•Kwankwaso, no threat to Ganduje- Kano govt
•Gov afraid of his popularity- Kwankwaso’s aide
•Shelve your visit, police tells former governor
Ismail Omipidan; Desmond Mgboh, Kano
After about three years of playing hide and seek, immediate past Kano State governor and senator representing Kano central, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and his estranged former deputy, incumbent Kano governor, Alhaji Umar Ganduje, appear set to engage in a popularity contest ahead of next year’s election.
The two principal actors and their followers have set aside next Tuesday, January 30, to hold a parallel rally in the state.
However, should the security agencies allow the two rallies to hold simultaneously as planned, Kano, a relatively volatile political environment, Saturday Sun can authoritatively reveal may literarily be set on fire, a thing that may eventually lead to bloodbath in the city.
The political war between the duo started almost immediately after Ganduje was sworn in, following the refusal of the governor to allow Kwankwaso and his men call the shot.
In the beginning
Before March 2016 when the crisis between Kwankwaso and Ganduje became public knowledge, both gladiators tried to manage it and pretended all was well. But Saturday Sun can authoritatively reveal that the duo fell out barely five months after Ganduje was sworn in.
The first major disagreement they had was over cabinet appointments. Unknown to Kwankwaso, while electioneering was on; Ganduje was already drawing up the list of his cabinet members. And by the time the list was released after inauguration of the new government, Kwankwaso and his men felt short-changed.
It did not take long before both camps, on daily basis, took to radio stations in Kano, to pour venoms on each other.
However, the last straw that broke the camel’s back, occurred in March 2016, when Kwankwaso’s supporters besieged Malam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), to receive the former governor, who was visiting the state for the first time, since May 29, 2015, to condole with Ganduje, who had lost the mother, four days earlier.
The supporters, Saturday Sun gathered, were clothed in branded T-shirts, and they were all carrying presidential campaign posters, that bore the pictures of Kwankwaso.
Once Kwankwaso arrived, he was led by the army of supporters to Ganduje town, Dawakin Tofa Council area of the state. But in the process, supporters of the two gladiators clashed.
Following the visit, and the attendant crisis that followed, the state chapter of the ruling party, APC, addressed the press, where it made known that it would investigate the former governor over what it termed the “unruly conduct” of his supporters during his visit to the governor’s country home, in Ganduje. Since then, the two men drew the battleline.
Only recently, during the last Sallah festival, the face –off between the two factions- Kwankwassiyya and Gandujjiya -nearly degenerated into a full blown political disturbance in the state. Several leading members of Kwankwaso faction of the party were left in blood, injured by hired thugs, while several others escaped death as the thugs allegedly hired by the government, took charge of the traditional horse riding festival and dealt a hard blow on their adversaries.
Not too long ago, six persons were injured at a wedding party in a fight between the supporters of the two factions at Chiranchi in Gwale Local Government area of the state. The injured included the step brother of a serving commissioner in the state. A few weeks ago, the immediate past Chairman of the APC and serving Commissioner in the state was captured in an unverified video, asking his supporters to stone Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso during his planned visit to the state
Fresh crisis looms
Ahead of the February 10 council election in the state, the state government had lined up events leading to the election, one of which is the rally slated for Tuesday, January 30, 2018, same date Kwankwaso and his supporters have also chosen to hold theirs.
Speaking with Saturday Sun yesterday on the development, the state’s commissioner for Information, Internal Affairs, Youths and Culture, Alhaji Muhammad Garba, said Kwankwaso and his men are just out to cause mayhem in the state by their proposed rally.
According to him, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state had over two weeks ago informed the police about its proposed rally. He added that the Kwankwaso group, if at all they ever wrote, may have done so only on Thursday.
“Usually, because of the LG election, all political parties would write the police for protection and police would in turn ensure that the activities of the parties do not clash. This had been done, with all parties having their timetable.
“Kwankwaso is in APC. We are not aware his group sponsored any candidate in the election, they are not taking part in the election, so Nigerians should help us ask him, of what relevance is the rally he wants to hold, other than to cause violence and mayhem in the state?
“If he says he wants to visit, he is not the only senator from Kano State. The two others have been visiting without any noise, why will his own be different? If he knows he is popular and he wants to test his popularity, he should have sponsored candidates during the APC primary. But he did not do it,” Garba said.
Asked if Kwankwaso poses any threat to Ganduje’s re-election bid, the state’s spokesperson further said “he cannot pose any threat to our governor’s re-election. Our governor is fully on ground and the support for him is beyond APC. The people are happy with his performance. So far, he has completed all the projects left behind by Kwankwaso, and he has started new ones. Even the Kwankwaso group cannot fault him on performance. The 5km road per LG, about half of 44 LGs were less than 10 percent completion as at the time we came in. But today we have completed for 11 LGs. I just came back yesterday (Thursday) from Sudan where I led a state delegation to go and settle the bills of our foreign students to the tune of N630 million. If you allow me, I can go on and on to list our works that have made our governor the toast of an average Kano man.”
Kwankwaso fires back
Hajiya Binta Spikin, the media aide to the Kano former governor, said Ganduje was afraid of his principal’s popularity.
According to her, the proposed visit of the former governor had been on the card in the last two months, just as she insisted that the group indeed has candidates for the February 10 council election.
“If Kwankwaso enters Kano today, every politician worth his or her name will either identify with us or perish politically. It is that popularity that is giving Ganduje and his people sleepless nights. All we want to do is to welcome our leader who is visiting the state, nothing more.
“Two months ago, the police invited our group over this matter. If they are not aware, will they have invited us for a meeting? It is therefore not true that we only wrote our letter yesterday (Thursday). So you can see that it is the government that is trying to cause trouble. We are peace loving people.”
Asked if the group will tarry awhile, should the police advise it to shelve the proposed visit/rally, she said “well, I don’t know about that. We will see what we can do, should such a situation arise.”
On the re-election bid of the governor, she again said “It is not for me or anybody to say he or she will stop Ganduje. It is the Kano people that will decide. If they think he has performed well and decide to return him, fine. But if they think he has not performed well, which I and majority know he has not, they will vote him out, come next year in Sha Allah.”
Kano police wades in
Meanwhile, Kano State Police Command yesterday formally advised the former governor to shelve his proposed visit because of the tension and apprehension it has generated.
Addressing a press conference in Kano yesterday, the police commissioner, Rabiu Yusuf said “the attention of Kano State Police Command is drawn to the intended visit to Kano State on 30th January, 2018 by the former governor of the state and now Distinguished Senator representing Kano Central Senatorial District, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
“There is no doubt, the senator as a citizen of this country has the right of freedom of association, assembly and movement. However, credible information at the disposal of the command reveals that the proposed visit has generated palpable fears in the minds of the people of Kano State.
There is apprehension amongst the general populace and the tendency to hijack the visit by some disgruntled politicians or miscreants cannot be ruled out.
“Consequent upon this, the urgent need to nip the problem in the bud cannot be over-emphasized. Therefore, any action or inaction by any person or group of persons that may jeopardize the relative peace the State is enjoying must be averted.
“On this premise, it is the candid advice of the command that such a visit to the state should be shelved by Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso until the tension generated by the planned visit is doused and security threat neutralized.
“The command will continue to be firm, fair and just in providing a level playing ground for all political gladiators to carry out their political activities without fear of molestation and or intimidation.”
As at the time of filing this report, the Kwankwaso group is yet to react to the position of the police, as preparations are still on for the proposed visit.