Kwankwaso, Ganduje in Fierce Political Battle

Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso and Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje

Kwankwaso, Ganduje in Fierce Political Battle

Clearly, Kano remains one of the melting points of Nigeria’s political struggle, with huge electoral values to every serious contender for the office of the presidency. A checklist of states with the highest number of registered and eligible voters puts Kano, with 5.4million eligible voters, in second position behind only Lagos State. Expectedly, all eyes are focused on the major actors on its the political turf as the dates of the next general elections draw nearer.

Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso and Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje

One lead player in the unfolding political battle is the incumbent governor and leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. Another is Ganduje’s erstwhile political leader and predecessor, Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso. The imminent political contest is made more peculiar by the reality that the two lead gladiators at the centre of the storm, Kwankwaso and Ganduje, once governed Kano State on a joint ticket for eight years as governor and deputy governor respectively.

The duo, however, drew the battle line shortly after the former handed over to the later on May 29, 2015. Kwankwaso’s alleged quest to control Kano government house from Abuja and Ganduje’s reported firm resistance to godfatherism, snowballed into a deep-rooted political rivalry, which made Kwankwaso to dump the APC and return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while vowing to ensure that Ganduje is voted out of Kano government house during the 2019 elections.

But some pundits are of the opinion that, owing to recent political development in the state, Kwankwaso’s desire to frustrate Ganduje’s second-term ambition might remain a mere dream. Aside from his tussle with Ganduje, Kwankwaso had dumped the APC for PDP to pursue his presidential ambition and ultimately to create a platform and recruit a lieutenant, with whom to dislodge Ganduje from Kano government house.

Confident of the strength of his Kwankwassiyya Movement, the maverick politician thought-out his strategies and considered it a task so easy to accomplish. However, recovering from the hurts occasioned by his failure at the PDP’s presidential primaries in Port-Harcourt, Kwankwaso rushed back to Kano where he insisted that his son-in-law, Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf, would fly the PDP gubernatorial flag, an imposition that further split the limping Kwankwassiyya Movement.

Ganduje, conscious of the trouble his former boss can give him politically, made good use of the opportunity created by Kwankwaso’s fresh trouble with his associates. He moved ahead of his former boss, lobbying the heavyweights within the Kwankwassiyya camp who were apparently miffed by the unilateral decision of Kwankwaso to impose a gubernatorial candidate on the state chapter of the opposition PDP.

The first among the Kwankwassiyya chiefs to take his exit and align with Ganduje was Kwankwaso’s former Commissioner for Special Duties, Brigadier-General Idris Bello Dambazzau. A close political associate and confidant of the former governor, Dambazzau’s dramatic exit from the Kwankwassiyya Movement did not only rattle Kwankwaso, but also shook the very temple of his political family.

The retired General had unexpectedly stormed the Coronation Hall, government house, where he openly removed his red cap, denounced Kwankwaso and vowed to work for the success of President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Ganduje in the forthcoming elections. Dambazzau’s defection was followed by daily defection of thousands of members of the PDP and the Kwankwassiyya Movement into the APC. They would openly burn their red caps and signalled the sign of “four-plus-four.”

The major shocker came when the immediate-past deputy governor of the state, Prof. Hafiz Abubakar, walked back to his boss, Ganduje. Prof. Hafiz, a former Kwankwaso loyalist, had last October voluntarily resigned his position as deputy to Ganduje, in solidarity with Kwankwaso, who reportedly promised to handover the PDP gubernatorial ticket to him. But things fell apart, and the centre could not hold when Kwankwaso handed over the ticket to his son-in-law.

Apart from these associates leaving Kwankwaso to his fate in drops and in droves, some notable members of the Kwankwasiyya group have also decided to join Ganduje’s train ahead of the forthcoming elections. Penultimate Friday, a number of strong financiers and strategists of the Kwankwasiyya group paid a solidarity visit to Ganduje at the Kano Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja. They assured him of their unalloyed support in the forthcoming elections.

In the delegation were Senator Isah Yahaya Zarewa, Arc Aminu Dabo, Bala Gwagwarwa, Babangida Sule Garo and Engineer Mu’azu Magaji  Dawakin Tofa, popularly called Dan Sarauniya. During a brief discussion at the meeting the governor held with them in the presence of the Director General, Ganduje Campaign Council, Alhaji Nasiru Aliko Koki, the visitors were visibly happy.

The former national treasurer of the APC who defected to the PDP with Kwankwaso last year, Bala Gwagwarwa, said they left the Kwankwasiyya Movement because the respect they deserve from Kwankwaso was not there. They accused him of postulating anti-democratic ideologies. He added that “everybody knows that we always support him because we believed he needed that support in his political engagements. But with the recent events, it appears that he doesn’t think we are matured enough to be consulted on issues like his choice of Abba K. Yusuf as the gubernatorial candidate of PDP Kwankwasiyya for 2019 election.”

He further assured that they came into APC fold to help Ganduje get another chance of four years to govern Kano, adding that “all we are after is the development of Kano State and the country in general. We believe Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje can deliver and he is delivering.” He hinted that more people will join them from the Kwankwasiyya group. “This is just the beginning. More are coming. We all believe that governor Ganduje knows the dignity of all irrespective of age or social status,” he said.

Also speaking, Engineer Mu’azu Magaji noted that, Ganduje’s style of leadership and human management is worth writing about. Insisting that “Kano’s development is what we are after not any other thing. We believe both President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje mean well for the country and the state. The former governor thinks he could do and undo whatever he wishes. It may sound awkward, but Kwankwaso feels that Kano belongs to him alone.”

He added that “as you are seeing us here, we have many more coming towards our direction. For your information, we are in touch with Kwankwasiyya’s strong people across the state, who are disturbingly touched with the decision of Kwankwaso on fielding his choice gubernatorial candidate. And they too are coming our way. During the 1999 primary election Kwankwaso was given the ticket not because he was somebody’s son or an in-law to somebody.

“But he changed the pattern that was decent and orderly. Kwankwaso derailed from moral political practice. So, to us, he has nobody to blame but himself. People should also know that coming back to APC to us is not something difficult. Just look at how Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje accepts us with all open mind and smiling face. Among many factors for our defection is Ganduje’s humility, humane face, and unmatched infrastructural development, without any consideration to party differences.”

Just recently, Kwankwaso and the PDP suffered yet another huge setback when a frontline gubernatorial aspirant of PDP in Kano, Engr. Bello Sani Gwarzo defected to the APC with thousands of his supporters across the 44 local government areas of the state. Speaking during a grand rally to welcome the defectors, the Director General of the Engineer Bello Sani Gwarzo Campaign Organisation, Alhaji Mika’ilu Koki, said their decision to defect to APC is in view of its good policies and developmental programmes.

Koki lamented that their former party, the PDP, is not in any way interested in addressing the plight of the common man as evident by its retrogressive policies occasioned by poor governance which had retarded the development of the country. He added that “instead, they were more concerned about enriching themselves rather than making Nigeria great as evident by their poor governance in their 16 wasteful years in power.”

Moreso, Ganduje’s political prowess and popularity soared higher when the two-time governor of the state and former Minister of Education, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, dumped the PDP and joined forces with Ganduje. Shekarau did not come alone; he came with hundreds of thousands of his political followers and disciples. Interestingly, Shekarau, is contesting the Kano Central senatorial seat, currently being held by Kwankwaso at the red chambers of the national assembly. Since 2003 when he defeated Kwankwaso as an incumbent governor, Malam, as Shekarau is fondly called, has become a political nightmare to Kwankwaso.

Though Kwankwaso is not re-contesting the senatorial seat, he planted one of his political godsons, Madakin Gini, as the PDP candidate for Kano Central. However, pundits have described Madakin’s candidature as a ladder to victory for Shekarau, as the former House of Representatives member cannot, in any way, withstand Shekarau’s political weight.

To add credence to Ganduje’s growing political fortunes, a Ghana-based public opinion poll group, Poll 4 Excellence Africa (P4EA) has come out with the results of 2019 Kano gubernatorial election opinion poll, scoring the state governor and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, 80 per cent above other contestants.

In a letter sent to Ganduje from Accra, signed by the coordinator general of the group, Mr. Ephraim Nonso, P4EA congratulated the APC gubernatorial candidate over the result of the opinion poll, which they said took them some months to conclude. According to the letter: “Congratulations Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje for securing such intimidating percentage in our opinion poll against 2019 general elections, gubernatorial election specifically in your own case.

“We are conducting similar polls in three strategic states in Nigeria. And very soon results from other states will be out for the public. Kano occupies some specific, highly strategic and unassuming democratic practice and culture, that is why we allocate more time to the state above all the remaining three states, identified. Members of the public expressed their unalloyed satisfaction with Ganduje’s delivery in all sectors of the state.”

The letter further stated that “public opinion suggests that Ganduje’s performance in all sectors serves as a shield between him and opposition political tricks. People believe that the governor would redouble his efforts when given another chance of four years. We learned that the choice of the gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the Kwankwasiyya faction of the party spells doom for the group and the party in general.”

Also, when PDP Kwankwasiyya anointed their gubernatorial candidate, many heavyweights from the faction started backsliding. Apart from that, another issue militating against sound opposition from Kwankwasiyya is the fact that, up till now, the long standing leadership structure of the PDP does not see the Kwankwasiyya man as their own. Going by the political scenario in Kano currently, pundits believe that Ganduje is on the fast-lane to victory in the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in the state.

Though Kano politics remains capricious and the pendulum could swing with the barest minute left, it is, however, obvious that these are very tough times for Kwankwaso in this political season. However, in few a weeks to come, the battle royale will be fought and the real owner of Kano’s political soul will emerge. Who will it be? Ganduje or Kwankwaso? Surely, time will tell.

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