Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central) has disclosed that he dropped his ambition for the Kaduna State governorship seat after party chieftains pressed him to step down for Malam Nasir el-Rufai because he was President Muhammadu Buhari’s choice candidate.
In an exclusive chat with LEADERSHIP Friday, he also revealed that his present rift with the governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, is purely ideological.
Sani, who paid a courtesy visit to the corporate head office of the media house yesterday, stated that he stepped down for el-Rufai for the gubernatorial ticket of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), due to pressures from politicians and stakeholders in the state who declared that el-Rufai was the preferred candidate of President Buhari.
He said: “For the first time, let me tell you some background issues in the political divide in Kaduna. I never intended to contest for the Senate; I wanted to contest for the governorship and I opened offices in Zaria, Kaduna and Kafanchan, and later there was pressure on me that I should step down. Politicians came to meet me; that I should step down and allow el-Rufai to contest because they said he was the favourite of the president.
“I pulled back and said I wanted to contest for the Senate, but there was a sitting senator, General Saleh, and I had to evict him during the primary election. And I told them in black and white that I didn’t have money to give any delegate, and if they feel OK with my principles, then let them vote for me, but if my principles are not right for them, let them go and vote for the same person (that was occupying the seat); and they voted for me and I removed an incumbent senator. So I didn’t contest against a vacuum.”
According to him, when he got the Senate ticket, there were two major candidates in the Kaduna gubernatorial race, el-Rufai and Isa Ashiru, and all the two had their senatorial candidates; el-Rufai was with General Saleh and Isa Ashiru was with Sani Suleiman, and one other Sadiq Lagos.
He said: “I did not have any gubernatorial candidate as far as I was concerned, and I now thrashed the candidate of el-Rufai and Isa Ashiru. The el-Rufai that won the gubernatorial ticket in Kaduna won it with 1,000 and something votes and I won one senatorial zone with 920 votes. In three senatorial zone he got 1,600; I alone got 920 votes.
“If I had contested the governorship, there was no way that I wouldn’t have emerged; it’s not possible. So I sacrificed that and I contested the Senate and I won. Reports going on in the media is on the surface.”
He further averred that the Kaduna State governor and he were different on the ideological front.
Sani, a reputable social crusader all his life, also remarked that the recent directive of the governor, in which he directed that beggars should leave the state, if not properly managed, would lead to an implosion in Kaduna.
He argued that the right conservative political divide, to which the governor belonged, created the socio-economic rot that produced the beggars and the destitute in the society, adding that its own solution to it, unfortunately, was to clear them from the streets and portray a semblance of sanity and normalcy.
“There is a clear idea logical difference between el-Rufai and me. He is of the right ultra conservative while I come from the left of the political divide. The right conservative political divide created the socio-economic rot that produced the beggars and dregs in the society; their own solution to it is to clear them from the streets and portray a semblance of sanity and normalcy.”
He further explained that one cannot solve a socio-economic problem by hiding it under the cupboard.
“My position is that the beggars, the unemployed who have been parading our streets, were by-products of the socio-economic problem which people what propagated his (e-Rufai’s) own kind of ideology created in the society, and in order to address such problems, you first of all address the social iniquities that produced them.
“Has he provided capital for those beggars to start some useful things to do? He has not. Have you given them accommodation where to stay? No, he has not; and then the hawkers on the street, did you give them an alternative on what to do and where to go?
“All they want is to pack them and put them in a truck and send them somewhere. Come to Kaduna and see if that has worked: the beggars are back to the streets; the hawkers are there; all those things you want to clear are there and it’s not working. We fundamentally differ on that.”
On the issue of demolition of houses by the governor, he said: “We came in and met a people who had been impoverished, destroyed and dehydrated by a ruling party for 16 years. We came in because these poor people voted for us. Most of the elite, on Election Day, didn’t even come out. They (the poor) voted us into power. They were given money by the PDP in Kaduna but they refused. The women were given fabrics, soap and rice; they refused and voted us into power.
“Now if you are an experienced and sensible administrator – and you promised education, power and health, jobs, skill acquisition for youths – how can you as an intelligent man say the first priority is demolition of houses; and all these houses were given by the previous government. Now all of them have gone to court and have gotten injunction.
“You didn’t clear a fallow land between Kaduna and Zaria and say, ‘All of you, this is a place for you and take this as compensation, and all of you should move there. Abuja of 2007 is not the same with Kaduna of 2015. In Abuja, you were dealing with rich and powerful people who had many houses and money. When you see a man with a house in Kaduna, it may be his last pension which he devoted to it.”