Ahassan Doguwa and tales of Badawa barricades
Kano State with Kano City as its capital is the biggest city in Northwest Nigeria. If you have not been to Kano, where have you been as a Nigerian? You cannot avoid Kano and claim to have visited many places in the country.
The same way Kano State commands attention in tourism, is how it occupies conversations in international commerce and national politics. As one of the four states with high voting numbers, Kano ranks among the presidential kingmaker-states in Nigeria.
Kano’s status as a strategic state could explain why in each general election cycle, the state throws up memes that help configure the narratives. During the 2015 Buhari political Tsunami that swept away the then federal governing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the murder and incineration of the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Minkaila Abdullahi and the incineration of his five-member family was the highpoint of the negative reports that trailed the poll that changed Nigeria’s polity.
The deceased REC, Abdullahi, who hailed from Jigawa State, died on April 2, 2015, alongside his wife and children, due to injuries received from an early morning fire that gutted his official residence at Kashim Road, Nasarawa Government Reservation Area, (GRA) in the state capital.
Right from the onset of the fourth republic, Kano State has been donating federal lawmakers, including the hotheads and glib-talkers, to the National Assembly. Apart from Salisu Buhari and Farouk Lawan that walked the state through the path of infamy over false academic records and graft, others like Ghali Umar Na’abba and Abdulmumin Jibrin, also hugged national news headlines for their contributions to national politics.
In the ongoing 2023 general elections, Alhassan Ado Garba (Doguwa), had added his own footnote to the sad chapter of election-related violence. Being the incumbent majority leader of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Doguwa seemed to be under intense pressure that he craved membership of the 10th National Assembly by fury, fire and force.
With 28 children and four wives, Doguwa seems to be under pressure to represent his immediate family caucus and federal constituency. Further, as the Yariman Dadin Kowa and Sarkin Yakin, Burum Burum of Tudun Wada and Doguwa, he knows that failure is an orphan, while success demands no explanation.
Doguwa has known no other vocation or employment outside of politics. The first time he was elected into Nigeria’s House of Representatives was the short-lived Third Republic in 1992 on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP). He was 27 years old and straight out of Bayero University, Kano.
However, one year after Nigeria returned to the path of multi-party presidential democracy, Alhassan Ado Garba was made the Special Adviser to Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso on Environment.
Those who knew how Kwankwaso became the Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives in the third republic saw Doguwa’s appointment partly as a form of recognition for his contributions to making the then Kano State governor win the position of Deputy Speaker, which was allotted to the Northwest geopolitical zone.It was from that position that Kwankwaso recommended him to serve as Special Adviser on Governmental Affairs and Political Party Matters to the Senate when Chief Adolphus Wabara and Ken Nnamani served as Presidents of Senate.
When Ibrahim Shekarau defeated Kwankwaso in the 2003 governorship poll, it became apparent that Doguwa was one of those being groomed for the National Assembly by Kwankwaso. Consequently, by 2007, Doguwa succeeded Hon. Bashir Burum Burum as member of the House of Representatives from the Doguwa/Tudun Wada federal constituency of Kano State.
In 2011, when Kwankwaso returned as governor of Kano State, Doguwa found it easy to return to the House of Representatives, where he was appointed into the lucrative office of Chairman, House Committee on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
With the massive wealth he acquired both in experience and finance, Doguwa found his way back to the House of Representatives for a fourth term in 2015, when he joined Governor Kwankwaso to cross over to the newly minted All Progressives Congress (APC).
During the selection of floor functionaries in the 8th House of Representatives, Doguwa supported Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila for the position of Speaker. But, upon the loss of the post by Gbajabiamila to Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Doguwa was given the position of Chief Whip and his acceptance of the offer was interpreted as betrayal by the Gbajabiamila camp.
Nevertheless, during the 2019 general elections, Doguwa again won his election to represent the good people of Doguwa/Tudun Wada federal constituency. It was obvious that after serving the House of Representatives for a record five terms, Doguwa is said to be among the few federal legislators that know where the dead bones are buried in the National Assembly.
That familiarity could explain his strong desire to ‘return to base’ at all costs during the 2023 elections. But, having parted ways with his mentor and former benefactor, Kwankwaso, who was on the presidential ballot for New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), the average voter in Kano knew that the Sarkin Yakin, Burum Burum of Tudun Wada was, like Napoleon Bonaparte, heading to Waterloo.
Yet, as the Yariman Dadin Kowa, he believed that he could brave it. The thought of life outside the Green Chamber must have riled and roused him to desperate stratagems. First, he picked holes in the management of Kano State chapter of APC, accusing Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of abandoning the party to political upstarts. This culminated in some fisticuffs with a party functionary in the lead up to the party’s primary.
Secondly, Doguwa tried the gambit of belated defection to NNPP as a ploy to get Ganduje to accede to his demands for political concessions in the party. While accusing the governor of failing to commiserate with him over the loss of his father, Doguwa reminded those who were prepared to listen that Kwankwaso was his mentor and as such his defection to NNPP was just a mere phone-call away.
But, as he scratched his head for clues on how to survive the greatest threat to his chequered political trajectory, especially the domination of House of Representatives politics, Doguwa seemed to forget about the barricades of Badawa.
Back in the day, Badawa town in Kano was well known for makeshift perimeter fences comprising disused metals left by cork manufacturers.
Although it has a small population, Badawa stands out in Ginginyu. Alhamsad Rice Mill and Ladybird College are some of its prominent landmarks.
Petty thieves from Zango, Barakai or Tagwayan Market that are bold enough to carry out their trade in Badawa are wont to receive bloody lacerations from the makeshift barricades in the area.
The February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections in Kano State was therefore much like Badawa and its barricades for Doguwa. His ambition drove him into neglecting the pikes on the barricades as he tried to force his way into the people’s mandate.
The majority Leader of House of Representatives forgot that he was not enjoying the confidence of majority voters in Doguwa/Tudun Wada federal constituency. But, having grown in political and financial weight, Doguwa believed in his ability to pull through.
His wealth of woes began three months to the election. Precisely, in December 2022, the Majority Leader was heard publicly threatening to deal with any voter in the state that was not prepared to vote for APC. When he swore to deal with opponents, it was an unmistakable message to psychologically frighten the Kwankwasiyya and NNPP.
His words, spoken in the vernacular: “Wallahi; to God who made me, on election day, you must vote for APC or we’ll deal with you.”
To make true his threat, on election day, the paths of Doguwa and agents of NNPP crossed. Having noted the rigging that inflated votes for APC, the NNPP stalwarts alleged over-voting in Dadin Kowa results and called for cancellation.
In the melee that followed, the NNPP secretariat in Tudun Wada Local Government Council was set ablaze, reminiscent of the 2015 gory episode that consumed the REC and his family. But, in the latest instance, only two persons were confirmed dead with many others sustaining life-threatening injuries.
Puffed up by conceit, the Majority Leader tried to downplay the arson and killing in Tudun Wada, his constituency. He told journalists that it was a lie that APC supporters started the fire that razed the Tudun Wada Secretariat of NNPP.
He had stated: “I never held a gun. I don’t even know how to hold a gun. I also never held any weapon throughout the election.”
Despite the messy entrails of the election, Doguwa was declared winner. According to the returning Officer, Ibrahim Yakasai, the Majority Leader polled 39,732 votes as against the 34, 798 scored by his closest rival, Salisu Abdullahi of NNPP.
The victory was not sweet. But, Doguwa must have relished the realisation of his dream of a sixth term come-back to the House of Representatives, where he could be among the gladiators for the Speakership and other juicy principal offices.
However, instead of returning to Abuja to make laws, Doguwa’s trip was cut short by the Police, who were forced to show him the implications of the law on his excessive ambition.
Not that alone, while the Police were busy tracing the paths of the evidence against Doguwa, INEC decided to release the manifest of the law concerning his actions on election day.
Leaving out the Majority Leader’s name from its lists of winners, INEC explained that Doguwa’s return as winner was made under duress, stressing that Section 65 (1) of the 2022 Electoral Act empowers the commission to review a Returning Officer’s declaration if made under duress.
In a well-publicised statement, Prof. Ibrahim Yakassai declared that he was forced to announce the fictitious results from Doguwa/Tudun Wada federal constituency if he wanted to leave the premises alive.
As such, in the combination of baleful developments around him, the voluble Alhassan Duguwa has been forced to read the votes and proceedings from the Police and INEC website announcing the crash of his ambition.
From his arrest at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport to his bail at the court, Doguwa must have realised that periodic elections in a democracy demands accountability to constituents and not an opportunity to use thugs or influence to exact mandate by force.
Has he joined Buhari and Lawan to bring Kano into the hall of infamy? Only the courts have the final say, but for now, his seat in the 10th National Assembly would not be vacant. It would be occupied by somebody else, possibly Salisu Abdullahi.