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As Kwankwaso Battles For Survival

 Absence of the immediate past governor of Kano State and presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the 2014 presidential primary, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, at the just concluded national convention of the party and his recent visit to chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) such as former Vice-president Atiku Abubakar and Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, has raised apprehension within the APC circle. ADEBIYI ADEDAPO in this report observes Kwankwaso’s body language ahead of the 2019 general elections. Although, former Kano State governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, had a few months to the National Convention of the APC denied allegations that he is planning to defect to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or any other party, his recent visit to former Vice-president Atiku Abubakar, and Ekiti State governor, Peter Ayo Fayose, does not suggest loyalty to the APC. While other members of the nPDP bloc within the APC participated in the just concluded convention, Kwankwaso and his supporters were conspicuously absent, a move that suggests that the once power broker in the party has completely lost out in the power equation of his home state. The frosty relationship between the political camps of the former governor who now represents Kano Central Senatorial District in the Senate, and his erstwhile deputy, who is the current Governor of the State, Abdullahi Ganduje, seems unmanageable, thereby frustrating the former out of the political structure of the ruling APC in Kano state. Kwankwaso has been locked in a fierce political confrontation with his successor for more than two years, and the ancient Kano city has witnessed several attacks and reprisal among the supporters of the two politicians. 

Sequel to the political unrest, supporters of Governor Ganduje denounced the political structure of Kwankwaso, known as Kwankwasiyya Amana, and replaced it with Gandujiyya Akida. This, according to them was to allow Ganduje take full control as the leader of the APC in Kano, following what they described as undue interference in the affairs of the chapter by Kwankwaso. While supporters of the former governor claimed to have been sidelined during consideration of political appointments in the state, those loyal to Ganduje accused Kwankwaso of being overbearing and seeking undue influence over the governor. Special Adviser to Governor Ganduje on Print Media, Alhaji Bala Kudu, had hinted that the APC chapter had moved on and that everything that has to do with Kwankwasiyya, including the red cap, have been defaced in Government House. “Governor 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. So, as far as we are concerned, we don’t want to be under the influence of anybody again. “The main problem is that Kwankwaso wants to be totally in-charge. He does not want to come to terms with the realities on ground that he is now a Senator and not the executive governor of Kano State. He wants to be dictating to Governor Ganduje from Abuja and that is totally unacceptable; and does not conform with the constitution of APC, our great party”, he said. It wa also gathered that Governor Ganduje allegedly blocked his former principal from being appointed as the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, due to his cordial relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari. 

This acrimony snowballed into the state’s House of Assembly, as 34 lawmakers out of the 38-member House of Assembly, pledged loyalty to the Governor and renounced any ideological relationship with Kwankwaso and his supporters. Hundreds of Ganduje’s supporters including local council chairmen, commissioners and political office holders subsequently changed to wearing blue caps to identify with the new rave. This action marked the beginning of demonization of Kwankwaso and his legacies increased in intensity as government and its agencies continued to rubbish the former regime leading to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) beaming its searchlight on the former administration. The crisis in Kano state APC reached the crescendo in January, when the state Police Commissioner, Rabiu Yusuf, cautioned Kwankwaso from going to his home town for political activities, and tension generated by the police advice led to the postponement of the planned visit by Kwankwaso. Apparently worried about the development, and the impending danger for the fortune of APC in Kano state, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the immediate past national chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie Oyegun in February held different meetings with Kwankwaso and the Kano state Governor Ganduje. Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Politics, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, confirmed the presidency’s meeting with Kwankwaso and Governor of Kano state, Abdullahi Ganduje. Ojudu who spoke to journalists on the reconciliation efforts said; “Osinbajo led a delegate to reconcile the governor of the State, Umar Ganduje and his predecessor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso. “Last night Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, led a team of myself, Hon Adamu Farouk to engage Governor Ganduje of Kano on the need for unity and peace in our party in Kano State. “We made substantial progress just as we did earlier in the week when we met former Governor Kwakwanso. “Insha Allah all will be well very soon and we shall once again have one big APC family in the ancient and progressive city.” Consequent upon the meetings, Kwankwaso declared that he had no intention is to abandon the APC, describing the rumour as a tale by disgruntled politicians. 

The former governor who reacted through a former commissioner for State Affairs, during his administration, Aminu AbdulSalam Gwarzo, claimed that the defection tale was false. “I have no intention of leaving APC. It is rumour by politicians whose ship is sinking; Politicians who have lost relevance and they want to be relevant by making reckless and baseless statements.” Despite these assurances, absence of the former governor at the National Convention of the APC last weekend raised apprehension about his stance in the party. But Kwankwaso, on Sunday explained that his absence at the Convention was to avoid been embarrassed. He noted that he had stayed away to avert friction at the event. While reacting to the apprehension raised by his absence at the convention, Kwankwaso via his Twitter handle, said: “The APC group in Kano which I am opportune to lead will like to congratulate and felicitate with the newly elected Chairman H.E Comrade. Adams Oshiomhole and his newly elected executives. “I wish to inform the leadership and the general public that we had wanted to be part of the convention but regrettably all the congresses that we conducted at the wards, local governments and State level were not recognised by the outgoing National Executive. “Therefore, I felt that presenting ourselves at such an important event will not be in the overall interest of the entire convention that is assuming we are allowed access into the convention ground. “Because there are high chances our presence could create embarrassment and friction similar or even worse than what occurred at the Imo Delta States pavilion during the convention. However, as the new Executive settle to start the efforts of uniting the party we wish them the very best.” While reacting to this, the Kano State Commissioner for Information, Comrade Mohammed Garba, on Monday said Kwankwaso absence convention nailed his political career. Garba, in a statement said the Kano Congresses were adjudged the best recently conducted in the country as there was no case of parallel congress in the state. He suggested that Kwankwaso sould have explored the occasion, as a platform to reconcile his dispute with Governor Ganduje on the APC leadership in Kano, he, however, pointed out Kwankwaso’s pronounced absence at the convention, has nailed his political career. Meanwhile, while the convention was ongoing, Kwankwaso on Saturday night visited former Vice President Atiku Abubakar at his residence in Abuja. Although, details of the discussion at the meeting could was not disclosed, the visit was confirmed by the former vice president’s spokesperson, Paul Ibe. Kwankwaso was said to have arrived Atiku’s Asokoro, Abuja residence at about 8:30 p.m. on the fateful day. Both Abubakar and Kwankwaso were members of nPDP bloc that joined other political parties to form the APC, but Atiku defected from the APC back to the PDP in August 2017, alleging marginalisation and maladministration, of the ruling party. Also, on Monday, Kwankwaso reportedly met with the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, at the Government House in Ado Ekiti, where he endorsed Fayose’s deputy, Prof. Kolapo Olusola as the next governor of the state. Just like his visit to Atiku Abubakar, details of the meeting were not disclosed, but Fayose’s Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka said Kwankwaso endorsed Olusola, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party for the July 14, 2018 governorship poll. Olayinka wrote: “Kwankwaso in Ekiti, meets Fayose, endorses Prof Kolapo Olusola Eleka for Ekiti Governor”.

 Also, a statement after the meeting signed by Fayose’s Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi, said Kwankwaso, addressed the Northern community residents in the state. According to the statement, Kwankwaso urged the northern community to live in peace with their hosts and exercise their civic duties during the election. He said elections should not be seen as a war, but that the votes of the people must count. “Kwankwaso also decried the spate of killings in some parts of the country, noting that it was the responsibility of the government to secure the lives and property of the citizens,” the statement reads. While responding to questions on whether or not he would defect to the PDP, Kwankwaso said whatever was collectively agreed upon by members of the New PDP would inform his next line of action. While Kwankwaso is yet to decamp from the APC, the ex-governor and former Minister of Defence is undoubtedly among the current top politicians finding it increasingly difficult to remain in the party. Therefore, his body language may suggest more than the eyes could see. 

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