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Risks in Kano for APC, PDP as Kwankwaso continues to dig in

By Leo Sobechi, Deputy Politics Editor, Abuja and Murtala Adewale, Kano 
09 November 2022   |   3:56 am
It seems political ranking is coming into play in Kano State as next year’s general elections draw near. Class ’99 governor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who is currently the presidential standard bearer of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), has been deploying his experience to garner the maximum votes from the ancient city.

Tinubu and Doguwa

It seems political ranking is coming into play in Kano State as next year’s general elections draw near. Class ’99 governor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who is currently the presidential standard bearer of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), has been deploying his experience to garner the maximum votes from the ancient city.

Not much has been seen from another former governor, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau, whose much-talked-about defection from Kwankwaso’s NNPP, after a brief sojourn, attracted serious interest about the unfolding schemes in the state.

However, on the part of the incumbent, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who sacrificed his senatorial aspiration to ensure that his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) retains the state, continuing internal dissensions and mistrust remain his setback.

Although Governor Ganduje’s stake in the forthcoming polls is limited to his desire to see APC triumph, he is seen as the main foot soldier of the party’s presidential contender, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who on his part is also a class ’99 governor of Lagos State.

Lagos and Kano are among the few states with large Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) holding. Analysts tend to believe that the two states hold the ace to the victory or loss of the presidential race. Consequently, with Tinubu banking on his control of Lagos as a sure banker, the calculations within APC is that if Ganduje tilts the ballot in Kano in APC’s favour, Tinubu must have been halfway home to victory.

But, the appearance of Kwankwaso on the presidential ballot does not seem to be making the job of cornering Kano for APC easy for Ganduje. The fact that the incumbent and former governor Kwankwaso are former ally separated by political interests have reduced the influence of Senator Shekarau in the scramble for Kano votes. Shekarau is standing in the gap for the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Yet, riding on his power of incumbency as the outgoing governor of the state, Ganduje and his former boss, Kwankwaso, have succeeded in creating the impression that the battle for Kano is a straight one between them. And that is where Kwankwaso’s reach as a home-boy is diminishing the powers of the incumbent, who is not on the ballot, but serving as a proxy.

For instance, in what came up recently as another uprising within Kano State APC, the majority leader of House of Representatives, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, disclosed that some upstarts were trying to upstage the leadership by causing disaffection.

And, with the swiftness of a hawk, Kwankwaso’s men stepped in to harvest from the storm at Ganduje’s backyard. The NNPP presidential candidate did not waste time to declare his willingness and readiness to accept Hon. Doguwa back into his political fold.

Further, the spiritual leader of the Kwankwasiyya movement also constituted a high-powered delegation led by Rufa’i Sani Hanga, to reach out to Doguwa, essentially to condole with him over the demise of his father Alh. Ado Garba.

Recall that Doguwa, on the heels of his scuffle with the APC Deputy governorship candidate, Murtala Sule Garo, vowed to jettison APC and reunite with Kwankwaso, if the former Governor could not simply put a call across and condole with him on his (Doguwa’s) father’s demise.

A ranking member of the Green chamber of the National Assembly from APC, the Majority Leader had on several occasions in the past faulted Kwankwaso’s overbearing influence on Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje’s administration. He however withheld his aspersions, saying the only grudge he has with Kwankwaso was his failure to condole with him.

NNPP Chieftain and former Speaker, Kano State House of Assembly, Hon. Kabiru Alhassan Rurum, reflecting on the entire development, said Kwankwaso is ready to welcome one of his former disciples. Rurum added that the NNPP leader has plans of hosting a warm reception to win Doguwa back to the Kwankwasiyya camp.

Rurum stated: “Upon hearing of Hon. Doguwa’s claim, our leader (Sen. Kwankwaso) constituted a high-powered four-man committee to pay a condolence visit on Doguwa under the leadership of Sen. Rufa’i Sani Hanga with my humble self, the state chairman of our party, Hon. Umar Haruna Doguwa and Hon. Sarki Aliyu Daneji as members of the delegation.

“Politics is a game of numbers, we are open for reconciliation and reunion with our old friends and associates in our quest to achieve a new Nigeria. At some point, most of us were in different parties against His Excellency Engr. Dr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, but after realising his political sagacity, we reunited with him in NNPP and I can confirm to you that we are much comfortable now than ever.

“I am, therefore, assuring the House leader of a warm reception back to the Kwankwasiyya political movement and the NNPP as he was once a member of its kitchen cabinet. We will pay the condolence visit on behalf of the NNPP Presidential Candidate, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, as soon as possible to fulfill the conditions of our brother Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa and ensure that the big fish is in our net soon.”

Rurum, a current member of the House of Representatives, representing Rano/ Bunkure/Kibiya Federal Constituency of the state, was part of the five federal legislators that dumped APC few months ago.

Doguwa had warned APC against losing grips of power to the opposition, especially with the leadership structure of the party restricted to the Deputy governorship running mate, Garo.

But, reacting to Kwankwaso’s plots, the APC State Secretary, Alhaji Zakari Sarina, dismissed the possibility of Doguwa reuniting with Kwankwaso, stressing that the governing party has already set out mechanism to resolve the lingering disputes.

Sarina, who affirmed the internal crisis between Doguwa and Garo, however, maintained that APC as a party remains a strong force to retain the leadership.

Despite Sarina’s optimism, it is obvious that Tinubu and APC’s chances to secure at least, the majority votes in Kano in the 2023 polls are being threatened by the internal bickering in the state.

The recent tiff between Doguwa and Garo, the APC governorship running mate, blew the misunderstanding open, especially after the House of Reps majority leader openly threatened to run back to Kwankwaso of NNPP.

Intriguingly, Doguwa was among those who plotted the political mischief against Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, which led to Abdulmumin’s loss of his re-election bid to the PDP candidate, Ali Datti-Yako, during a rerun poll.

Feeling the heat this time around, Doguwa, who represents Tudun-Wada/Doguwa federal constituency of Kano State, pleaded with Governor Ganduje to intervene in the management of the APC in the state. The federal lawmaker warned that unless something was done to address the internal cracks, the part stands the risk of losing the state to the opposition.

Many of those who listened to Doguwa’s remarks during a press conference did not mistake the particular opposition platform that the majority leader was referring to. Ever since Kwankwaso emerged as the presidential standard bearer of NNPP, the opposition party had become a refuge of mostly young political actors that fell out of favour with Governor Ganduje.

Addressing APC loyalists at his Gandu Albasa quarters, the furious Doguwa insisted that Kwankwaso remains an indefatigable political giant in Kano politics, even as he vowed that he would not hesitate to mend fences with his former political mentor, if the APC crisis was not resolved amicably.

“The only grudge I had with him was that he has refused to condole with me, when I lost my father. Yet, I respect his dexterity and political sagacity.

“And, I would be more than willing to forgive the former governor and even reunite with him, if he (Kwankwaso) can muster the courage to put a call to me to say sorry for the loss of my father,” Doguwa had stated.

But, after laying the foundation for a possible reconciliation with Kwankwaso, Doguwa appeared to engage in double speak as if he was merely grandstanding to raise the stakes or curry Governor Ganduje’s highest considerations.

The majority Leader quickly restated his resolve to remain a bonafide APC member, despite the brewing internal squabble rocking the party leadership. Yet, some insiders claim that Doguwa’s rethink to initiate peace with the NNPP national leader was not unconnected to alleged plans by APC to expel him from the party after the physical exchange with Garo.

The Federal lawmaker has never hidden his unease with the perceived control of the APC structure by Garo, who he accused of working indirectly for his father-in-law, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential contender instead of Tinubu.

It could not be ascertained also, whether Governor Ganduje is also indirectly in support of Garo following his disappointment over the failure to be chosen as Tinubu’s running mate. However, instead of pursuing that route, Doguwa challenged the academic qualifications of the gubernatorial running mate, Garo. He therefore warned against possible disqualification of APC candidates in the gubernatorial race in the state.

Garo could not take his calls or respond to text messages from The Guardian seeking his reaction to the issues raised by Doguwa. But, APC State Secretary, Alhaji Sarina, while confirming the crisis between Doguwa and Garo, however refuted the claims that APC is under threat by opposition in Kano.

His words: “It is indeed true that there is some disagreements between Hon. Doguwa and our gubernatorial running mate, but I can tell you that the issue is being addressed by the stakeholders.

“But, that is not enough to say that APC is facing any threat in Kano State. We are on top of the game and we would win all the polls next year by the grace of God.”

Pundits believe that despite the position of the APC northern governors that power should go to South in 2023, Kano State remains Kwankwaso and his NNPP to lose. Doguwa’s recent outburst may be his way of stating that fact.

Sensing the damage Doguwa’s defection could cause the party in Kano, its presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu quickly hosted Doguwa and his group in Abuja, where Doguwa reconfirmed his commitment to the party.

He said: “ÄPC remains my party, my destiny. I’m not leaving the party for any other. I remain in the APC because victory is for the party. I also believe we have a presidential candidate in Asiwaju Tinubu, who has the sagacity, capacity and experience to turn around the economy, the fortune of the country, the same way he did in Lagos. I believe that under Tinubu, Nigeria will do well in the comity of nations.”

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