The All Progressives Congress (APC) has received several high-profile defectors into its fold in Kano State. ANDREW ESSIEN in this report, writes that not only did the party and the state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, test their popularity with the event, the campaign for 2019 was effectively kick-started
Exactly a week after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lifted ban on campaigns, the ruling All Progressives (APC) in Kano State harvested souls to its fold.
Persons who were formerly with the party in its formative years but defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because of one form of grievance or the other formed the larger percentage of those the party gained.
The venue was the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano and the feeling was electrifying as supporters flooded the arena.
“Converts” and supporters alike bonded with the cord of politics came out in full force, perhaps as a show to the opposition that Kano has already been ‘taken’.
For those who have studied the body language of Kano politics, it is somewhat easy to gauge where the people are inclined to.
As early as 9:00 am last Sunday, the stadium, venue of the event, located at Kofar Mata area of metropolitan Kano saw supporters of the governor, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, and Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau arriving in their multitude for what later turned out to be several hours of political fiesta.
By the time the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, arrived the venue at 4:00 pm, the stage was set for a full blown campaign for 2019 as testimonies of the achievements of both President Muhammadu Buhari and the Kano State governor were sung for all and sundry. The main agenda was to receive defectors into the party’s fold but it turned out to mobilise massive support for the President in the next election, even as the APC governors in attendance declared that they would garner bloc vote for the party and make the race for Aso Rock a walkover for President Buhari.
Oshiomhole, Ganduje and Jigawa State governor, Muhammad Badaru Abubakar canvassed support for Buhari, stating categorically that there was no alternative to the president come 2019. Oshiomhole did not waste time in firing that they were waiting for the campaign message of the opposition, promising to respond appropriately, adding that Nigeria does not belong to league of countries where people make so much from the system, but cannot show what they have put into it.
He stressed that even though APC had not fixed all the problems of the country (because it never promised to fix them overnight), it was evident that what opposition and former ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) could not fix in 16 years could not possibly be fixed in three and a half years of the APC.
He further stated that Nigeria must move forward no matter what anybody thought; adding that those who helped destroyed it must not be allowed to return to power.
He, however, asserted that those who hated President Buhari were those who made money without efforts, adding that what the president was saying was that, “we must build a new country which is the essence and content of change where those who work are the ones who should eat, stressing further that the President does not want a country where those who don’t work makes billions of Naira just through telephone and they have no business address.”
He added, “I am happy that my comrades who are the progressives in Kano are united today with a share commitment to ensure that never again will this country be governed by opportunists. In times like this, people are going to make promises that they will put air conditions on federal roads.
“But thank God that we have not found any new face. We know their past and we will trace what they have done and ask questions on what they will do differently.
“I want to appreciate our governor, Gov. Ganduje. He has made a mark in the governance of Kano State under four years and I know that given another four years, he will transform Kano to the highest level.
“For all of you who have made so much sacrifice to be here today, the only way we can pay back is to ensure that the government continue to work in a manner that will deliver the greatest good to the greatest number of our people. The strength of the APC is the poorest of the poor. President Buhari’s constituency is the army of the poor.
“Those who hate him are those who made money without efforts and what the president is saying is that we must build a new country which is the essence and content of change where those who work are the ones who should eat. Not a country where those who don’t work makes billions of Naira just through telephone and they have no business address.
“President Buhari is determined to put an end to that and as you would expect, people are fighting back. But God is not on their side. As you can see, they rushed to the other house and found out that it is grounded with old ‘trickiticians’.
“We haven’t fixed all the problems and we did not promise to fix them overnight. What they could not do in 16 years cannot possibly be fixed in three and a half years. But I believe that we have shown the most important quality that we need in a leader which is to have a man of honour, a man of integrity and a man you can trust and that man is President Muhammadu Buhari. Whether in America or in Britain, they appreciate him, other African heads of state appreciate him and at home, we the ordinary people appreciates him. But those who made money without work don’t like him and as long as they are concerned, he should not stay one day longer.”
On his part, the state governor, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, promised that Kano would not only give Buhari the promised five million votes but would ensure that before 12 noon on the Election Day he would win the presidential election.
He said the APC in Kano had a peaceful conduct of its primaries which brought back 70, 80 and 90 per cent of all the Senate, Reps and House of Assembly members respectively and would leverage on the strength as it moved towards 2019.
Also speaking, Jigawa State governor, Badaru, accused the opposition of putting Nigeria in the economic quagmire it was enmeshed in by looting the treasury for 16 years.
The man at the centre of the whole event and former governor of Kano State, Malam Shekarau, in his remarks, said “In 2014, we stepped aside. Today, we have greater reason to step backwards into the APC.”
Shekarau goes head to head with another former governor and incumbent Senator representing Kano Central Senatorial District, Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
While expressing total commitment and loyalty to the party, he said the APC would win all positions in 2019 in Kano State.
Also speaking at the event, Senator Kabiru Gaya Kano South described opposition in Kano state as an empty shell that cannot thwart the re-election of both Governor Ganduje and President Buhari during the February, 2019 general elections.
He added that the empty noise against the state governor and President Buhari, were also allegedly undermining the Kano State government and by extension, President Buhari-led federal government.
To further press home this point, Senator Gaya, including two senators and 14 House of Representatives members, would further release a statement to this effect saying, “The most unfortunate aspect is that certain roamers in the corridors of power who are more interested in their own personal ambition rather than the collective success of the Buhari administration have keyed into this devilish scheme not only to undermine His Excellency, Dr. Ganduje, but also to throw spanners into the electoral fortunes of Mr. President as far as Kano State politics is concerned.
“As major stakeholders in Kano State, we hereby state unequivocally that His Excellency, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has performed creditably well in the saddle of captainship of the state and has therefore earned our unalloyed support and vote of confidence.”
At the height of the Ganduje, Kwankwaso feud, the governing APC struck a deal to enhance the grip of the party in the state, by negotiating with Shekarau to break the political romance between him and Kwankwaso which was geared to further weaken the opposition party in Kano. They succeeded and ‘Mallam’ as Shekarau is popularly called, returned to APC bringing in with him, all his political followers.
Thus, barely a week after the electoral umpire lifted the ban on campaigns, the APC may have set the stage for a vibrant electioneering period.