• Ganduje, Shekarau, Kwankwaso’s unfinished battles
Ordinarily, the political crisis within the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) could be reduced to clash of interest between Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and the incumbent representative of Kano Central Senatorial District, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau. But, it is more complex than that.
At the root of the misunderstanding that pitched Ganduje against Senator Shekarau, which culminated in a parallel state congress of APC, is the unsettled beef among the two former governors-Rabiu Kwankwaso and Shekarau- and the incumbent.
The quarrel predated the 2019 general elections, when Ganduje conscripted Shekarau to help him dislodge his (incumbent’s) former political godfather, Kwankwaso from, not only the Senate seat of Kano Central, but also from APC and further relevance in Kano politics.
What began at the outset as a supremacy battle between two former allies-Ganduje and Kwankwaso-dovetailed into a kind of three-dimensional duel with the ingress of Malam Shekarau. In 2003, the former teacher stunned Kwankwaso and his deputy, Ganduje, by winning the governorship election at the expense of the duo’s second term ambition.
After breaking a jinx and serving two straight terms in office as governor, Shekarau’s efforts to implant Salihu Sagir Takai, his preferred candidate as successor, on the platform of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2011, ended in fiasco: the outgoing governor was stopped by the same Kwankwaso that he defeated earlier to mount the saddle.
To compound his political woes at home, Shekarau lost the 2011 Presidential poll despite an impressive outing during the Presidential debate. After about three years in political wilderness, the merger arrangement among some opposition political parties provided for Shekarau a new opening to ventilate his aspirations.
As the merger talks progressed, Shekarau, who nursed the belief that his notable Presidential outing in 2011 would put him in contention for a repeat contest in 2015, was stunned when the power brokers in the emerging political platform declared that state structures should be handed over to incumbent governors.
Although Kano State was under the control of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as at the time the merger talks began, the then outgoing governor, Kwankwaso and his deputy, Ganduje, decided to join the new platform and take advantage of the carrot offered.
Peeved by the strange stance of APC leaders, Shekarau and his former Sokoro State counterpart, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, migrated to PDP, to fill the void left by the outgoing governors as they rushed to grab the APC structures in the two states.
Shekarau was welcomed to PDP with a ministerial appointment, which helped in small way to revive his political and fiscal spirits. But, following PDP’s loss in 2015, Shekarau returned to a kind of political wilderness as Kwankwaso successfully implanted his former deputy, Ganduje as governor of Kano State.
Not minding that Kwankwaso’s Presidential aspiration on the platform of APC evaporated into thin air, the election of his ally and former deputy was seen as a huge consolation prize. However, with a former servant becoming master, the buxom political relationship between godfather and godson went awry.
In a bid to assert his authorities on the APC structure in Kano, Governor Ganduje began to warm up to the new power centres at the national level of APC, especially the Presidency, where the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari, was oiling machinery to seek a second term in office.
In the warp and woof of political intrigues that ensued, Ganduje succeeded in pushing out Kwankwaso from APC back to the PDP. And to fill the void created by Kwankwaso’s exit, Ganduje talked Shekarau into re-joining APC since the object of his (Shekarau’s) beef had been exorcised. Not that alone, the Senatorial ticket of Kano Central, which was occupied by Kwankwaso was dangled before Shekarau. And he found the offer very irresistible, if nothing else, to requite Kwankwaso’s eight years of political torment and bounce back to round off his unfinished political scheme of producing a preferred governor.
Two years after his return to APC and stay in the Senate, Senator Shekarau saw a great door towards accomplishing his dream of possessing the party structure, which is but a necessary first step towards producing a governor of the state to erase the Kwankwaso/Ganduje years of political subjugation.
Renewing old animosities
THE above background provides a critical backcloth to understand the new battle lines that have been opened between Governor Ganduje and Senator Shekarau, even as Kwankwaso’s shadows hover in the emerging melee.
The silent animosity between the Kano Central Senator and the incumbent governor came to the open during the APC state congress owing to their individual schemes for 2023 general election cycle. Ganduje and Shekarau have been in the forefront of support for power shift to the South, perhaps in the belief that they would be considered as potential Presidential running mates.
Kano State returns the largest number of registered voters followed by Lagos and Rivers States. This factor is also behind the power struggle among the three power brokers in the state. Kwankwaso’s failure to power his preferred governorship candidate to victory in 2019 dazed his camp to a great extent and he seems to be looking up to taking advantage of the Ganduje versus Shekarau showdown to bounce back into reckoning.
While it could not readily be ascertained the possible Presidential aspirant Senator Shekarau is rooting for, the fact that Governors Kayode Fayemi, Abubakar Badaru and the chairman of Progressive Governors’ Forum, Senator Atiku Bagudu quickly identified with Haruna Danzago shows that Shekarau was working in cahoots with those opposed to the Presidential ambition of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
On his part, Governor Ganduje has never hidden his support for Tinubu, who maintains that Muslim/Muslim Presidential ticket would not stop APC from winning the 2023 Presidency.
Ganduje’s decision to move the annual Tinubu colloquium to Kano State earlier this year sparked off speculations that the second term governor might haven been offered a possible Presidential running mate by the former Lagos State governor.
How would things pan out ultimately, in the light of the Ganduje faction’s appeal against the recent FCT High Court ruling that recognised Shekarau’s faction as the authentic state executive committee of APC? Would Shekarau head back to PDP and team up with Kwankwaso to finish the fight against Ganduje?
It could be against the background of such a possibility that the APC National Reconciliation Committee headed by Senator Abdullahi Adamu began in its assignment from Kano State.
In an interview with The Guardian, Senator Adamu explained that his committee began its sitting in Kano due to the strategic importance of the state, especially its hefty voting population. He noted that some of the conflicts have to do with conflicts of interests common to the party.
He stated: “Individuals have their purposes for joining the party and people have different backgrounds… Anybody who has no room in his heart or mind to see it the other way, what do you do with him?
“We hope, as we go along, to see to what extent we can persuade people to see the other way. Every coin has two sides. If you insist on seeing only one side of the coin, you are not helping yourself nor the party.
“If you mean well and your membership of the party is genuine, then it is better to do so (look at both sides). You cannot be in the party and be fighting for the PDP.”
Sources told The Guardian that during the meeting between the two factions and Reconciliation Committee, Senator Shekarau seemed adamant about the court ruling, even as he complained of how Governor Ganduje excluded him from issues surrounding the party’s management.
Although the Senator cited the need to avoid contempt in dabbling into the matters regarding the state congress, Ganduje was said to have picked holes with his (Shekarau’s) claims of being kept in the dark by showing a list of his appointees recommended by the Senator.
Shekarau savours the upper hand, which the favourable FCT Court ruling has handed down to him knowing that with the APC state structure under his control, his return to the Senate, although not under prior threat, is assured, even as it would enhance the ability of his faction to return the party’s governorship candidate.
For Governor Ganduje, it would be seen whether he would replace Shekarau in the political wilderness after May 29, 2023 or bounce back after the party’s national convention. But, a loss of the party structure would obviously hamstring his possible journey to the Senate as representative of Kano North Senatorial District.
That possibility must have informed the burning down of Senator Barau Jibrin’s governorship campaign office along the ever busy Maiduguri Road, Kano, shortly after the FCT High Court ruling by overzealous supporters of the government.
Like what played out in Imo State, where Senator Hope Uzodimma pleaded with the outgoing governor Rochas Okorocha to allow him return to the Senate in 2019, Senator Jibrin is nursing a governorship ambition knowing that Ganduje may want to retire to the Senate after his eight years in office.
A lot depends on the outcome of the Adamu committee’s efforts and the Court of Appeal ruling on the matter. But, recent visit by Senator Shekarau on the former Lagos State governor in Ikoyi, shows that the former Kano helmsman is not leaving anything to chance in his determination to seal Ganduje’s fate with the takeover of the APC structure by the G7, which he (Shekarau) leads alongside Senator Jibrin and others opposed to Ganduje.
Although Justice Hamza Muazu upheld the parallel ward congresses organised by the Shekarau faction, Governor Ganduje and his supporters are insistent that the FCT High Court Maitama lacked jurisdiction on the matter.
As a sign that a possible unending political battle was afoot, the counsel to the Shekarau’s faction, Nuraini Jimoh, had his law office sealed off by the Kano State Government, which claims that the legal luminary is in default of years of unpaid tenement rates.
Having unsealed the office in response to public outcry against the overt political vendetta, sources said the government plans to constrict the political space for the ‘renegades’ when the governor returns from his overseas trip.
Both Haruna Danzago and Abdullahi Abbas, the chairmen of G7 and Ganduje factions respectively did not return calls or reply to short messages to their GSM numbers, through which The Guardian sought to know their stand in the unfolding political melee by former political allies in the state.
As the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) has set February 5, 2022 as the tentative date for the party’s national convention, it would be seen how far the Senator Abdullahi Adamu’s nine-man Reconciliation Committee would fare in untangling the Gordian knot in Kano State chapter before the convention.