Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano state, has opened up on his relationship with his predecessor and erstwhile boss, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. Ganduje and Kwankwaso, both of the ruling All Progressives Congress, are currently engaged in a face-off , with the governor saying he won’t allow the lawmaker to control his administration from outside.
Kwankwaso, the immediate former governor of Kano state, is the senator representing Kano Central at the National Assembly. Ganduje was Kwankwaso’s deputy when the two served two terms. Speaking to Blueprint in an exclusive interview, Governor Ganduje said some stakeholders, including governors, community and party leaders, had attempted 17 times to reconcile him with his estranged friend, but failed.
Ganduje, however, said he still has a lot of respect for his former boss, stressing, however, that he would not reconcile with him on his(former governor) own terms. He said the lawmaker has consistently evaded all reconciliatory attempts initiated by some prominent citizens and party stalwarts.
“First of all, the National Working Committee of our party and some stakeholders were invited to look into our matter. I was there and I made my case, he too made his case, and then they said, go inside the room and sort out yourselves. We met in this very house (Kano state Governor’s Lodge at Asokoro, Abuja), and the elders said, we should go and sort out ourselves.
He said he was not going. He banged the door and left, saying he was not a small boy. “There was a time some governors tried to reconcile us. They said he should come to Malam Aminu Kano House in Abuja, he said he was not coming. I said, don’t worry, that is not a problem, let’s go to him. We met him, and had a very lengthy discussion. We even shook hands, and yet there was no reconciliation. He was always abusing me. “And then one senator came and said he wanted to reconcile us.
I said I have been counting the number of attempts people have made to reconcile us, about 17 times, but to no avail. And then, he said what role can he play, and I said yes, there is a role you could play now. Go and tell him that it is even shameful for a third party to try and reconcile us, why not the two of us sit down together and iron things out.
“I said whenever I am in Abuja, we will go to his house, myself and himself will drive in a car, either he drives or I drive, because when I was a director, we used to drive around Abuja together. So, I said, tell him that when I come to Abuja, I will take him, then two of us will go around Abuja, sit and discuss and iron out our problems. Or he will come to my house, and when the sycophants aroundus see us drive together, they will leave us.
Believe you me; he said no, that he was not coming to my house. Th at man is still a senator. He said no, we are no longer friends and then I said well, good luck. “All eff orts for us to reconcile failed, and unfortunately, the problem has gotten to the local level. I did all what I could to reconcile us, but he refused. What kind of a person is he? He wants to control the government from Abuja. But till today I respect him,” the governor further explained. Ganduje said the former governor programmed his administration to fail because he allegedly set some traps for him even before he took over as governor in 2015. “After I won the elections in 2015, before handing-over, I started seeing some elements of undercuts from his body language.
He didn’t attend my swearing-in; he just handed over and left for Abuja because he had something to do. I said okay and went for the swearing-in. “First, even before handingover, he said he has paid all the contractors in Kano, but the contractors went to radio stations and said he was telling lies. You could see that he was trying to heat up the system even before handing-over.
“Some months before he left, he declared free education at all levels, knowing well that it was clearly impossible. When he said free education, the Vice Chancellor of Bayero University said okay, Kano has the highest number of students in the university, this is the fi gure, please give us the money. Because, since you declared free education, what it means is that they will not pay single kobo.
He said the VC should divide the figure into four that he will pay and the VC said no, our budget is not based on that. Students in other universities were paying, and yet he said it was free education. “And also, few weeks before he left, he was sending students in thousands abroad; some studying Chemistry, Geography, Biology, Engineering, Medicine, thousands of them.
And you know how much it is costing us so far because of the fall of the naira. He paid N4 billion on foreign scholarships. “When we calculated that, each foreign student will get N68, 000 per month. It was huge expenses considering our challenges occasioned by the drop in the pump prices of oil at the international market.
In fact, some state governments returned their students from foreign universities because they couldn’t cope, but I didn’t return anybody. I’m still paying with tears.” Continuing, the governor recalled: “Again, he took pension money and built houses that up till now, we are finding it very difficult to dispose off . We put N4.1 billion from the pension fund and the liability we have on the houses is over N3 billion. So, even if we sell the houses, we have to pay contractors.
“So, what I am trying to say is that even before handing-over, he was setting up some traps so that the government will be a failure.
He even went to my senatorial district five days before my takingover and said he was establishing Technical College of Education in one of the local governments. How can you establish a school like that without approval from the federal government, without any legislation from the state House of Assembly, without any infrastructure, no plans for teachers, no plans for equipment? Just like that, you are establishing technical college of education. All these he did so that when I come, I will find problem on the ground.
“After he left, I told the people that it was a story-telling because there is nothing on ground to establish college of education. What I discovered later is that we have a Federal College of Education (Technical). The Provost told me that Kwankwaso told him he wanted to establish college of education, and he told him not to because we are not even filling our quota in the federal college.” On the bailout from the federal government, Ganduje revealed that his former boss wrote him a letter asking him to reject the off er. “How could I have paid salary if I didn’t?
When the federal government thought we needed bailout, he wrote me a letter that I shouldn’t collect bailout, knowing that he left a liability of over N300 billion. The Transition Committee was the one that gave that fi gure and then he started quarrelling. He said why should the Transition Committee say he left a liability of over N300 billion. I told him this was released even before the handing-over. “I held a press conference and said leaving a liability is not a crime.
This government is a government of continuity and I will continue to forge ahead. But he was still pained that the Transition Committee said he left a liability of over N300 billion, but that was the fact. So, you fi nd all these kind of things which I didn’t want to bring to the open until he decided to attack me.” Ganduje said it was obvious that his predecessor wants to have overbearing influence on his administration, which he said, would have been acceptable if he was a political novice.
“The crux of the matter is that he wants to be remotecontrolling me. How can I be remote-controlled by somebody outside the government? I was a civil servant at the state level after graduation and I got to level 17 at the federal level. I have been in politics for years. I was secretary to our party in my local government, assistant secretary of our party at the state level, commissioner for six years and deputy governor for eight years.
For goodness sake, if you are talking about government, I should know what it is all about,” he said. The governor also welcomed the appointment of national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, by President Muhammadu Buhari to reconcile aggrieved members of the party. He said, however, that in as much as he is open to reconciliation with Kwankwasso, it cannot be on the terms of the former governor.
“Yes, it is possible, but the state will not be on his palms. He cannot impose his will on us. We recently conducted local government elections in the state, he went to court to stop the election, but we defeated him. He took us to a court here in Abuja to stop us, but up till now the case is on, and the court did not stop us from conducting the election.
But still there is no permanent friend or permanent enemy. We will reconcile, but he has to agree to some terms,” he said. Ganduje also dismissed remarks in some quarters that the crisis with his predecessor would affect his chances in the 2019 elections, saying only God can decide what happens in 2019.