By Desmond Mgbo
Penultimate Saturday, when the Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje finally unveiled his choice for successor and other elective offices for the forthcoming 2023 general elections, it was naturally expected that some of the unlucky aspirants would walk away.
What was not in calculation is that the number would be this much or that some of the very intimate associates of the administration will walk away without a twinge of regrets.
The truth is that a number of chieftains of the All Progressives Congress(APC) in the state, including some die hard Buharists, are fleeing the party for greener pastures .
Like a whirlwind, the gale of defections is moving in different directions. Some are returning to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), others are dusting the flag of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), but a majority is moving to the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) led by Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
One of the earliest defectors is the nine members of the State House of Assembly. They are all Kwankwassiyya members within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But with bitter lessons from Ebonyi and Cross Rivers States, they had to wait for a reasonable conflict to be ignited within the PDP before defecting.
Their names are Isyaku Ali Danja Gezawa, Umar Musa Gama, Aminu Sa’adu Ungogo and Lawan Hussain Chediyar. Others are Yan Gurasa, Tukur Muhammed, Mu’azzam El-Yakub, Garba Shehu Fammer, Abubakar Uba Galadima and Mudassir Ibrahim Zawaciki.
Their departure cleared way for another three legislators and subsequently for the Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, Zubaru Massu, to make his move a few days after.
Also defected is a former Speaker of the Kano State House of Assembly and member of House of Reps (Rano, Bunkure, Kibiya Federal constituency), Kabiru Alhassan Rirum. A gladiator from Kano South, who was impeached and re- elected as Speaker of the House, had aspired for the governorship position. But once the crown did not fall on him, he defected to the NNPP.
Another chieftain of the party that has dusted his shoes is Abdulkadir Jobe. Wealthy, popular and kind, he defected to the NNPP because someone close to the governor has an eye on his seat, a result of which he felt that he would not be returned at the party’s primary.
The same narration goes for Abdulkarim Kawu Sumaila, a former Special Adviser to President Buhari and a one –time member of the House of Reps. Some eight years ago, he sought for the position of the governor of the state, but was dissuaded by the party. Four years after, he sought to replace Senator Kabiru Gaya, but was hand- twisted by the party to step down.
On the streets of Kano, he commands an appreciable crowd. Though not very well educated in the Western styled fashion, he is respected for establishing a private University in the state. But within the party, certain factors have played out against him. One is that he is younger than Gaya by far, while the second is that his credentials in politics is less impressive compared to Gaya’s outstanding resume as a former governor of the state. And with the directive that all former governors be given automatic tickets in the party, he had no option but to count his teeth with his tongue.
But a very dramatic defection is that of the former Chief of Staff, Kano Government House, Ali Makoda, which happened on Friday night. A very simple, unassuming and trust -worthy personality, he however shattered hearts, Friday night, with his deft move. That night, in shade of darkness, he quietly led a list of notable politicians from his zone to Kwankwaso’s house where they pledged their loyalty to the new party.
He was accompanied by the member of House of Reps, (Dambatta/ Makoda), Badamasi Ayuba, a member of the state House of Assembly, Mustapha Kore and the Chairman of Makoda Local Government Area in the state, Abdullahi Wango.
Makoda’s resignation from office, like that of Nura Dankadi, another cabinet member, was rejected by Ganduje a few days ago. But like Dankadi, he was determined to disobey his erstwhile boss. He told the media by phone that he had since resigned from the government of the state and was at liberty to move elsewhere.
The biggest news in the ancient city state is that a former governor of the state, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau is about to move to the new party. Should this happen, the hurt would be too deep not to be felt. Shekarau is a political institution in his own right. His followers are not only numerous but are diehard. His appeal is also religious and the consequences of his exit to the APC are better imagined than stated.
If Shekarau should move, it will be a heavy–hearted, eyes-filled with- tears kind of goodbye. Sources within the party told Daily Sun that the senator has no wish to leave, having migrated in the past from APC to PDP and back and having also a clear knowledge that going to the senate under the ticket of a small party has its own implications in terms of the influence that one would wield at the Green Chamber
“He has always wanted to be seen as a party man who is related to the principles of a particular party and to its opportunities. But this situation before him is way above him” said the source.
For months, Senator Shekarau had fathered a group of aggrieved APC members in the state. This group is mainly divided into three interests, namely Shekarau, Barau Jilbrin and Sha ban Sharada. Each had his own grievances, which were summed up as absence of internal democracy within the party.
But with Shekarau, his main grouse is the alleged non –inclusion of his loyalists into principal positions within party structure- from ward, local government to state level. His other grievance is an attempt to edge him out of his Senate seat. At the moment, two aspirants- A A Zaura and Senator Lado – have emerged to contest his seat and he is uncomfortable with the scenario.
At press time on Saturday, there were several moves to abort his defection. It was reported that President Buhari had personally intervened, inviting both Shekarau and Ganduje to a talk. Ganduje was also spotted at Shekarau’s personal residence on the same day. It is not certain what would happen next, but if he should go, the cut would be deep.
One of the possible reasons for the gale of defections in the state is the endless number of characters, serious and unserious, seeking to contest for elective offices. It is believed that the financial reward of being in power in the present dispensation is overwhelming. However, this surge for political offices has overwhelmed the selective process, throwing up dust of protests everywhere and a new party with several vacant positions like the NNPP has become a new rendezvous for grieving politicians.
A more compelling factor, according to respondents, is Ganduje’s preference for consensus arrangement as against the use of open primary elections to determine the party’s flag- bearers. Nearly a half of the crowd of defectors, believed rightly or wrongly, are more popular and better than their anointed counterparts.
The departure of President Buhari in 2023 is another factor throwing up these dusts. A political analyst said his strong influence, which saw many of the present political class ride to easy victories in the state would no longer be available by the next election.
Looking across the political space of the state, it is crystal clear that the migration is largely in the direction of the NNPP while very little or nothing worthy is happening in the Shehu Shagagi – led PDP.
Ibrahim Gawuna told Daily Sun that this sort of situation is to be expected given that there is a certain design to weaken the PDP as an alternate or a leading opposition party in the state to the advantage of the Nnpp.
His feeling, which is commonly shared by many in the state, is that the current PDP Kano State Executive, starting from the ward, local government and state level, were all elected(handpicked) by Kwankwaso and would dump the PDP after the presidential primaries, by which time it would be difficult for the party to make any meaningful impact in the scheme of things in the state.
Aminu Belli, one of the leaders of the Aminu Wali faction of the PDP in the state however countered the narrative, insisting that the assumption that the NNPP is something great or would come to greatness in the state is somewhat wrong.
He explained that the defection of politicians into the new party is largely due to the availability of many vacant positions and spaces within it adding that many of the defectors were promised a space or believed that they would be given an automatic ticket in the party.
“In the PDP however, each and every position is competitive. There is internal democracy and our aspirants and any other aspirant coming to join us ahead of the elections is already aware that he would canvass for the votes and be elected as a candidate, ” he stated.