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Ganduje deploys ‘Osun magic’ to retake Kano poll

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[FILE PHOTO] Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje

The last word from Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje before the Kano State supplementary election held was pregnant with deep political implication. The governor, noticing the strong barricades mounted against his second term bid, exclaimed: “I will shock PDP next week.”

And true to his boast, he snatched a narrow victory, leaving his challengers with mouth agape, as they wondered how he emerged victorious in a supplementary election that flashed clear and unmistakable danger signals to his reelection.

Looking back at the tension-packed Kano gubernatorial election that went into extra weeks, it is obvious that Governor Ganduje traveled to the land of his in-laws to borrow the ‘Osun Magic,’ which bolstered his confidence in the battle against his estranged political godfather, who had sworn to teach him extra political lessons in Kano.

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Long before the March 9, 2019 gubernatorial and state assembly elections was declared inconclusive, Abba Kabiru Yusuf of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was leaving the incumbent behind with not less than 26,000 votes. It was a feat that gave the red caps some sense of inward satisfaction that their group, which boasts of no less than 2.5 million members, has the power to make and unmake governors in the state.

But after putting heads together with his colleague governors and other chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), both within and outside Kano State, Governor Ganduje heaved a temporary sigh of relief.

The supplementary poll had all the imprints of the recently upturned Osun State’s gubernatorial archetype: security personnel and political thugs enjoyed unusual friendship, with electoral officers engaging in theatrics while the electorate were profiled according to their perceived voting preferences.

At the end of that abracadabra, the pendulum was obviously swinging in Ganduje’s favour, as the table was turned around against Abba and PDP.

Finally, the Returning Officer, Prof. Bello B. Shehu, found his voice: He declared Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje winner of the March 23, rerun poll.

According to Prof. Shehu, Ganduje scored 1,033,695 votes against Abba Kabiru Yusuf of PDP, who was flabbergasted by the miserly 1,024,713 votes that left him behind Ganduje with a gap of 8,982 votes.

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The result conveys the impression that Ganduje has finally taken firm control of Kano politics from his erstwhile benefactor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. But some of the figures have continued to raise discord in addition and co-relation.

For instance, some of the abracadabra produced by the disappearing and reappearing returning officers have begun to attract delirium from observers. In Makoda polling unit, the result presents as a cross between algebra and additional mathematics.

The number of registered voters is put as 360 while the number of those who collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) was put at 288.

However, even when the number of PVCs was 288, the authors of the fairytale result recorded the number of accredited voters as 360. That is not all.

In spite of those anomalous figures, the electoral officials recorded the number of valid votes as 360 and went ahead to allocate all 360 votes to APC and zero to PDP as if there is not even one member of Kwankwasiyya Movement in Makoda.

With that INEC magic, it is understandable why some Kano indigenes crack the joke that somebody with big mouth needs American dollars to hire dullards, who would not be able to differentiate between PVC collection and number of registered voters.

In the beginning
At the build up to the gubernatorial election, Ganduje and Kwankwaso had fought tooth and nail, wielding sentiments that stirred hatred, violence and disruption of the pervading peaceful atmosphere.

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The supplementary poll may have come and gone, but several intricacies surrounding the outcome still leave many in doubt about the credibility of the process. And as was expected, PDP insists the declaration of Ganduje, as winner was a product of doubtful arithmetic and naked exclusion of voters “in a charade peddled with large scale irregularities

Midway into the rerun, the opposition party raised the alarm, accusing Kano State Government of importing political thugs from Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna and Plateau States to prevent eligible voters from exercising their franchise. Acting Kano PDP chairman, Rabiu Suleiman Bichi, declared that the state government imported that voted in all the polling units with fake PVCs.

Bichi said: “The thugs freely voted with the PVCs that do not belong to them and some posing as INEC staff within, while others were clad in PDP agents’ tags. The original agents were beaten and driven away from the polling units.

“As I speak now, we have reports that some of our agents have been killed, vehicles burnt, property destroyed in Doguwa, Nassarawa, Minjibir, Dala, and Tudun Wada Local Government Areas. Some sustained various degrees of injuries including the elected member representing Gwale Local Government Area at Gulu Ward in Rimin Gado LGA, Bichi, Kibiya, Gaya and in majority of the polling units across the state.”

The PDP boss, a close associate of Senator Kwankwaso, also accused security operatives of aiding and abetting multiple voting across the polling units, insisting that the heinous crimes were perpetrated under the watchful eyes of the security men at the polling centres.

But in a swift reaction, state chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Prince Abdullahi Abbas, expressed shock over the call by the main opposition party for the cancellation even when the rerun election was still in progress, even as he dismissed the allegation that the government imported thugs for the poll.

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Abbas described PDP’s lamentation as a clear sign of defeat, “having lost the opportunity to manipulate the results just the way they did before the supplementary.

“We were surprised why the PDP is calling for cancellation while election is still in progress. Their allegations are unfounded and not true. We mobilised our supporters to be vigilant the way PDP did. We expected them to also match force the way we did. They should rather wait for the outcome of the results instead of lamentation.”

Yet, despite the widespread violence and attacks on some reporters and observers, the senior police hierarchy deployed to monitor the exercise claimed the supplementary election was devoid of violence. DIG Michael Anthony, who led the Inspector-General of Police’s special deployment to monitor Kano rerun poll, said only 10 persons were arrested during the exercise, insisting that the alleged attacks by PDP are rather social media creation.

While remarking that the police could not confirm any killing, the DIG said: “We have not witnessed any ugly incidence except some isolated cases of violence and it is being addressed adequately. Voting went on smoothly and the process of collation is about to start.

“If it is true thugs occupied the polling units, certainly INEC will not be comfortable to come out with their materials to the polling units, let alone voting. Voters who went to vote do that in a secret ballot; we don’t even know the party they were voting for. Police never got involved in the conduct of elections. Our interest is to provide cover for smooth conduct of the election. So to accuse the police wrongly, I think it is unfair.

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“It is a social media creation to say people were being killed. If you read the reports on the social media was anybody’s name mentioned? Who are the witnesses? Yes, we also heard about it, and that some people were arrested, vehicles burnt but we verified all these issues; they are not true.

“We made arrest in the early hours this morning and they were detained and are being interrogated. They were arrested for being in possession of sticks, but they were not party officials because we did not find any tags that may depict their party’s identity. We arrested not more than 10 persons.”

Many residents of Kano had questioned the deployment of senior police officers to monitor the supplementary election as technical measures to incapacitate the Kano State Commissioner of Police, Mohammad Wakili, whose efforts were applauded for managing previous polls with utmost professionalism.

A few days before the supplementary election, Kano State Government expressed its lack of confidence in the neutrality of CP Wakil, especially after the police arrested Ganduje’s deputy, Nasiru Yusuf Gawna and Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Murtala Sule Garo, when the duo led thugs to disrupt collation at Gama Ward.

Kano citizens maintained that if the CP could conduct hitch-free presidential and National Assembly elections, the supplementary in 28 local governments left much to be desired in spite of large deployment of senior officers and equipment. The exercise, they said, fell far short of standard.

INEC was not spared in the litany of alleged irregularities, especially during collation. PDP had accused the commission of conniving with APC to mutilate and doctor results of some polling units in favor of the ruling party.

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As if that was not enough, four INEC collation officers reportedly made away with results of polling units in Gama Ward, as such it took INEC almost 12 hours to announce final results of the supplementary poll after it received results of 26 of 28 local councils. Journalists, observers and party agents faced untold harassment, after they were kept waiting for several hours.

Thereafter, everyone, apart from INEC staff and security operatives, were forced to leave the premises while fresh screening was ordered for everybody.

Hours after the screening concluded, collation resumed and Ganduje was declare winner of the elections despite the rowdy session and agitation for cancellation of the collation by PDP’s agents, who claimed election did not hold in most of the polling units.

Besides, leader of Pan African Women Projects, one of the international observers of the election, Mphoentle, has said the Kano poll was marred by irregularities. She revealed that reports gathered by the projects’ agents also indicated killings of innocent people, burning of properties and attack on media and foreign observers.

She said: “Thuggery and voter intimidation were reported in almost all the polling units where the rerun was conducted with cases of loss of lives and other malpractices under the watch of INEC officials and security agencies.

“The observed regulated violence and sponsored thuggery in Nassarawa, Madobi, Dala, Kura, Rimin-Gado and Kibiya Local Government Areas. Women were not found queuing in most polling units we visited. We also observed that the two major political parties APC and PDP tried to undo each other for swift electoral victory, hence the palpable eruption of spontaneous crisis with some loss of human lives.”


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