Governor Abba’s emergence: Return of Kwankwasiyya?

It’s a new dawn in Kano as a strong loyalist of former Governor Rabi Musa Kwakwanso assumes office having beaten the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Is his emergence a return of the Kwakwansiyya movement? KEHINDE OSASONA asks in this report.

There was wild jubilation in the camp of immediate past Governor of Kano state, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, in 2014 when he was induced by his former principle, Governor Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso, to succeed him in office.

Kwankwaso’s endorsement of his deputy as his successor was not common practice in Nigeria politics as most incumbent governors worked against their deputy succeeding them. However, Kwankwaso stuck to his guns, insisting that Ganduje was his candidate for the 2015 election in the state.

Blueprint Weekend reports that the relationship between the duo started as that of benefactor and political son with Kwankwaso being the benefactor.

They worked together politically for over two decades, traversing the Kano political landscape like Siamese twins when Kwankwaso was governor of Kano state between 1999 and 2003.

The 64-year-old former Development Secretary with Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), had contested the 2015 governorship elections on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and won.

Ganduje’s victory was attributed largely to his principle’s deployment of the Kwankwasiyya political movement which he leads.

Expectedly, less than twenty four hours after being sworn-in as the governor of Kano state, Ganduje reportedly came in defence of his erstwhile boss when the issue of huge debt profile of N294.5 billion left behind by Kwankwaso came up.

Ganduje while speaking to journalists declared that the huge liabilities inherited was not a crime.

“The price of crude oil presently is different from when the Kwankwasiyya Political Movement started total revolution in terms of bringing development to the ancient commercial city of Kano in 2011,” he stated.

According to him,“I am part and parcel of the Kwankwaso’s administration and whatever must have happened; we all should take the responsibility.

“On the issue of liabilities, yes, it is correct that we have huge liabilities, but that does not mean that it is a crime, we planned everything together with my boss (Kwankwaso); but unfortunately, what we envisaged did not work as the price of oil came down. So, what do we do? We could not complete the projects because of lack of funds.

“Now, it is a matter of re-planning and rescheduling. I assure you that those people that cry foul because of liabilities are only being short-sighted because by the time they complete their tenure, it will be the same story for the worst.

“So, I don’t want to cry because we have huge liabilities. Yes, we have huge liabilities and that is not a crime. Oil was more than $100 per barrel, now it is $50 per barrel; it comes down more than half. Then we have already started projects, do we cancel them? No, we cannot. So, we have to manage what we have,” Ganduje asserted further.

Things fall apart

However, things began to fall apart between Ganduje and Kwakwanso shortly after the former took over as governor.

Although Ganduje is older than Kwankwaso, he had always played the role of a loyal deputy, casting his political lot with Kwankwaso wherever he went.

As a way of demonstrating his loyalty Ganduje had reportedly resisted pressure to challenge Kwankwaso for the governorship position when some powerful cabals were planning to cut Kwakwanso to size politically by removing him from office.

Signs of what later snowballed to a bitter feud surfaced in 2016 when Ganduje shut out Kwakwanso loyalists in his list of cabinet members which was sent to the state House of Assembly for confirmation.

What followed were hostile verbal exchanges between supporters of the former governor and his successor, however, the duo denied any form of rift until things started falling apart.

The crack in the political wall that joined Kwankwaso to his successor manifested greatly during the 5th anniversary of the Kwankwasiyya movement in 2015 when both politicians marked the anniversary at different locations.

According to reports, while pro-Ganduje elements celebrated at the Government House; loyalists of ex-governor led by his former Chief of Staff, Alhaji Yunusa Dangwani, marked the 5th anniversary at Mambayya House in Kano.

A party source was quoted as saying that cracks between Kwakwanso and Ganduje widened after Ganduje removed the Kano state APC Chairman, Alhassan Ado Garba popularly known as Alhassan Doguwa, over alleged anti-party activity, and imposed Abdullahi Abbas. This is as the move was endorsed by the APC national the leadership of in Abuja.

In a separate incident, Kwankwanso apparently on the instruction of Governor Ganduje was prevented from visiting the state by the police on a flimsy excuse that the governor and other APC chieftains in the state were having political rallies ahead of the LG election.

As the face-off was brewing, the Kano state Commissioner of Police, Rabiu Yusuf, cautioned Kwankwaso, stating that he could face the wrath of the law if his group of loyalists caused any crisis.

Not pleased with the development, Senator Hamman Isa Misau (APC Bauchi Central), raised the issue on the floor of the Senate via a point of order.

Misau urged the Senate to condemn the action of Ganduje-led government in Kano state the former governor and party stalwart, Kwankwaso.

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in response said: “What was done to Senator Kwankwanso a few days back either by the Kano state government or the State Police Command from visiting his constituents is unacceptable and dangerous to our democracy.

“The Senate Committee on Police Affairs should as a matter of urgency summon the Inspector General of Police and impress it on him that all political players in the state and by extension, in the polity generally, should be protected against undue harassment from anybody to avoid resort to self-help through full scale thuggery which will not be in the interest of anybody.”

Kwankwasiyya bounces back

Though he wasn’t acknowledged in the state by the government of the day the former kept faith with his loyalists and supporters and after an eight years break, the symbolic red cap of the Kwankwasiyya political group has now returned to the Government House.

The feat orchestrated by the Kwankwasiyya movement was not without fierce fights between the former governor-led New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and the ruling APC in the state.

Governorship Candidate of the NNPP, Abba Kabir Yusuf aka Gida Gida, was eventually declared winner of the Kano state governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Gida Gida polled a total of 1,019,602 votes, to defeat the incumbent deputy governor, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna of the APC and protégé of Governor Ganduje, who polled 890,705 votes.

What followed the announcement was wild celebration which almost turned violent, leading to the state government’s imposition of curfew in parts of the state to avoid escalation.

In a statement, the Commissioner for Information and internal Affairs, Mallam Muhammad Garba, said: “Kano state government has imposed dawn to dusk curfew with a view to avoid breakdown of law and order following tensions generated from the collation of results of the governorship and state Assembly elections.”

He said the decision was to prevent hoodlums from causing chaos in the already tense situation.

What next for Ganduje?

Despite repeated calls for reconciliation between Ganduje and Kwakwanso, there appeared to have been a deep-rooted acrimony between them leading to a complete broke down of the relationship between them.

To worsen the situation, fears gas been expressed that if the current Kwankwaso-Tinubu romance was sustained Ganduje may just be on his way to political oblivion. How this ends is yet to be seen. However, some people have argued that Ganduje had since deviated from the Kwankwasiyya ideology and should stop wearing its symbolic red cap.

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