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KANO 2019: The Danger Kwankwaso Must Avoid

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Rabiu Kwankwaso

By now, any person traveling from one state to another within the country would have noticed one clear message, which is the unprecedented love being shown by Nigerians for former governor of Kano State and former minister of defence, Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso. This can be seen in countless vehicles, motorcycles, tricycles, buildings, adorning stickers bearing different pictures of the Senator, and expressing strong support for him.

Only the blind could not see or decipher the message, the same way people around former President Goodluck Jonathan, to their peril, decided to ignore a similar expression of support for now President Muhammadu Buhari before and shortly after the 2015 presidential election.

Nigerians have a way of showing the direction they are going to follow, which more often than not goes a long way to show the potential winner of an impending election.

Nigeria has remained in a bad shape for so long.  Hopes that the present administration was going to provide solution to the multifarious problems bedeviling the nation have been largely dashed. The president obviously means well, but as cynics would say, even the road to hell is paved with good intention.  And being honest or meaning well as a leader is only one of 25 leadership qualities that distinguish a successful leader from one who craves it only for its sake.

While, without doubt, Kwankwaso’s chances as a potential Nigerian leader keep brightening by the day, there is one danger lurking around the corner: which is the politics of his home state of Kano.  That is a state that possesses the highest number of registered voters, which also has the largest population in the country.  It is also one state whose politics can be unpredictable, even though the indicators are all too clear that the incumbent governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, is going to be a hard sell in 2019.  All that is required to defeat Ganduje hands down is a formidable candidate from any of the strong political parties.

For those who have not been following Kano politics, this brief flashback on history is necessary.  Ganduje is Kwankwaso’s choice for the post of deputy governor when the later defeated the former in the 1999 primary election of the PDP.  And to demonstrate Kwankwaso’s love and commitment to Ganduje, he appointed him as his principal aide when he became Nigeria’s minister of defence in 2003. He also got him an appointment as managing director of a river basin development authority.  The show of love continued in 2011 when the same Kwankwaso picked Ganduje, out of more loyal lieutenants, as his deputy for a second term as Kano governor. Kwankwaso, as outgoing governor, also defied every wise counsel and picked the same Ganduje as his successor in 2015.

The Kwankwasiyya Movement birthed by Senator Kwankwaso fought tooth and nail and spared nothing in ensuring Ganduje won the gubernatorial election of that year.  No sooner had he settled on the saddle however, than Ganduje started revealing his true colours. All cautions to the effect that the best way for Ganduje to serve Kano people excellently well and bequeath a befitting legacy was to adhere to the Kwankwasiyya ideologies that brought him to power were met with deaf ears.

The Kwankwasiyya ideologies have been tested by the people, who trust it unconditionally because it serves them best. It is all about serving the people as selflessly and transparently as possible. But Ganduje chooses to ignore it.  He wanted to be a legend overnight.  And so he allowed himself to be instigated by hangers on who are desperate for the crumbs falling from his table.

One cannot buy statesmanship in the marketplace, however deep one’s pockets might be. Till today, Senator Kwankwaso has not replied even one bit of the insults being heaved on him by Governor Gwanduje and his fair weather friends especially through the radio.  Trust the people of Kano.  They know all about what Kwankwaso did for Ganduje. They are a people who do not condone treachery.  And they on their own made Kwankwaso their political leader owing to the unprecedented legacies he has bequeathed to them.

What is now required, and this is rather urgent, is for Kwankwaso to show them the way; to guide them as to who their next governor should be. And that is where the danger lies.  Who is going to be this candidate? To be sure, there are thousands of potential suitors, but Kano people are too sophisticated to be toyed around by any politician. If at the end of the day the Kwankwaso they regard as their undisputed political master chooses someone they are not comfortable with, or whose pedigree they cannot vouch for, chances are the Kwankwasiyya Movement will be gifting Ganduje a second term of office for free.  And that will be a disaster of monumental proportion.  It will aggregate to a grand betrayal of the people of Kano State who are looking up to Kwankwaso for direction. More so, enemies are going to deploy that to demean his political credentials. In Nigerian politics, charity best begins at home. History is replete with politicians who became national icons, but who smartly  ensured they did not lose their home support. They know the danger that portends to their political future.

So Senator Kwankwaso cannot afford to be complacent.  He cannot afford to delay showing the next direction until the last minute.  In politics, the biggest mistake is underrating an opponent, however weak he might be.  And the fact that Ganduje is an incumbent, with massive resources of state at his disposal makes him a formidable opponent that cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand.

Since the people of Kano, like the rest of Nigeria trust and believe in the Kwankwasiyya ideology, it behoves on Senator Kwankwaso to choose a tested hand among his close, trusted lieutenants. Someone the people can remember for his achievements; for his love for the state, and for his potential to defeat the incumbent and return Kano State to the path of sanity and credible governance. Someone who has redefined philanthropy to mean putting deep smile on the faces of millions of compatriots.  A pure, thoroughbred Kwankwasiyya breed.  That’s what Kano people are looking up to Senator Kwankwao to do.

While wishing him well as national politics beckons, the Senator must never forget that Kano, his home state is key.

It will be wrong at this point in time to start mentioning names. But the people know the person possessing these credentials. Even more so, Kwankwaso himself knows him even better.  Only him possesses all the above characteristics that will make the people vote for him willingly and overwhelmingly.  Of course one is not dismissing the others.  They have their own many qualities.  But this fight requires a real fighter, who has the capacity and capability to deliver.  In the Kwankwaso camp of beautiful brides, there is one that you can easily convince the people of Kano to vote for because they remember him till date as the best commissioner in the ministry he held sway at the time. If he could achieve all that he did as a commissioner, one can only imagine the transformation Kano will witness when he becomes its chief executive.

Our next governor should be the one who has proven his loyalty to the people, and to his political benefactor in countless ways.  He is one of few who have told truth to power.  He did not dine with Kwankwaso in the night only to have breakfast with Ganduje in the morning. He could, as several others have done, have chosen to ditch Kwankwaso for the lucre of office at full disposal of Ganduje as executive governor.  But he chooses the path of decency and honour.  He believes in sacrificing his today for a better tomorrow for the people of Kano and other Nigerians.

There is surely no time to waste.  The battle is not going to be as easy as envisaged. But it is going to be akin to a walkover if the right choice is made now, and not later.  And there is no time for trial and error.  The much-traumatized people of Kano will not have the time to scrutinize the credentials of someone they hardly know, or whose pedigree is not established or known to them.

A stitch in time saves nine.

Mohammed wrote from Kano

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