El-Rufai’s attack on Tinubu is signal Southwest won’t get presidency in 2023 - Shehu Sani
Senator Shehu Sani

Senator representing Kaduna Central, Comrade Shehu Sani in this interview with The Guardian said Nigeria remains as country today because of the Southwest and failure to compensate the region might lead to the end of Nigeria. He said the dominance of the North in governance and politics, and the long years of ruling the country does not translate to solving myriads of challenges ravaging the region.

What do you make of Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s comment on how to unhorse Bola Ahmed Tinubu as godfather of Lagos politics? 

The attack on Tinubu is for three reasons. One is to provoke the Asiwaju to a new phase of internal war within the APC, which will eliminate him from the sphere of President Muhammadu Buhari and turn him into an adversary.

The second reason for the act of provocation against Asiwaju is that there is a calculated plot to deny the Southwest or even the Southern part of the country rotation of power in 2023. And the best way to ensure that that materialize is, by getting into fisticuffs, into political combat between the Northern top ranks of the APC and the Southwestern top ranks of the party. 

There is a school of thought in the North among the ruling political elites that are close to President, that even without the votes of the Southwest, that the North can still produce the president in 2023. And as such, the attack on Tinubu is a trigger to begin realization of that. 

And the third reason for the attack on Tinubu is simply to send a message that they are prepared to fight anybody for this 2023 and for his own personal ambition.

 

Let me tell you this, when I was denied the senatorial ticket in APC, before I left the party, I told the Asiwaju and Adams Oshiomhole that el-Rufai wants Shehu Sani or Sulieman Hunkuyi and all the forces against him in APC in kaduna to be out of the party. So, that will create a base and platform for him to be able to concentrate in launching his attacks outside of Kaduna. I told Asiwaju and Oshiomhole that el-Rufai would fight three people when he gets re elected. He will fight Asiwju, Adams Oshiomhole and Buhari; and now by being elected, he has got what he wants. 

The time he will go after Buhari that will be when he is clear he doesn’t have a case in court again. When he is out of the litigation challenging his election, then that will be the time he is going to go after the three of them. He is not known to be a person with permanent loyalty. His attachment to Buhari is for political survival and Self-preservation. It is about protecting himself. It is about consolidating himself because he has come to understand Buhari’s popularity, his footprint and Buhari’s inroads into the hearts of the Northern masses.

 

So the only way for him to strengthen his political base is by aligning himself with Buhari. But Buhari will come to know that the man he helped in 2015, the man he helped in 2019 will turn against him, as he was able to turn against Obasanjo and Atiku. There is nothing that Buhari has done for el-Rufai that wasn’t done by Obasanjo, but where are they today. So I can tell you that the attack on Tinubu is the beginning of a long battle to systematically undermine the possibility of rotation of power in 2023, to the Southern part of Nigeria.

And to achieve that, they have to raise a war that would provoke Asiwaju, eliminate him and lead to his arrest and prosecution. They will be able to achieve that, by aligning themselves with forces within the APC who are not in Asiwaju’s good book, including governors, ministers who are not in his good terms with him. They know he is an obstacle, they know very well that Asiwaju has the master key to removing the carpet under the feet of APC in 2023.

They used Asiwaju to fight Saraki and it ended that way in kwara, so now they are turning against Asiwaju, so as to be able to mobilise forces against him. They could not do it before 2019 election, in view of the imminent threat the party face in the Southwest, having to battle the resurgence of PDP in that region. 

But don’t you expect President Buhari to intervene and advise APC members against attacking Tinubu? 

The unfortunate thing is that President Buhari is weak when it comes to the issue of calling el-Rufai to order.

Buhari is incapable of questioning el-Rufai. For all that he has done to us in Kaduna state, for all that we underwent, including physical attacks on our offices and the persecution we have suffered, the alienation we have suffered within the party, and even the destruction of the house of Senator Hunkuyi, Buhari has not been able to call Nasiru to order.

El-rufai is the one who understands the psyche of Buhari and he is using it to his own maximum advantage. And Buhari’s policy of allowing things to start in a small scale and move to a bigger scale where he will be trying to find solution to it would lead to the final destruction of the APC.

So I can tell you that if Buhari refuses to call Nasiru to order as far as Asiwaju’s case is concerned then it will reach a level where it will be too late for the President himself to intervene. Because el-Rufai has continuously got what he wanted and continues to go away with it without being checked. And part of the reason why he is softening on Buhari now, apart from litigations right, left and center is the fact that, they are waiting to see the kind of persons he is going to appoint into his cabinet. 

If Asiwaju’s nominees dominate Buhari’s cabinet, then know it vey well that war will reach Buhari’s doorstep.

So Buhari will have a choice between aligning himself with Asiwaju, who has helped him in 2015 to assume office and in 2019 to be re-elected or align himself with Nasiru, who has benefited from his good will. So it’s a choice for Buhari to choose.

The whole idea is that they have got all what they wanted from President Buhari in 2015 and 2019, so he is no longer going to be useful in 2023.

Knowing full well the challenges he (Buhari) is facing – insecurity, the frustrations, the dashed hope and disappointment that the masses of the North have experienced with him; they know that they are done with Buhari in 2019 and they are navigating new waters to build a new platform that will cause them to be relevant in 2023. And el Rufai believes that with his experiment of the Muslim-Muslim ticket in Kaduna that has worked for him, that there is possibility in having a Northerner still to contest in 2023. Any person from the South that thinks power is going to the South in 2023 without a struggle is daydreaming or he is building his own castle in the air.

So we should expect crises?

The way forward first of all is for the President himself, to read the riot act to people around him and the political stalwarts under his own control, that he has a legacy to leave and whoever is with him should assist him and consolidate on his efforts in 2023. If the President stands akimbo or aloof and watches the way he has done, it will reach a point that he will not be able to control it.

Adams Oshiomhole cannot call the party to order because he is seen to be on the side of Asiwaju. If you recall, I said the reason why Nasiru wasn’t fighting Buhari and Tinubu from 2015 to 2019 is because his hands are full with the battle he is fighting within his state. There is Shehu sani, Yero Makama, among others in PDP fighting him in the state.

In order to remove me out of the APC and deny me ticket, literally, the governor even went to the extent of going to Oshiomhole and the President. He was 24 hours in the office of the APC chairman and the President begging and kneeling down for them to accept his candidates.

They thought they had a choice of who to support, between a governor, or a senator, and they ended up supporting the governor, not knowing that his agenda for getting us out of the party is for him to have no distraction in terms of sending his missiles outside of the state.

Now, this is what they have created for themselves. Now if the President behaves the way he used to, by standing on the fence and watching el-Rufai attack Tinubu, attack politicians from the Southwest, the problem will become much bigger than the President will ever think he could handle. And his government will be submerged and undermined by political infighting that will make it impossible for him to achieve anything or function after 2019.

From your observations, 2023 might determine whether Nigeria survives or north. Do you think the North can still win elections without the Southwest should el Rufai and company go ahead with their agenda?

I heard somebody trying to justify the elimination or alienation/marginalization of the Southeast on the basis that they did not vote for Buhari. That is an act of provocation and it’s also an act of incitement. 

Firstly, if you say the Igbos and the Southeast cannot benefit from this administration on the basis that they did not vote for the President and the ruling party because they have a different political ideology and choices, you are only emboldening anarchists, ultra-nationalists and secessionists. You are also creating a room for crisis and bloodshed in Nigeria.

Secondly, anybody from the North who thinks that we should continue to retain power without the South is not a student of history. And he is not also a person that has been watching, observing and understanding the critical events within Africa and in Third World nations today.

Nigeria is a fragile country that is still struggling to be united. We have never been more divided than we are today. Manipulating the ethnic and religious or regional sentiments of people in the North for political expediency is a race to disaster in Nigeria.

The northern ruling political elites must understand that peace does not begin and end with winning elections. Peace begins and ends with justice, farness, equity, and with the need to carry all parts of the country along.

The reason why Nigeria is still united today, as far as what has happened in the last 45 years, is because the Southwest has refused to buy into the secessionists’ agenda. They have also reaffirmed their commitment to one Nigeria and the support for the Presidency of Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari has tried up to three times to become the president of Nigeria. It became impossible until the Southwest endorsed him, so it is not possible to now show act of ingratitude and to turn your backs against the people who stood by you.

Look at the North today, the Northeast is ravaged by terrorism and insurgency, the Northwest is under the siege of bandits, kidnappers and Killers. Blood is flowing continuously in the North-central and kidnapping, ethno-religious crises are common there too. Look at Kaduna; Birnin Gwari has become a local government under siege of kidnappers.

In Kajuru here, Christians and Muslins are always at war with one another. All the security chiefs in Nigeria, including the Defence Minister are from the North, the President is from the north. 

Now, it shows us that dominance in the sphere of politics and longevity in terms of ruling a country does not translate to solving problems in this region. Until and unless we show gratitude to the Southwest for supporting the North to produce a President in 2015, and now, it will force the Southwest to align with South-south and South-East, then Nigeria will be history.

So the North should look at a united Nigeria, in order for it to find solution to its own problems. 30% of industries in the North have closed down in the last ten years. 

Guardian

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