interviewBy Ismail Adebayo
Alhaji Mansur Shehu Dangaladiman Wazirin Gwandu is the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP]in Kebbi State. In this interview he said though Alhaji Tanimu Turaki is a returnee to PDP in the state, his emergence as Minister was not because of his tribe or religion but an act of God. He also spoke on the alleged marginalization of people from Zuru Emirate by PDP, the crisis that is brewing in Argungu chapter of the party and other issues. Excerpts:
The Middle Belt Dialogue recently claimed Zuru Emirate gave President Jonathan 36 percent of the votes recorded in Kebbi State yet they were denied Ministerial appointment. What is your take on this?
Well, that statement was unfortunate, it's not correct. The issue of Ministerial appointment is not a hidden thing. The record of all the elections held so far are with INEC. Of all the total votes Mr. president got during the last presidential election in Kebbi State, only 18.1 percent of it came from Zuru Emirate and most of it came from Fakai local government area not from Zuru itself. So we were really shocked that people are making claims that were not correct and are tied to the office of the president, the highest office in this country. I think its most unfortunate, untrue and disrespectful to the leadership of this country and PDP as a party.
How then will you react to the claim that the Zuru People are being marginalized by the PDP because of their religion and tribe?
I have said this before but let me repeat it again, that all these claims were as a result of the rejection of General Ushe as a Ministerial representative from Kebbi State. We did that because he is not a party man, he is not known in the state and above all, he is from Niger State not the Ushe of Kebbi State. This was why we rejected his nomination. So if any group is claiming it is being marginalized for whatever reason, I think its untrue. The people making this kind of claims are people who do not appreciate the peaceful coexistence that we are experiencing in Kebbi State. Zuru Emirate benefited more from the programmes of the state government. Even two weeks ago, we were in Zuru to inspect so many of the projects in the Emirate. The projects there cannot be compared with where around the state, they have more of the best projects that have been accomplished by the state government. I don't really know how the issue of marginalization came about, they have their representatives at all levels, projects were sited there, I don't know where all these claims are coming from. Even when Muslims go on pilgrimage the Christians too go on pilgrimage and government supports them equally. During the last Christmas celebrations, the state government spent over N50milllion for Christians all over the state so if there is marginalization these things won't have happened. As gifts were given to Muslims during Eid Fitr and Eid Kabir, the same way the governor distributes gifts to Christians during their festivals in Kebbi. The governor even went to Zuru on Christmas day, this is to show the sense of togetherness and oneness of the people of the state. The people who live in the state know the truth, the people making these claims do not live in the state so they don't even know what is happening in Kebbi State. We have lived peacefully in Kebbi and history would have it that throughout the elections period of 2011 we did not record any form of violence in any area of the state. These people should stop saying what is inimical to the progress of the state. But I must tell you that we are living peacefully in Kebbi State and PDP in the state is also intact.
Some people from Kebbi South are kicking against the choice of Tanimu as Minister claiming it was a rape of true democracy. What is your view?
The issue of this Ministerial appointment has been over flogged. I think it has been finally laid to rest since the presidency, the Senate and the governor made up their minds on him, I think there is no need to agitate about it anymore. Suffice it to say, that the man is a seasoned politician, well known to everybody in Kebbi State, he is also from the state. I don't understand the basis of their cries because the man is a politician who enjoys a lot of followership, these are important to us. You know in politics there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies so I don't know why some people are still talking about it because it has already been decided and we should accept it as the will of God that he was made Minister.
The argument of the people is that apart from being a returnee to PDP, he was a governorship candidate of the ACN during the last election, yet he was made Minister against the choice of other prominent members of the party in the Ministerial list. How will you react to this?
True, there is no gain saying this man is a returnee, there is no gain saying he was the candidate of the ACN in 2011 governorship election but we must know that there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics as I have said earlier. That was why at times we have unity government, we have different kinds of arrangements for political exigencies. But like I said he is well known in the state, he is a politician and he is from Kebbi State and he has been confirmed by the president, Senate and okayed by the governor why should they bother about it again. Above all, it was God's will that he would be the Minister because, after Ushe was rejected other names were submitted but none of these people made it but he was picked. I think its tied down to destiny so we should accept it as an act of God and stop making hills out of mole hills. He might have been in many parties but today he is back to PDP and in PDP even if you are a day old in the party you are like any other person there. PDP is a party with internal democracy, you don't have to be there for many years before you can be anything. Once you contribute to the progress of the party and have the right approval from the right places you are okay. So I will want us to give him the time to sit down and work for this country. He should also consolidate on what he has lost before and make PDP a better party. These are the challenges before him now and people are waiting to see.
What will you say about the Argungu issue which tends to factionalize PDP in that area of Kebbi State?
We are not unaware of what is happening in Argungu but we are not worried, as such, because we knew where the issue is coming from and why. It's all about a public office holder that was relieved of his position. He has enjoyed all the good things of this administration in the past but for obvious reasons he was dropped but felt that he could settle his personal grievances with government by using people of his own area. He has called several unsuccessful meetings of stakeholders from that area and good enough, the elders and stakeholders who are respected members of our party have told him they cannot be used to settle personal grudges particularly in view of what the area has benefited from the PDP led government in the state. However, what he does not realize about the political equation in Kebbi State is that the heterogeneity of senatorial territories of the state does not allow a section of the senatorial territories to influence the outcome of any elections or political processes. So he cannot therefore achieve whatever his aims are in Argungu. I think his fear is that the governor may contest the Senatorial election of that area, but he has said that he is not interested. But if he felt that he could mobilize people from Argungu, Augie to stop him if he wishes to, I think he is wrong because the political equation in the state regarding the senatorial territories will not permit that. I wouldn't have said anything about this but we will not want any individual or group to cause disharmony in any part of the state for personal interests. But like I said earlier PDP is intact in Kebbi State and our government is on course as far as the delivery of dividend of democracy is concerned.