Dilly-ding, dilly-dong! The fight for supremacy in Kano state between erstwhile governor, Engr. (Dr.) Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso and his successor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, is getting nastier by the day. How the spat will help or affect the fortune of either of the men is left for the delicate womb of time to deliver.
Let’s go on memory ride!
When the late world heavyweight champion, Muhammad Ali, was in his prime, he fought in many memorable matches, one of which was the Rumble in the Jungle which took place in Kinshasha, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) on October 30, 1974. Ali went into the fight as an underdog to his opponent, the then youthful, reigning and undefeated world heavyweight champion, George Foreman. But with unheralded tactics, the aging Ali pummeled his opponent in the 8th round, while the Zairean crowd screamed, “Ali, boma ye! Ali, boma ye!” meaning, “Ali, kill him! Ali, kill him!”
Just like the epic 1974 fight between the aforementioned boxers, two heavyweight champions from Kano, Kwankwaso and Ganduje, have locked horns together in a boxing ring trying to outdo one another. Who will have the last laugh?
Engr. (Dr.) Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, the current Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria representing Kano Central, served as a two-time governor of the state from 1999-2003 and 2011-2015. In both occasions, he chose Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje as his running-mate. Even when he went on a hiatus from the state between 2003 and 2007 to serve as a minister of defence in the administration of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, he took Ganduje along as one of his aides.
The jolly journey of the two men dates back to the early 1990s when Kwankwaso was the Deputy Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, while Ganduje was the Director of Corporate Affairs at the Federal Capital Territory. Moreover, as some close associates of the former governor say, against his personal preferences, Kwankwaso endorsed his former deputy to become the flagbearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 general elections.
Before Kwankwaso, the only governor to have endorsed his deputy to take over from him was ex-governor Ahmed Sani Yarima of Zamfara state. Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi took over from his boss as a governor in 2007. But sooner than later, their love enchantment became bitter and sour portions forced down each other’s throats. Daggers were drawn and the former friends became sworn enemies while they fought dirty in the market square.
Shinkafi left his party, the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) to pitch tent with then President Goodluck Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP). But this marriage of convenience helped him not as the tables were turned against him in favour of Senator Yerima’s anointed protégé, a former House of Representatives member, Hon. Abdul’Aziz Yari who took over the reins of affairs of the state in 2011. Yerima had the last laugh and his godson is still the governor of the state till date.
Before them, Nigeria’s history is awash with stories of godsons turning against their godfathers once they taste the wine of power. Erstwhile governors Sullivan Chime, Usman Dakingari, Babangida Aliyu Umar, Gabriel Suswam and Ibrahim Shema of Enugu, Kebbi, Niger, Benue and Katsina states, respectively clashed with their immediate predecessors who played major roles in their elections.
In most cases, the godfathers are outwitted, outmuscled, sidelined and silenced. But in rare cases, the godfathers muster courage, create alliances and make a comeback by installing other loyalists. Cases studies are governors Abdul’Aziz Yari, Samuel Ortom, Atiku Bagudu, and ex-governor Bukola Saraki of Zamfara, Benue, Kebbi and Kwara sates, respectively.
Crux of clashes
Analysts have opined different reasons why godsons always find it difficult to follow the lead of their godfathers. Other than ex-governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State and Governor AbdulFattah Ahmed of Kwara state, no governor has had a happy ending with his installer. Even ex-governor Bukola Saraki clashed with his godfather and real father, Late Olusola Saraki, the kingpin of Kwara state politics, at the tail end of the former’s administration over who should succeed him.
One reason analysts give for the schism between godsons and godfathers is the intoxicating nature of power. Hence, many keen political followers had expected the clash between the incumbent governor of Kano state and his benefactor.
In the wee hours of 2014 when the drums of electioneering campaigns were blaring loud and the atmosphere was charged, many candidates and their supporters were leaving no stone unturned to see their dreams come true. Money and gifts changed hands in order to sway and win minds! While all these buzzes were ongoing, ex-deputy Kano state governor Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje was scheming secretly in the background to capture the state’s hot seat.
Even though not the preferred candidate of the then Governor Kwankwaso, Ganduje was able to clinch his party’s nomination when the former prevailed on his supporters to accommodate him. Hence, Kwankwaso was reported to have insisted that Prof. Hafiz Abubakar be made Ganduje’s running mate.
The elections came, Ganduje swept the state and the APC cleansed all elective positions of the state, thanks hugely to the performance and political nous of Kwankwaso. On May 29, 2015, Ganduje was sworn in as the governor and everything was set rolling.
The first straw that showed that Ganduje wasn’t going to be a yes-man to his ex-boss was his insistence that Hon. Kabiru Alhassan Rurum became the speaker
of Kano State House of Assembly over Kwankwaso’s candidate, Hon. Abdullahi Falgore. Secondly, he was reported to have sidelined all Kwankwaso’s men in the appointments of commissioners and special advisers. Even the ex-Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Hon. Rabi’u Sulaiman Bichi, whom he initially gave nod to continue after serving his ex-boss has since been shown the exit door.
Much water has passed under the bridge. As it is now, it is glaring to all that the governor has pitched tent directly opposite that of his former boss and is poised to keep the control of the state party’s apparatus and government to his chest since the incidence that culminated at the condolence visit of the ex-governor to the governor’s hometown over the death of the latter’s mother. Since then, the governor has refused to be seen as a meek and mute, lashing out at Kwankwaso’s camp whenever and wherever the opportunity permits. But the ex-governor has been ominously silent.
Alhaji Auwal T. Mamman, a retired civil servant heaped the blame of the split squarely on the shoulders of the former governor for not controlling his unruly supporters who were calling on the senator to change the incumbent governor. He said, “If you come along with three people to condole someone and they are busy saying bad things against the person you came to condole, you are supposed to stop them. But if you refused to stop them, it shows that it is with your approval they are saying those bad words!”
Prior to the condolence visit which opened up all the cankerworms of problems between Governor Ganduje and Senator Kwankwaso, political observers say the governor had been brooding over many issues.
First of all, he complained over the N300 billion debts left behind by Kwankwaso. Secondly, the former governor was accused of corruption and huge misdeeds. In the words of Governor Ganduje, “Some works done (by Mr. Kwankwaso) were done with hell lots of misdeeds and betrayals which I will soon expose for people to know the caliber of person my predecessor was.”
Thirdly, interference in party and state affairs was the other crime Kwankwaso was chided for. For instance, Malam Iliya Mai Hula, a political analyst said, “It is not possible for you (referring to Kwankwaso), who is no longer in power to be dictating to the person on the seat of power.” Alhaji Mamman added, “When Kwankwaso was a governor, he was the alpha and omega; nobody remote-controlled him. So why should he want to remote-control another?”
Sin number four is that Senator Kwankwaso has not done anything for his constituency yet. “What has he done for the 15 LGAs that make up the senatorial district he is representing?” queried Alhaji Mamman. “He has done nothing! He didn’t pay anything for anybody and has not brought any development from Abuja!” Kwankwaso’s representation is being seen by many as one of the ‘siddon-look’ senators who had always represented the Kano central senatorial district.
The other sin is that Kwankwaso is reaping exactly what he sown. According to Alhaji Mamman and Malam Iliya, Kwankwaso bit many fingers that fed him. “Kwankwaso did not only clash with Musa Gwadabe, he also clashed with Hamisu Mai Buhu. Both men were his godfathers,” Alhaji Mamman narrated. “So whatever Ganduje is doing to Kwankwaso, is a carbon copy of what he did to others,” he added.
Even though immediately Ganduje assumed office, he swung into action; the volume of works recorded in the first year in office is not comparable to that of his former boss under the same period.
Within his first year, Kwankwaso had built over 60 new blocks of classrooms across all the 44 LGAs primary schools in the state. He renovated many existing dilapidated roads and constructed new ones. He constructed hitherto unheralded overhead and underpass bridges; hospitals across the states were revitalized; the state capital was beautified; major streets were lit with streetlights; refuse was tackled head-on; traffic congestion and disobedience were curbed; water supply was improved tremendously; school pupils were fed which greatly improved enrollments; and the list of the goodies goes on…
But the same can’t be said of the incumbent government. Analysts say the government is rudderless!
Quite alright, the Ganduje’s government continued with some projects of his predecessor like the Murtala Muhammad Way flyover bridge which is plausible. But even this project is moving in a snail pace which one resident, Sani Abdulkadir Zango remarked, “Had it been Kwankwaso, we would have started plying the bridge by now!”
Other analysts compare the Ganduje government with that of former governor Ibrahim Shekarau (2003-2011) who they claimed played to the gallery. According to them, projects ran for several years, like the Gidan Murtala-BUK Road, which took Shekarau’s administration about five years to complete. They also claim that most projects were executed only to showcase during yearly anniversaries. A taxi driver pointed out the recent renovation of the IVF Hospital along Zoo Road as one of the projects Ganduje embarked on just to show off as one of his administration’s achievements during one year in office.
Very well also the governor is constructing the Court Road of Sabon Gari, Dakata-Bela Road, the Sheikh Ja’afar – Panshekara Road underpass, the Panshekara Road itself, and many others. But if you factor them with those Kwankwaso did, analysts say, they are like a drop in a bucket.
Furthermore, they say other sectors that make up the state’s economy are not in good shape. Hon. Habib Hassan El-Yakub is the former Director General of Kano State Secondary Schools Management Board. According to him, Governor Ganduje performed woefully in the one-year under review.
“Take the education sector for example, where I worked,” Hon. El-Yaqub analysed. “The rate of deterioration of our secondary and primary schools is very bad. Check the health sector, the streetlights, and the political scenario; interview the housewives and market women. They will say, ‘There is no progress in the state.’ So, it is an understatement for me to rate this government.”
Moreover, while many residents accuse the government of former governor Shekarau of hiding under the cloaks of religion to conceal its limitations and perpetrate atrocities, the followers of Governor Ganduje seems eager to push their principal to toe the same footpath. In gatherings, they taunt him as “Khadimil Islam!” meaning “The custodian of Islam!” Whether this garb will urge the governor to do more for his people is uncertain.
‘Survival of the fittest’
According to the above Darwanian theory of evolution, in a struggle for survival, the strongest usually come on top. 2019 is still a little bit far away. But permutations that will lead one losing or winning an election are already being calculated.
Analysts say whining don’t win elections for anybody; performance do. It seems Governor Ganduje is realizing this simple principle late on as can be seen from his hurried project prosecutions prior to the Democracy Day celebrations. But as it is, 2019 will not be a bed of roses for the governor, except perhaps he reconcile with his former boss.
Kano state history has it that governors that fell out with their godfathers usually found it difficult, and in most cases impossible, to spring a comeback to Africa House. Late Abubakar Rimi and Engr. Kwankwaso of 1983 and 2003, respectively, are case studies.
As commentators point out, one path the governor can save face will be to go back on his footsteps. As Hon. El-Yaqub puts it, “It is our prayers that these two men reconcile… Else, when the situation reaches its peak, the Kwankwasiyya group will think and decide in the best interest of the group and our people” on who takes over from Ganduje.
One other escape route for the governor might be to team up with Malam Shekarau of the PDP. There have been reports of the governor hobnobbing with supporters of the latter. But this path is full of thorns and potholes. Former Governor Mahmud Shinkafi of Zamfara State who decamped to a new party got booted out of office. But Hon. Abdullahi Tunde, a former Speaker of Madobi Local Government Area feels this is the rightful decision the governor should make.
Round one of the great bout between Governor Ganduje and Senator Kwankwaso has ended with the governor seemingly having the upper hand because as it is now, the governor’s voice is the loudest. Whether this is a political manueovre by the shrewd former governor, is keeping keen political watchers guessing. 2019 will be here soon and all eyes will be on whom gets a terminal knock out, between Ganduje and Kwankwaso.