By Desmond Mgbo
When Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information, dragged his colleagues (ministers from the North), on May 29 , 2016, to Kano State for an unprecedented Town Hall meeting with the people, as part of the anniversary celebration, many Nigerians saw it as a fresh dimension to celebrating the annual political event.
But only a thinking few saw the other side of the script or the urgency and the breathless dispatch by which the administration wanted to reach out to the people of Kano State on their own ground and in their own language so as to explain and get them to understand the policies, the programmes and anticipated prosperity under the present charge.
What was not evidently stated, at that august event was the growing unease by the administration over the gradual demystification of the famous ‘Buhari Myth’ in the state.
To understand the political grip of President Muhammadu Buhari on the people of Kano State, which had raged like a Tsunami in the run-up to the 2015 general elections, one only needs to remember that it took his raising the hands of Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau to fall the well performing Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso in 2003.
In a similar vein, it should not be forgotten that Kwakwaso had to subtly invoke the name of Muhammadu Buhari to defeat the incumbent All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) government in the state in 2011 when he staged his miraculous comeback.
In fact, not even the famed rank of the Late Aminu Kano, revered in life and in death, for his Talakawa politics nor the irrepressible, indomitable and charismatic political style of the Late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi had the awesome sway on the people of Kano State like the grip of Muhammadu Buhari who is adored to no end by the ordinary people of the state.
The slogan that drowned the ancient city in the countdown to 2015 election was simply: “Kano, Sai Ganduje, Nigeria, Sai Buhari”. The state and its people adopted candidate Buhari as their own, shutting out Katsina State and Daura, his town.
From the street cobbler, to the water vendor, the bricklayer to the painter, the Almajirai to the beggars, from the maize farmers to the horse riders, traders, motorcyclists, professional class, political and the traditional class, they all stood like rock behind his aspiration. They rooted for him, fought his enemies, drenched his adversaries and brought home the glorious trophy
However, between the 2015 general elections and now, many things have changed. Old ways and beliefs have given way to new realities and things undone in the past are common place in the present politics and fortunes of this leader, who had promised “Change” to Nigerians and to the people of Kano State.
From a leader who was considered a political idol in the state, elevated to the reigns of sacredness, entrusted with unreserved faith and trust, from this point to his present state, showed a gradual decline in ranking and estimation, according to latest views and perspectives from some people in state
Before the election day, hopes were high up to the heaven; hopes raised by lavish campaign promises of abundant prosperity. It was common to hear most Kano voters say they would buy fuel for far less the selling pump price when Buhari takes over power or to hear them say that the prices of foodstuff would fall or again, to see the poorest of the poor scratch their fingers in readiness for a monthly stipend on May 28, 2015.
At last, the new government has come, but the dream of a new dawn is still born. Many of these supporters in the state, hence, are regaling in utter disappointment and outright grief. Months of unfulfilled dreams -rioting stomachs, shut doors of opportunities, “zero welfare” for the boys, coupled with an unthinkable poverty in the country have wiped out the invented images of Eldorado that they had nursed.
Indeed, Kano politics is well for its devotion to deserving icons, but it is also renowned for its shift in loyalty from one hero to another. In politics as in life, the people are quick to love as they are quick to divorce. Hence, the increasing spat of criticisms against the administration in the state in the face of things not expected and unanticipated happenings.
Of all, the harshest criticism so far came from a party chieftain, who was described as the factional Chairman of the All Progressives Congress in the state, Alhaji Useni Magari.
Speaking to a Kano based radio station, Cool FM, three days ago, Alhaji Useni Magari took the Presidency to the cleaners.
He described the Buhari-led administration as a total failure, stating that the administration had betrayed the confidence of the Nigerian masses, who massively voted for them.
He explained that it was not an exaggeration that many families in the country now go to bed, without at least a square meal, while some other bread winners flee their homes because they could no longer provide the basic needs to their family.
He remarked that there was nothing to show for the one year of the administration in power while adding that poverty in the land had reached an unprecedented level.
He specifically lamented the situation, whereby those around the president fail to tell him the truth and advise him on the present day realities.
A few days earlier, social critic and Second Republic legislator, Dr Junaidu Mohammad, who had been lamenting the outrageous instances of nepotism of the Buhari administration, categorically stated that Buhari had betrayed the people of Kano State.
Speaking to Sunday Sun, he said: “As far as I am concerned, it is the responsibility of the President and leader to ensure that he gives credible leadership so that everybody will have a sense of belonging. At the moment, Buhari’s leadership does not endow parts of Nigeria with a sense of belonging”.
He argued that President Buhari, contrary to impression, has not been fair to the people of Kano State, his so called adopted political home.
His words: “ I know that his political home, as far as Nigeria is concerned, is Kano. Please tell me what Kano has gained from the Buhari administration? Nothing! To add insult to injury, it is a non-Kano man who is representing Kano State in the cabinet, ” he stated.
He was categorical that so far, Buhari has not done well for the people of Kano State where he got his highest votes.
Hear him: “I am saying that Buhari has not done well for Kano despite all that he got from the state. In fact, within the period Buhari has been in power, four markets- and they are some of the biggest markets in the North- had been gut by fire and Buhari has not deemed it fit to even pay a private visit to Kano or come through Kano to come and see what happened.”
He reflected: “ He is now rediscovering his background connection to Katsina State. He has been to Kaduna and he has been to Zamfara States and so many other states. He has been to Kaduna several times because that is where he has a home.
“But up till today, Buhari has not seen it fit to pass through Kano or fly to Kano”.
He said that if Kano people were smart enough and knew their politics well enough, Buhari would not be treating them the way unfairly.
As the new reality dawns, what is clear is that the journey after the victory is usually longer and interests not well accommodated are bound to fight back. Perhaps, this too is playing out in Kano State.
It is no news that a majority of the Kwankwasiyya group, a politically coordinate and influential group within the APC in the state is no longer at home with the administration after their leader, Kwankwaso was left in the cold, with little or nothing in reward for his purported contributions to the making of the new government administration at the centre.
In fact, in those days, Governor Kwankwaso had laughingly prided himself that he delivered the 44 local government councils, all the House of Assembly seats in the state, all the 22 House of representatives seats, the three senatorial seats and the governorship seat to the party apart from ensuring that Buhari got his highest votes in Kano.
Hence, he expected to be rated very high in the new dispensation. But it is certainly clear that the reverse had been the case. On the contrary, Buhari has been at home with the state governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who at present is at a cross with Kwankwaso and his Kwankwasiyya faction. The implication is that many of the ignored failures of the present administration are now being played up in the politics of the state.
Also, a sizable number of the PDP members in the state, who defied party bounds to step out in favour of Buhari in the last election, have come to realize that it does not pay to betray ones party. This group of politicians in the state, who previously, would easily have been countered on the side of candidate Buhari, has been ignored from the power space. Today, they stand on the sidelines, watching without any benefits from their prodigality. It is not surprising that many of them are no longer with Buhari. Rather, they are back to rebuild their party from the ruins of the past. Negatively, this too has affected the “Buhari myth” in Kano
Mallam Abubakar Garba, a political analyst in the state, concurred that surely, this was not the best of times in the relationship between Kano voters and Buhari as there a few cracks here and there.
He defended that the President is still massively dear to the voters of the state but insisted that this political romance is gradually going down.