By Salihu Tanko Yakasai
On Saturday 10th February, 2018, eligible voters in the 44 local government areas of Kano State will go to the polls to elect their council chairmen and 484 councillors. Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (KANSIEC) has concluded arrangements in concert with all relevant stakeholders more especially security agencies and some political parties to ensure a hitch-free elections.
The Prof. Garba Sheka-led KANSIEC has repeatedly assured the people of the State of its determination to ensure a level-playing field for all parties to contest the elections.
But to close observers of the political goings-on in the State especially between APC led by Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR and the Kwankwasiyya gang led by the former governor and serving Senator representing Kano Central Senatorial Zone at the Senate, Engr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, these elections would be a litmus test regarding the tug-of-war between the supporters of the two political gladiators now slugging it out for the hearts of the Kanawas.
In my previous piece on the eve of the historic visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to his largest-cum most formidable political stronghold in the country, I rightly predicted that the president would be warmly received by the people of Kano State and he would see that the State still remains his stronghold despite the attempts by the Kwankwasiyya gang to paint him in a bad light because their leader nurtures the ambition to contest in the next year’s presidential election. I am very much happy to have been vindicated and the presidential visit was highly successful with our amiable President expressing gratitude and appreciation to Gov. Ganduje for the warm reception the government and people of the State had accorded him.
For those unfamiliar with the so-called intra-party squabbles in the State, I think the crisis had its genesis right from day one when the former governor reluctantly succumbed to pressure to allow his former deputy to vie for the governorship of the most populous state in the federation. When the incumbent governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje won the elections, his predecessor warned that if his successor deviates from the ideology of the Kwankwasiyya gang, he and his supporters would roll up their sleeves and fight the current governor to the finish line.
Since the handing-over between the former and present governors, APC and the government have not known peace as characterized by smear campaigns, outright sabotage and other subterfuges. The last straw that broke the camel’s back was when the former governor mobilized his foul-mouthed supporters on a condolence visit to Ganduje Town supposedly to condole Gov. Ganduje over the death of his mother but instead of condolence, the rip-raps hurled every imaginable abuses at the bereaved governor to the hearing of the leader of the gang.
The then Doguwa-led APC vowed to carry out investigations into this unbecoming attitude of the former governor and his supporters, but later the former State APC chairman, Haruna Doguwa claimed that he was arm-twisted and clearly sided with the former governor in flagrant violation of the constitution of the party. Since then, Kano State APC chapter had not known peace until the national secretariat intervened and appointed an acting chairman in the person of Engr. Bashir Karaye to lead the party pending the party’s congresses which are scheduled to hold in a couple of months from now. However, the Kwankwasiyya gang is not satisfied with this development aimed at unifying the party by bringing to an end the power tussle between Abdullahi Abbas and Haruna Doguwa which informed the decision of Senator Kwankwaso to hold a political rally under the banner of Kwankwasiyya gang at Kwanar Dangora which coincided with the one arranged by the APC during which it planned to present flags to the 44 local government council chairmanship candidates.
Despite the innocuous advice of the State Commissioner of Police to the Kwankwasiyya cult members against holding their rally in order to avert any possible political violence as hoodlums were mobilized from even other States to come to Kano to cause chaos, the members of the Kwankwasiyya gang refused to heed the wise counsel until the last minute when the writing on the wall became clear to them which informed their belated decision to grudgingly call off their planned “political rally”.
What is more annoying is the fact that the gang organized the rally in order to contest that Kano State is still the stronghold of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR especially after seeing the huge crowds of people that lined the streets to welcome the most popular politician in Kano State chanting Sai Buhari!, Sai Baba!, Sai Mai Gaskiya! Had the gang’s rally taken place, only God knows how many precious lives would have perished just because of the self-centred inordinate ambition of one person!
Indeed the quick intervention of the national leadership of our great party has saved the party at the state level and indeed at the national level by extension from the possibility of being drawn into all sorts of litigations by selfish elements who are bent on plunging the party into crisis especially with the approach of the local government and next year’s general elections.
With this new development, the party at the state level is now more unified and stronger which has made it to be well-prepared to participate in the forthcoming local government elections. Many aspirants indicated their desire to participate in primary elections to fly the APC flag during the local government elections and this tussle amongst aspirants was amicably resolved through consensus as enshrined in the APC constitution or in a very few negligible cases through primary elections which were conducted rancour-free. This is attributable to the astute handling of the issue by the far-sighted governor who refrained from imposing any candidate on the people in the spirit of fair-play, justice, democracy and freedom.
This consensus agreement in nearly all the 44 local government areas in the state has clearly cemented the bond among APC members and left the Kwankwasiyya gang in the cold: Ba Tsuntsu, Ba Tarko as the Hausa say, literally meaning “No Bird, No Trap!” Had the Kwankwasiyya gang members recognized Gov. Ganduje as the leader of APC in Kano State, they would have been carried along because our governor is a true democrat who believes in the spirit of justice, honesty and freedom for all and sundry. But alas, their loyalty is to the gang rather than to the party which is supreme over any primordial consideration. The desire of the gang leadership and membership is to derail the second term ambition of both the President (though he has not publicly expressed his desire to go for the second term yet) and Gov. Ganduje whom they always accuse of betraying their “cause.” God willing, they will not succeed for God is behind the just and upright.
Holding this election in a period of economic crunch is a credit to Gov. Ganduje especially as the State pays a monthly wage bill of about N10 billion in addition to executing new and inherited projects each worth over N1 billion some of which were recently commissioned or inspected by Mr. President during his 2-day official visit to the State. Many States in the federation have not yet held the elections and it is clear they are not ready to do so in the foreseeable future. However, immediately after the expiration of the tenure of the former local government councils, our governor appointed interim caretaker committees to oversee the affairs of the 44 local government councils pending the conduct of the elections and in less than a year of the expiration of the tenure of the elected councils, KANSIEC under a reputable university don, Prof. Garba Sheka will hold local government elections on Saturday.
If the APC sweeps the local government council elections as I am sure it will do since the major opposition party, PDP has chickened out by deciding not to participate because of what it calls exorbitant charges which its candidates cannot afford to pay to KANSIEC and resorting to instituting a legal suit in the State High Court which has ruled against it, the coast will be clear for APC to also win all subsequent elections more especially as many are now ditching their old parties for the APC in recognition of the good and exemplary leadership qualities of Gov. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje who refrains from being dictatorial unlike his immediate predecessor whose trademark is dictatorship, betrayal of even his loyal supporters and sadistic disposition to crush the opposition at all cost for to him, the end justifies the means.
Recently, during the three senatorial zonal rallies of the APC, Gov. Ganduje received thousands of people who decamped to APC among whom is Senator Bashir Garba Lado unlike during the dictatorial reign of the former governor when the late Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi, Senator Hamisu Musa, Dauda Dangalan, Musa Gwadabe, and a host of other political bigwigs who backed him to emerge as the PDP gubernatorial flag-bearer in 1999 parted ways with him.
APC in Kano State is waxing stronger by the day thanks to the dexterity of Gov. Ganduje and winning the forthcoming local government elections will make it stronger. Any gang member that is ready to ditch his moribund ideology of kwankwasiyya by pledging unalloyed allegiance and loyalty to the APC and the governor is highly welcomed to the party and all his past sins against the party will be forgiven and forgotten. But it is not possible for a gang and the party to coexist since their ideologies differ and contract each other. The support of all is required for APC to win all forthcoming elections; but it has to be unified and strong for this to be realizable which has begun to appear and will be consolidated after the local government elections on 10th February, 2018, God willing!
- Yakasai is the Special Adviser New Media to the Executive Governor of Kano State.