In this report, ABDULGAFAR OLADIMEJI writes about the battle of wits leading to recently held Local Government election in Kano State and the protests following the victory of the All Progressives Progress (APC) in the exercise.
The incumbent Governor of Kano state, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje inherited 44 council chairmen and 484 councilors from his predecessors, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
In 2015, Kwankwaso marshaled the All Progressives Congress (APC) to victory, winning all the 44 local government seats and 484 councilorship positions, despite stiff opposition from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and to the chagrin of the former state governor Ibrahim Shekarau.
Ganduje on assumption of office, as the state Chief Executive office resisted the temptation to dissolve the local government Chief Executives, he inherited from Kwankwaso, allowing for them to serve out their three years tenure. Gaduje’s loyalists kept pilling pressure on him to send the local government chiefs packing, stressing that they are Kwankwaso’s political godsons. They urged him to proceed to anoint his loyalists as Kano LG bosses.
On serving their full tenure, Ganduje proceeded to announce names of persons anointed as Interim Management Officers to superintend the affairs of the LGs in all the 44 Local Government Areas in the state.
The deputy chairman of the opposition PDP in Kano state, Ibrahim Muhammad who was dissatisfied with the decision to appoint Interim Management officers to oversee the affairs of the LGs proceeded to Kano High Court seeking an order of the court to restrain, the governor from constituting the leadership of the 44 local governments in the state.
The applicant earlier in an originating summon had sued the governor, office of Kano State Attorney General, KANSIEC and the State House of Assembly, on the matter.
He urged the court to determine if the respondents could appoint persons, who were not elected through the ballot box to superintend over the affairs of local governments.
According to the applicant, the appointment of persons not elected to head the local government councils were in contravention of Sections 1 and 7 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The applicant through his counsel, Barrister Abdul Adamu Fagge in the originating summons alleged that the imposition of local government leadership by ignoring the use of ballot process, is in violation of the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic.
The PDP leader further prayed the court to restrain Ganduje from installing any person(s) under whatever guise or name as the heads of local governments in the state.
The presiding judge and Acting Chief Judge, Justice Nura Sagir refused to deliver ruling on the request for an order restraining the governor.
Prior to the LG election held penultimate Saturday, the Kano state chapter of the ruling APC was bubbling in internal crisis between the Kwakwasiyya(amana) faction led by Senator Kwankwaso against the Gandujiyya(halalci) faction led by the governor.
The Kwankwasiyya faction accused the governor of monopolizing the allotment of APC tickets for the chairmanship polls.
Efforts by Kwankwaso to visit the state prior to the Local Government elections attracted unbending rejection from the governor’s camp.
Kwankwaso then disclosed his decision to suspend the visit as a result of pressure from eminent Nigerians. The Gandujiyya adherents celebrated the decision by Kwankwasso to shelve his planned visit.
The PDP then fired the next shot, when it approached a Kano High Court sitting at Audu Bako Secretariat requesting the court to order that the election then slated for February 10 be postponed.
The afore mentioned action was triggered by the announcement by the state electoral body, KANSIEC, rolling out the time table for the polls, alongside the amount fixed for the purchase of intent forms.
The court presided over by the state Acting Chief Judge, Justice Nura Sagir, handed that the application for a consequential order directing the postponement of the state Local Government was tendered orally.
The PDP had dragged Kano State Independent Electoral Commission, KANSIEC, before the court, seeking the court to denounce the N250.000.00 and N150.000.00 fixed as prices of intent forms for chairmanship and councillorship candidates respectively.
Counsel to PDP, Barrister Abdul Adamu Fagge told our correspondent that, after consulting with PDP leadership hierarchy in the state, hours after the judgment was delivered, it was agreed upon, for the ruling to be subjected to an appeal before a competent higher court with inherent jurisdiction.
Thus PDP in Kano refused to field candidates for the polls and proceeded to file an appeal against the verdict passed by the state High Court.
The chairman, Kano State Independent Electoral Commission, KANSIEC, Professor Ibrahim Garba Sheka on various media platforms and occasions explained that the body would be fair and neutral to all contenders.
He assured that the state electoral umpire was prepared to conduct the elections without hitches, adding that all that was required to conduct the elections was intact.
The Nigeria Police Force, Kano State Command was also in the theatre as it served Kano residents with an order directing restriction of movements in all the 44 LGAs from 6:00am to 4:00pm, as part of security measures put in place to ensure a hitch free local government election.
The Command spokesman, Magaji Musa Majiya (DSP), said, within the stipulated hours, vehicular and pedestrian movements are restricted and they should abstain from the streets of Kano.
Majia said those permitted to move around, while the ban lasts, are, voters, accredited political party and electoral officials, essential service providers, accredited journalists and security operatives.
He disclosed that the command had deployed over 12.000 security operatives, comprising of conventional and anti-riot police personnel, alongside officers and men that were mobilized from sister security agencies in the state. He added that they had been deployed to all the 44 Local Governments Areas in Kano state, to keep vigil, prior, during and after the Local Government Election.
He revealed that IGP Ibrahim Idris deployed a special operational squad from force headquarters, Abuja, to partake in the LG poll operations.
Majiya further disclosed that, anti-riot police detachments were also mobilized to Kano from neighboring Jigawa and Katsina states.
Prospective voters on the morning of the election arrived at their designated polling centres, and were stunned by the absence of electoral workers.
Many got disenfranchised, some were adamant and stayed back till mid-day, when the electoral materials accompanied by KANSIEC officials began to arrive.
Investigations revealed that the contractor engaged to import the electoral materials failed to deliver the materials on schedule.
KANSIEC however, admitted guilt over the late arrival of the election materials.
Our correspondent, who monitored the elections reports that in remote parts of the state, voting commenced at past noon.
The chairman, KANSIEC Prof. Garba Ibrahim Sheka attributed the delay to the late arrival of the last batch of election consignment, which were imported from China.
“We had about four flights consignment by Ethiopian Airline from China and the last was the one that arrived late that we had to even seek the intervention of the ambassador to fast track the arrival of the electoral materials. The materials were cleared completely around 4.00am when we immediately commenced distributions to all the electoral areas and by 11.00am every polling unit had their materials”, Sheka stated.
He disclosed that Kano state Government doled out over N1 billion to the commission, in efforts to ensure the conduct of a hitch free local government polls.
Sheka revealed that 35.000 ad-hoc staff were engaged in the conduct of the exercise, adding that the services of 44 presiding officers were also engaged.
Results of the elections began to flood in in early hours of Sunday, 11th February with the ruling APC recording an early lead.
KANSIEC finally declared APC winner of the local government election.
Declaring the results at a press conference at the KANSIEC headquarters Chairman of the commission Prof. Garba Ibrahim Sheka said the ruling APC swept all the 44 chairmanship and 484 councilorship seats.
According to him, security reports received during and after the council poll indicated that no arrest was made, neither was any form violent activity recorded, adding that, the election ended peacefully.
Sheka, who acknowledged the challenges and successes that characterized the conduct of the election however, dismissed allegations of alleged malpractises insisting that the rumour was the handwork of mischief makers.
While reaffirming the neutrality of KANSIEC in the election, he maintained that: “I will not hesitate to declare any other party winner if any candidate from other political parties had won the election because we are not against nor in favour of any particular party”.
While declaring the results before journalists at KANSIEC headquarters on Sabon Bakin Zuwo Road, he stated that security operatives were deployed to ensure the safety of lives and properties, insisting that no rancour or act of banditry was recorded, while polling lasted.
The APC newly elected local government chairmen were sworn in 24 hours after the polls, and were administered with the oath of office.
Governor Ganduje, who witnessed the swearing-in exercise tasked the new 44 LG chief Executives to embark on the immediate transformation of their domain by replicating the policies of his administration.
Our correspondent reports that the ceremony held at the Indoor Sports Hall located at Kofar Mata was conducted under heavy security.
Ganduje, in his remarks, in the aftermath of the ceremony said: “You must ensure that the swearing-in of your Councilors is completed within the week. You Council Chairmen are democrats, who care for the people at the grassroots and you are grounded Administrators. I therefore call on you to be serious, with Local Government Administration.’’
In a chat with journalists at NUJ, Kano, Press Centre, the Coordinator of the Coalition of Civil Societies, Alhaji Muhammad Al-Jami Hashim, said, the body adjudged the election to be worthy and acceptable.
He said the LG elections was conducted in compliance with the best acceptable practices that guides the conduct of election processes, prior, during and after.
The group commended the governor for his maturity and non interference in the whole process that led to the conduct of the election.
The opposition PDP however, refuted claims that it took party in the LG poll.
The chairman of Kano PDP, Senator Mosud El Doguwa debunked claims that, the party enlisted its candidates, he said the LG matter is in court, refusing to comment further, he though stated that, the few candidates, who contested on the platform of the PDP, did not have the blessing of the party leadership.
The battle has moved to political radio talk shows, championed by those known in local parlance as “sojan baka” mouth warriors.
Supporters of the three gladiators namely, APC, Kwankwasiyya Movement and PDP have continued to defend their earlier positions prior to the elections, mounting efforts to twist the psyche of the populace to incur their sympathy.
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