Lying in wait for Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State and his predecessor, Rabiu Kwankwaso ahead of the 2019 election is a major survival battle, writes Ibrahim Shuaibu
Political permutations have begun across all political parties ahead of 2019 general election in Nigeria. One of such moves is the gale of defections that has hit the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), which of course, has not left out Kano State with the defection of Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, a former governor of the state, to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
After many months of uncertainties over the political future of some members of the Kwankwasiyya group, who are loyal to Kwankwaso, their defection to PDP from APC remains a big threat to the ruling APC in Kano State especially, if considered with Kwankwaso’s biggest followers across the state, whose symbol is the “Redcap”.
However, Kwankwaso’s defection to the PDP did not come as a surprise, because of the internal bickering between him and Ganduje, who served as Kwankwaso’s deputy for two terms.
The duo was longtime political associates that have been steering the political atmosphere of the state since 1999, but immediately Ganduje was elected Governor in 2015, Kwankwaso and his supporters went their separate ways, because of the crises of who would control the party and government.
In Kano, the 2019 battle would be among three major political gladiators – Ganduje, Kwankwaso and another former governor of the state, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau. Though there may be other political lightweights that could also spring surprises, there is no doubt that they are bound to queue behind these political juggernauts.
Kwankwaso’s defection from APC to PDP has again raised some dust in the political atmosphere of the state. The question many pundits have continued to ask is whether Kwankwaso and Shekarau could work together in the PDP or if there is going to be a replay of the 2013 episode when Shekarau left APC for Kwankwaso.
Compounding the situation is the Kwankwaso-Ganduje standoff. The political atmosphere in Kano remains tense following the irreconcilable political rift between Kwankwaso and Ganduje, which started towards the end of Kwankwaso’s second tenure.
At the inception of the Fourth Republic in 1999, Kwankwaso with Ganduje won the Kano State governorship election under the banner of the PDP.
And in the build-up to the 2003 general election, Shekarau aligned with the populist Muhammadu Buhari (now the sitting President), who was the presidential candidate of the All Peoples Party (APP).
With the influence of Buhari, Shekarau clinched the APP governorship ticket and defeated incumbent Kwankwaso in a historic election that has continued to beat the imagination of pundits. Shekarau held sway as the governor of the state for consecutive eight years, breaking the jinx in Kano politics. For those years, Shekarau tackled Kwankwaso even with his federal might as the minister of defence under President Olusegun Obasanjo.
In the 2011 general election, at the expiration of Shekarau’s tenure, Kwankwaso staged an aggressive come-back and defeated Shekarau’s candidate, Salihu Sagir Takai of then All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP). Ganduje returned as Kwankwaso’s deputy.
Again, Kwankwaso and Shekarau had another open clash at the congregation of the legacy party that later transmuted into the APC.
In fact, Shekarau who came from the ANPP bloc of the legacy parties was said to be one of the brains behind the APC merger arrangement. At this point, Kwankwaso, engrossed with his presidential ambition, became a major player among the PDP rebels that formed the new PDP.
In the heat of the PDP crisis, Kwankwaso, with all at his disposal, struck a deal with the APC and the party structure was handed over to him on a platter.
Shekarau, who was relegated to the background by the party leadership, had no choice than to play to the tune of the PDP-led federal government, which compensated him with the portfolio of minister of education.
However, the recent resignation of the Kano State Deputy Governor, Prof Hafiz Abubakar and his 10 aides that also defected to the PDP has created another intrigue in the political jigsaw.
There is also the defection of six Kano State House of Assembly members from APC to PDP, while at the National Assembly, they also joined Senator Kwankwaso and defected to the PDP with a view to unseating the ruling APC in Kano over what they termed the incompetence of Ganduje.
It is, however, important to underscore the fact that from the foregoing, Kwankwaso’s main target is to ensure that Ganduje does not return as in 2019.
He has started perfecting his plots with the endorsement of Ganduje’s deputy, Abubakar, as the potential governorship candidate in the 2019 gubernatorial elections in the state. This plot is becoming clearer because a few months ago, Abubakar openly declared that he was not interested in running as a deputy with Ganduje in 2019.
However, pundits have continued to doubt the possibility of Kwankwaso working together Shekarau as many of Shekarau’s lieutenants are said to have started putting pressure on the two-time former Kano State governor to dump the PDP for Kwankwaso before it is too late.
Whatever it is, as events unfold in the weeks ahead, the compass naturally focuses on Ganduje, Shekarau and Kwankwaso as no one can predict, for now, where the pendulum will swing.