How I felt after Supreme Court voided my victory 5 days to swearing-in as governor – Koguna

Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris

The prayers of Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris to win the March 9, 2019 governorship election were answered as he won the poll with 534,541 votes, thus becoming the governor-elect of Zamfara State. He was one of the 29 governors-elect who attended the retreat organised by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) in Abuja. Five days to his swearing in as governor, the Supreme Court voided the victory. Idris, popularly known as Koguna Gusau, in this interview, shares his experience, how he survived the shock, what friends he made as governor-elect did, his hopes and next political moves. Excerpts:

Daily Trust: You have been quiet since the Supreme Court voided your victory five days to your swearing in, how has it been?

Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris: We thank Almighty Allah for everything. It is not something strange for a politician like me who experienced a sudden upturn of victory to keep mum and be re-analyzing what actually happened between the elections and to this day. It is not that we are keeping mum but we are analyzing and re-strategizing to see the way forward with our supporters.

DT: Re-strategizing for what?

Idris: Well, first of all, we joined politics to help our people, to bring changes to our people and to better their lives. This is what we are doing and this is why we are carrying them along by making sure that whatever we are doing is for their benefit.

DT: You attended the retreat for governors-elect and were awaiting May 29 for your swearing in, how did you receive the news?

Idris: Well, it’s not easy but after getting the news of the court judgment, the first thing I did was to thank Almighty Allah and the people of Zamfara for showing the love and affection for me because they came out en masse and voted for me. They believed in my mission for them and they believed I was going to help them to get them out of most of the problems they are facing and to continue from where my oga (Abdulaziz Yari, the former governor of Zamfara State) stopped. So when I got that news that the court had given the judgment in favour of the PDP, the first thing that came to my mind was the people. How were they going to receive it? So I had to control myself, and made sure we carried the people along to not revolt. That was why the first thing we did, to calm our people that they should take it, it was from God, because if God had destined me to be the governor, nobody would stop me. Maybe it’s not yet time but the time will surely come. Because the people have chosen me, the people of Zamfara have given me their mandate, it’s just a little delay that we are witnessing but one day Insha Allah, we will be there. So, we made sure that we calmed our people and told them to take it in good faith and give full support to the incoming government. That’s what we did. Like I said earlier, it’s not easy to swallow something like that but we had to face the reality. It was not easy for most of our supporters but we just had to follow them one-by-one and calm them. Here we are now.

DT: Any serious shock?

Idris: Yeah, a lot of our supporters had shocks but for me as a person, I did not get any shock. For me, whatever you are doing, you pray for the best and expect the worst. I prayed for the best but I got that one. And I know my God loves me so much, I took it in good faith. So, there was no shock.

DT: How did your immediate family receive it?

Idris: Yes, I was with my wife in a plane when we got the news. She was a bit emotional, in fact, she was into some tears at that point but what I told her was, ‘If you cry now, it means you are not thankful to God for all the things He has done for us’. God has done everything for us. Look at myself, even within my family, I come from a family of 33, that is, from my father’s side. From his two siblings we are 101 and from my mother’s side, she comes from a family 26 and from the children, grand and great grandchildren we are 528 from my mother’s side. From my father’s side, we are over 400. So I come from a family of a thousand but I said look at what ‘God has done for us. And that was what erased the whole thing. I said don’t look at what God has taken away from you but what he has done for you. So, please don’t cry. She swallowed it and till this hour she doesn’t cry again. My second wife, I didn’t call her until like two hours later she said immediately she went and performed ablution and started praying. She prayed to God to give her the strength to withstand the shock. I’m happy it went that way. She didn’t cry too. But my brothers were shocked but their major concern was how I would take it. So any one of them that came to my house and saw the way I took it, would also take it in good faith. So I got a lot of support from my brothers and sisters. They supported me all through and none of them cried before me. If they cried, they did that outside, not before me.

DT: Did you have any difficult moment?

Idris: The most difficult part of the situation is that your supporters would call you, after greeting you, they would burst into tears. Sometimes they would see you on the street, greet you and just start crying, so that was the most difficult part. At a time I had to stop answering people’s calls because it was so difficult to see somebody that was helpless because there was no amount of words that you could tell him to calm him, only to be telling him to be patient, that was the most difficult part. Apart from that, everything was okay.

DT: What have you been doing since then?

Idris: First of all, when you find yourself in an executive office, the first thing you should do after analyzing what you can do in the office, then you should start planning for your exit because a lot of politicians find it difficult to adapt after they leave office. So, the moment I found myself in that situation, I quickly went back to plan B, as if I had gotten to the office and was exiting on expiration of my tenure. That is, life after the office, life continues, life goes on.

DT: What is the plan B?

Idris: The plan B is to continue with my normal life and to continue with my people.

DT: During the retreat for governors-elect you met and related well with your colleagues then who are now governors. How is your relationship with them now?

Idris: A lot of them called me after the Supreme Court judgment and we are still nursing our friendship. I remember last week the incumbent governor of Borno State called me from the US and we spoke. I remember the governor of Bauchi, we met in Saudi Arabia because that was where we first met and established relationship. We treat each other like brothers. So, a lot of them reached me and I am in good terms with them. I will support them in any way I can.

DT: What do you make from this?

Idris: Well, it’s a bitter lesson for the country’s democracy. Let me put it that way because most of these things happened for the first time in our democracy. We had never experienced something like that. If you by the record you will see that these kinds of things had never happened in our history. So it’s a bitter one and we are the ones experiencing the negative side of this history. But I’m sure one day it will come back in our favour.

DT: The mishap was caused by internal wrangling within your party, the APC, who do you blame for this?

Idris: I think the time is over for apportioning blames, even the people that we wrangled with did not see this coming. None of our party members saw this coming. Even the PDP never thought they would get that kind of judgment. So, like I said, a lot of things happened for the first time. For the first time, you saw a judgment where somebody that was not part of the case enjoying the benefit of the outcome of the judgment. But as I said, a lot of things happened for the first time and I’ve taken it in good faith. But one day, we will be there and our people will continue to jubilate the same way they jubilated after announcing that our party won.

DT: Is the APC dead in Zamfara State?

Idris: I’m surprised to hear that from you because if you go to Zamfara State you would think it’s only APC and that is exactly what is happening because it’s only APC that is having ward and local government meetings. It’s only APC that you would see conducting political activities. Our party is even stronger now than before. This is because we now have more active members of the party, before they were only APC sympathisers but now they are active members. All our executives are still intact and all our supporters are still there intact. So our party is stronger now than ever before.

DT: But, do the two factions still exist?

Idris: No, there are no factions and let me tell you two things. One, you can only get a faction if they are having it at party headquarters. The party headquarters didn’t recognize any faction. There was a court judgment against that faction. And the judgment said whoever paraded himself as a faction should be arrested and prosecuted. As far as the law of Nigeria is concerned, there is no faction. As far as our party headquarters is concerned, there is no faction and there has never a time when there was a function in Abuja or anywhere you see a leader from the group parading themselves as leaders of the faction.

If they believe there is faction let them parade themselves and see what the law will do to them so there is no faction.

DT: In view of the fate that befell you, what advice do you have for your colleagues?

Idris: First and foremost, let politicians not take the issue of politics as a do or die affair because you are not the one that take yourself there since you are working for the people. If you are doing it in the interest of the people then you should put the people first. So, if politicians find themselves in our type of situation they should follow our footsteps by making sure whatever they are going to do, they should do it in the interest of the people. The issue of carrying thugs around is not the best and if you do that then you are not doing it in the interest of the people.

DT: Since the coming of Bello Matawalle’s administration banditry has reduced compared to when you people were in power, what happened?

Idris: The issue of banditry is not what we should drag into politics because people have lost their lives and property. We hope and pray that the attacks would subside to the minimum level because our people have suffered enough. If you recall, there was a time during our tenure we had about a year and eight months without attack. So we also tried all these negotiations with them, collected weapons and granted them amnesty.

DT: How would you assess the performance of the Zamfara State governor?

Idris: The government has been very quiet and very dull, maybe it is because they were not prepared to find themselves in government. Maybe that is why they are taking their time to see what they can do. A lot of promises have been made since they assumed office but from the records none has been fulfilled. So, I cannot say anything more about them now, rather, I would say they are too quiet and dull.

DT: Some members of your party have joined Mattawalle’s administration, what’s your take on this?

Idris: Well, it is normal because most of them were from the G-8, those we struggled with in our party and they were the ones struggling to get positions. Maybe the condition they were given is to decamp to PDP before they can be considered for appointment. That is why the administration is yet to appoint commissioners and special advisers.

DT: After you were declared winner of the election, you made new friends, are they still with you?

Idris: It’s natural (laughs), it’s natural in life. You make new friends when success comes your way. You just have to manage them, your old friends are your real friends because these are the people that can locate you and see you as Mukhtar, not governor-elect, to tell you the naked truth. They are the people that can tell that on this you are right and on this you are wrong, not sycophants that will come around you. Not all new friends are sycophants, some of the new friends may add value to your journey and not all new friends are bad, but you have to be very careful because that is why you were chosen, to differentiate between good and bad. A lot of ideas will come into your head, 1001 ideas will come to your head but it’s left to you to choose what is best for your people. That is why you are elected as a leader because they feel you have the wisdom and capacity to take drastic decisions for the interest of the state.

DT: What’s your ambition come 2023?

Idris: The people will decide because my greatest ambition is for my people. Whatever my people decide I’m ready for it. The struggle continues and we are not going to relent.

DT: Do you still see yourself becoming Zamfara governor?

Idris: If my people want it, I can see myself there.

Source: Daily Trust 
How I felt after Supreme Court voided my victory 5 days to swearing-in as governor – Koguna How I felt after Supreme Court voided my victory 5 days to swearing-in as governor – Koguna Reviewed by JNJ GLOBAL GIST on November 24, 2019 Rating: 5

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