2019 and Kano’s Festering Proxy War


Supporters of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, last week clashed with those of his former boss, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, in a development that left many worried about the fate of the state ahead of the 2019 elections, writes Ibrahim Shuaibu

The dust raised by the last weekend bloody clash between the Kwankwasiyya Movement and the alleged supporters of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje at the Emir’s palace during a Durbar, to mark the Eid-el-Kabir is yet to settle, a week after. The clash, which marked the first physical engagement between the supporters of the two former friends and political associates, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Ganduje, left many with various degrees of wounds.

The two groups of supporters, it was learnt, had gathered at Emir of Kano Palace during the yearly traditional Durbar of Hawan Daushe, which the governor and his cabinet members attended to witness the Durbar day after the Sallah celebration, before the fight broke.

How the Crisis Started
The clash allegedly erupted when members of the Kwankwasiyya movement, who were loyal to Kwankwaso thronged the venue in their thousands with their movement inscription of redcap and created a situation that provoked supporters of Governor Ganduje, who allegedly began the verbal attack that would later lead to the free use of weapons, which left many badly injured.

The clash which resulted in many top loyalists of Kwankwaso suffering serious wounds, including a former Secretary to the Kano State Government, Rabiu Sulieman Bichi; former Managing Director of Nigeria port Authority, Mr. Aminu Abubakar Dabo and several others.

Reacting to the development, a top official of the Kwankwasiyya Movement, Alhaji Yunusa Adamu Dangwani, said 20 of their members were injured during the fracas and alleged that the attack was meant to eliminate the Kwankwasiyya leaders in Kano as part of the governor’s plan to stop Kwankwasiyya activities by all means possible as he allegedly declared during a recent prayer session.

Dangwani noted that, “It is worth mentioning that the unfortunate attack recorded many casualties, including their targeted Kwankwasiyya leaders, such as former SSG Rabiu Bichi, former Commissioners, Dr Yunusa Dangwani, Yusuf Bello Danbatta and other leaders, including Alhaji Yahaya Musa Kwankwaso, Comrade Baba Umar, Zainab Audu Bako, and other people, within the vicinity.

“As usual, we assembled to pay homage to the Emir, and in our tradition, we do not carry arms but unfortunately, as we were standing, some thugs believed to have been hired attacked our members, with the intent to assassinate some Kwankwasiyya prominent members as 20 of our members were injured,” he said.
He further disclosed that they were tear-gassed by security operatives, pointing out that it was unfortunate that the government that was elected to be the people’s government resorted to such acts.

Ganduje, Kwankwaso Tell Own Stories
Kano State Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, said the governor condemned in strong terms, the ugly incident that occurred at the Emir’s palace and cautioned politicians against hate speeches and violent actions.

“It is entirely out of place to use a celebration like Eid-el-Kabir to foment trouble and destabilise peace in the state just to claim political relevance.”

Garba added that the governor, who with his entourage were given a rousing welcome, when they visited the Emir’s palace to observe the Durbar, sympathised, with the injured and urged Kano residents to remain law abiding.
But the media aide to Kwankwaso, Hajia Binta Spikin, alleged that on arriving at the palace by the supporters of Kwankwasiyya, the police officers present there pushed them back, using teargas canisters and other unfriendly deterrent devices to force them to scamper to safety.

“We just saw people hitting us with cutlasses, heavy sticks and other dangerous weapons. Then I fell down and my eyeglasses broke. Somebody from behind hit the former SSG Rabiu Bichi with cutlass and another moved forward to stab him but Kwankwaso’s younger brother used his hands to block and they nearly cut his hands,” she said.

What the Public Thinks
Many political observers in the state believed that the clash was an ominous sign of the crisis between the Kwankwasiyya loyalists and Governor Ganduje supporters as the development had raised tension in both camps, a situation many reckoned could affect the possibility of reconciliation between the governor and Kwankwaso.
The Police spokesman in Kano, DSP Magaji Musa Majia confirmed the incident, stating that investigation had commenced to find out those behind the incident. It was also learnt that the police were yet to make any arrest despite the assurances of fishing out the perpetrators of the attack.

A political analyst in Kano, Bashir Mohammed believed that the clash would lead to many political crises in the state if the duo of Ganduje and Kwankwaso were not called to order by the security operatives as well as Kano elders.

In its view, a Civil Society Forum has called on the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to as a matter of urgency punish the perpetrators of the clash. The group also described the clash as a threat to the state’s peaceful coexistence and called on religious leaders to condemn the act at Friday sermons in a bid to enlighten the youths on the Islamic prohibition of violence.

“We are calling on youths in the state to distance themselves from being manipulated to cause havoc. The youths must desist from being used to tarnish the image of our state,” the group noted.

It is getting clearer each passing day that the sudden enmity between Ganduje and Kwankwaso is becoming irreconcilable, an indication that they would most probably align differently in 2019. That, unfortunately, is foreboding for Kano and her political legacy as it appears the two gladiators are prepared to sacrifice their relationship of over 14 years on the altar of ego and needless supremacy battle.

Certainly, Kano, like a few other states, is going to be an interesting watch in 2019. But more importantly, it could also be a flashpoint with unprecedented violence that could undo the gains of the last 12 years of the two administrations combined. However, while friendship cannot be forced on both actors, common sense can still prevail in larger and collective interest, otherwise, what appears to be looming from the Kano political landscape is evidently unsavoury.

Importantly, the signs are also distinct enough for the security agencies to pick and begin to think as well as work ahead of time. Kano cannot turn out a sudden challenge to security agencies when the indications had given themselves away early enough. Therefore, excuses would not be entertained from security quarters.

Attempts must be made by the security architecture of the state to start to read riot act to those concerned and ensure that any indulgence in excesses by either of the parties under the guise of security cover would not be condoned. Indeed, the security agencies would do more by working ahead of those ready to disturb the peace of Kano in 2019.