Hon Hafiz Kawu represents Tarauni Federal Constituency in Kano State in the House of Representatives, where he is deputy chairman, House’ Committee on Banking and Currency. In this interview with DESMOND MGBOH in Kano, he insists that there was never an agreement between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu barring either party from contesting for president if the other was interested in same office. He also affirmed that contrary to the negative propaganda by some people, Vice President Osinbajo is a devoted Christian who is very much at home with and friendly to Muslims in Nigeria and beyond. 

There have been criticisms about Prof Osinbajo’s claims on the number of persons that were employed under the present administration. Has this administration truly engineered massive employment for Nigerians as he claimed?

If you remember when this administration came on board in 2015, it brought about social intervention scheme whereby the administration promised to employ 500,000 youths.  If you check well now, you see the N-Power, N-Tech and N-Agro programmes, which have been successfully implemented. As I am talking to you now, I can tell you categorically that over a million people have been employed under the Buhari administration. This is just one sector. We have not talked about other sectors. When you reach out to the other sectors, like the 10,000 policemen, the 10,000 Immigration officers that this administration has employed over the years. What about the thousands of those employed under the Nigeria Civil Defence and Security Corps and so many more that this administration has employed. So what I am saying is that this administration has created a lot of jobs, but if you look at our population, you cannot say that you will meet the expectations of everybody because year- in year- out, our youth are admitted into the universities. Year in, year out, they are leaving the universities and some are going for NYSC. And if you look at the population, you are talking of over 200 million population, out of which about 60 per cent are promising young Nigerians that are seeking to be gainfully employed. That is why in several mediums, you will see the President and the Vice President advising the youth to engage in farming and other businesses that would sustain their persons because the government alone cannot employ everybody. Even the private sector cannot employ everybody. That is also why, I think in the last two years or so, the Vice President has been going to various markets across Nigeria to give people capital, especially market women, like the market women that were given capital. This is just to stimulate the economy and give women some capital so that they would start their businesses.

There have been claims of some friction between Asiwaju Tinubu and Prof Osinbajo. What’s really going on between the two politically?

Let me tell you, as one of the closest persons to the Vice President, I know that the Vice President has an enormous respect for Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and I can tell you that Tinubu also has respect for the Vice President. But as it is enshrined in the Nigeria Constitution, which gives everyone the right to vote and be voted for, I think that they are all exercising their franchises in line with what the constitution has provided for all of us. And they all have the capacity and they all have the experience. But of course, from the experience angle of it, the Vice President is the Number Two man. He has been in this administration and he is part and parcel of the formulation of the Buhari administration and was instrumental to a lot of policies in this administration, a reason we feel he is the closest to the throne.  And as I said earlier in one of my interviews, he is the natural successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, looking at the experience he has gathered. Look also at the opportunities the President has given to the Vice President. There has never been a Vice President in the history of Nigeria that has been given this kind of opportunities; that has been entrusted with a lot of responsibilities, both locally and internationally in the way Osinbajo has been. He has gone to a lot of countries to represent President Buhari. Recently, he represented President Buhari at the ECOWAS meeting, where they discussed matters bordering on the issue of Mali and Guinea and other things. He represented the President in Dubai, during the International EXPO and even back here, he has chaired the Federal Executive Council meetings on so many occasions and Mr. President has been fair enough. There was never a time he upturned any decision that the Vice President took in his absence. Look at what happened when he acted in the absence of Mr. President. So, the Vice President has done quite a lot of things that we feel that it is a fair contest and we feel that he should be given the right of first refusal. I believe that at the end of the day, both Tinubu and Osinbajo want to serve this country, they want to give in their best. So, there is never an issue. It is all in politics and that is the beauty of democracy. People should have the right to express themselves. There is nothing wrong to have an ambition or to aspire for an office. Of course, Asiwaju has an ambition. His ambition should not stop the ambition of the Vice President and the ambition of the Vice President should not stop his own expression of his ambition. Let me tell you, it is God that makes one king and it is Him that decides on who would wear the crown. God has already chosen who will be Nigeria’s next President. It is just a matter of time. So this is not an issue, and that is why we his followers would just campaign for our candidate.

Members of the Tinubu camp are going about telling Nigerians that the Vice President has betrayed his mentor and benefactor

Well, there are two things that many people don’t understand. I don’t think, to the best of my knowledge, that there is anything like betrayal here. Even with the supporters of Bola Tinubu, I don’t think they would say that there was an agreement between Tinubu and Osinbajo to the effect that if he was contesting, the Vice President should not contest or vice versa. There was never an agreement. Of course, there must be a certain linkage in life for you to reach a certain destination that God has destined for you. Of course there must be a ladder. Yes, if Asiwaju today has been a ladder, they have forgotten that this same Vice President has served Asiwaju for eight good years as his Attorney General, when he was the Governor of Lagos State. And since then, they have had a cordial relationship. And simply now because the Vice President has come out to say that I want to contest for Nigeria President, they are bringing up all of these. Look at it this way: even a father and son can belong to different parties. In some places, you will see a father in one political party and the son in another party and maybe, that father still feeds the son. That is politics for you, because everyone has his right. So simply because the Vice President said he wants to contest, they are saying that it is betrayal. Where is the betrayal? There is nothing like betrayal. They are all exercising their franchises because that is what the constitution has guaranteed. As I said earlier, there has to be an agreement before you will say there is a betrayal. I want to challenge anyone to come out and say or give example of where the Vice President, whether directly or indirectly, has said anything negative about Asiwaju or that he would not contest if Tinubu was in the race.

Do you see either party supporting the other if one of them emerges the candidate in the primary?

Whether you like it or not, they all belong to the same political family. Whether you like it or not, both of them have come a long way and all of them are party men that would work for the success of the APC at the forthcoming elections. At the end of the day, any of them who eventually emerges as the winner, I can tell you that Bola Tinubu and the Vice President will work for that person so that APC succeeds. The Vice President is loyal to the party and he is loyal to President Buhari. But I can tell you that by the grace of God, the Vice President will certainly and surely emerge because he is the person to beat at the primary of the APC convention.

There are also claims in some quarters that Osinbajo is against Muslims, that he is a religious bigot and he is somebody that is out to promote his religious group, the Redeemed Christian Church of God…

If we would recall when President Buhari was contesting in 2015, this particular issue of being a religious bigot came up. Some people accused Buhari, saying that he had an agenda to Islamize Nigeria. You know you cannot remove the issue of politics of religion from the minds of some people. I have worked closely with the Vice President and if you are to mention few people that are close to him, over the years, not only in the North but in Nigeria, I am one of them. And you see, I am a Muslim and I am from Kano State all these years. He never knew me from Adams, but he showed me love. And that is why I am his co-campaigner; that is why I am his close confidant, because if he had such attitude that some people are accusing him of, I will never be close to him. He would never have taken me as his aide in the first place. In fact, he has taken me not just like an aide, he has taken me like a son because he gives me the opportunity to discuss a lot of issues with him. He treats me well. At times we even argue on issues and let me tell you, even before he knew that he would come out and contest, and even before I knew that I will become a member of the House of Representatives, he had been nice to me. There was a time I invited him to my wedding in 2018. He was in Lagos, not in Abuja. He left Lagos and he came to Kano and entered the mosque for my wedding, because the wedding took place inside the mosque. He entered the mosque, attended the wedding until it was finished and he left back for Lagos. So, if truly what they are accusing him of is true, if he was that kind of person, he would not have done what he did for me. And there was a time that myself and my colleagues had travelled to Saudi Arabia, that was that year when there was a stampede in the Holy land. In the night we were even sleeping only for the phone to ring and he was on the line. He said he heard that something happened in Saudi Arabia, “I hope you people are okay,” he added and we said we were okay. And he said thank God, that he saw it on the news and he remembered that two of us from his office had gone for Hajj. So he felt to call and ask us how we were doing. And I can tell you, almost every Sallah celebration, if I travel to Kano, he is among the early callers that will call and ask me “How are you? How is Sallah? How is Mama? He always does that. If he is actually what these people are accusing him of, will he do all of these things for me, a Muslim? We know of course that in politics, they must find one or two things to use to either paint you black or to de-market you. But all these things would not stop your destiny. All these things would not stop what God has destined for him.

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Source: news