Kaita, the Katsina kingmaker who wanted Yar’Adua’s election nullified


Since the news of his death broke on Tuesday night, tributes have been pouring in for Lawal Kaita, an old generation politician who remained active with developments till he bade the world bye. President Muhammadu Buhari described him as a “distinguished leader”.

Bello Masari, governor of Katsina, said politics would never be the same without Kaita’s “jocular banter”. A group known as ‘PDP At Your Door Campaign Forum’ said Kaita was a patriotic son who contributed immensely to the development of contemporary politics.

For Aminu Tambuwal, governor of Sokoto,  Kaita’s contributions have enriched governance process at state and federal levels.

Born on October 4, 1932, in Katsina, the deceased attended Barewa College, Zaria, from 1946–1950 and later studied at the London School of Economics between 1971 and 1972.

Spent three months in office

Balarabe Musa of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) defeated Kaita when he contested the governorship election in 1979. Musa was impeached two years later and Kaita was believed to have been instrumental to the ousting of his opponent.

Musa goes into record as the first Nigerian governor to be impeached. After his removal, Kaita emerged governor of the state but his tenure lasted three months as a result of the coup which brought Buhari into power.

Between 1980 and 1982, he was appointed special assistant to former President Shehu Shagari.

‘Money was not his problem’

In an interview with Daily Trust last year, he said the secret behind his healthy looks was “Luck and contentment. I am quite happy with what I am. Money is not my problem.”

Asked the political changes he noticed between the Second Republic and now, he said: “The political changes in Nigeria are shocking. In our time, there is dedication and commitment, and money was not our priority. What people so much care about is ideology not money. You cannot influence people with money. When I was ousted from government, I just had N133,000 in my wife`s account. I only survived with that N133,000 and this house. But now, governors are billionaires. I keep wondering how somebody could have such huge amount of money as a public office holder.”

Kaita also made significant contribution to the carving of Katsina from Kaduna state.

Sought removal of Yar’Adua despite blood ties

Kaita is related to late President Musa Yar’Adua, and a member of royal family of Nagogo, traditional rulers of the emirate of Katsina.

But not minding his relationship with Yar’Adau, he wanted the election of the ex-president to be nullified.

“I expect the Supreme Court to nullify his election. He is my blood brother, but that has nothing to do with party politics. So, I am praying earnestly that his election should be nullified by the Supreme Court because he didn’t win the election,” Kaita had said in an interview.

Threatened to make Nigeria ungovernable

Following the historical demise of Yar’Adua in May 2010, his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan took over the leadership of the country. The north felt that based on the zoning practice, the region had not completed its term. It then sought the emergence of another northerner.

Jonathan had contested that election against the wish of some powerful people in the north and the deceased was among those who spoke out.

“It is the turn of the north to produce the president, that if Jonathan by default wins the nomination of the PDP, we will stop him at the general elections. If we fail to stop him at the general election, even if he wins he will not be able to rule we will make the country ungovernable for him,” Kaita had said.

“The north is determined, if that happens, to make the country ungovernable for President Jonathan or any other Southerner who finds his way to the seat of power on the platform of the PDP against the principle of the party’s zoning policy.”

But Jonathan won the 2011 election. When the wind of rumour blew across the country that Jonathan was planning to seek re-election in 2015, Kaita spat fire.

“We hear rumours all over that Jonathan is planning to contest in 2015. Well, the north is going to be prepared if the country remains one,” he said.

“That is, if the country remains one, we are going to fight for it. If not, everybody can go his way.”

Kaita was one of the founding fathers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but left the party in September 2006 to join the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). He returned to the PDP in August 2010.

At the end of the discussion with Daily Trust, Kaita had said “This interview should stop here. For 20 years, I have not given such interview.”

Perhaps he would have spoken more if he knew it was his last. Now, the elder statesman cannot change his mind about granting another interview; it’s time for eternal rest. Good night, Kaita.

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