Ganduje, Shekarau and Kano APC’s seemingly intractable crises
• G-7 Gives Conditions For Adopting Buni’s Reconciliation Template
The leadership tussle raging in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kano may not settle any time soon as the gladiators at the centre of the storm continue to defy all reconciliation moves, with the recent template for harmonisation of party structure already heading toward a brick wall.
The two factions, the Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje’s anointed leadership and the G-7 faction being fronted by Senator representing Kano Central, Mal. Ibrahim Shekarau along with the joint forces of his counterpart from Kano North, Senator Barau Jibril, four members of the house of representatives from Kano and another strong APC loyalist, has been enmeshed in conflict of interest in the last two years over who controls the party structure.
For the sitting Governor, who is empowered by the party’s constitution to control the party with huge resources and instruments of the state at his disposal, it seems impracticable to surrender power to opposing interests. Yet, Mal. Shekarau who would not equally back down has continued to pull all strings to remain firm against the interest of Ganduje. Unlike the powers of the Governor, Shekarau is leveraging on strong connections built across party strata as a two-term governor, Minister and now serving senator.
Beyond the two giants in the ring, the political sensitivity of Kano is too strategic for any party to joke with, let alone lose. And as the APC party prepares to hold its national convention in the next few days, there are indications that the party hierarchy is worried about the crisis in the state.
This becomes more disturbing given the repositioning of the opposition PDP in the state to take advantage of the division to regain power from the ruling APC. Observers of political developments in the state opine that if the APC fails to recognise the implication of the recent reunion of Shekarau and spiritual leader of Kwankwasiyya, Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, at the wedding ceremony of Shekarau’s daughter earlier in January where Kwankwaso stood as custodian of the bride, the ruling party may continue to live in denial of the reality.
While the warriors in the battle continue to defy several attempts to resolve the dispute, the recent reconciliation move by the Governor of Yobe State and Chairman, Extraordinary Caretaker Planning and Convention Committee of the party, Mai Mala Buni may bring a resolution.
The party headquarters recently set up two bodies, first, the “local government caucus” at each of the 44 councils with membership drawn from serving senators; serving members, house of representatives; serving council Chairmen and deputies; commissioners; special advisers; ministers and women leaders. The second body, “National/State Joint Supervisory Committee” comprises six members and is headed by Governor Ganduje. Other members of the committee are Mal. Shekarau, Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, former speaker, house of representatives Yakubu Dogara, Senator Abba Ali and representative of the headquarters of the party. The Ganduje committee is expected to receive reports from the caucus and forward workable recommendations to the headquarters within seven days for the final decision.
Although the committee has announced the commencement of the sitting, the Shekarau group vehemently rejected the composition of the new committee with the “template for harmonisation” structure. In their argument, the anti-Ganduje faction claimed the new template did not reflect or provide a solution to proposals submitted by the two factions.
They wondered why Ganduje, who is an interested party, would be appointed to head the reconciliation body. Moreover, the pending case at the court of appeal and possible challenge of the outcome at Apex court on the subject matter may render the entire effort a mere academic exercise.
Genesis Of Crisis
When Shekarau returned to APC in September 2018, after irreconcilable differences between him and former Governor and leader of the opposition party, Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, it was not envisaged that the marriage of interest between him and Ganduje would collapse so soon. Incidentally, it was too late for PDP to realise Shekarau’s factor in Kano politics was indispensable when the party lost the 2019 governorship election.
At the same time, it was the belief of many that Ganduje wouldn’t have survived the massive pressures mounted by Kwankwaso during the governorship election without the support of Mal. Shekarau. Unfortunately, the ‘influence’ was soon taken for granted after the election, with the end result now causing sleepless nights for the party faithful.
Few years after the inconclusive governorship poll, the mutual interest between Ganduje and Shekarau began to depreciate when some concerned APC members accused the Abdullahi Abbas-led party leadership of lopsidedness in the management of party affairs. Members accused the APC Chairman of highhandedness in party affairs.
Dissatisfied with the Governor’s refusal to intervene in the matter, aggrieved APC members subsequently went extra mile to form a splinter group, APC Akida, under the leadership of Alh. Abdulmaliq Danbiliki “Kwanmanda” to register their displeasure with the wrongs in the party.
The unfolding incident became glaring again in the 2021 local council election when the aggrieved members were schemed out and denied the opportunity to get the party’s clearance to contest chairmanship and counsellorship seats. Abass was accused of dominating the process and nominating the entire 44 chairmanship and 484 counsellorship slots, with no representation from Shekarau’s block while the loyalists of President Muhammadu Buhari, being fronted by Hon. Sha’aban Ibrahim Sharada, a member representing Municipal at the house of representatives, was entirely caught off guard.
Although the APC candidates were returned unopposed winners of the council poll, the entire seats went to anointed candidates of the Governor. That action did not go down well with the Shekarau’s camp, who were worried that Abbas, who decided the fate of members in the party, was left unchecked by Governor Ganduje. A critical case was how the party, under Abbas’ leadership, was said to have allegedly wrecked the political career of the former House of Representatives, from Kiru/Bebeji, Abdulmumin Jibrin.
“Remember the way and manner the party under Abbas embarked on an anti-party campaign and mobilised support for the PDP candidate against Abdulmumi Jibrin. He lost the election to PDP, orchestrated by his own party leadership, simply because he was not on good terms with the chairman of the party and the Governor who is the leader of the party in the state kept mute.
“And for Governor Ganduje to choose to remain silent in the face of this injustice, worsened the entire situation. Don’t forget, when one is silent in the face of injustice, it is either you are part of the injustice or you are adversely against justice. This was the cause of the whole matter from day one,” Abdulmumin Isiyaku, a public analyst disclosed.
Advent of Parallel Congresses
The crisis, however, reached the point of no return during the party’s congresses when the aggrieved members finally parted ways to conduct parallel congresses. Concurrently, the aggrieved party members succeeded in conducting parallel congresses at wards, local and state levels with Alh. Haruna Ahmadu Danzago emerging as a factional State Chairman.
According to Chairman, Buhari Support Organisation and member of the G-7 group, Alh. Shehu Dalhatu, who condemned the consensus arrangement of the state government, insisted that the members would not accept an action he considered undemocratic. Dalhatu had warned that the arranged system is capable of frustrating the liberty and rights of all members to contest for any position in the party structure. Dalhatu had accused the party leadership of sidelining other interest groups and vowed to reject all attempts to surrender their will to the final decision of the Ganduje-led government.
Court Verdict Invalidates Ganduje’s Faction
Ganduje, who had declared the parallel congresses as an illegal and wasteful exercise that would not stand the test of time, was however proven wrong with the two court verdicts that recognised the G-7 parallel congresses at ward and local council levels. Justice Hamza Muazu of the Federal Capital Territory High Court late last year validated the congresses conducted by the Shekarau group and compelled the APC headquarters to accord necessary recognition.
Although the state government has challenged the jurisdiction of the FCT court to sit on the matter, it has gone further to appeal the lower court’s ruling. While holding its breath for the outcome of the appeal court, Shekarau’s faction remains the legally-recognised party leadership.
Unsettled Proposals By Both Parties
Apart from the litigation that stands as a major bottleneck for the peaceful resolution, the G-7 has expressed worry as to why Buni’s template does not contain any content of proposals submitted by both parties, even when the contents seem irreconcilable. For instance, while Shekarau’s group demanded the 55/45 sharing ratio, including the position of Chairman, the government insisted on 80/20 ratio of the party leadership and the plum seat of party chairman.
“You can see that what the government is demanding is ridiculous. 80 percent control of the party leadership with the position of Chairman, after we have secured two court judgments that validated our congresses at ward and local council levels. We would not accept that position. Our stand is 55 percent control of the party leadership structure or no less,” Abdullahi Aminu, a supporter of the G-7 group insisted.
On the contrary, a member of Ganduje support APC leadership, Zakari Zarina believes the 80/20 proposal of the government was fair enough if Shekarau’s group are really ready for the reconciliation. Zakari insisted the only solution to the failed sharing method is for both parties to wait for the appeal court ruling.
“We have one senator, they have two, we have 20 house of representatives members, the G-7 have 4, we have the entire APC members in the state assembly, Chairmen, counselors, commissioners and the Governor on our side, and you expect the Governor to surrender the party structure to them? That is not possible. Now, if the parties could not agree to the proposals and reject the reconciliation committee, the best is to wait for an appeal court. And even if any of us is not satisfied with the appeal decision, we can still proceed to the Supreme Court,” Zakari noted.
Implication Of Protracted Conflict
As the two factions continue to flex muscles for control of party structure, pundits opined that the intensity of the row might not necessarily have any meaningful impact on the polity, especially as 2023 elections draw nearer.
According to Isiyaku Musa, a public affairs analyst, the entire agitation is another political struggle between the elites to retain political relevance. Isiyaku believes that “the entire fight is about the election and how the politicians would secure their tickets and continue to perpetuate themselves in power. I don’t think it is all about the people, and the social and human development of society.
“For instance, Senator Barau Jibril, one of the G-7 group wanted to be Governor, another member of the G-7 group Sha’aban also wanted to be Governor. You now see that it is a fight of personal interest. And we also know those looking for the same governor’s seat from the government. The likes of AA Zaura, Inuwa Waya, former speaker of Kano state house of assembly, and one of the commissioners who are very close to the Governor, talking of Murtala Sule Garo. So, how do you expect those interest groups to allow the crisis to settle?
However, the possibility of APC losing its political relevance in Kano is imminent, particularly if the controversy is allowed to progress into the election period. That means the two parallel groups would end up conducting separate primaries and eventually produce two sets of candidates for the election.
Expectedly, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would recognise a group while the other group returns to court. At worst, the devastating Zamfara experience would come into play. In the end, the party would pay the supreme prize of losing Kano to the opposition PDP simply for ignoring the opportunity to address the crisis at the infant level.