Peace has continued to elude the Kano State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, since last year following the deepening rift between Governor Ganduje and Senator Kwankwaso. MIKE ODIAKOSE writes that if the crisis is allowed to fester it may be a prelude to the requiem of the party in the state.
The bottled-up cold war between a former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, and his successor and incumbent governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, took a fresh dimension a few days ago when the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, threatened to sanction Kwankwaso over ‘political misconduct’. The decision of the Kano APC was in connection with the violent conduct of Senator Kwankwaso’s supporters when he visited Governor Ganduje to commiserate with him over the death of his mother.
Supporters of the former governor, who is the founder of a restive political group in Kano known as Kwankwasiyya, was reported to have besieged the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, MAKIA, to receive the former governor, who had stayed away from the state since last year when he assumed office in the National Assembly as senator representing Kano Central.
Kwankwaso’s supporters, who were clad in branded T-shirts, carrying presidential campaign posters bearing the pictures of the former governor, were reported to have breached security at the airport as they broke the MAKIA fence and damaged other facilities to gain access into the VIP lounge. The supporters, who were mainly youths, brandished dangerous weapons and when they eventually got to Ganduje’s village with their principal they were reported to have harassed and threatened several high ranking officials of the state government and commissioners.
Several reasons have been deduced for the attack on Governor Ganduje’s commissioners by die-hard supporters of Senator Kwankwaso. Speculations were rife since last year that the former political soul mates fell apart shortly after Kwankwaso handed over the leadership of the state to his former deputy. Reports had it that Kwankwaso felt shutout by Ganduje when his nominees were rejected for juicy political appointments by the new administration. The senator, who sees himself as the reigning godfather of Kano politics, was said to have been shocked and scandalised that Governor Ganduje could dare turn down the list of nominees he sent to him.
An invisible battle line was gradually drawn and the first major indication that something was amiss between the duo emerged when the governor berated his former boss for creating financial problems for him and for ‘messing up’ the scholarship scheme for Kano students.
Ganduje had tongue lashed Kwankwaso last year when he hosted the leadership of Kano students abroad under the aegis of General Association of Northern Nigeria Students, based in Egypt, admitting that the state scholarship programme needed serious attention.
“For one year, Kwankwaso did not pay a single kobo as tuition fee for our students studying abroad. Right now, the state government owes those students N3 billion, and painfully, our revenue is dwindling and we would be cautious in handling the situation,” he said.
He revealed that the delay in the payment of tuition was caused by the Kwankwaso administration, even as he stressed that: “For whatever reasons, the Kwankwaso administration distorted the scholarship programme. I have decided to let the cat out of the bag so that, as educated people, you would understand where your problem lies.”
Prior to the visit by the leadership of the Kano students abroad, Ganduje had made it public that Kwankwaso left a huge debt profile of over N300 million at the end of his tenure.
These revelations, coupled with the rejection of the attempt by Kwankwaso to turn Governor Ganduje into a puppet deepened the rift between the two hitherto political soul mates.
It is believed amongst loyalists of the governor that the violence that trailed Kwankwaso’s condolence visit was premeditated. Their argument was that the former governor did not visit his successor immediately he lost his mother because he needed some days to print the branded Tee-shirts and presidential campaign posters.
This probably explained why the Kano APC came down hard on him and threatened to suspend him for ‘violent behaviour’. They even dragged President Muhammadu Buhari into the matter by alleging that Kwankwaso is plotting to upstage him in 2019.
Addressing journalists in Kano, the state party chairman, Umar Doguwa, said Kwankwaso had exhibited “acts of indiscipline which should not be allowed to go unpunished”.
He said the party’s leadership and elders had approved the constitution of a disciplinary committee to penalise him.
According to him, the condolence visit was deliberately turned into a violent rally to cause mayhem in the state, abuse the governor and President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The party and its leadership, as enshrined in the APC constitution, must be respected at all times by members in respective of their position. The party leader today in Kano is nobody but Governor Umar Abdullahi Ganduje, who also must be respected by every person.
“The party would leave no stone unturned in ensuring discipline, orderliness and loyalty as prescribed by the constitution of the APC. Such case of party indiscipline committed by Senator Kwankwaso will be thoroughly investigated and dealt with in accordance with the constitution of the party.
“Also, the hired thugs were busy distributing presidential campaign posters, car stickers reading ‘Kwankwassiya 2019, Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso for President, among others,” he said.
However, the story took a new twist two days after the Kano APC threatened to sanction Senator Kwankwaso when the state chairman, Alhaji Umar Doguwa, made a u-turn and said he was forced to sign and address a news conference threatening disciplinary action against the former.
Addressing another press conference in Kano, Doguwa said “I felt duty bound to unequivocally make it clear to our esteemed followers that the previous press statement read and signed by me was not written and made by my humble self. I neither participated in the drafting, but rather I was coerced to sign under duress and close marking by the state apparatus.
“What makes it more curious for me to recant this is the fact that the elders’ committee is not part of the party executive, hence procedurally we cannot issue a joint statement,” Doguwa said.
Reacting to the threat to sanction him over the alleged misconduct of his supporters and for staging a ‘violent rally’, Kwankwaso said he refrained from visiting the state since May 29, 2015 when he handed over to Ganduje in order not to interfere with the state’s affairs.
According to a statement signed by his aide, Yunusa Dangwani, the former governor said he “deliberately gave short notice for the condolence visit, but was pleasantly surprised by the turnout of the good people of Kano who came to receive him at the Malam Aminu Kano Airport and escorted him to Ganduje’s village.
“It is therefore appalling and rather unfortunate that the good gesture of Senator Kwankwaso has been mischievously interpreted. It is also disheartening that few hours after the death of our Deputy Chairman, Alhaji Isa Ali Danmaraya, the government was busy coercing and misleading some party leaders into addressing a press conference that will only culminate in splitting the APC in Kano,” the statement said.
The statement warned Ganduje to desist from dragging the name of President Muhammadu Buhari to cover for his administration’s ‘obvious weaknesses’.
Apparently irked by the manner Kwankwaso swayed the Kano APC chairman to recant on the threat to sanction him, coupled with the allegation that he is “dragging the name of President Buhari to cover for his administration’s ‘obvious weaknesses’, Governor Ganduje came out on Monday talking tough and threatened to expose the ‘shoddy deals’ of his former boss.
Speaking while inspecting road projects at Dakata-Bella road in Nassarawa Local Government Area, Ganduje said Kwankwaso was in Kano to campaign to replace the president ‘while there is no vacancy for that position’.
“Unfortunately for him the avenue and the time were so wrong. But because God wants to expose his antics which he has been doing against the president, he chose my mother’s death to launch the presidential campaign, but we leave him with the people.
“A lot of things have been happening. Some people have been trying to undermine President Buhari with all sorts of things. We will not tolerate it again in Kano. We are tired of your atrocities. I will soon expose him before the people for them to appreciate the Satan in him.
“People, who are now telling Buhari all sorts of things are sycophants. They do not want him to succeed. These people know themselves. When it gets to a stage, I will name them one after the other. I am not afraid of human beings.
“We are solidly behind the president and his programmes. Kano people will not support anybody working against him. It is unfortunate for the so-called politician who claimed to be a leader to hire hoodlums with dangerous weapons to disrupt the peace of the state. Government and security agencies will not tolerate this attitude.”
The Kano governor also gave indications that he has declared total war on Kwankwaso as his loyalists have threatened to totally dismantle the political structure of his successor called the Kwankwasiyya group and replace it with GandujiyyaAkida.
The governor’s loyalists argued that this is to allow Ganduje reign supreme as leader of the APC in Kano, following what they termed ‘undue interference’ in the affairs of the state by Kwankwaso. Special Adviser to Governor Ganduje on Print Media, Alhaji Bala Salihu Dawakin Kudu, said plans have been concluded to do away with anything connected to the Kwankwasiyya ideology.
According to him, “Ganduje and his political followers have decided to be on their own. Enough is enough. There is no way you can have two captains in a ship without the ship sinking. As far as we are concerned, soon, you will not hear anything about Kwankwasiyya in Kano.
“Even the red cap will go with it. We are definitely going to dump it because it has no political benefit, as that era is gone. We are now talking about GandujiyyaAkida ideology which we are entrenching.”
Keen watchers of the unfolding drama in Kano State are of the view that the APC maybe digging its own grave unless the party’s national leaders step in immediately to resolve the rift between the governor and his predecessor. Kano is known to be very fluid politically as the people switch camp as recorded in 2011 when the defunct Congress for Progressive Change lost the governorship election after Mohammed Abacha, the son of late military Head of State, General Sani Abacha, was denied the party’s ticket despite winning the primaries.