Saturday, October 27, 2012

There May Not Be 2015 In Nigeria If… Kanti Bello


Sen. Mahmud Kanti Bello represented Katsina North from 1999 -2007. He explains why he is today a chieftain of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC after defecting from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. In this interview with Ruth choji, he enumerates the excesses of the PDP, and takes a deep look into the continued existence of Nigeria as one indivisible country.

What was responsible for your defection to the PDP? How justifiable was your action?

It is simple. I am a patriotic Nigerian, and I am not playing politics for gain or to be in government. I am playing politics to help my people. I joined politics because I believe in the unity of this country and it has given me a lot of opportunity. I feel I should serve this country to the best of my ability. I was in PDP and I looked at the situation I found myself in.

Every morning when I buy LEADERSHIP Newspapers, in one corner, I see Sam Nda- Isaiah saying, ‘two point, three trillion dollar’ and at the end of the day, only some little kids were brought in, Bamanga’s son and so on. There have been many probes and every time, we hear ‘money has been stolen’. So I am not a thief, I can assure you. I graduated 41 years ago as an engineer, I have held so many positions of responsibility without being indicted by anybody about stolen money and it pains me that each time they say PDP is a bunch of crooks and somebody is going on.

So I started having a feeling that ‘I am not a thief,’ but if I keep working with this people in the same party, who already, everybody in the street, even local villagers believe are a party of thieves, it would be difficult for me and honestly I am not a thief. And I am not in a position to change the perception…

If everybody decamps like that, then who will change it?

Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, will change it. Whether you like it or not, there is no way you can say our leader, Muhammadu Buhari is a thief. Compare him with his contemporaries, you cannot say so. So we need a leader with the symbol of integrity.

Again I have come to realize after deep reflections that I have been in PDP for only 5years because I was an ANPP man anyway. On deeper reflection, I looked at what has changed in this nation since PDP has been in power? I happened to be living in Kano now as a temporary resident and I also have a lot of business links in Kano.

What I do know for certain and this is a fact is that I realized that I came from an area that in the last 13 years in Kano - you know how Kano used to the vibrant in the transport sector, that we used to have at least ten flights to Lagos per day, but today, it is just one flight to Lagos from Kano.

Since 1960 there were over two hundred and sixty companies in Kano state, oil mill factories, confectioneries, textiles factories, shoes factories and so on, but today, there are less than ten of such companies left. Our people are being subjected to economic degradation.

Come to Kaduna, go to Kakuri where there used to be factories, today it is infested by cockroaches and rats. What happened to federal government factories like the Steel Rolling mills? My people are agrarian, but government decided to sell even the fertilizer company, now we have to import fertilizer. People are now poorer and I look at it, if PDP continues ruling this country, there will be no future for our younger generation.

PDP is now a cult, some sort of secret society, it is a big cabal, they cannot stop stealing because they are accustomed to it, their hands are always itching to steal government money and they are so incompetent that if you are a competent person, they will not appoint you into any position. Only sycophants can be appointed and I want to serve my country. So when I think of these things and with my conscience was pricking me, I decided to leave the PDP to the CPC with the aim of changing this country for better.

So has your departure made any impact?

Well, find out. I joined politics alone and when I was leaving, I wrote them a letter that I am leaving and thanked them. I can’t start saying what I have done because everybody knows that Kanti Bello cannot be purchased. I am a principle man and I do things on principles.

But do you think credible elections will change the state of the nation?

That is our hope because if there are credible elections, I don’t see how PDP can win. I don’t think any sensible Nigerian will vote for them because it is not just the question of economy, even our security now is gone. If these people are not kicked out, I have my doubts if there will there be a Nigeria in 2015 with these killings. I am not saying that there will be a coup or something, but there might be civil disturbance.

Look at what is happening in Maiduguri and other places.

But will leaving the PDP make them stop what they are doing? If I know they will stop, I will not leave. But that is why I joined the CPC to kick them out in 2015. We want to chase the government from the federal level down to the state, and bring in people who can change this country. Look PDP doesn’t love this country at all. Look at the way they do things. The first lady left this country for about two months now; nobody is talking because the cabal has stopped the press.

When Umaru Yar’Adua was sick and left this country, every day, even LEADERSHIP kept saying that, ‘we need to know” but this man even though he was sick talked to us through the BBC. But nobody told us what happened to our lovely first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan. I sympathized with her and if she was sick, they ought to have told us so we prayed for her.

Why did they cover up? Why is it that nobody is talking about the cover up?

During Yar’Adua, they said there was some cabal who were covering up, but today the first lady had been away for over two months and nobody asked questions. May be we need the Bayelsa State government to tell us because she is their permanent secretary, but somebody should tell us something because that is what they did to Umaru. Else am forced to ask if we have a different standard for the North and South?

Do you believe INEC can conduct credible elections in 2015 , then?

I have my doubts because I believe Jega is so arrogant. He might be a straight forward fellow, but he has some air of arrogance that he doesn’t know things that are wrong. I have forgiven him for handing over my elections to people who were not elected by anybody. I think the judiciary connived and stopped the Katsina people from choosing who will lead them.

But it is too late now, I cannot change it. But the problem is that, I read recently that, the attorney general said, INEC chairman is not in a position to appoint the secretary of the organ. Now, the secretary is the main holder of the finance of the electoral body and is supposed to be appointed by government. This means that all the work we have done in the electoral laws have gone.

Whoever pays the piper dictates the tune. Jega may want to conduct credible elections by spending this amount or that, but the secretary might say no. So that is the beginning of rigging because then INEC is no longer independent.

An independent body should have a first line charge, they should have direct funding without going through protocols and whoever the chairman is, should be the accounting officer if you want credibility. There are so many insinuations about the last elections. You know they started elections in some places and by 12 noon, Jega was made to cancel it because they wanted to see the strength of PDP and by the next week, they knew what to do.

There were lots of speculations that South/South, South/East didn’t even vote, they just wrote their results. But all these allegations are there, Jega should try and redeem his own credibility. Even if he wants to do so, government is steeping in with some new things that will make it difficult for him to restore his credibility. For me he is no longer as credible as I thought he was.

Are you worried about the state of insurgency and unwarranted destruction of lives and properties in the North?

Who is not worried? Only Jonathan is not worried and doesn’t give a damn. But first we must find out what these Boko Haram want because they are just killing people, you must want something. I believe that there are original Boko Haram who believe that their leader was killed extra-judicially and then there are the criminals who go to villages and kill people indiscriminately and run away.

Then this government is not sincere because when the first bomb started in October 1, 2010, it was blamed on the North as then we were prompting IBB to contest. They even arrested the director of our campaign organisation and tried to put it on him. Only for that man to go to Aljeazera from South Africa, claiming responsibility and that he is from South/South and he was doing it because they were asked to blame Northerners.

This is very disturbing for us as a nation. If these allegations were true, then why did they elect Jonathan?

By now a serious country would have started asking for his extradition, but who is doing it. So you can see that, there is some elements of ‘kill them because they are northerners ’because if the north is destabilised, who will come out and vote in 2015? But if there is so much chaos in the North, do they think that this country can be stable? That is why some of us who are passionate about this country joined the opposition to see that these people are kicked out, including their people who are less sensible because the whole thing is damn irresponsible.

What is the way forward?

I don’t have a solution to it because they appointed a new security adviser and they have now put new service chiefs. Your question should be directed to Jonathan, not to me because I am just an ordinary citizen, I am even afraid for my life, I don’t know if tomorrow if I am passing on my way to Kaduna, somebody will stop and try to kill me at Gwanin Gora village, I am also afraid that they will not send somebody to kill me and say that, it is Boko Haram.

The thing started like a joke in 2010 and today, it is escalating. This means that the government is incompetent. People are more worried and afraid than when we had the civil war in the sixties and seventies.

There has been renewed agitation for a revisit of the on shore/off shore dichotomy, what is your take on this?
These are some of the things that made me afraid of the Jonathan leadership. He woke up one day and said that we should not talk about the on shore/off shore dichotomy. Some people are afraid that it is because it is more advantageous to the South-South, which is why he said it, the truth of the matter is that in any county, there is a limit of which one is on shore and which one is off shore within your continental shelf.

If anything is discovered on the high seas of any nation, it belongs to the whole nation, you cannot sit down and say that because my state is on the side of the sea and because I am producing oil, I must have the largest share or that it is my own.

At what level does a state become a state? So for me, this issue should be discussed and we find a way out. The truth of the matter is that, if there is any cohesion, anything found in the deep sea, it should belong to the whole nation, but then typical of Jonathan, he came out and said no, ‘most of our governors have also chickened out, the national assembly has chickened out, they cannot talk because the Boss has spoken, whether he is right or wrong, even the opposition is not saying anything.

The only opposition came from Kwankwaso who is also a member of PDP, but he had the guts and the thinking to talk about it. Like Shema now, he will not talk because he is not interested in the benefit of our people…
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