Desmond Mgboh, Kano
On the surface, the road to Kano State Government House seems an easy walk and even predictable. Those who are sympathetic to this view are optimistic that the incumbent, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, would retain his seat with the same ease he clinched it in 2015.
To this school of thought, there are several factors to support their viewpoint. They contend that Kano is majorly an All Progressives Congress (APC) state, while recognising the well known fact that President Muhammadu Buhari occupies an esteemed position in its political affairs, a situation which they say would eventually rub off on whoever is the standard bearer of the party in the governorship election next year.
Supporters of this view also would remind those that care to listen that President Buhari, an APC Presidential candidate, had already polled a remarkable 2.9 million votes at the primary of the party in the state, describing the figure as a stunning endorsement by the ordinary people of Kano State for the Buhari administration.
They also noted that, the fact that the state governor, Ganduje, had also polled an outstanding figure of over 2.7 million party votes in a similar primary election in the state, is an indication that the governor is on ground, arguing that the number of votes he garnered at the primary election were enough to win a general election.
For all these, they conclude that that it would take a superlative politician, extraordinary specie from the outer space to dislodge the present political setting, structure and character in Kano’s Government House.
But to the thoughtful critics with an eye on details, these reasoning may not endure. Opponents of Ganduje must-win narrative or what is known as “4 Plus 4” in the local Kano’s political lexicon, explain that nothing is permanent and fixed in the politics of Kano State. They reject the notion that the road to Kano Government House is still already foreclosed, arguing that the struggle for the political leadership of the state would eventually become rugged with time and tougher in the coming days.
Ahmed Usman, a political commentator and motivational speaker in the state, told Daily Sun that “Until it is over, it is never wise to say it is over” adding that, “It is too early to give a verdict on what the future holds for the state.”
According to him, the real issues that would drive the politics of the 2019, especially as it relates to the position of the governor are still to come.
While acknowledging that the opponents in the gubernatorial race are not yet clearly visible, including the fact that their policy directions are not yet known, he ventured that the 5 million dollars bribery allegation that is still at the nursery stage, is going to grow bigger in size in the days to come, saying that the actors and the proxy actors would become more desperate as election approaches.
Inside the political parties
Although there are, at present about 68 political parties registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), an x-ray of the political landscape of Kano at present shows that only about four or five of them are operational in the state.
Top on the list of the serious political parties in the state includes Green Party of Nigeria (GPN), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Social Democratic Party (SDP), All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Until recently, the PDP had posted a promise as a serious contender for the Government House and a rival political party in Kano State. That was shortly after the party’s headquarters in Abuja, conceived and executed the defection of the former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and his followers to the party.
At that time, the thinking was, Kano was set for a huge battle. This line of thought was hinged on the presumption that the combination of Kwankwaso and the factor of another former governor, Ibrahim Shekarau were enough to check the combined arsenals of President Buhari and Governor Ganduje.
Since then, many waters have gone under the bridge and the PDP in Kano State fell from grace to grass, pundits say.
Insiders believe that the failure of the party to successfully manage the coming together of the two arch rivals – Kwankwaso and Shekarau – led to the reversal of its fortunes and instigated a free slide, which led Shekarau and his followers defecting back to the APC.
As if that was not bad enough, the PDP again relapsed in another dispute largely from the conduct of the primary election by a section of the party – The Kwankwassiyya Movement.
From the blast, the party had about six governorship aspirants. They are the former governorship candidate of the defunct All Peoples Party (APP), Alhaji Ibrahim al Amin Litte, a one-time aide of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Akilu Indabawa and a former governorship candidate of the PDP in the state in 2015, Alhaji Sagir Takai,
Others are a onetime boss of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Alhaji Aminu Dabo, a relative of Ambassador Aminu Wali, Alhaji Sadiq Wali, a young activist, Alhaji Jafar Bello and Alhaji Abba Kabiru Yusuf, who is a former Commissioner of Works in the state and a son – in-law to Senator Kwankwaso.
Crisis erupted in the party after a clandestine meeting, held in Kaduna, rooted for Alhaji Abba Kabiru Yusuf as the choice of the Kwankwassiyya Movement for 2019 gubernatorial election. His choice was roundly rejected by the stakeholders of the party, who accused Senator Kwankwaso of open nepotism given his relationship with Alhaji Yusuf. This singular decision displeased so many followers of the Movement, who refused to buy into the explanation that his choice was informed by “competence.”
The consequence is that many members of the Kwankwassiyya family and leading members of the PDP, such as Professor Hafiz Abubakar and Alhaji Sagir Takai went their separate ways.
They first exited to the other faction of the party in the state, from where they together demanded for the conduct of a fresh and transparent governorship primary election in the state. And when that did not work, they resigned their membership of the PDP.
According to Aminu Belli, the PDP in Kano State, in the light of all these catastrophic disputes and somersaults, stands no chance of winning the forthcoming governorship contest in the state, let alone make any credible impact.
“The odds against the PDP in the state have gone up with the defection of a number of high profile members of the party, who were offended by the unilateral choices and decisions that he (Kwankwaso) has made so far in the party” he stated. Aminu, a state chairmanship candidate held that “There is the general opinion that with the way Senator Kwankwaso had gone about his interests, he probably does not want the party to win the governorship seat as that would supplant his control over the party”
He further said: “True to type, Kwankwaso returned to the party with his usual arrogance, high handedness and selfishness, reducing every charge to the control of the party without finding it wise to attempt to carry us or others along, “he added.
Beyond accusing Kwankwaso of being the problem of the party, another hydra-headed problem rattling the former ruling party in the state is the litany of litigations currently filed against it in various courts.
First, there is the pending case challenging the sacking of the State Executive of the party headed by Senator Masaud el Jilbrin Doguwa. And there is yet another case by a governorship aspirant, Alhaji Jafar Bello .
The applicant had approached a Kano High Court to contest the primary election which produced Alhaji Abba Kabiru Yusuf as the gubernatorial candidate of the party in the state.
He joined the PDP, INEC and the chairman, Kano State PDP Governorship Primary Election panel, Chief Ezeogu Emeka Onuoha, as respondents.
All Progressives Congress (APC) Chaired by Alhaji Abdullahi Abbas, a prince of the Kano Emirate Council, the APC is a force to reckon with in the politics of Kano State. The party remains the party to beat on the road to Kano Government House.
There are several factors working in favour of the party in the state, of particularly is the influence of some key personage and actors on the voters of the state. The most notable of these personalities is President Buhari, who is seen by many in Kano State as a messiah of the poor. There is also the factor of incumbency, which in Nigeria implies big money, big power and to some extent, a little bit bend of institutions in favour of the ruling party.
As it stands, the APC has two former governors, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau and Senator Kabiru Gaya contesting as senatorial candidates for Kano Central and Kano South in 2019 elections. This would add value to its quest no doubt.
Despite these incontestable facts, APC may be the architect of its on failure. At present, the party in the state is imploding from within. There are a lot of aggrieved losers of the primary elections that was held in the state and nobody appears to be listening to their cries for justice. These dispirited members include the likes of Senator Yahaya Isa Zarewa, Danlami Hamza and Sulieman Kawu among others. They have been calling for the invalidation of the primary elections on the grounds that the results were doctored, manipulated or rigged against them. Kawu is currently Senior Special Assistant to the president on National Assembly Matter (House).
The rest of the political parties
If the truth must be told, the remaining political parties in the state, namely the GPN , SDP and PRP are still very young in the state. A majority of them are only recording their presence for the first time in the politics of the state while others are just being revived. Typical of these parties, they barely have structures on the ground.
Investigations by Daily Sun indicates that the PRP was only resuscitated by the defection of Alhaji Sagir Takai a few weeks ago. The SDP, which is a lot stronger in Jigawa State, is only beginning to breathe in Kano, due to the selection of Dr. Junaid Mohammed as its vice presidential candidate. It was speculated that the party has just handed out its gubernatorial ticket to Professor Hafiz Abubakar.
Although not strong at the moment, these parties are likely to play host to a number of aggrieved politicians who would dump their parties in the count down to the election. As for the extent of their impact on the 2019 gubernatorial election in the state, only time will tell.
Profile of top candidates
Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje
He is the incumbent governor of Kano State and the candidate of the APC. He was Deputy Governor in the state for eight years – 1999-2003 and 2011 – 2015 before his election as governor in 2015. Before these exploits, he had served as Commissioner of several ministries in the state during the military regime. A very tactical politician, Dr. Ganduje is believed to be highly rated within the rank of his party, participating actively in many of their recent electoral victories over their rivals. He led the party to victory in Osun. He is also seen as a close ally of President Buhari.
Alhaji Sagir Takai
He was a onetime Commissioner of Local Government in the state and a strong associate of former governor, Ibrahim Shekarau, especially during their days in power. A conservative by every measure, he was twice standard bearer in the state for the 2011 and 2015 polls. In 2011, he was ANPP’s candidate, but he lost the election to Senator Kwankwaso. In 2015, he was PDP’s candidate, but again lost to APC’s Dr. Ganduje.
Of late, he fell out with his mentor, Mallam Shekarau and decided against joining him in his voyage to the APC. He has formally announced his resignation from the PDP and pitched tent with the PRP, where the governorship ticket has been reserved for him after the PDP failed to give him their ticket.
Professor Hafiz Abubakar
He is an academic that has found himself in politics. He was a Commissioner of Finance in the state during the first administration of Senator Kwankwaso and later, he assumed the position of his personal aide when Kwankwaso was appointed the Defence Minister by the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. He became Deputy Governor of Kano State, following an arrangement structured by Senator Kwankwaso in the wake of the completion of his tenure as the governor of Kano State. He remained loyal to Kwankwaso even after his boss, Dr. Ganduje, had fallen out with Kwankwaso. His loyalty to Kwankwaso while working in the government of Ganduje resulted in the frictions that led to his resignation as the deputy governor of the state. Since then, he has traversed the PDP to the SDP.