Heavyweights jostle for Kwankwaso’ Senate seat
• Police Mull Postponement Of Senator’s Kano Visit
Manoeuvres are at fever pitch following the planned home visit of the Senator representing Kano Central Senatorial district, Rabi’u Kwankwaso. Kwankwaso, who is the immediate past governor of the state, has been contemplating the visit, ostensibly to test his strength and relevance in the emerging national political scheme of things.
Slated for January 30, it is believed that the former governor, who came second in the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential primary election in 2014, wants to gauge his support base against President Muhammadu Buhari, who beat him to the ticket to emerge president.
Buhari had during his visit to Kano boasted that he commands the respect and acceptability of the majority of voters. Senator Kwankwaso, sources said, wants to prove to the president that he was responsible for the large vote tally he received in Kano in 2015.
Some APC faithful see Kwankwaso’s visit as more of an attempt to distort President Buhari’s political calculation, than a threat to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje’s. Apparently, the state government does not seem to be worried by the much-hyped visit.
Although that is on the surface, the rivalry between the factions of Kwankwaso and Governor Ganduje within the ruling APC could turn sour, particularly when the former governor’s visit has been shrouded in political undertones.
Perhaps out of fear of a possible clash between Kwankwasiyya and Gandujiyya factions, amongst other factors, the state Commissioner of Police, Rabi’u Musa, advised Kwankwaso to shelve his visit till apprehensions wane.
Musa seems to be playing safe. In a statement, the Kano CP said, “The attention of the Kano State Police Command has been drawn to the intended visit to Kano State on 30th January, 2018 by the former Executive Governor of the State and now Distinguished Senator representing Kano Central Senatorial District, Eng. Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.”
He noted that although “the Senator as a citizen of this country has the right of freedom of association, assembly and movement, credible information at the disposal of the command reveals that the proposed visit has generated palpable fears in the minds of the people of Kano State.”
The police boss expressed worry at the general apprehension among the “populace and the tendency to hijack the visit by some disgruntled politicians or miscreants cannot be ruled out.”
He further explained that, the urgent need to nip the problem in the bud cannot be over-emphasized. He stressed that “…any action or inaction by any person or group of persons that may jeopardize the relative peace the State is enjoying must be averted.”
He therefore stated that, “On this premise, it is the candid advice of the Command that such a visit to the State should be shelved by Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso until the tension generated by the planned visit is doused and security threat neutralized.”
The compol noted however, that his command would “continue to be firm, fair and just in providing a level playing ground for all political gladiators to carry out their political activities without fear of molestation and or intimidation.”
Yet, despite the touted apprehensions by the police, the Kano State government remains aloof, restraining itself form making any political statement that could jeopardise the said visit.
Kano State Commissioner for Information, Youth and Culture, Comrade Muhammad Garba, took to the radio to welcome the former governor to Kano, in what many saw as government’s reaction to speculations that it was behind the rumour in the media that the former governor postponed the visit, because of ill health.
Dismissing the speculation as a plot by enemies of the state government, Garba declared: “As a government, we have nothing personal or no grudges against the former governor, Kwankwaso.”
But despite the denials, the state chapter of APC went ahead to organise series of programmes in the state from January 27, up to February 5, all in a bid to divert public attention away from the visit.
The programmes include electioneering for the February local government poll and reception for a former senator representing Kano Central, Bashir Garba Lado, who defected from PDP to APC. Kwankwaso defeated Lado in the 2015 election.
How an event would take place along Zaria road from where Kwankwaso is to be received by his supporters on the same day, without a clash would be seen.
Even as Kano Police Command advised Kwankwaso not to visit the state due to palpable fears, most people thought that at the eve of his coming, the police could cancel all the two events.
It is like all the parties insist on holding their planned events. Some observers contend that Ganduje does not take Kwankwaso’s visit as a threat to his eventual re-election in 2019.
But Lado’s defection to APC gives the impression that the ticket for Kano Central Senatorial District could have become a bargaining chip in 2019. The popular sentiment in the state is that Lado could not be crossing over to the ruling party with his supporters, if there was no prior bargain for the Senate seat.
Could it be that Kwankwaso’s Senate seat has been traded off already? Is the former governor headed to a yet to be named party or the third force? Lado’s entry is coming against the belief in certain quarters that the Principal Private Secretary to the governor, Malam Ibrahim Kankarofi, was the preferred candidate.
Kankarofi is said to command respect within the rank of technocrats and highly placed politicians within and outside the ruling party. He is known to enjoy more political patronage from Governor Ganduje.
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