would be shared 10:10:9 and whoever got nine would produce the chairman. So the breakdown will be the chairman plus eight others; the secretary plus nine others, and the deputy chairman plus nine others.
So, when the three of us sat at Aminu Wali’s residence, I said: ‘Governor Rabi’u, you and I have a responsibility to our people back home; we have nothing to lose by making sacrifices; we have more to gain.’ I said, ‘In the history of politics, since the creation of Kano and even Nigeria, we have been the most beneficiaries of politics in Kano, the two of us. We are not waiting for anybody to form government and appoint us.’ I made many pleas to him and then started my submission, saying here is a new proposal to move forward. Rabi’u still said, no. He insisted on 51-49. That was the fourth meeting. We said, ‘ok, Aminu Wali report back to the committee,’ and this committee is the one that has been reporting to the chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.
The chairman never called us as a party leader, instead he allowed this committee to be going in-between. Unfortunately, this committee has all along been reporting to the party chairman that we have been disagreeing, uncooperative and not allowing things to move forward. To them, allowing things to move forward is to take what Kwankwaso wants us to accept. This is unfair. It was on the basis of this that two days after that meeting, they said the party executive had been dissolved, without calling us, discussing with us or hearing from us. After the second meeting, when I realised that we were heading nowhere, I told Aminu Wali that we should start committing our submissions to writing.
We drafted two letters. In the first one, we argued on the point of the constitutional provisions on the basis of which we said there could not be any sharing of the structure. We reported to them that on August 26, all the stakeholders met and resolved not to accept sharing of structure, automatic ticket for those who joined, and that we only agreed on sharing the delegates at the ward and local government levels. The letter was never replied.
Three days later, we wrote another letter to the party, telling them that we had made XYZ offers. It was not replied either.
Have you been given the copy of the Liyel Imoke committee report?
No. In fact, the funniest thing, which angered Aminu Wali the most, is that he is a member of the committee, which had 15 or 20 members. It is the same committee that negotiated with 31 parties, with whom the PDP signed a memorandum of understanding, but for the rAPC, the committee set up a technical committee, which is a sub-committee of the main committee headed by the chairman of the main committee, to meet the technical committee of the rAPC. Up to the time they agreed with rAPC members, to the moment the chairman appended his signature, agreeing to this allocation (of 51%) the technical committee never reported back to the main committee.
So, Aminu Wali kept saying, ‘I’m a member of this committee, when did this happen?’ Imoke used the opportunity of being chairman of the technical committee and the main committee. He should have remembered that he is answerable to the main committee. It is the main committee that will report to the chairman.
Another illegality is that the chairman never tabled this decision before the working committee, which is the management team, the 18 of them. It was never explained at the Board of Trustees (BoT) meeting and was not tabled at NEC meeting to be passed ward by ward as the resolution of these organs.
In fact, at the BoT meeting, of which we are members, a former Senate president raised an objection, saying, ‘Mr. Chairman, we cannot approve of what we have, the details of which we have not seen.’ The matter was swept under the carpet. Senator Bello Hayatu raised his hand and said ‘Mr. Chairman, my state is affected. May we know the details of what you agreed between the PDP and rAPC?’ This was never tabled.
Why do you think the terms of the agreement are being hidden from you?
I don’t know. We have been suspecting; we are party members. At this level, I’m a member of all the organs of the party. I’m the chairman of all the former governors of the PDP, about 30 of us, so what are you hiding from me? Another thing that made us suspicious that Kano was being targeted was that in Benue, the governor coming in was given 60per cent but David Mark and Suswam said over their dead bodies, not even one per cent. In Jigawa, they were given 20per cent because a senator defected, but it was never implemented. Sokoto was given 50per cent, but it was never implemented and there was no quarrel. In Kwara, the entire executive of the PDP resigned and went to the APC, so Bukola and his governor found an open space, so no big deal there. But none has been implemented in other places. Why is it that the one of Kano became of high interest to the national chairman to warrant arbitrary dissolution? So, we suspect that maybe, there is a hidden agenda between them and Rabi’u Kwankwaso for whatever reason.
Could the reason be that he is an old PDP person?
But all the others are too. Governor Samuel Ortom was PDP, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal was PDP.
What, in your opinion, is behind Kwankwaso’s desperation to ensure the dissolution of the state executive?
I think the target is to implement the 51-49% through the backdoor. If you dissolve now and bring in a caretaker who favours him, it is very likely that they will not conduct a fresh congress between now and the general elections. So, it is the caretaker that will conduct primaries to produce state assembly candidates, National Assembly, up to gubernatorial candidates, and since it is his boys that are handling it, only God knows what will happen. Is it that the PDP leadership does not want to win election in Kano? Is it that Kwankwaso is a special specie in the party? Why all these special interest in Kano? I personally felt we are not needed. In fact, I had concluded to go and pick my presidential nomination form last Monday.
I was away to Bayelsa on Sunday, and when I returned, I discovered that I had to take another journey to Lagos early Monday morning, which was inevitable. So I postponed it to Tuesday and had even invited one or two of my directors to arrange the purchase of the form. On my return on Monday evening, my director of press, Sule Ya’u Sule, put a call to me, saying: ‘Your Excellency, did you hear that a new caretaker committee has been formed?’ I said I didn’t know about it. He said they had been inaugurated and mentioned their names, and all of them belong to Kwankwaso. They are from Kano, not neutral people from outside.
My immediate response to him was: ‘I’m not going to take this; I will rather leave than stay with this kind of clumsy arrangement.’ This was the point where Sule drew his conclusion and made a release that night that I was going to leave the PDP. Of course, while this up and down was going on, I would have been surprised if the APC or any other party did not cash in on it. So they started visiting at home, including my former friends in the APC, asking me to come back and join them, which is natural. That was why papers carried it that I had already defected. That placed me in a difficult position because I had not consulted then. I was only sharing my spontaneous response with him, that I could not take an arrangement that was coming when the pain of the dissolution had not gone and you are worsening it by appointing a caretaker committee that is one-sided.
Is that how you put your plan to pick the presidential nomination form on hold?
That Monday, when I learnt that my state had been handed over to some selfish group opposed to me, I said if the national headquarters would treat me like this, what hope do I have of a fair treatment as a presidential aspirant among 12 others. I have been singled out for political persecution within my own party. Why is it that it is only in Kano that the state executive has been dissolved even though we are not the only ones that have not implemented the claimed sharing template, which we never saw?
What I expected Kwankwaso to do was to be magnanimous enough, even if the party gave him 100per cent. He should have said, ‘thank you, we will go back to our brothers since we are together. Let’s sit down and share this thing that has been given to me,’ so that we move together. If a stranger goes to your house and your father takes half of your house and gives him, if he comes back, courtesy demands that he says, ‘thank you very much, your father has done this but I want us to come and live together in the house.’ That is courteous. I’m not blaming him because the party gave to him all these frivolous, illegal and unconstitutional privileges.
For the automatic ticket thing, my stand has always been that it is illegal and undemocratic. If you have been aspiring to become a state assembly member for two or three years and somebody who defected and abused the party had the privilege of being elected a member of the House through another platform and he now defected from that platform that gave that privilege of being a member, coming back to you, then your party uses it as an excuse that since he is bringing additional electoral value, he will be given automatic right to continue and be elected back to the House; that is fraudulent. It is not fair to a person who has been campaigning for two years. The fairest thing to do is come back home, declare your aspiration, swim alongside other aspirants and subject yourself to the rules of the party and get the ticket through either consensus or primary election.
Do you see this as a replay of what happened in 2013 when you left the APC for PDP?
It is the same scenario. Unfortunately, I happen to be a victim of the same thing. Incidentally, it was the same template Bukola, Kwankwaso and co were offered to come into the APC that they took and gave to the Liyel Imoke’s PDP committee. For the APC, it worked then because there was no elected executive.
I suspect probably that the defected APC members, Kwankwaso and co might have convinced the Liyel committee members, who are totally ignorant of what happened when they went to the APC and gave them the template.
This time, it is even worse because you are dissolving an elected executive. I told the national chairman: ‘Supposed the rAPC demanded 20 or 50per cent of the NWC, would you be the first to resign? The constitutional provision that protects you is the same constitution that protects the ex-officio of the ward. You have equal status in the constitution, with only your roles differing. So, why should you, as national chairman, direct that somebody occupying an office covered by the same law of your party should be sacked to bring in another person? The person won‘t be happy. Changing anybody should be with collective agreement. It is too clumsy.
These things you are telling us sharply contrast the image of the two of you cheerfully standing side by side only some weeks ago. How did all the problems suddenly peak?
To be fair to him, before the take-off of the discussion, he visited Aminu Wali and my house as well and his media boys took those shots. Everybody was happy and was saying, ‘Yeah, we are going to work together, there is no problem, and so on.’ The cordial relationship, one-on- one, is okay, but what we are talking now has nothing to do with our persons. There are no personal grudges, and even if there were, they are now a thing of the past.
Coming back to your complaints against the party for ‘handing it to a selfish group,’ can you tell us how Kwankwaso is opposed to you?
He is not opposed to me as a person; he is opposed to the party. Kwankwasiyya is a group, not a party. What we expected was the party to form a caretaker committee among party members. Of course, Kwankwasiyya members are members of the party, no doubt, but the way they were given the totality of the executive committee made it a group affair. So it is a group that is opposed to the party.
If within the next 48 hours you are supposed to take a decision and Kwankwaso agrees to your terms, will you forgo the planned defection?
Yes, because it is not me but our stakeholders and my political associates. It is not for Kwankwaso to come and tell me, it is the party. If tomorrow Kwankwaso goes to the party and says, ‘look, I have had a rethink. What you offered me is unreasonable, it’s not fair, let’s go back to the drawing table and see what we can give and take.’ There is nothing wrong, even at the last minute, for one to be given a fair hearing and to reconsider their stance.
So it is not as if two of you cannot be in one party at the same time?
Nothing happened between me and Kwankwaso. The blame is on the party, and in particular, the national chairman.
Assuming you decide to skip the consultations with stakeholders, what decision does your mind tell you to announce to the public?
My decision is that as long as our demand is not met, which is a collective stakeholders’ demand to restore the entire executive that was dissolved, remove the caretaker that was put in place and Kwankwaso accepts that there are three groups in the party and that anything to be shared will be among the three groups in the party, they are not serious. Unless these demands are met within 48 hours, my decision is that the PDP is not interested in my being in the party and I will take my leave.
You are sure others will be going with you?
Of course yes, my supporters will go with me.
We asked this question because of the speculation that your anointed governorship candidate for the PDP in 2015, Malam Salihu Sagir Takai, may not be going with you. We heard people say that he did not join you to receive the national leadership of the APC and Governor Ganduje because of this reason.
I am yet to find out why he was not here. I didn’t even know, but I will find out why he was not here. So, I will not do anything until I find out why he was not there. We have been meeting up to the last few days with all our stakeholders and he was in attendance. You see, let me make it clear that it is a matter of interest, perception, agreement and so on.
When we left the APC for the PDP, a number of our supporters remained behind. In Ganduje’s cabinet, about three or four of my people who stayed back in the APC are still there today. Only God will have a perfect situation in matters of the people. The same thing happened when Kwankwaso left the PDP and Aminu Wali and others remained. Even now that he has defected from the APC back to the PDP, a chunk of people that left to the APC with him are still there. So, I will not be surprised if at the last moment we decide to go into the APC and some members, no matter how close, choose to remain behind.
Why does the APC seem to be the best place for you?
I wouldn’t say it is the best place to go because the word ‘best’ is subjective. We could have gone to the SDP or PRP. Today, there are over 80 registered political parties. It is only rational to consider an environment of like-minds. In politics you want to keep people’s will in a larger environment. That is the beauty of politics. In Nigeria today, without belittling other parties, the parties to beat are the PDP and the APC. These are the parties that are nearly representative enough; they are not regional, they are not tribal, they are not religious and every Dick and Harry knows they are truly national.
Are you taking your presidential ambition to the APC?
Presidential ambitions are dictated by circumstances and time. In 2011, I was not only an aspirant, I became a real candidate. It was as a result of agitation. This time around, immediately after the 2015 elections, my party passed a resolution that come 2019, the candidate would come from the North. That decision narrowed down the bracket to choose from, that is the North. So people started counting, and by some accident I was among those being pushed, kind of, with agitation and pleading. Of all the 13 aspirants in the PDP today I was the only one that was a candidate. None of them has ever won an election to participate as a candidate in an INEC election, at presidential level. So I can claim to be the most experienced of them in terms of participation as a presidential candidate. Even Atiku Abubakar that tried his hand severally was never a candidate produced through the ballot box at the party level.
Since I’m now in the APC and before my arrival, the party had taken a position that Buhari is the sole candidate, so 2019 is a closed chapter in the APC.
Is it true you may settle for a senatorial seat instead?
No, I have not spoken to anybody about it. I have not even made up my mind about it. Look, in 2011 I knew the Senate seat was there. In 2015, when I was in the PDP I knew the seat was there and still I didn’t go for it. So I’m not into the APC for any position and we have not negotiated any deal. When we were going into the PDP, I didn’t negotiate any condition with the PDP. It was out of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s magnanimity and the love to work with me that two weeks after our defection he sent the then national chairman, Ahmad Ma’azu to say, ‘please, the president wants you to be part of his cabinet.’ I accepted and that’s how I became a minister. It is not as if I negotiated for it.
You have a disagreement with President Muhammadu Buhari, how are you going to cope when you join him in the APC?
I will not want to call it a disagreement. I have never had one-on-one disagreement with Buhari, all my life, not even once. You see, there was some perception, kind of.
What actually happened?
There are few people around President Buhari who are mostly from Kano, They are his disciples who, when we came into office, felt that it was their own government. And you know people think everything goes in government. Those people who came with frivolous demands and I didn’t agree because the process was contrary to bureaucracy and the rule of law. I’m happy that none of them is around him anymore. Maybe he discovered all of them and sacked them, or they found out that they didn’t fit in and all left. I have been vindicated. I don’t hold any grudge against him and never mentioned anything in public against him. I have no problem with him.
You think the two of you would get along well?
In this case, he being the senior, the burden is on him, not me. I respect my elders, I respect him. I’m going into the APC as a humble member of the party as I did when I went to the PDP.
What is your parting word to the PDP?
I pray that the turbulence we passed through would be a learning process. They should pick up the wrongs and right them. They should discover that democracy is about being fair to all. As a leader, no matter your disagreement with other parties, be fair to all. I hope they would learn from it.