Wali as the Game Changer in Kano Politics

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Yusuf Daawah

The merger of two or more opposing political groups to achieve a common goal is not new in Kano politics. The Second Republic Minister, Aminu Wali happens to be a long time key player in the success of all the coalitions in the state. In the history of Kano politics, Wali’s camp in the NPN produced Kabiru Gaya as governor.

Coming down to the segregation of the PRP, the DPN vs UNCP saga and formation of the PDP in the Fourth Republic which emanated from the two opposing groups- ‘Tabo’ and ‘Santsi’ that produced Kwankwaso and Ganduje as their gubernatorial candidate respectively. This later became a combined ticket. Wali was a key player in the victory of the ANC group in the PDP. During that period, Ganduje from the Santsi group had more experience and qualification to be the governor, but the ANC and Wali outsmarted Santsi by making Kwankwaso spearhead the ticket.

Kwankwaso has enjoyed the control of the Peoples Democratic Party from 1999-2014 by virtue of his offices and his tremendous achievements. Notwithstanding, Wali, a reputable politician, peace maker, ambassador and a minister, who served in many capacities is the only leading politician in Kano who has never deserted the PDP since inception. When Kwankwaso decided to desert the PDP in 2014, he decamped with a large number of his supporters.

Statistically, it could be concluded that the long-term political rivals in Kano – Kwankwaso and Mal. Ibrahim Shekarau – have almost equal political strength approximately 51% to 49% respectively as the highest number of votes differences recorded in which the former defeated the latter was not beyond 50,000 and vice-versa. The 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections in which the duo competed directly and by proxy is a clear confirmation of the above statistics.

When Shekarau realised that the APC which was formed with his toil and sweat was trying to sideline him by giving the captainship of the party to the then governor and his rival Kwankwaso, he decided to switch to the ruling party PDP to seek political asylum. He moved from APC with his followers. He emerged the Minister of Education, giving him a chance to place his die hard loyalist in the party structure. Wali’s camp remained intact while all these were going on.

Kwankwaso, as an APC Senator, an erstwhile governor whose former deputy and loyalist took over the administration had a rift with his protégé, leaving him no choice but to vacate the party since all efforts to reconcile them were not fruitful. Kwankwaso was stranded as neither him nor his loyalist could make it in the primaries. He couldn’t form another party due to his presidential ambition which can’t be achieved in virgin political space. That was why he decided to return home, though it would not be home as it is used to be, with the quest to dethrone Ganduje. He does not care with whom to join forces (foe or a friend), the ultimate goal is to defeat Ganduje. One thing needs to be clear. Among the supporters of Kwankwaso that decamped to the APC with him, not all of them followed him back to the PDP. He lost almost 45% to Ganduje. Therefore, his weight in PDP is reduced. He lacks the political structure, which Shekarau and Wali already control, and the party cannot dismantle its existing structure to accommodate him due to legal and constitutional implications.

As the three long term political movers (Wali, Shekarau and Kwankwaso) decide to join hands in dethroning Ganduje, it would be very hard for Ganduje to fight back. I don’t know if Ganduje realises it or not, the truth is that among his loyalists, there are power mongers, who only pledge their loyalty to incumbents in order to receive appointments. Such constitute a chunk of Ganduje’s supporters.

The problem lies in the sharing formula amongst the three PDP chieftains. Which side is to produce the governor, deputy governor and SSG? How many commissioners should each side take? Among the reasons why Kwankwaso defected to PDP is the strong belief that the APC will be unfair to him in the presidential race, by giving Buhari an automatic ticket. But he is now insisting that each serving member of the House of Representatives that followed him to the PDP must be given an automatic ticket. Will that not bring another chaos in the PDP at the constituency level? Is there any assurance of getting re-elected if given the automatic ticket? If some of them are given automatic tickets and happen to lose in the main election, would he not try to compensate them with other appointments?

To win the 2019 election, Ganduje has to make hard choices which could possibly ignite internal resistance and political mayhem within his APC. One of the things he needs to adopt is to break the alliance between the three political movers who are out primarily to end his political career. Among the three big wigs, Aminu Wali would be more suitable, vulnerable and most valuable asset because his team has been intact. Another leading factor is that Wali may face challenges in persuading Kwankwaso and his cronies to accept Sadiq as the gubernatorial candidate, if his future is assured by the APC and Ganduje.

Making his son Ganduje’s running mate in 2019 as he hails from the Kano central, could make Wali leave the PDP and give his unwavering support to Ganduje. Some rumours going around lately point to the fact that the Presidency is trying to exploit this option of Aminu Wali in order to help Ganduje and Buhari. It is not yet certain what the APC is bringing to the table, but the big question is: Will Kwankwaso and Shekarau be able to sort things out if Ganduje succeeds in absorbing Wali considering their long time rivalry? Will Mallam Salihu Takai and his co-directors remain loyal to Shekarau or will they switch to the Kwankwasiyya camp? Expect more drama to come from this state.

On the flip side, the 44 year-old Sadiq Wali (son of Aminu Wali) has been favoured by a research conducted by a non-governmental organisation, the ‘Voter’s Rights Forum, VRF’ . The research shows that Sadiq Wali is the only aspirant from the old PDP political group. He is a new page without a single blot. He is seen by party members as a well behaved person, enjoys support of Kano youths and has been an active member of the PDP since 1999. His campaign team consists of representatives from all the major political groups in the Kano PDP. He is the only aspirant that has visited all the 44 local governments and met with the delegates. He has an excellent public relations and is a very successful businessman.

Yusuf Daawah writes from Kano Municipal