May 29: Anxiety as Kano waits for Kwankwaso’s men by Dare Odufowokan

Read Time:11 Minute, 8 Second

As Nigerians patiently await the May 29, 2023 date for the swearing in of new and re-elected governors across the country, there is palpable anxiety in Kano state where a new party, the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) is getting set to replace the All Progressives Congress (APC), that has governed the state for almost a decade, as the ruling party in the state.

And as the May 29, 2023 date of the swearing in of Yusuf draws nearer, discussions are rife that his administration may undo some major decisions of the outgoing government owing to the unending rivalry between incumbent Governor Ganduje and former Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, the leader of the incoming ruling party, the NNPP. Kwankwaso was also the founding leader of the APC in the state.

The APC came to power in December 2013 when the then governor, Senator Rabi’u Kwankwaso formally dumped the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) and declared membership of APC, which was newly formed at the time. Kwankwaso moved into the barely 24 hours after the mass defection of 37 PDP House of Representative members in the state to APC, the new opposition party.

During the 2015 general elections, the Kwankwaso-led APC won the governorship and majority of political offices in the state. The then deputy governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, was declared winner of the governorship elections on the platform of the APC. The new APC also won all the 40 seats of the state House of Assembly in Kano State.

But following unresolved differences between himself and Ganduje, Kwankwaso left the APC and returned to the PDP in the build up to the 2019 general elections. In November 2017, Kwankwaso directed his loyalists to decamp from the ruling APC to the opposition PDP in pursuance of his 2019 presidential bid. And in 2018, the former Kano governor left the APC and returned to the PDP to seek its presidential ticket for the 2019 elections.As Nigerians patiently await the May 29, 2023 date for the swearing in of new and re-elected governors across the country, there is palpable anxiety in Kano state where a new party, the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) is getting set to replace the All Progressives Congress (APC), that has governed the state for almost a decade, as the ruling party in the state.

At the end of the 2019 general elections, Kwankwaso lost his presidential bid while Ganduje managed to fight off what was actually a fierce threat to his re-election bid by the PDP under Kwankwaso’s leadership. Ganduje lost the first election held on March 9, 2019 by a slim margin, but was declared winner after a supplementary governorship election.

His total votes in the two polls put him ahead of his main challenger, the candidate of the opposition PDP, Abba Yusuf. Before the supplementary election, Yusuf was leading Ganduje with about 26,000 votes. The governor won the supplementary poll by scoring 45,876 votes to Yusuf’s 10,239 and managed to narrowly escape defeat in the hands of Kwankwaso and his men.

PDP also won 12 out of the 40 seats in the State House of Assembly in the fiercely contested general elections as the battle for the soul of the state raged. With the outcome of the 2019 general elections, the rivalry between Kwankwaso and Ganduje heightened as the former vowed to end the latter’s political control of the state at all cost. Of course, Ganduje and his allies continue to plot how to keep Kwankwaso away from the government of the state.

The battle raged

Dissatisfied with the outcome of the 2019 governorship election and determined to oust Governor Ganduje through the instrumentality of the judiciary, the PDP and its candidate challenged the outcome at the Kano State Election Petition Tribunal. The litigation was to drag until the Supreme Court ended it almost a year later when it affirmed Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State as duly elected in the March 23 governorship Election in the state.

In a unanimous judgement read by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, the court held that the challenger, Abba Yusuf of the PDP, did not show that the Court of Appeal and the Election Tribunal were wrong in their earlier rulings affirming Ganduje’s victory. The seven-member panel said the appeal had no merit and dismissed it. With that, Ganduje and the APC proceeded to enjoy another term in office. But that was not the end of the rivalry between him and Kwankwaso’s camp

In 2020, Yusuf again dragged Kano state government, Mudassir Brothers Nigeria Limited and five others before a High Court in the state over alleged diversion of public properties to individuals. Five other defendants joined in the suit are El-Samad Nigeria Ltd, Kano state bureau for land management, ministry of works and infrastructural development, ministry of housing and transport, as well as the attorney general of Kano state.

Yusuf said the public institution known as Hospitality and Tourism institute situated at former Daula Hotel Kano, is being diverted for the purpose of allocating to an individual. The suit was one of many from the opposition against the ruling party as the rivalry raged on. The Kwankwasiyya movement also disagreed with Ganduje on the creation of four additional emirates in the state, saying Ganduje was not focusing on the right things.

Yusuf, in his reaction to the development had promised to reverse the creation if he wins at the Supreme Court and emerge governor of the state. He described the creations of the new councils as needless. Reacting, Kwankwaso said: “I look with dismay at the rate at which priorities are being misplaced. “This people meant no good for Kano people. How could you tamper with their history and their identity without their consent? I am happy that the PDP gubernatorial candidate has indicated that as soon as justice is done by the court, he will revert to status quo.”

And when Ganduje finally deposed Emir Sanusi, the opposition expressed dissatisfaction and accused him of politicizing the traditional institution in the state. It was alleged that Sanusi was deposed because he refused to support the governor’s 2019 reelection bid. All these face offs and many more ensured that the rivalry between Ganduje and Kwankwaso was never resolved until it was again time for another general elections.

Change at last

The last general elections presented another opportunity for Ganduje and Kwankwaso’s camps to again battle for supremacy. In the build up to the 2023 polls, Kwankwaso had led his men out of the PDP and formed the NNPP as the vehicle for the pursuit of their various political ambitions. While Senator Kwankwaso declared interest in the presidency of the country, Yusuf once again announced his gubernatorial quest. Other allies and disciples opted to contest for other positions.

After months of campaign by the two rival parties and a keenly contested election last March, Yusuf, the gubernatorial candidate of Kwankwaso’s NNPP, won the Kano governorship election, defeating incumbent deputy governor, Yusuf Gawuna of the APC. The outcome of the March 18 governorship election in the state marked the return of Kwankwaso’s political leadership of the state after eight years.

Aside winning the governorship, the NNPP also won 26 out of 40 seats of the Kano State House of Assembly, leaving the APC with the remaining 14 seats. Local government areas won by the NNPP are Ajingi, Gabasawa, Wudil, Rimin Gado/Tofa, Dala, Fagge, Nasarawa, Sumaila, Gwale, Madobi, Bebeji, Kura/Garun Malam, Kiru, Kumbotso, Tarauni, Rogo and Karaye. Others are Bunkure, Rano, Kibiya, Ungogo, Garko, Dawakin Kudu, Minjibir, Albasu and Kano Municipal.

Those LGAs won by the APC are Warawa, Bichi, Bagwai/Shanono, Tsanyawa/Kunci, Takai, Gezawa, Kabo, Gwarzo, Danbatta, Makoda, Dawakin Tofa, Gaya,Tudunwada and Doguwa. And with the victory came concerns within and outside the ruling APC over what the new administration will do with some policies and decisions of the Ganduje government when Yusuf, who is a son in law of Senator Kwankwaso’s, takes office on May 29th, 2023.

Yusuf has pledged to embrace a people-oriented democracy that would focus on peaceful co-existence and prosperity of the state. “We have what it takes to move Kano State to the next level through massive infrastructural development. We accept this privilege, with heavy responsibility; we shall carry out the people democratic directives, with focus and unrelenting dedication, we shall govern for all for the peace and prosperity of the state,” he declared.

He also pledged sound programmes to reinvigorate the education sector through the provision of modern learning facilities and conducive atmosphere. He promised to prioritise water supply, health, agriculture, security, youth and women empowerment, pointing out that already a blueprint had been worked out to halt perennial water scarcity in Kano metropolis and other major towns across the state.

“We will expand water supply to all nooks and crannies of the metropolis to enable people to have access to potable drinking water for both human and animal consumption. We will utilise dams and provide assorted farming implements at subsidised rates to enhance massive food production for all year farming. The NNPP administration will accord priority to the health sector through provision of modern facilities to enhance quality healthcare delivery at the grassroots,” he said.

Amidst talks in some quarters that the next administration may be a family affair of Senator Kwankwaso and his in-laws, Yusuf made it abundantly clear that his immediate family members will not interfere in the running of his administration of the state. According to him, a robust economic package geared at driving exponential growth across the state had been designed for implementation.“We have development programmes that will scale up production. The time for the industrialisation of our state is now. There is no more time to waste,” he said.

Fresh fears

But indications that the new administration may not just be about peace and development emerged last week when Kwankwaso, said Yusuf’s administration would review the dethronement of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the Emir of Kano. The statement confirmed fears in some quarters within and outside the state and has been generating a lot of controversies ahead of the May 29th date for the swearing in of the new governor.

Kwankwaso, who spoke in a video posted on social media, expressed confidence that Yusuf would resolve the state’s challenges properly.  “This governor (Abba Kabir Yusuf) and his team will pick up from where we left off. We as elders in the movement will continue to advise them to do things that are proper. We tried not to talk about whether the Emir would be removed or not, but now you see, the opportunity is there. Those who God made leaders will now decide on the next step and decision to take.

“They will review it and determine what is the right thing to do. Apart from the issue of changing the emir, the emirates have now been divided into five. All of that will be reviewed too. When a leader comes into power whether in a country, state, or local government area, he inherits things that are good and things that are difficult and challenging. We are confident God will give the governor (Abba Kabir Yusuf) the wisdom to come and resolve the challenges planted in Kano State so that everyone will live peacefully in Kano State,” he said.

Of course, the ruling APC and other concerned stakeholders are taking the NNPP leader’s statement as a sign of things to come. Consequently, they are prepared to put up fights against unfriendly policies and actions by the new administration. “The implication is that the political battle between the two camps will continue. Just that the gladiators will now change positions. While Kwankwaso and his camp will now fight from the government house, Ganduje and his men will be in the opposition,” Suleiman Gaya, an analyst said.

Already, the APC is challenging Yusuf’s election, claiming he wasn’t qualified to contest the gubernatorial election in the first place. The party filed its petition before Kano governorship election petition tribunal sitting at Miller Road, challenging the victory of the governor-elect in the immediate past gubernatorial poll in the State. It stated that the name of the state governor-elect, Abba Kabiru Yusuf is not on the list of NNPP registers that is in INEC’s custody.

It was further revealed the petitioner is requesting the court to squash the electoral mandate of Abba as he is fondly called, on the grounds of majority of lawful votes secured by the ruling APC at the polls. The party urged the court to admit the number of unlawful votes as void, and so take into account the deduction of the number of unlawful votes, then reliant on the margin that would be left to declare the Kano governorship election as inconclusive.

As the people of Kano state awaits the coming of the new government, not a few are already anticipating the new dimensions that the political war between Kwankwaso and his erstwhile political godson, Ganduje, will take. Many more are wondering what with become of the incumbent Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero and the four new emirates created by the outgoing APC administration in the state.

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