INEC UsedSupplemantry Election to upturn my Victory-Abba K Yusuf
- How Police Aided Rigging in Kano
- INEC Used Supplementary Poll to Upturn My Victory
The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kano, Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf, popularly known as Abba Gida-Gida, has vowed to upturn the victory of Governor Abduallahi Umar Ganduje, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the election’s tribunal.
Ganduje defeated Abba to win a second term after a supplementary election last week, cancelling an early lead by the PDP candidate from a first round of voting that held on March 9.
Both Abba and the PDP have accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria’s electoral umpire, and police of aiding the ruling APC to rig the election for Ganduje, a charge they have denied.
In an interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, the PDP governorship candidate said his party had assembled documentary evidence to present to the tribunal.
He said they were ready to prove that no election held on the date slated for the rerun as thugs sponsored by the APC and protected by the police, took over polling units and drove away voters.
Abba Kabir Yusuf, popularly known as Abba Gida-Gida, is the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kano State. In this exclusive interview with Daily Trust on Sunday in Abuja, he spoke about the conduct of the rerun polls, alleging that INEC and security agents compromised to rig the elections in favour of the APC and explained why he thinks he has a watertight case to pursue against Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje’s victory at the tribunal.
We thought you would be busy meeting party stakeholders and lawyers over the outcome of the governorship election in Kano but you are here all by yourself. Where are you on that?
Seeing me in Abuja doesn’t mean I have not been holding meetings. I have actually been holding meetings since I came into Abuja. Yesterday night, I came back (home) around 2am after holding meetings with my lawyers, elder statesmen and other stakeholders. So that is where I am.
Did you give your lawyers the go ahead to go to the tribunal?
Definitely, because of the so-called election that was not recognized by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Electoral Act and was marred by violence, maiming, killing of innocent people and so on. Definitely the result that came out was so unfortunate that we just have to go to court. You rejected the outcome of the election and your principal, Senator Kwankwaso, also rejected the outcome, your party, the PDP, did the same. What actually happened during the rerun election in Kano?
Not only me, the senator and the PDP, in fact the entire Kano people have rejected it in totality. Ninety per cent of Nigerians have also rejected it. The international community, the EU observers, international observers, and everybody has rejected it. So it is not the issue of me or my principal or the party, everybody knows that justice has not been done and that is why everybody is unhappy.
The genesis of this problem is that on March 9, there was an election that was credible in Kano State whereby I, as the candidate of the PDP, emerged as the winner. Why I said I emerged as the winner is because I had the highest number of votes. I was having one million plus votes and my opponent, who is the current governor of Kano, was following me with much less votes. The difference between us was over 26,000 votes. All of a sudden, as the collation at the local government was going on – don’t forget that the election proper was conducted in all the polling units in Gama ward and people participated; men women, everybody. And there was collation of results by the collation officers who took their own results sheets to the local government collation center. While the local government collation was being finalized, there was this group of thugs, led by the current Kano State deputy governor, commissioner for local governments and the chairman of that particular local government. They attacked the collation center; they attacked our people and tore some of the collated results. That was where the problem started and luckily for us, they were apprehended, taken to the police headquarters in Kano and handed over to the AIG in charge of Zone 1 in Kano.
Unfortunately, at the state collation center when we expected the REC, the so-called professor, to announce the results since it was announced at the polling unit, he didn’t. Nobody, according to INEC guidelines, has the right to reject any result that was presented except the Returning Officer.
Unfortunately, this man because of his own ill-conceived intention decided to cancel the Gama ward result and that was what caused the whole problem.
Secondly, there were cases of over voting and thumb printing by the APC agents and everybody knows. So many boxes were over stuffed and that also led to the process of cancellation in some of the polling units. The Resident Electoral Commissioner then announced the results as inconclusive. To us and many people, that shouldn’t have been because he has no right whatsoever to cancel results that had been collated and handed over.
So that was what led to the problem but we all agreed that despite the illegality as peace loving people, we decided to go for rerun. On March 23, there was a rerun and we had thought with the security arrangement the police were going to be neutral. But we just woke up to see thugs in their hundreds of vehicles coming into Kano and neighbouring local governments that were affected by the rerun. Thugs that came from different states of the federation, especially the northern states with dangerous weapons, they occupied all the polling units. We were complaining to the police but they remained adamant. They were watching them; in fact, in some places the police patrol teams were escorting them because they were strangers in the state and didn’t know anywhere. Some of them were even accommodated at the Government House and were being driven out in droves, 35, 50 vehicles all armed. In fact, there was a lot of disenfranchisement and before you knew it, they occupied all the polling units and they were those that voted because the actual voters were scared away. Majority of our voters are women but they were scared away and prevented from exercising their legitimate rights. In all the local governments, these strangers maimed and killed people and overstuffed the boxes.
All these were perpetrated under the very eyes of the police. It was so unfortunate that the Federal Government had to send a DIG who is not committed to peaceful coexistence of Nigeria and of course, Kano people. Posting that man was the most unfortunate decision the Federal Government ever took because he was so openly biased and did a lot of things that people were disenfranchised.
The first election was declared inconclusive because there was an attack at a local government collation center. Now you arrange for a rerun which became the most violent rerun where people were maimed and even killed yet you said that election was correct. It means either you don’t know what you are doing or you have been compromised. That is why I said the so-called professors who deliberately connived with the APC and security agencies to deprive us of our legitimate votes. This is why we said, as far as we are concerned, there was no supplementary election and why we went to court is for the courts return our mandate. In one local government, a serving commissioner went with about five patrol teams and they shot in the air and sent everybody away. There was no single voter that will tell you that they voted. The police and that commissioner seized all the votes and announced what they wanted to be announced. In another local government, the total registered voters were 360 while the accredited voters were about 270 yet after the voting, the APC got all the 360 votes while the PDP got zero. Not even member of the state assembly from that area or a single stakeholder voted for us.
When you accused the APC of inviting thugs to Kano, what do you say to allegation that thugs working for the PDP were used to attack the state commissioner of information and one other serving commissioner?
You see, what they were saying was a total lie. There wasn’t anything like that. You see, while the election was going on, the Commissioner of Information or the other commissioner they were talking about are not from that community. They had no business whatsoever going to that polling unit but they went there with so many thugs in order to perpetrate the crime their colleagues were perpetrating elsewhere. Fortunately for us, that was a PDP concentrated area and people had been disenfranchised because of what had been happening in all other local governments and they simply prevented them from doing that. But because these people are crafty in distorting information, they just went and concocted this information. We had no arms and not a single individual member of the PDP had arms. We were only trying to protect our votes.
Similar allegations have also been made against your party, especially during the first round of elections in Kano which you said were credible, where it was alleged that the PDP used thugs, bought votes and even drove away opposition supporters from certain polling units?
If I swear that that was not correct maybe you will believe me. As far as the PDP is concerned that was just a concocted lie. They were just telling lies. They were the perpetrators of violence. The first election was very peaceful except where I told you that during that last collation they went. And except where they went with their own thugs to thumb print ballot papers, there wasn’t any violence. That was why INEC concluded the elections counted the results and announced it. There were jubilations in Kano and nobody came out to complain of being molested by the PDP. We are a peaceful party, especially our own movement, the Kwankwasiya Movement, which constitutes over 90 percent of the PDP supporters. We were never found wanting as far as security issues were concerned. So I want to tell you that they were just concocting a lie because there wasn’t anything like that during the first election.
If you fail to get your prayers from the tribunal how far are you ready to go?
I don’t hope that would happen because we have ample evidence and facts. We have witnesses all over, including the media personnel. Channels television personnel were attacked, AIT personnel were attacked, TVC were attacked, NTA were attacked and they are all living and can testify. International observers were also attacked. We have videos and audio evidence where the APC thugs were attacking people. They were openly holding dangerous weapons and attacking people, burning vehicles. With all these evidence you cannot tell me that the election would not be upturned.
How would you prove that those who carried out the attacks were APC thugs?
That is left for the tribunal and security people to determine. On our part, we have the evidence; we have the pictures, videos in all the locations. So if we present all our evidence through our lawyers, the security personnel who are experts in that type of investigation would have to go and do their job. It is not me, I have given my facts; the party has given its facts.
What is your assessment of the role of security agencies in the previous election compared to their role in the rerun election in Kano?
In the first election, we had a commissioner of police that has the fear of God in him; somebody who detests thuggery and drug addiction; somebody who came to Kano and put in his best to ensure that there was relative peace and harmony within the state. When the election proper came on March 9, that commissioner of police did his very best to ensure peaceful conduct and everybody was happy. When they created this so called inconclusive election, they were thinking how they could overturn it. With that commissioner of police on the ground that would never be possible and that was why they came to Abuja and sat down with the powers that be and decided with their own arrangement to send a Deputy Inspector General of Police who was so biased, who went there to do the bidding of a state government and probably the Federal Government? He went to Kano along with some AIGs and commissioners of police with the assurance that they were bringing them to ensure peaceful elections. Unfortunately, we all relaxed thinking that we had somebody who had the nation at heart. But immediately he came, we started seeing trucks of thugs from all entrances into Kano. We reported this but they refused to act. They took the commissioner of police, kept him in the office and said, “don’t do anything. I am handling”. He allowed all these thugs to occupy all the polling units not only within Kano metropolis but also in all the local governments and they perpetrated these crimes.
So to us, we were so happy (with the election proper) because somebody did what he was supposed to do and were not happy (with the rerun) because somebody later came and destroyed what was earlier done in order to aid and abate this crime. So the police, as far as we are concerned, have not done what they were supposed to do – they were so biased. Specifically this Deputy Inspector General of Police aided them. In fact, even before the collation was completed he went on air, when people were being killed and said, “the election was proper without any single incidence of violence. Nobody died and none was maimed.” This is there as part of our evidence. Go to Kano today and see how many graves are there, how many people were maimed. It is so unfortunate that somebody who is second in command, as far as security is concerned, because he is the deputy inspector general of police, will just involve himself in this undemocratic action. We are not happy and nobody is happy in Nigeria.
What about the role of INEC?
They are all accomplices. INEC’s involvement was worse because they were the people that deprived the good people of Kano of getting their legitimate mandate, especially the so-called professor (referring to the state returning officer). I want to use this opportunity to advice the Federal Government, through INEC, to desist from using university professors in future elections. We have had enough of these professors. Professors were brought in because the assumption was that they are honest and would conduct free and fair elections. But with what happened, especially in Kano, Nigerians have lost trust in these so-called professors. Let INEC look for other kind of people with integrity that can come and conduct free and credible elections in Nigeria in the future.
What was the reason for your sudden popularity in Kano, given that just two weeks earlier, the presidential candidate of the PDP was defeated with a huge margin by that of the APC? What gave you the head start in the first round of the governorship election?
In the first instance, I can say it is from God. I know that God in His infinite mercy did that for me. Second, don’t forget that I participated in the previous government in Kano State during – the first tenure of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and during his second tenure I was commissioner in charge of ministry of works housing and transport. That was the time when Kano state recorded unprecedented infrastructural development. I was so humble to accommodate everybody. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet but I believe that was part of the reason why people believed in me and my party that if we come again, we would do much more than what we did. I believe that is the secret because Kano people don’t like arrogant people; they believe in humility and honest people who would utilize the little resources. Not those who would come and fill their own pockets with money – dollar, euro and what have you. I believe that is what contributed to my popularity. People of the state have confidence in me and have trust that if given the mandate I will work for them. Of course, my own mission is to serve my people to the best of my ability. I am 56 and I am not growing much stronger, so to me service to my people is my priority.
Why did Atiku lose Kano with such a huge margin?
I am not in a position to say that but believe me sincerely a lot of things had happened. Muhammadu Buhari had incumbency working for him. Atiku doesn’t have the police, the INEC and so on. Secondly Buhari is much more popular because people believe what…what…what…you understand? So a lot of factors contributed but to me this incumbency factor where you have everybody at your disposal; you have the money; you have the security agencies and everybody contributed a lot.
People said Kwankwasiyya members did what they called wake da shinkafa (rice and beans); that we could as well vote for Buhari in the presidential election while we vote for you at the governorship election. Was that what happened?
No! Everybody has his own peculiarity. Buhari has his own peculiarity while I have mine. Don’t forget I am an indigene of the state and Buhari and Atiku are not. So if Kano people could choose between the two of them who are not indigenes what more of their own indigene. If Kwankwaso had gone for any election definitely he would have gotten the highest votes because he is an indigene and the people are appreciative of what he did for the state. So it is a very clear thing, everyone of us has his own peculiar advantage.
How much role would you say Kwankwasiya played in your rise and popularity?
Kwankwasiya movement was established during our first tenure from 2011. We had a very strong membership where we worked together as a team. Everybody comes together and we try to ensure that whatever decision is taken is accepted by all. That was how since my nomination as the PDP candidate we have been working together except like you said in the case of rice and beans. Definitely, somebody might not be happy and would say why not him. Such people you see them ultimately leaving the party but the number is insignificant. With all that we won our elections.
Would you describe Kwankwaso as your political godfather?
Kwankwaso is my leader. I worked with Kwankwaso even when I was in the civil service in the state. I worked under him and have been with him for almost 33 years. In all these years, he has been over and above me so I know him to be my leader, my oga! So people shouldn’t be surprised if I give him utmost respect and utmost trust. I was his PA during his first tenure 1999 to 2011; I was his PA and Special Assistant when he was in the Ministry of Defence; I was his Special Assistant when he went to Dafur and Somalia. I was also his Special Assistant during Umaru Musa Yar’Adua when he was a member representing North-West in the NECD board. When he came back for a second tenure, I was the first Principal Private Secretary to the state government and it was there he appointed me as state commissioner for works, housing and transport. So you can see the trend.
But that has been the reason why there were a lot of fears as people were talking about the face of Kwankwaso, the voice of Kwankwaso campaigning for Abba Yusuf. Why were you not in the picture to the extent that people started entertaining fears that should you be voted as governor, Kwankwaso would be the one calling the shots?
I was so vocal at a point. But as I said, for somebody to be a deputy speaker, a governor, a minister and a presidential candidate twice and to be a governor for second term and a current senator and for you to be a commissioner, you can see the level of experience. People don’t understand. If Kwankwaso didn’t go to campaign to introduce me and bring me to limelight within Kano, do you think I alone can do that all by myself? This is what people don’t understand. So he came out and campaigned for me, brought me up. Then people even though they knew my capacity accepted me and when that was done I opened up and became vocal. Secondly, as a respected stakeholder I have to follow his footprints and mellow down so that I can tap from his experience in all these positions.
That was what gave me the opportunity to learn how I am going to govern Kano State. I am happy I have learnt a lot and got a lot of experience. Take a typical example of Ganduje, who was his first and second deputy governor, special assistant and so on and singlehandedly when Kwankwaso was leaving in 2015, he handed over to him and everybody accepted him. Ganduje didn’t have even a single structure in Kano; it was Kwankwaso’s structures that he used to win election. All these problems he is encountering would not have occurred had it been he was so humble in bringing Kwankwaso close to his chest, not necessarily by giving him appointment, but because of the people around him who shielded him from Kwankwaso, he (Ganduje) felt that he too was an empire onto himself. That was what caused all these problems. I don’t want to be part and parcel of the same system because Kano is in my heart. I want to work for the people of the state so I have to tap a lot of experience not only from Kwankwaso but from all the stakeholders, all our elder statesmen and politicians that have the experience. So I am telling you that I don’t think there is anybody that can meddle in my own affairs.
But from what you are saying it appears you are going to be completely loyal to Kwankwaso if you become governor of Kano State…?
No, I disagree with you. If you understand my statement I have to give him that respect as a leader and stakeholder. That does not mean I will accept whatever he brings to me. I know him very well; he did the same thing to Ganduje. Immediately he handed over to Ganduje he left Kano and you know for three years he never went to Kano. He wanted to give Ganduje a free hand. He wanted him to be fully accepted by the people and for him to bring in his own manifesto and be able to work for the people. I know he will do the same thing to me. He will never interfere in my work. Secondly, if he interferes, in terms of advice, I know that where I go correctly he will encourage me to put in more and where I go wrong he will correct me and tell me what to do. But as far as issues of governance are concerned, believe me sincerely he is not going to interfere. As I said, I will always listen to him, where he tells me the correct thing to do I will accept so long as it is for the progress of our state. But where I feel it is not correct, I will not resist arrogantly, but will thank him and tell him amicably, “Sir, this is not what I think is right. This is what I think should be done.” To me, it is laughable for people to think that Kwankwaso is going to control me. Kwankwaso is not going to control me. I have tremendous respect for him and will accept constructive ideas from him for the progress of the state.
When he named you as the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP there were a lot of cries that why would Kwankwaso be nominating his in-law to govern the state while sideling several others. How true were these allegations?
Like I told you before, the Kwankwasiya movement works as a team. All those people that you are talking about are people that have pre-planned interest in that position. If you have an ambition to occupy the position of the managing director of Daily Trust, you will start nursing how you are going to succeed. Whatever you will do to find yourself in that position positively or negatively, you will do it. That is exactly what many of them were planning. They had that ambition of being the governor. Abba Yusuf was his own self, believing in what God destined for him. I never scrambled to be governor. I believe in my fate. Whatever God designed to come to must come to me. So those people were disenfranchised because they already had it in their brains the ambition of becoming governor and Kwankwaso knew all their tricks. He equally knew that I never nursed the ambition. In fact, I was even trying to encourage him to pick governor, deputy and so on from within. There was a committee of over 250 members of Kwankwasiya stakeholders under the chairmanship of Kwankwaso. The committee went to the chairman of the party and when they came back and announced me everybody applauded. In fact, two of them came to hug me; that same deputy governor came to hug me and congratulated me. After some days they went on air to say they were not happy. But that is a bygone issue because we have passed that stage and those that were not happy were not happy and we have seen them leave. Those that accepted their fate are still with us and we are working together. So that is a bygone issue as far as I am concerned but I want to tell you that I never brought myself for governorship. There were a lot of things that were considered. Don’t forget I told you I was a commissioner and ninety percent of the infrastructural development was executed under my ministry; roads flyovers, streetlights, housing, schools. So, that was a factor because majority of the stakeholders were after continuity in the development of the state. So many of them felt that I am the right person because I have the prerequisite experience to carry on where Kwankwaso stopped. A lot was said about in-law which wasn’t true. I was with Kwankwaso for almost 27 years with a wife before I got married to a second wife. That second wife was the daughter of his elder brother, not his biological daughter. We met outside not even here in Nigeria. I visited Cairo and they, as a family, also visited Cairo and we met at the airport we escorted them to the Consul’s house and she was a divorcee. But they crafted this information so that they can tarnish his image and mine. They were even saying he brought a small boy, somebody who is 56. So, all these are frivolous issues that are now forgotten.
There were videos of roads projects and boreholes awarded by the Kano State government in Gama shortly after the first election was declared inconclusive. There were also videos of him attending Juma’at prayers in the community, but there wasn’t any video of you going there to re-campaign. People said you went to bed, thinking you would win Gama. Is that true?
I earlier told you how thugs occupied Gama entirely and Ganduje made Gama to be his second home. When he lost the first election, he immediately relocated to Gama. Every blessed day, he was there and that shows you the level of corruption in his administration. For three years, he did not drill a single borehole for that community but when the election was declared inconclusive, he rushed to the ward and started drilling 29 boreholes. They didn’t need it. There were so many feeder roads that needed to be tarred and he just came and started an overlay. He occupied the entire community such that we couldn’t have a chance of one hour to visit Gama. In fact, the day we wrote to the Police commissioner, notifying him of our intention to visit Gama, Ganduje went with thugs and occupied the whole place. The commissioner was begging us not to go, in order to avert bloodshed. Because we had the interest of the people and didn’t want to lose a single life we accepted. If he was not there in the morning his thugs were there, his deputy was also there. In the afternoon or evening he would be there and remain there until midnight. One interesting thing was that while he was occupying Gama, the youths there gathered in large number and went to Kwankwaso’s house to pay solidarity visit. If not because of those thugs with dangerous weapons, believe me sincerely the youths in Gama would have won election for us.
Do you think that strategy of occupying Gama worked for Ganduje in the rerun election?
Yes but violently; which is against the Electoral Act. You occupied it; you maimed and antagonized people. That is against the Electoral Act to which we are vehemently kicking against.
Kwankwaso was accused of creating a bad blood for shortly before the electionby picking a fight with Ulamas.
Let me tell you, if there was a bad blood between Senator Kwankwaso and the Ulamas, we wouldn’t have gone as far as we went. We wouldn’t have gotten the highest number of votes in the state. One thing you fail to understand is that the first election was very clear as to who and which party won. Any other thing that came after was orchestrated to give backing to the illegality of the present APC government. I want to assure you there wasn’t any bad feeling. The issue is that some of the Ulamas went on air and said don’t vote for Abba, vote for Ganduje. Kwankwaso was saying, “you are religious leaders, don’t involve yourselves in politics. If you want to involve yourselves leave the mosque, leave the church, come and join us. As politicians, if we also want to involve ourselves in religion, we should leave politics and go and join those people.” That was what he was saying. For somebody to come and say you should not vote for me for just no cause, courtesy demands that I also react to show him that he too is not needed where he is supposed to be. That was what some of them did and he simply replied them. Many of them came to pay solidarity to show that what a few of them did was wrong so there wasn’t any disharmony.
What is your assessment of the Kwankwasiya movement, judging by the outcome of the just concluded elections and how its members fared?
We are still intact. Let me tell you all the elections were just a charade and sham. If credible election had been organized in Kano State, at least if we don’t win all the seats in the House of Reps and Senate we would have at least shared 50-50. So Kwankwasiya is very intact. We are people with a very strong heart. If we lose today we start preparing against tomorrow and we mobilize people and resources. We do everything we can. We are so patient. That was what happened in 2015 and we just looked at it as today and this has come and gone. We will still strategize and don’t forget they invited him to stay in the APC so that he retained his seat. If you are telling me: “I will allow you to retain your seat then where is the democracy?” To be frank, Nigerian democracy is in shambles and we need a lot of effort to bring things back to normalcy in this country. We should stop elections based on party affiliations and personal interest. We should consider elections based on credibility, integrity and commitment of the candidate. Not somebody that was seen vividly in a video stealing millions and millions of dollars. One hundred dollars is equivalent to N36, 000. We now have up to 2.5million dropout children in Kano. These are children of the masses who don’t have three square meals in a day and their parents cannot afford N200 for their children’s school fees. Based on my calculation they became dropouts because of N500 school fees. If you are to pay and bring them back to school, 100 dollars will bring 75 school children back to school. And you are seen collecting bribe in billions, in hundreds of millions of dollars.
Some people asked questions when I said I will give food to all primary school children, provide uniforms for them and instructional materials free of charge. They said, “how are you going to get that kind of money?” With this statistics I showed you, won’t I be able to finance this with this bribe money? Secondly, if you are able to block all chances of corruption, know all the sources of internally generated revenue for the government, apart from federal allocation, you can properly channel these monies to provision of infrastructure.
There is this issue of security vote, many Nigerians don’t understand. I was privileged to be part and parcel of governance, I know security vote for the president and governors, it is a way of stealing money in billions and nobody questions the expenditure. If I like as a governor today, I will just wake up and say security director go and bring N200million, I have security meeting today. They will bring it and I will pocket it. Tomorrow, I will say bring N100 million and before you know it, billions of Naira is being siphoned, unaccounted money. Between me and God, I will never use that money; I will channel it for the development of our state.
The terminal stage for challenging elections is at the Supreme Court. Should you get to that stage and still lose will you accept the outcome in good faith?
You see like I told you from the beginning I believe in fate; whatever Allah destines for me I accept. In this situation, it is the peoples’ mandate. When this inconclusive election was announced, people died because of heart attack. Two people I know are paralyzed. One lady is mad and so many people are there not knowing themselves. So it is not my own right as an individual. I never knew I was going to be a candidate and only God knows what I will be in the future. But because it is the people’s mandate, they have cast their votes and elected the person they wanted. So that person has no right to singlehandedly say, “I have accepted the outcome”. If the people say so, we will accept. Now the general belief is that 80 percent are disenfranchised and are not happy and are saying, “we go to court”. That is why we are in court and if at the end of the day, God forbid, there is a negative verdict, definitely the people of Kano will decide whether we proceed to the Supreme Court or not.