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Kano: Rumble in Africa House Featured

Monday, 21 November 2016 00:00 Written by  Published in Politics Read 373 times
Kwankwaso, Ganduje: Clash of the titans Kwankwaso, Ganduje: Clash of the titans

The bout brewing between the governor of Kano state and his predecessor is getting interesting, keeping keen political watchers on the edge of their seats.


Dilly-ding, dilly-dong! The fight for supremacy in Kano state between erstwhile governor, Senator 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 two is left for the delicate womb of time to deliver.

Let’s go on memory drive!

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, 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?


History of supremacy wars

Kwankwaso, presently 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. On both occasions, he chose 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.

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 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. Case 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 advanced 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 who was also his 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 predicted the clash between the incumbent governor of Kano state and his predecessor.

In the early days 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, 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 through some political mix-alignments that forced the former’s hands. However, 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 swooped all elective positions of the state, thanks hugely to Buhari’s influence on the electorate during the elections. Muhammadu Buhari was the presidential candidate of the APC, a party that emerged in the aftermath of a political merger between three hitherto different political parties. His appeal to the electorate had a great impact on the governorship election in Kano. On May 29, 2015, Ganduje was sworn in as the governor and everything was set rolling.

The first sign 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 his appointments of commissioners and special advisers. Even the ex-Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Hon. Rabi’u Sulaiman Bichi, whom he initially gave the nod to continue after serving his ex-boss, has since been shown the exit.

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. Kwankwaso was alleged to have intentionally mobilized his supporters to invade the condolence site with political slogans that were abusive to the bereaved governor. Since then, it has not been friendly between the two. 

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 things!”

Kwankwaso’s crimes

Prior to the condolence visit which opened up all the cankerworms 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 lots of hidden irregularities which I will soon expose for people to know the kind 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 was that Senator Kwankwaso has not done anything for his constituency yet as a Senator. “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 is seen by many as belonging to the ‘siddon-look’ group in the upper chamber. However, this docile attribute is said to be common to previous senators representing Kano central senatorial district.

The other sin is that Kwankwaso is reaping exactly what he has 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,” adding that “whatever Ganduje is doing to Kwankwaso is a carbon copy of what he did to others.”

Ganduje’s lapses

Ganduje’s primary offence is that he has began to behave the a Chief Executive who wants to be in charge, who wants to have his own lieutenants, who wants to develop his own political structure and call the shots himself. According to some of his political associates, Kwankwaso is particularly unhappy that the political appointees he left for Ganduje to work with have been gradually removed and replaced by others seen to be loyal to the governor.

Apart from this, Ganduje’s seeming regard for former governor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau appears not to have gone down well with Kwankwaso whose political scorecard in Kano political landscape would been so overwhelming, except for Shekarau’s trouncing of him in 2013. Also, Shekarau was ahead of him as the first politician to have been elected for two terms as governor of the state. So far, Shekarau is the only one to have been elected for two consecutive terms. For Ganduje to openly accord recognition to such a political rival is unforgivable.        

 ‘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 to one losing or winning the election are already being calculated.

Analysts say 2019 may not be a bed of roses for the governor, except perhaps he reconciled with his former boss. History has it that governors that fell out with their godfathers usually find 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.

The duel between the big men of Kano has already caused a dent on the governor’s goodwill. A rerun to replace the Minjibir Federal House of Representatives member was abandoned recently when all indications showed that the governor’s preferred candidate was being dragged in the mud.

Hon. El-Yaqub siad “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 way for the governor might be to team up with Malam Shekarau of the PDP. There have been reports of political understanding between the supporters of the two. While some think this would be a good path to take, others believe it is full of thorns and potholes.Hon. Abdullahi Tunde, a former Speaker of Madobi Local Government Area feels this is the rightful decision the governor should make.

Round 1 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 who gets a terminal knock out, between Ganduje and Kwankwaso.

Faruk Ahmed

Faruk  Ahmed is a writer who doubles as an ICT professional. He handles ICT issues of

He runs, Your No. 1 Online Market for Nigerian Products and Services!