By Desmond Mgbo
For Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, June 12th, is not just a date or a political occasion to remember the bitter memories of the killings and protests that attended the annulment of the Presidential elections in 1993. It is much more than that. It is a laudable celebration of Nigeria’s uninterrupted trek through the crucibles of democracy.
It was against this backdrop that the governor and the party in the state elected to mark the day in style, rolling out big drums to beat to their own victories and to commemorate Nigeria’s most credible election.
Two events held in the state in this regard stood out strikingly. One was a political rally at Sabon – Garri Township Stadium in the state capital, and the other was a world press conference held at the Government House that capitalized on the day to speak for democracy.
Both occasions, none of which is any less important, afforded the governor tangible opportunities to shed more light on his politics, future and journey so far in the administration of the state.
At the stadium, attendance was made of old and young people displaying the symbols of their party. They all trooped in from their wards, local government areas and even the fringes of the metropolitan area to grace the occasion initiated to honour democracy.
The occasion was chaired by the Acting National Chairman of the APC, Governor Mai Mala Buni, who was represented by Farouk Aliyu, an old APC chieftain and a Buhari lieutenant. According to Farouk, the Acting National Chairman could not make it to the state as a result of poor weather condition, which had affected his flight from his base to Kano.
Other dignitaries at the occasion included Kano State APC Chairman, Abdullahi Abbas, members of the state executive council, senators, members of the House of Representatives from the state led by the Majority leader, Ado Alhasan Doguwa as well as several governorship aspirants such as Senator Barau Jibrin, A.A Zaura, Kabiru Gaya.
One of the highlights of the June 12th rally in the ancient city was the reception of defectors from different political parties, particularly from the Kwankwassiyya faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The biggest fishes that renounced their loyalty on that day were Sagir Takai, a two time governorship candidate in the state who moved from the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Also was the son of the former Head of State, Late General Murtala Mohammed, Risqua Murtala Mohammed, who also joined the APC from his last stop at the PDP and a former governorship candidate of Green Party of Nigeria, Abdulsalam Abdulkarim Zaura.
But the trophy winning episode of the day was the large turn-out of red cap PDP politicians, who defected to the ruling APC. In fact, it was a big harvest!
And except they were a political fraud, then it was a big loss to the former governor of the state, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. They claimed that they, Kwankwassiyya Movement leaders in 27 states, starting from Bayelsa, Adamawa, Bauchi up to some Yoruba states, had seen the light in the APC.
“This political migration is resounding; it has added a brilliant shine to Democracy day celebration. It has reinforced the notion that Ganduje is on a steady climb in the politics of Nigeria” Abdullahi Ahmed, an excited youth leader from Nassarrawa Area of Kano State told Daily Sun at the stadium.
On the following day for the press briefing, Ganduje offered insight into his impression of June 12th, 1993 and how he absorbed the shock of the annulment. The briefing was attended by all the media men in the state and beyond.
“You will well record that during the military, there was an election between two major contenders, the SDP and the NRC. A keen contest was supposed to take place and it took place between MKO Abiola and Alhaji Bashiru Usman Tofa of Kano State.
“That election, I was a witness to that election- because I was a Director at that time in Abuja. At midday, the election was stopped. The results were posted on billboards across Abuja- from morning, down to afternoon and evening. But the posting stopped in all the billboards by evening.
“Later, the following day, what we heard was the annulment of the elections because of so many reasons adduced by the then military government. What followed were demonstrations in parts of the country, the creation of NADECO and so many other protest associations all over.
“June 12 is today regarded as a memorable occasion, a day where the military truncated the nation’s democracy. But in his own wisdom, President Muhammadu Buhari, in order to create an atmosphere of forgiveness and harmony across the nation, decided to give Late MKO Abiola a post humus recognition and also declared June 12th Democracy Day.
“Our present democracy came up again in 1999 and since then, we have been witnessing elections and elections and the democratic ideals and institutions that were abandoned during the military break have all come alive” he stated.
Ganduje explained that democracy has resulted in many good things in the society, while expressing optimism that it would usher in more developments for all in Nigeria.
In the wake of the persistent calls for succession by different groups in South East and their fellow agitators in the South West, Ganduje underlined the need for togetherness and unity, saying that Nigeria was stronger when united.
“I am confident that Nigeria will continue to be one indivisible country. I don’t want to comment on those who are calling for the split because they are young people who did not experience the civil war.
“I am confident because last week, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo said they are not part of Biafra agitation, they are behind one Nigeria. Afenifere, Arewa and Middle-belt groups all said they belong to one Nigeria.
“I call on all the regional bodies to meet and find out how we can convert our differences to uphold the unity of this country. All that we require is to respect our differences and convert our challenges to unity.
“If God wants us to be one religion, all of us will be one religion, if God want us to be bat and be flying all over the country, we will be bat. So, we should forget our differences and be united as one.”
On the menace of Almajiri phenomenon in Northern Nigeria, he expressed optimism that they, as Northern Governors, would get it right although he reluctantly admitted that the problem was still far from being solved.
In his words: “The Almajiri problem is real problem; it is a big problem. What we anticipated was a decision by the Northern State governments to have the same legislation preventing the movement of school aged children from one state to another. We have not succeeded in that.
“Kano State being the commercial nerve –center for the Northern part of this country and for some Western African countries, we have children from over the Northern part of the country, from Niger and from Chad coming to the state.
“We have established three mega schools for Almajirai and we have completed these schools. But the children that we decided to return to their respective states, they come back to Kano even before our officials come back… because the correspondent states have not taken the issue of almajirai as serious as we have done.
“So, we have to go back to the drawing board; if I have to be frank with you… With the amount of insecurity, we are handling this issue with care. But our enrolment is on. We have over 3000 Almajirai in the state. Some, we have taken back to the neighborhood schools. The indigenes of Kano have been taken back.
“But the only problem we still have are that Almajirai coming from other states…. So, it is an issue that we cannot say we have succeeded. But since we have the political will, we we will march on.”
Ganduje spoke on other burning issues pertaining to his administration in the state such as the pensioners, various ongoing projects in the state, the multi-billion facility for construction of light rail project in the state, ongoing projects in the state, the issue of his successor and his political ambition come 2023 and after- in which he signaled that he was not thinking of retirement yet like his counterpart in Katsina State, Aminu Masari.