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Can Opposition Unite In Kano?



ABDULLAHI YAKUBU writes on the evolving political tussle for the top seat in Kano State.

The scheming for the 2019 general elections is escalating, signifying intense politicking and open demonstration of political aspirations by aspirants on various political party platforms.

Increasingly, the broom and umbrella symbols of the two major parties, APC and PDP,  have become major features in the political space, thanks to successive post 2015 elections and mostly recently the Ekiti State gubernatorial election.

Kano State is no different. In the ancient city, the evolving political scenario has led to series of nocturnal meetings, alignment and re-alignment of forces all aimed at dethroning the current governor of the state Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of the APC in 2019.

Expectedly, the major opposition party in the state,  PDP, is leading this charge, a party which lost the APC in 2014 via defection of the immediate past governor now Senator, Musa Kwankwaso, who was elected in 2011 to complete his constitutional term of eight years, having lost office in 2007. In 2015, Kwankwaso had handed over to his deputy, Ganduje. The relationship has since gone sore, amid speculations that Kwankwaso is at the verge of leaving the APC.

However, while Kwankwaso left the PDP in the build up to 2015, his immediate predecessor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, an APC chieftain at the time, moved into the PDP. Shekarau who was from the defunct ANPP bloc that made up the political merge that birthed the APC, was miffed at the way he was edged out by his former party in order to accommodate Kwankwaso, who was the incumbent governor at the time.

But as the race for 2019 evolves, a contender for the top seat in the state is Shekarau’s right hand man, Mallam Salihu Sagir Takai. He is said to be recontesting for the third time after two consecutive unsuccessful attempts. He followed Shekarau to the PDP in the build up to 2015.

Takai served in the government of Shekarau as the former commissioner of Water Resources and also as the commissioner for Local Governments. He was renowned for his prudence in managing the affairs of the ministries he oversaw. He had also served as chairman of Takai local government area in the 1990s.

Takai’s profile would not be complete without mentioning his decision to  return over N400 million to the state treasury being an excess of funds for the purchase of water treatment chemical and other major contracts executed in the ministry. That particular sacrifice by Takai and the publicity it got, exposed his transparent qualities to the people of the state, making him stand out among all his contemporaries.

These and many other factors were projected as reasons why the Kano electorate should cast his vote for Takai, just as some pundits would  argue that he need not spend so much money to campaign against the backdrop of his sterling profile.

Interestingly, Ganduje defeated Takai, in the 2015 gubernatorial election, who had had same experience in 2011 in the contest against Kwankwaso. Whether the 2019 contest will be different for Takai remains a matter of conjecture. Another top contender in the gubernatorial race is Alhaji Ibrahim El Amin, a renowned young billionaire.

The accountant turned business man has a large warchest, a situation which analysts are already projecting might see him cause some upsets in 2019. There are rumours that he can match most of the contestants financially.

Ibrahim Little, as he is popularly called, has indicated interest several times to be governor of the state. He emerged on the scene in 2003 when he slugged it out with Shekarau in an intense ANPP governorship primary held at the Marhaba Cinema at the Farm Centre in the heart of the city. 

But Shekarau, after some political interventions, emerged the party’s  flagbearer. The incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, who was the presidential aspirant of the party then, had campaigned for Shekarau at the primaries.

Little protested that he won the primaries but eventually let go of the mandate which gave Shekarau the leeway to emerge governor of the state after defeating Kwankwaso who was incumbent in 2003. Little has since pitched his tent with the PDP in the build up to next year’s governorship election.

Another influential politician ahead of 2019 has been in Kano’s political arena since the Second Republic. Ambassador Aminu Wali, a former minister of Foreign Affairs, is also strategising to unseat the APC  in the state by way of scheming to anoint his first son, Alhaji Sadik Wali, as the next governor of the state. The former minister was unsuccessful on several attempts to be governor. He tried on the platform of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) but was defeated by the maverick political icon, Late Muhammad Abubakar Rimi.

Rimi was the first governor of Kano State on the platform of the defunct People’s Redemption Party (PRP).

Beyond the PDP is Kwankwaso who is bent on having the last laugh against the incumbent governor, his former deputy governor.

Kwankwaso and Ganduje have been locked in a supremacy battle for the party structure, despite being in the same party, APC.  With series of reconcilatory interventions, including those of the presidency and the party, hitting the brickwall, Kwankwaso is seen to be on his way out of the APC.

Feelers from his political camp indicate that he is determined to unseat Ganduje. Kwankwaso, it was gathered, has been having series of meetings with his political allies in Kaduna State to see who among them will be fit enough to give his former deputy a good political fight in 2019.

It seems glaring that having resolved to dump the APC and join the R-APC Kwankwaso is determined to back one of his former commissioners to slug it out with Ganduje.

However, it would seem that all the political forces are uniting against the imcumbent, putting their previous disagreements aside. But whether they will be able to sustain the burdgeoning unity in the months ahead, especially as they would have to scramble to retain their structures in a bid to collapse their interests, will be instructive.

Nevertheless, Ganduje still seems to have the upper hand over and above all the aspirants in the opposition parties, analysts opine. This is so because apart from the power of incumbency,  he has all the political structures in the APC united behind him.

The 44 local government chairmen in the state, the councilors, all members of the State Assembly are with the governor, like wise the most members of the federal legislature from the state who have collectively endorsed him to contest a second term. Ganduje has maintained good working relationship with all the various religious divide and works smoothly with traditional institutions. He is at peace with students home and abroad.

Above all, the governor enjoys the massive support of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019. Kano has remained a major political base of the president since his foray into partisan politics in 2003.

As such pundits believe that just as Ganduje has  promised to garner five million votes for the Buhari come 2019, the president would be motivated to campaign, perhaps, more intensely for the governor to return for a second term.

As such, analysts opine that it would be  political suicidal for his opponents  to feel that the governor would be easily outsmarted by his political opponents.