Deploys resources to capture women’s votes from Kwakwassiyya’s control
From Desmond Mgboh, Kano
There is no doubt that the dynamics of 2019 politics has started in Kano State in spite of the fact that the contest is about two years away. And in this light, many cards are already on the table. One of such cards is the notion of “Four- Plus- Four”, which represents a metaphor for the incumbent administration of Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje to remain in office beyond 2019.
Proponents of this notion, who are largely among the ruling political elite, are not unmindful of the plurality of political values in the state and the quality of opposition against their aspiration.
They recognize that unlike in 2015, when they rode on an easy and largely uncontested ride to the Government House in the state, the 2019 scenario presents a different, dense and unpredictable cast.
They acknowledged the rivalry poised by the Kwakwassiyya tendency and the potency and virility of the threat.
Yet, they have an abiding faith in their performance and in their ability to overcome the circumstances, no matter the potency of their adversaries and their historical grip on the politics of the state.
In this light, they are working on a couple of strategies to scale over whatever opposition that may come their way in the quest to accomplish and objectify the notion of “Four Plus Four”.
Observers have since recognized a deliberate culture of feminism in the state. This experience, which is gaining popularity by the day, invariably scales up the position of women, and makes them a vital component of the ‘Gandujain’ politics.
While not disregarding any other group in the state, the Ganduje administration has undoubtedly sought the heart of women in the state, lobbied them in a way that no previous administration had done in the state.
To be fair, the role of women in Kano politics has never been lost to imagination. It is true that right from the days of political matriarchs such as Hajia Gambo Sawaba, Hajia Asabe Reza, Hajia Rabi Mato and up to the present times of Hajia Najatu Ibrahim and Hajia Baraka Sani, Kano women have been heroines in their own political rights. They have been a voice that has melted into the huge bellies of the famed political radicalism of the ancient and historical city.
With their huge numerical value, estimated in millions and far higher in number than their male counterparts, whoever wins their hearts, no doubt wins the day. That is apart from the fact that they play a strategic role as opinion moulders in their respective families, swinging political options in favour of their preferred candidates in some ways.
This may have informed the position of the administration to reserve a special place for them in the scheme of things in the state today. The administration of Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has not been pretentious about its feminist posturing.
From inception, it has associated with them, a result of which it appointed no fewer than three women Commissioners into the state executive council. This is aside the fact that the administration had thought it wise to appoint several women as Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants and Special Assistants in the state.
Recently, there has been an explosion of women empowerment initiatives and programmes in the state. A few are worth emphasizing. Not too long, the state government said it was ready to offer employment to over 1000 women National Certificate of Education(NCE) graduates, who would teach in the various public schools in the state.
To match words with action, the governor, few days ago, directed these applicants to proceed to their respective local government areas for verification ahead of their enlistment.
But that is not all. Something previously unthinkable in a conservative setting as Kano is about to happen. The government has indicated its resolve to send out a set of youthful women for training in auto mechanics as well as in its related areas. According to the governor, the beneficiaries would be trained alongside their male counterparts at Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Training Center in Kaduna.
The governor explained that the training was part of his administration’s strategies to expose the women to requisite skills necessary for them to be self -employed, and be in a position to afford a comfortable lifestyle for themselves and their families.
He recalled that about two weeks ago, the state government recruited many female persons among its new tax officers adding that his administration has initiated various empowerment programmes for various categories of women in the state since he assumed office.
“Women empowerment helps women to stand on their own, become independent and also to earn for their family which stimulates the economy”, he stated.
According to the governor, “to empower a woman means to reduce poverty. Sometimes, the money earned by the husband is not sufficient to meet the demands of the family. The added earnings of women help the family to address the issue of poverty”.
One of such women empowerment initiatives in the state was promoted by a philanthropist, Hajiya Binta Sani Danmaijuju. It was however supported by the state government. Participants said that it afforded over 500 of them an opportunity to be trained for three weeks on bed sheet making, beads and jewelry design, hair dressing, cosmetics making, photography, soap making and video coverage, among others.
A very remarkable instance of this feminization in the politics of the administration is the recently held mass wedding of a total of 1520 couples in the state. The exercise has been lauded in the state and beyond as a commendable religious effort designed to enhance the family institution and to reduce the incidence of unmarried, divorced and widowed women, whose numbers have been climbing exponentially in the recent time in the state.
Unlike in the past exercise, the present ceremony of mass wedding in the state was decentralized and held across the 44 local government areas of the state, capturing, not just lonely widows and divorcees, but also young single women.
On that lovely Sunday, in hundreds of locations and worship centers in the 44 local government areas of Kano State, several Islamic clerics joined the couples together according to Islamic rites and in the presence of their district heads, their family members and well wishers while the government paid their dowry of N20, 000 as well as donated various home items, namely bedding, carpets, wardrobes, mirrors and cooking utensils to them.
While Governor Ganduje supervised the solemnization at the Kano Central Mosque, his deputy, Professor Hafiz Abubakar oversaw the exercise at Sheikh Mohammadu Rabiu Mosque, Goron -Dutse, while the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon Kabiru Rirum was at the Murtala Mohammadu Mosque. Several top government functionaries were dispatched to the various local communities to grace the wedding of the couples
Speaking at an enlightenment ceremony held at Coronation Hall, the governor counseled the new couples to build a family based on love.
The Governor, who frowned on the spiraling rate of divorce in the state, advised that marriage was not a master -servant relationship, but one where the couple respects each other and strives to make their home a receptive place.
“We call on wives to be patient with your husbands, to respect your families so that you create receptive families for your husbands and children, ” he stated.
The thinking in many quarters is that all these could not have been mere accidents of policy making. Many see in it a deliberate, conscious quest to improve the lives of women in the state and to win their friendship.
A policy consultant and leading member of the civil society groups in Kano, Mr Daniel Kwen while discussing the matter with Saturday Sun opined that, “Issues of feminism in Ganduje’s politics is quite instructive.”
He added, “Sustained empowerment of particular targeted group, especially large groups such as women and the above 18 year- old girls in Kano State, could not have been anything but a political masterstroke given their huge population.
“Studies have shown that two things are likely to happen when and where this kind of empowerment and political seduction are taking place.
“The first is that the beneficiaries grow in respect of their economic lifestyles, and what that means is that in the nearest future, they would begin to have clear political and economic choices. It is certainly not going to be the same very docile, non- confident and excluded set which they were when they could barely feed or survive.” he stated.
He added: “The next possible outcome is the beneficiaries become directly indebted to the personality or personalities through which they attained their elevated status. In this case, they would single out the character and not the state, as the harbinger of their fortunes and it is only natural that they show some kind of love and respect for such a person in return for scaling up their opportunities.
“Yes, I want to agree that there is a strong relationship between empowerment and future political outcomes- where there is a sustained relationship. The beneficiaries would surely come in handy in a heavily contested political atmosphere like the one we predict would happen in Kano come 2019.”
Speaking also to Saturday Sun on the development, Mallam Abubakar Bello who is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state held that, “it is true the government is focusing on women, supporting them and the families in the state, but I doubt if he is playing politics. I think that the government is just alive to its responsibilities to all segments of the state.”
He was however certain that the women of Kano State would stand by the governor of the state in the coming days given that in the history of Kano State, it has never been this good for Kano women.