Like life, power is transient. Regrettably, many power-drunk political office holders pretend not to be aware of this sacred truth. Like a military barrack, where occupants’ stay is time-bound, political office holders will someday relinquish the stage and go into oblivion.
In our part of the world, leaders don’t know how to exit the stage when the ovation is still loud. They prefer to hang on to power until they are disgraced out of office through the ballot or forcefully ejected.
When they are in office, they assume a larger-than-life status and arrogate so much power and unnecessary influence to themselves. In Nigeria, late General Sani Abacha is a classic example. Olusegun Obasanjo was becoming a nuisance before a coalition of opposition figures resisted him. Luckily for Nigerians, Obasanjo’s infamous third term agenda crashed.
There is a man. He is from the North West. He is a politician, a former governor, a former minister and a former member of the House of Representatives. He is a serving senator. Until 2015, he was a political octopus, who deluded himself and ignorantly assumed that he was bigger than the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. His name is Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
Yes, he is my person of interest this week. About three years ago, President Goodluck Jonathan went to campaign in Kano State and that was something he was ordinarily entitled to do as a Nigerian. Few minutes after he exited the campaign venue, Governor Kwankwaso (as he was called then), led other members of the state executive council and they symbolically swept the president’s feet away.
I am not referring to the president of an association or a group. This was a sitting president of the largest black nation on earth. While Kwankwaso and his fellow grown up men reduced themselves to street sweepers, their fans cheered them on. Kwankwaso did this and like Abacha, he didn’t see tomorrow.
The same Kwankwaso ordered the removal of all President Jonathan’s portraits from all official buildings within the state. In the presidential villa in Abuja, there was no vacancy. Jonathan was still in office. The Otuoke prince was harassed, humiliated and disdained for reasons best known to Kwankwaso.
Kwankwaso did not apply the caution button. He kept going. When the late Emir of Kano Ado Bayero died, Kwankwaso as governor, anointed the current erudite occupant of the seat, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II. Today, I am glad that Sanusi majestically occupies that seat. He is the best man for the job. But when Kwankwaso reportedly opted for him, he did that to spite a ‘spineless’ Jonathan, who at the time, had issues with Sanusi.
Again, under Kwankwaso’s magic watch, Kano State gave President Muhammadu Buhari the highest number of votes. Out of over two million votes, not one was voided. Political historians must understudy Kwankwaso to decipher how he achieved this rare feat. It is uncommon. In 2019, we will see how this feat will be replicated.
Today, that same Kwankwaso is aspiring to be the president of Nigeria. Unfortunately for him, he cannot visit his home state where he once ruled for eight years. Politically, Kwankwaso is now like an orphan. His Kwakwansiyya movement has been erased. Gandujiyya movement is the new order.
Let’s take a ride to the Senate, where Kwankwaso currently maintains a deafening silence. Sometimes, people forget that he still represents his senatorial district in the Senate. His stoic silence and conflicting body language, leave little to be desired.
When the 8th Senate was inaugurated in June 2015, Kwankwaso’s foot entourage was intimidating. He didn’t need any introduction whenever he was around. His hailing followers always heralded his coming. The ‘unstoppable’ Kwakwansiyya Movement relocated to the National Assembly.
Today, not so for our dear Kwankwaso. His successor, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje has firmly secured the attention of Buhari, despite Kwankwaso’s role in his election in 2015. Senators from Kano State in the 8th Senate, are neither here nor there. But from their body language, it is obvious that Kwankwaso no longer commands their loyalty.
On January 31, the face-off between Ganduje and Kwankawso, took centre stage on the floor of the Senate. The issue caused a serious uproar on the floor of the Senate. Senator Isah Hamman Misau from Bauchi State, stirred the hornet’s nest, when he condemned the alleged display of dangerous weapons by youths and women in Kano State recently.
He called on his colleagues to condemn the practice, where a serving senator was being prevented from visiting his constituency. He said if the practice was allowed to fester, it would become the norm.
“I want to talk about what is happening in Kano. About 70 per cent of the people in my place share boundaries with Kano. The thuggery we have seen in Kano State is troubling. We need to talk about how Boko Haram started in the North East. It started as ECOMOG,” Misau said.
Speaking further, he added: “This issue happened when one of our colleagues said he was going to visit Kano State. Instead of him to be allowed to visit and talk to his people, the police stopped him. If a senator is not allowed to visit his constituency, one day, it will be anybody’s turn.
“If you see the kind of weapons people paraded yesterday in Kano, it was troubling. We are watching. I see no reason why a person who wants to travel to his own town will not be allowed. For the first time in the history of this country, women were given arms in Kano on Tuesday.
“If we do not do anything about this, we will be in trouble. How do we give our own people arms? We need to investigate what is happening in Kano State to avoid a national crises. We need to condemn what happened in Kano. We need to investigate arms that were given to people in Kano.”
A former governor of Kano State and now a serving senator, Kabiru Gaya, punctured Misau’s position. He said contrary to the bad picture painted by Misau, there was no breakdown of law and order in his state. He said the politics in Kano State is peculiar and must be handled with care. He also described the volatility of the politics and the state and termed the face-off between the two politicians as a “family affair.”
His words: “Let me clearly say that we are peace loving people in Kano State. Kano politics has always been different. Kano has always been a volatile state during politics. The rally we had in Kano, there was no case of any fight.
Nobody was killed. The issue of the incumbent governor and the former governor, now a senator, must be understood. This is a family matter and we are working to reconcile both of them.
Another Kano lawmaker, Barau Jibrin, slammed Misau for bringing the issue to the floor of the Senate. He warned his colleagues to restrict themselves to issues happening in their states, instead of delving into areas that do not directly affect them.
He accused Misau of misleading the Senate, by claiming that Kano State may be thrown into chaos. He claimed that Misau is currently in a running battle with his state governor in Bauchi State and urged him to face his problem.
“I am worried here. A trend is now emerging and we tend to create troubles among ourselves. What Misau has started will not go well with this Senate. The Senate President must stop it. This is a family matter, but Misau is bringing it here for discussion.
“We are all politicians. There are bound to be disagreements. But bringing this backyard squabble to the Senate is troubling. Mr. President, you need to stop this. Misau has problems with his governor and I have not brought it here. Misau is being used by some people to blackmail us in Kano State.” Jibrin said.
The man at the centre of the brouhaha, Kwankwaso, watched as his once loyal friends didn’t defend him. To save himself from further embarrassment, the humbled Kwankwaso said as a leader, he cannot dwell on the matter. “I believe as a leader, I do not want to say anything,” he said.
That is life. The essence of this piece is not to denigrate Kwankwaso. No! That is not my forte. I needed to use his predicament to remind politicians that power is transient. One day you are powerful, the next you are reduced to an infinitesimal level, who can’t chase a fly.
If you are a leader or you pretend to be one, be reminded that someday, the glory will be over. The music will stop playing. The crowd will fade. The chants will cease. The lights will go out. You will be left alone in the cold. Friends, family members and beneficiaries of your largesse will desert you. When these things happen, you will become ordinary. Don’t get trapped in unnecessary bitter politics. There is always life thereafter.
I so submit!