The governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, gave an order on Tuesday for the closure of two major stadiums in the state for renovation. The supposed renovation order is coming barely five days to the campaign rally of Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the state.
Petty governor: While Atiku’s rally is scheduled for February 10, the renovations ordered by Ganjuje are proposed to end on February 18, two days after the presidential elecrion is expected to have been concluded. It puts the PDP in a tight corner over finding a suitable venue for its rally.
The proposed renovations reportedly include the installation of the new scoreboard, the running track and provision of sources for steady water supply to all parts of the two major stadiums in the state.
A government official, speaking off the record told The Cable that the shutdown of the two stadiums – the Sani Abacha Stadium situated at Kofar Mata, and the Kano Pillars Stadium at Sabon Gari – was intended to frustrate the campaign rally of the PDP.
However, Abbati Sabo, spokesman of the Kano State Sports Commission, said the closure was not targeted at the presidential rally of the PDP presidential candidate, stating that the renovation was as a result of the 2019-2020 Nigeria Premier League season.
“As far as I am concerned, this directive doesn’t have a political undertone. The state government was advised to renovate the stadium, ahead of the NPL season,” he said.
“The government had now heeded to the advice and ordered for the commencement of the project in order to have smooth conduct of the league.
“As you can see, the facility is in need of repair and the government has now answered the call for its renovation.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had recently held a rally at the Sani Abacha Stadium for his reelection campaign.
PDP responds: The PDP has described Ganduje’s renovation order as an infraction of the peace accord which members of the main parties signed.
In statement by spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP called “on the National Peace Committee to note the infractions by the APC and its leaders to the peace accord, including the provocative shut down of all the stadiums in Kano state by the state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, in order to frustrate the PDP Presidential campaign rallies in the state.”
The PDP has called on the National Peace Committee to look into the matter, threatening that it would pull out of the accord if the APC persists with such infractions.
What is Ganduje scared of?: In Nigeria’s politics, crowd size is a measure of popularity and momentum even when most of the crowd are reportedly rented. When Pres. Buhari held his rally in Kano last week, the turnout was massive. The challenge is that the PDP in Kano also has a crowd puller in the person of former Gov. Rabiu Kwankwaso. If he manages to pull a crowd comparable to the one that welcomes Pres. Buhari, it may create an impression of a much closer race in Kano than the ruling party may be comfortable with. Recall that in buildup to the last elections, the then Kano governor permitted the PDP to make use of the stadium, but immediately after the PDP rally, the governor and his supporters took brooms to sweep away the footprints of the then president in a sign of disdain.