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Kwankwaso, pawn or joker in Ganduje, Shekarau’s tussle for Kano APC

By Leo Sobechi, Deputy Politics Editor, Abuja
13 January 2022   |   2:52 am
The unfolding triangular political duel in Kano State, involving the incumbent and two former governors, bears credence to the saying that when the stomach constipates, the mouth confesses

[FILES] Ganduje. Photo/facebook/drabdullahiumargandujeofr/

The unfolding triangular political duel in Kano State, involving the incumbent and two former governors, bears credence to the saying that when the stomach constipates, the mouth confesses. In the telling political supremacy battle in the state, there are indicators that the hunter has become the hunted.

The three political actors, who have held sway in the state these past 24 years of Nigeria’s fourth republic, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau and Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, are already entangled in a suspense-filled political rumpus in the state.

Governor Ganduje seems to have allowed his guileless politics and good humour to translate into overconfidence, especially after deploying tact, Abuja connection and power of incumbency to isolate his former benefactor, Kwankwaso from the governing All Progressives Congress (APC).

In 2019, Governor Ganduje, like a boy that suddenly became a man, pulled all strings to ensure that Kwankwaso’s underling, Abba Kabir Yusuf, did not make it to the Government House at the expense of his (Ganduje’s) second term. Ever since that bitter electoral contest, Kwankwaso has remained aloof, not only on account of how he was demystified, also in recollection of past good deeds done to his former ally.

The outcome of the governorship poll, after it went through a supplementary exercise following the declaration of the election as inconclusive, showed that the incumbent escaped with a slim margin of victory. While Ganduje and his running mate, Nasir Yusuf Gawuna polled 1, 033, 695 votes, the PDP candidate, Yusuf and his deputy, Aminu Abdussalam returned a total of 1, 024, 713 ballots.

Piqued by the paltry 8,982 votes that separated his acolytes from the incumbent, Kwankwaso propelled the PDP standard bearers to challenge the result in court.

The journeying through the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal through the Court of Appeal to the Apex Court, in the attempt to sack Governor Ganduje ended in futility.

But, two years after he snatched his second term mandate from the hard-fighting Kwankwasiyya Movement led by his estranged godfather, Ganduje’s attempt to sideline a former rival turned ally, Senator Shekarau, boomeranged.

The incumbent governor, who was instrumental to the return of Shekarau to APC, took it for granted that the former governor remained an outsider in the APC power loop, and therefore sought to use the state congress to stamp his authority firmly on the state chapter of the governing party.

But that effort opened a new frontier of power play within the governing party as well as provided an opening for a possible Shekarau and Kwankaso rapprochement.

Although on the last lap of his second term, Governor Ganduje knew that without a strong leash on the party structure, his aspiration of implanting a successor, while retiring to the Senate would be a pipe dream.

Defection rumours
NOT longer after it became apparent that the incumbent was losing the APC structure to Shekarau, who replaced him as representative of Kano Central Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Kwankwaso regained his voice and presence in the political equation in the state.

As Senator Kwankwaso granted media interviews lamenting the way he was pushed out of APC by very powerful forces in Abuja with the help of his former deputy, Ganduje, the governor released a cryptic New Year message in which he hinted at reconciliation and peace to move Kano forward.

The immediate combined effect of those developments was the speculation that the founder of Kwankwasiyya Movement, was on his way back to the governing APC.

The former governor reinforced the rumour when he stated that his political future would be predicated on what becomes of the appeal filed by the immediate past PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, at the Supreme Court over his (Secondus’s) inexplicable removal from office before the end of his term.

According to Kwankwaso, who stated that he was weighing the options of returning to the governing party, “returning to APC would not be something strange as there are no permanent enemies in politics.”

Bemoaning his political investment in APC in Kano State, Kwankwaso said he was unjustly treated, recalling how he “played a very significant role in putting the structure in Kano and even in the country.”

“I also participated actively in the primary elections and the national election in Kano. I participated actively in mobilising people to vote. In 2015, Kano produced over 1.9 million votes for the APC. All our elected officials were in APC; the 40 members of the House of Assembly, 24 House of Reps members, three senators, governor and every position.

“But, instead of everyone appreciating, they all started fighting unnecessarily to the extent that they decided to kick me out of Kano for three and a half years for no reason,” he surmised.

Commenting on the hard-fought 2019 governorship poll, Kwankwaso, dismissed the result, maintaining that Abba Kabir Yusuf, the PDP candidate defeated Ganduje, but was merely “denied the seat of power by powerful forces.”

Although he noted that “if not that they fought me, I would have remained in APC,” the former governor sustained the puzzle over his next political move by asserting: “In politics, everything is possible in this game… We don’t want any permanent enemy. What we want are permanent friends.”

Courting mistake
APPEARING on a Deutsche Walle (German Radio) Hausa programme recently, Senator Kwankwaso explained that his next political move is predicated on developments in the polity, even as he pinned his defection to APC on the opinion of individuals.

He maintained that “in 2023, I believe many things are likely to happen,” adding that how the apex court rules on the PDP national chairmanship matter, will determine the future of the party.

He noted manoeuvres within APC, saying that the governing party was bound to make similar mistakes as PDP did in 2015. “And once they make mistakes, the result may even be worse than what happened to PDP.

On his relationship with Governor Ganduje, Kwankwaso disclosed that the governor only paid him condolence over the loss of his brother, insisting that in politics there was no way of “predicting what will happen in the future, you cannot rule out any scenario. Reconciliation or not, as we move ahead, time is of the essence in this issue, time will tell.”

Sources in Kano disclosed that Kwankwaso was merely frightening Governor Ganduje with the speculated plan to re-join APC, even as the former governor was prepared to negotiate a better deal for his group within PDP in the course of the reconciliation process engineered by the new National Working Committee led by Prof. Iyorcha Ayu.

It would be recalled that in the course of his interview with DW Hausa service, Kwankwaso remarked that although he was pained by the treatment meted to his supporters during the PDP congress in Kaduna last year, he did not contemplate defection. “There is no plan for me to leave PDP to join APC or any other party. There were issues, which are very clear to almost everybody during the congress in April last year in Kaduna. That is that I was not being treated well and Kano was not being treated the way it should be.”

However, The Guardian gathered that Kwankwaso plans to retain the Kano State PDP structure to reposition his loyalists for a showdown with Senator Shekarau’s supporters in the 2023 governorship.

Members of the Kwankasiyya Movement believe that it was better for them to remain in PDP instead of going into APC, where the battle between Governor Ganduje and Senator Shekarau would play to their advantage in 2023.

“Mallam won’t return to APC, he wants to contest for the President in 2023,” Kwankwaso’s ally confided in The Guardian, disclosing that the former governor does not want to leave the party for the incumbent Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, to have a field day.

As the APC continues to bicker over date for its national convention, when it would be clear how the party stands in most states, especially Kano, Zamfara, Gombe, Enugu, Lagos, Ogun and Abia, where there had been contentious primaries, Kwankwaso and his group must be watching as things unfold.

However, it is obvious that the three musketeers of Kano State politics-Governor Ganduje and his predecessors- would sustain their supremacy on different fronts even if Ganduje capitulates to Senator Shekarau on APC platform.