Respected by many Nigerians beyond his geo-political zone, Senator Kanti Bello represented Katsina North in the Senate from 2003 to 2011. Fiery, frank and vastly connected, he has emerged as one of the leading figures of the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC) which is frantically strategising on how to get the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) out of power at the federal level. In this interview with REPORTER, Adedayo Odulaja, Kanti admits that the mission of APC is to get PDP out of Aso Rock, saying the ruling party is a cancer that Nigerians must do everything to get rid of.
It was said that were suspended from the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) not long ago although it was later denied by your party. Where do you think such speculation came from and what were they trying to achieve?
I joined the CPC almost nine months ago and I have no grudge against anyone and you should bear in mind that I said I met some people in the party, and some of them are not happy that I joined the party. When I came in, I decided not to align myself with some of them so I won’t be misunderstood. When I joined, a lot of people came to meet me to run for governorship, if I have to do it, it’s not a personal thing but actually for the people. If I am asked to come and run for governorship in Katsina State, I will do it because it is for the benefit of my people. When I left PDP, Ibrahim Shehu Shema (Katsina State governor) and his group decided that the best thing they could do to me was to discredit me and bring out adverts about me. At the end of the day, they even went ahead and said I was a thief and I took the man to Islamic court and he denied it. So, when the case was getting hot, Shema’s government wanted to take over my case because they were scared that they had lost and I was surprised. Therefore, I have suffered a lot but my coming into the party was just to carry everyone along and I have forgiven them. Their plan was to be in charge and run CPC and kick me out. Nobody informed me that they would appoint any caretaker chairmen for the party but they did it, even at my local government, a caretaker was elected. They went ahead and said I insulted (General Muhammadu) Buhari six years ago because I left the ANPP (All Nigeria Peoples Party) in 2006. Calculate from that time till now and you will see that all what they just want to do is to kick me out by all means. They cooked up stories and the people of Katsina State said they could not take this anymore, so I sent a letter to the party headquarters, asking if truly I had been expelled and the secretary to the party replied and started apologising. I am happy he did not only recognise me as the leader of the party in Katsina State but one of the leaders in Nigeria as a whole. So, based on that, all they have said or done is not true and it cannot stand, so I believe CPC (the party) will take care of everything. There is no longer room for electing themselves or passing through the back door. It is the masses that will determine this and I’m happy the masses and the people of Katsina State are behind me. I am proud and happy with the support I’m getting from Katsina. If you were at the CPC convention, my people dominated the convention, it was not me. I just came with about 20 vehicles but over 300 other vehicles came to Katsina in my name. They are doing it for me and I am grateful to them and nobody is going to change that. If the people of Katsina State ask me to leave, I will leave but since they have called me to lead, then I am going to lead and I will not disappoint them.
From what you have said about the support and Katsina people urging you to run, does that indicate we are therefore talking to a potential governorship candidate?
Yes, there is no doubt about that because what I told you is that the people want me, and that is why they are giving me their support.
While it is not in doubt that you have served the country in different capacities, we know that age is no longer on your side. How do you intend to cope with the challenges if you are elected governor?
I am not like Bamanga Tukur in terms of age. I am just 79 years old. I don’t have any health challenges, I am not diabetic and I do not have high blood pressure and all my organs are functioning relatively well as at today, though I don’t know about tomorrow. So, I strongly believe I have the strength to take this job not because I am desperate for it but because the people want me to take this job.
President Jonathan had stated that two-party system is good for Nigeria’s democracy on account of the formation of APC. Do you see any sincerity in this statement coming from the President who is a member of the ruling PDP?
Well, it is a statement of necessity because this is the reality on the ground. It is clear that there is already a merger, it is already here and we are all seeing it. We know there is an ongoing plan of our opponents to create a destabilising problem in Katsina but the truth of the matter is that we know the game. Whether he admits that the existence of the two parties is good or not, the fact is that he should ensure that the interest of this nation is paramount in all plans and he should start packing now. He barely has nine months and some days to pack.
Is the opposition not too focused on the PDP that it looks like they are afraid of the party?
No! We are not afraid. First, PDP is a party, they have the power to give contracts and the worse of it all is that they control all the resources. This is bad, our education system and every other sector is nothing to be reckoned with anymore. PDP controls everything and they would not give other parties a chance. PDP is holding us all in Nigeria by the sword. We can’t do anything. We need to come together to push the PDP out of the system; this is our position. It is not a question of being afraid. Being afraid of PDP is actually the beginning of wisdom. It is because they control everything, resources and so on. So, every right-thinking or good Nigerian, whether you are in the APC or even APGA, it does not matter; everyone should please join hands together and salvage this nation. The coalition is a means to salvage Nigeria and this is our major mission. Please, let Nigerians be prepared to kick out these people who are frustrating this country. Every Nigerian, whether an opposition or even an onlooker, should join hands to save this country.
Nigerians seem happy with the registration of the APC to counter the PDP, there is the fear as to which of the merged parties would produce the presidential flag bearer. What is your take on this?
We know that there are moles within the larger groups who want to destabilise everything. There are also good fellows who are really with sincerity and who want to salvage this nation. The coalition parties agreed legitimately and we do not restrain anybody from contesting but there are laid down rules and regulations. Right now, I am aware that there is a draft constitution in the APC, which I have read and the good thing in it is that whatever you are going to become, you have to be elected. There would be primaries, even for the councillorship; it is in the constitution of the APC. There must be vote for any person that would be chosen or elected. We are going to strictly adhere to the constitution of the party and the rule of law because if we want things to change in this country, we must agree to practise the rule of law. Once we try to keep to the rule of law, then, the system will work.
As a potential governor, what is your opinion on the disagreement in the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF)?
Who are those that didn’t agree to the outcome of the election, was it not PDP? Look, this is the culture of PDP, the culture of impunity. PDP has a culture of rigging and impunity as well as electoral corruption. They have to go, the party is a disgrace to this country and it must go.
If you had the chance to speak to Nigerians regarding the 2015 general election, what would you tell them?
Nigerians should know that the struggle is yet to begin. They should bear with us and help us and they should pray for this merger to work. The people should pray that leaders with good hearts and those who are patriotic that want to move this country forward should rule this nation, so that the nation, our children and grand children can have a future to look up to and this can be achieved under a vibrant and united APC. And I appeal to members of the APC who have all come to merge that they should not try to discourage young Nigerians under any circumstances. Nigerians should pray for us because we are a new party; we are also bound to make mistakes. Our goal and mission in this party is to help make this country a better one. And I feel some good people should come together and save this country. That is the reason I said I will leave PDP and I left. And then I had to look for a party that I think will move this country forward so that we can come together as a party. Naturally, our people do not like PDP so I joined CPC. Of course, when I joined CPC I met some people whom we used to be together at one time or the other in ANPP and some of them were so bitter that I was there. It’s good that they were bitter because at the end of the day, they realised I was there for a mission and no amount of funny steps was going to stop Senator Kanti Bello from achieving his plan for the masses. It is not about me but about the people of Katsina and I am grateful to them. So I joined CPC with the hope that we were going to merge and now that we have merged, we are set to kick out PDP.
Source: Daily Independent