Kano governor’s 360 degrees about turn

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Basking in the euphoria of their esteemed position and authority, new governors (by which I mean those that are assuming the position for the first time) set to work soon after taking their oaths of office. Their first acts can be likened to enthusiasm of youth, youthful exuberance. In football, records are kept for the fastest goal. The record for the governor that set to work at the fastest time should go to brand new chief executive of Kano state, Northern Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, Alhaji Abba Yusuf a.k.a. Abba Gida Gida. I shall return to him shortly.

In Abia state, the new governor, Alex Otti, announced cancellation of all forms of taxes, levies on motorcycle riders, tricycle riders, commercial motorists, market women, etc. It is a populist act for which the citizens have been singing his praises. Otti, a former managing director of Diamond Bank (now Access Bank), is a serial contestant like out gone President Muhammadu Buhari. While Buhari succeeded on his fourth attempt, Otti succeeded on his third try. 

He defeated the ruling PDP in Abia state, contesting on the platform of the Labour party. He is LP’s sole governor in the country. Otti’s tax reprieve  contrasts with what obtains in Anambra state where the people are reportedly lamenting that Governor Charles Soludo (now in his second year in office) is suffocating them with taxes. Whether Otti’s tax reprieve to his people is sustainable is debatable given that he needs funds to execute the many infrastructural projects he has promised them. 

One of the very first acts of the new governor in Enugu state, Peter Mbah, is to decree through an Executive Order, an end to the economically depressing sit-at home practice on Mondays. Reports say there was some 65 per cent compliance as many shops, schools, markets and offices were opened yesterday. Obviously, the people themselves are getting tired of it.

 As I said earlier, the award for the new governor that acted the fastest should go to Abba Yusuf, NNPP’s sole governor in the federation. NNPP whose national leader is former governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, defeated the ruling APC’s candidate at the polls when outgone governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, was its leader in that state. Yusuf made a 360 degrees about turn, resurrecting erstwhile Governor Kwankwaso’s (his godfather) policies and projects which are said to have been buried by the out gone Ganduje administration. 

As soon as we was sworn in, Governor Yusuf ordered reopening of the Kano state Reformatory Institute established by Kwankwaso, to rehabilitate drug addicts. The Institute was the very first place he visited on leaving the inauguration ground. He, similarly, directed the reopening of 26 entrepreneurship institutes also set up during Kwankwaso’s tenure as governor. 

A few days later, even before he had steadied himself on the executive seat, the new Kano governor personally accompanied security personnel in the dead of the night to demolish a three-storey building that had 90 shops. He promised to raze more structures that are built on public lands and to recover all ‘’government properties’’ allegedly sold off by the previous administration.

In the twilight of his administration, then Governor Ganduje on May 27, commissioned the 90-room five star Duala Boutique Hotel.  However, in the wee hours of Sunday (2a.m.)  the, seemingly, hyper active Governor Yusuf, accompanied by some officials, had it pulled down. It was gathered that the Ganduje government had entered into a  public-private partnership (PPP) agreement for the redevelopment of the old Duala Hotel. 

Under the agreement, apart from a new five-star hotel, a residential structure made up of 25 luxury apartments was to be built as well as a commercial hub, consisting of various sizes of lettable commercial space. Thus, on that fateful Sunday morning the new Kano state government brought down the completed new Duala Hotel, the commercial hub malls, said to be 90 per cent completed, and the planned residential apartments still under construction.

Kano state’s new governor is a protégée of  Kwankwaso. Kwankwaso is seen as the emerging strongman of Northern Nigeria’s politics and, currently, the undisputed champion of Kano politics, about the most populous state in Nigeria. Governor Yusuf, who was, hitherto, Kwankwaso’s personal assistant, defeated former Governor Ganduje’s anointed APC gubernatorial candidate who happened to be Ganduje’s deputy. 

Recall that Ganduje was also  Kwankwaso’s deputy for the period when he (Kwankwaso) was two-term governor – 2007 to 2015. On the expiration of his eight-year tenure the then Governor Kwankwaso handpicked the deputy governor Ganduje to succeed him and it so happened. It was the first time in Nigeria’s history, that a deputy governor was taking over from his boss as governor.

 Indeed, Ganduje is an erstwhile godson of Kwankwaso. The latter had always literally taken Ganduje along with him to wherever he was called to serve; from the time when Kwankwaso was boss of a federal government-owned steel company during the military era and he made Ganduje his special assistant to when he was elected governor and he chose same Ganduje as his deputy in 2007. They both had come a long way together. Their relationship cum bond was so strong like Siamese twins that analysts vowed that nothing could separate them. 

Alas, they were later to become sworn political enemies. Their enmity came to a head during Ganduje’s re-election bid as governor in 2019. By this time, Kwankwaso had jumped off the boat in which two of them had been riding (APC) to PDP, taking along with him his Kwankwasia movement and was no longer APC’s undisputed leader in Kano state. Ganduje and his supporters too had stopped wearing the red cap, the Kwankwasia symbol. 

Ganduje was pitched against Kwankwaso’s PDP candidate in the 2019 governorship election. It was an epic but bitter battle. There were clashes between supporters of the then incumbent Governor Ganduje and the Kwankwasia camp, before, during and after the election. The election itself was declared inconclusive in the first ballot and a rerun between both parties ordered. Ganduje managed to win at the second ballot. But as is typical of Nigerian politicians, he then embarked on what critics termed a vendetta against his perceived enemies and their supporters. 

Among them was, reportedly, the 14th Emir of Kano Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II who was later deposed by him in March 2020 and initially banished to Nasarawa state. The governor thereafter split the emirate into three, installing separate emirs for each of them. Governor Yusuf had hinted on winning the March 11 election, that his administration would reinstate Emir Sanusi II (who was installed by Kwankwaso) and disband the new emirates. 

Apparently, there is now a new sheriff in the ancient city of Kano that is seemingly embarking on another vendetta mission at the seeming behest of his godfather, Kwankwaso. Our politicians should learn to be magnanimous in victory and shun this politics of vengeance.

Ikeano writes via [email protected] 08033077519