A former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Kaduna State, Jonathan Adamu Kish, has called on the state governor, Nasir El-Rufai to start preparing his hand over notes, having failed to deliver on his campaign promises. He spoke to John Shiklam who presents the excerpts:
The Southern Kaduna crisis has been going on for too long, what did the Yakowa administration do to stop it?
We engaged with different parties, we tried to gain the confidence of the people. We had meetings, we tried to understand the root causes of the conflicts and we tried to address them. We met with anybody who we felt could help find solutions to the crisis. We had an inter-religious harmony committee, presided over by the governor with the deputy governor and myself as members.
We also had members from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) as members. We met monthly as a way of looking for solutions and we were taking proactive measures to stem the crisis.
We had Operation Yaki (security outfit) which was well funded. We tried our best to see that the crisis was addressed. Of course we had the post presidential election violence report which we also tried to implement.
I understand some people were indicted in that report, why didn’t the Yakowa administration act on it?
Yes, the report indicted some people. The report was inconclusive in terms of its recommendations, so we had a challenge when we were doing the White Paper. For instance, the report came up with accusations against people, maybe a certain community will make allegation that someone was seen fighting. That person was not invited to state his own side of the story, but the report listed the persons name as those who participated or created the crisis, so you cannot say that, that person has been indicted in terms of the findings by the panel. What we did was to investigate those who were mentioned. I wrote several times to the police to investigate those alleged to have committed crimes allegations and send me the report to prosecute them. Up to the time I left office, we were still waiting for the outcome of those investigations. I know that I wrote and attached the white paper and sent it to the police and I sent reminders. We also had people who were arrested and we charged them to court, there were those that were released because there was no evidence against them.
Just recently, ten people were killed in Sanga and Jama’a local government areas including a traditional ruler and his pregnant wife. How will you advise government to ensure an end to the killings?
First, the government is making a lot of efforts, but I doubt if they are making the efforts in the right direction. The government has not been able to gain the confidence of the people in terms of the kind of solution that they are applying to the problem, so it is not succeeding. I think the government needs to reconsider its strategy by reviewing its approaches.
For me, the good way to approach the problem is to try to gain the confidence of the various communities. Gain the confidence of the Fulanis and the communities that are being attacked in the southern part of the state. Be fair and even-handed in the way you discuss with the people. The governor, for instance said that he did not recognise an organisation like SOKAPU (Southern Kaduna Peoples Union) which represents over 50 ethnic nationalities. And you say you don’t recognise them and your deputy governor was part of the foundation of that organisation, you have eroded confidence between you and that community and so they would be suspicious of whatever step you take. If a crisis takes place and then you say it is so, so and so, before investigation is carried out, you say it is this kind of problem, that erodes confidence in the people.
The Fulanis I lived with as a young man were peaceful. We gave them land in my community, they reared their cattle, they brought their “Fura da Nono” (Cow milk) to us and we didn’t have any problem. But now there is a problem. Like I said, if you gain the confidence of both parties, then they will tell you the truth about the problem.
INEC has released time time table for the 2019 elections, what is your assessment of the APC administration in Kaduna State?
What is there to assess? There is no security, going by the governor’s admission. I heard him say that the level of homicide in Kaduna is high….We hear everyday of people being killed. This has never happened in the history of Kaduna State. So, am I safer than I was before? The answer is no. My son was attacked right outside the house some months ago.
Have I seen an improvement in public infrastructure? I cannot really say that I have seen such an improvement. What I see are dusty roads in an attempt to do the roads. Last year, the Zaria Water Works, we were told, was commissioned. Our administration did a lot of work on that project, practically 70 to 90 per cent, then we heard that it was commissioned but the people in Zaria are saying that there is no water.
So what was commissioned? You hear about job creation, let’s look at it from two sides. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) told us that 8.2 million jobs had been lost in 2016 and 2017. That is scary! And then you come back to Kaduna state, NLC was on protest today (January 11) over the dismissal of 32,000 workers, they said. If you add that number, we will have fairly large families that are out of jobs. Every worker takes care of not less than five people, that means a huge number of people are out of means of their livelihood.
For the teachers, I am worried because, I do not know where we are going to find large number of qualified teachers. By current standard, the only people who should teach are those who have qualifications in teaching, either an NCE or a Bachelors in education. From the same system that produced those that government fired, I don’t know how they will get qualified people. Government is even going ahead to fire people that already have jobs. I read somewhere that government has created certain agencies, take KASTELEA (Kaduna State Traffic and Environmental Law Enforcement Agency) for instance, it is basically my brain child when I was in government.
We were discussing the issue of road tax because we needed more revenue and the late Yakowa asked me. I told him that we did not need new laws to get revenue, we should implement the ones we have. We saw that there is a law relating to road taxes, which is the road traffic laws and orders, but the biggest challenge we had was enforcement. We had environmental issues. I chaired inter ministerial committee on environmental sanitation, we also saw the problem of enforcement.
So we suggested the creation of an agency for the enforcement and the proposal I submitted was accepted and we prepared a bill. That is the background to that agency. But I don’t know what they are implementing today, whether it is what we initiated or whether they have a totally different thing, I didn’t know.
You look at Olam, people talk about it. People are concerned that the president was brought to commissioned it, but really nothing is happening. I passed there, it is a beautiful structure, but I overheard a few days ago that it is just one of those things that government makes hype about. So you wonder where are the jobs from? When we did the Indomie factory, it is there, it is running, people are working, you could see the value of it. It took very short period to do that and it is on stream. When you talk about job creation and the things that government has done, you really don’t have anything to hold. They are just abstract things. It is very painful for me because, while I supported the candidate of my party and I proved that by delivering my three polling units to my party, but when we lost the election and the current governor won, I was relieved and happy, I felt we have very intelligent people that are going to run Kaduna State and we should see a difference. But I don’t see that happening, so my expectations had been dashed because my hopes were really high that this government would make a difference.
This is probably the only government outside Makarfi that might have the privilege of having a full four years. Namadi Sambo had barely two years, Yakowa barely settled down and he had to contest election and then he died. We had fantastic programmes. By 2012, we had awarded contracts for roads, worth about N30 billion across the state. Those projects were going on. We had a robust payment plans for the contractors. We were to complete the Zaria Water Works by the end of 2013. We had a small setback because of the kidnapping that took place at the site.
Muktar Yero succeeded late Yakowa, he barely had two years, but he was able to start and finish some roads. I haven’t seen any project started and completed by this administration.
Do you see any prospect for the return of PDP to power in Kaduna state?
Absolutely! This government should start writing its handing over notes. They should prepare to leave because the citizens of Kaduna State are not happy. We have never been this divided, the government doesn’t seem to have respect for anybody….
I do not see how this government could get its mandate extended. Sometimes, I don’t really think they do plan to win election. I think that the government probably wants to instigate crisis and find a way of remaining in power or like we have seen with INEC under this federal government, they have a history of inconclusive elections. They have a history of generating crisis to win their elections. We saw how it went in Edo state. We saw how it went in Ondo state, they tried the same thing in Bayelsa. Maybe they think they can manipulate INEC to win elections both at the federal and state levels, but beyond that, I do not see how this government can remain in power.
But some people within the PDP are not happy with the outcome of the convention. How united is the party in Kaduna.
The PDP is actually prepared. The party in Kaduna state is one family, we have a stable and good leadership under Hassan Hyet, we have great leaders in the party, former Vice President, Namadi Sambo, former governor and former national caretaker chairman of the PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi who helped repositioned the party at the national level by organising, arguably one of the best conventions that the party has held in Nigeria. So the party is back as one big happy family. A few people had concerns as a result of the politicking that went during the National Convention that produced national officers. They felt that they had lost out, but the Serieki Dickson committee is working hard to reconcile them and they have been co-operating with the new National Chairman and the committee. I think that the way things are going, PDP is set to take over power. Quite a number of big names have returned to the PDP. The former Vice President is back and that is a huge lost to the APC. From what we hear, other people are waiting in the wing to come back to the PDP. The APC itself is not together, the big implosion will happen in the APC and PDP is going to be the natural beneficiary of all of that.
There are speculations that you are nursing a governorship ambition.
There has been a lot of agitations since 2015 that I should contest the governorship. Wherever I go, people asked; when are you going to run for governor? Running for the position of governor is not a decision you take just like that. It requires extensive consultations. First, you will have to ask yourself whether there is something that you will like to do? I know that I always want to serve, I will always yield to the clamour of the people to serve. What I am doing is consulting widely within and outside the state. I am also asking myself whether I am willing to take my service to that level. So that is where I am now.
I do not see how this government could get its mandate extended. I don’t really think they do plan to win election.