Governorship election outcomes have been unpredictable in Kano State since the return to civilian rule in 1999. Our North-West Bureau chief, Abubakar Ibrahim, analyses the trend and views how local political interests might have impacted on yesterday’s election despite the sweeping victory of the All Progressives Congress, APC, at the presidential election.
Kano State is no doubt synonymous with the All Progressives Congress, APC, which has just clinched the coveted presidential seat with the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari waiting to take oath of office on May 29.
The incumbent governor, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, is also of the opposition APC and has successfully gone to the next level by bagging the Senatorial seat for the Kano Central zone.
Figures from the presidential and National Assembly polls which held on March 28 shows a clean sweep by APC. General Buhari polled 1,903,999 votes to President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party’s 215,779.
For the Senate, Governor Kwankwaso trounced his PDP opponent, Sen. Basheer Garba Lado by 758,383 to 205,809. APC’s Sen. Kabiru Gaya and Hon. Nu’man Barau also won Kano North and Kano South convincingly. APC also cornered the entire 24 House of Representatives seats in the state.
This was enough to send shivers down the spine of any opponent. However, politics in the state does not allow conclusions to be drawn because of electoral surprises that have always disrupted such predictions since the return to democratic rule in 1999.
Many anticipate a victory for the ruling party following APC’s presidential landslide, but underneath comes the growing threat by the PDP to replicate the surprise at the gubernatorial polls.
The battle is between the current deputy governor of the state, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, and Malam Salihu Sagir Takai of the PDP. Therefore, the contestants will depend largely on mother luck.
It would be recalled that despite the tremendous goodwill enjoyed by the current governor and power of incumbency, he was ousted by a small margin in 2003.
Kwankwaso’s record was not good enough for the Kano people owing to internal political reasons beyond his control. Intra-party fighting and alleged victimisation of a then director in the Government House, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, tilted sympathy votes towards the latter who contested under the former All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, in 2003.
Besides that, Kwankwaso had tried to push the candidacy of unpopular President Olusegun Obasanjo alongside his own campaign at the time.
Despite that, he was able to bounce back to power in 2011, using a combination of methods, dissociating himself from his party and embracing an opposition presidential candidate. He also reaped from the failure of the Shekarau administration to curb corruption and provide much-needed infrastructure. This inadequacy helped to thwart the victory of Shekarau’s anointed candidate, Sagir Takai in 2011.
The resurgent Kwankwaso learnt a big lesson by attempting to marry both material and human development in his second coming.
This time around, the PDP’s camp seems to have looked inwards to the political reality and adopted Kwankwaso’s 2011 magic formula. Takai and other PDP candidates for elective offices have taken up the Shinkafa da wake (rice and beans) doctrine- for voting APC presidential candidate in return for local votes.
The same dynamics is threatening to repeat itself. The PDP is trying as hard as possible to break the incumbency jinx by harvesting from the army of those aggrieved following the APC merger.
The Kwankwasiyya movement championed by Governor Kwankwaso with the trademark red cap took the soul of the APC from other partners like the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP.
Even before Kwankwaso left the PDP, the movement did not go down well with key players like Musa Gwadabe, Aminu Wali (the Foreign Minister) amongst others.
Concisely, a considerable number of the dissident electorate are still basking in the combined strengths of former governor and Education Minister, Mallam Shekarau, the only powerful political rival to the Kwakwasiyya movement.
Another factor likely to give APC a big run for its money, is the votes from the majority of about two million South-East and South-South indigenes seen to be traditionally diehard supporters of the PDP.
This large segment of the population, who registered to vote in Kano, could have beefed up the required numbers for President Jonathan but fled in droves from the state and indeed other parts of the North in fear for their lives.
However, they have returned and are now the beautiful brides being sought, especially by the PDP.
What is clear in Kano so far, is the bandwagon effect the APC presidential victory is most likely to have on the governorship and State House of Assembly polls, but it appears party affiliation has seemingly taken second place to personalities.
The contest will indeed depend on mother luck.