Kano State’s concluding governorship election slated for Saturday, March 23, is a major battle for the two leading political parties as too many interests are at stake. Ibrahim Shuaibu writes
The final battle to decide the future of Kano State and her politics, at least for another four years, will be fought on Saturday, March 23, during the supplementary election in some polling units that were canceled during last week’s governorship and state house of assembly elections in the state.
The Kano situation provides one of the most impossible scenarios and also difficult to decide the fate of the candidate unless an election is held. But the recent scenario attested to the fact that the Kano people might have come to learn to shun the known traditional process of voting candidates from top to bottom (SAK).
The idea of electing candidates without considering their capacity has been overlooked during the last governorship election in the state, contrary to how it was reenacted during the presidential and national assembly elections, which saw the APC win all the three senate and 24 house of representatives seats.
Kano thus gave President Muhammadu Buhari 1,464,768 votes in the presidential election of February 23, as against the 391,593 delivered to his main challenger, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Atiku’s votes amounted to about 20% of the total votes. So, a repeat of the trend was expected last weekend. But last Saturday’s elections changed the political calculus of Kano and despite the weight of incumbency and party’s influence, APC was stunned by the electorate, who vehemently rejected the party and voted candidate of the opposition PDP, Abba Kabir Yusuf.
For whatever reasons, women who came out in their large numbers to vote were reported to have overwhelmingly voted the PDP candidate and that most of the campaign slogans that influenced the women to vote for PDP were about the issue of free education, free feeding of pupils at school and free ante-natal care.
The PDP candidate, Mr. Abba Kabir Yusuf received massive votes from the nine local governments within the Kano Municipality, which boosted his chances and made up for the votes lost to PDP in local governments outside the municipality.
Abba is ahead of the incumbent, Abdulahi Ganduje of the ruling APC after results of 43 of the 44 Local Government Areas had been collated. However, the election has been declared inconclusive by the State Returning Officer, Prof B. B. Shehu, Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Birnin Kebbi, for obvious reasons.
Yusuf, the PDP candidate, had more votes than Ganduje with a slim margin. He polled 1,014,474 votes, while Ganduje got 987,810, putting the margin of lead at 26,655 votes.
With 2,211,520 accredited voters, 172 polling units were cancelled making a total of 100,873 votes cancelled and 49,761 rejected votes. With the very slim margin between the two parties and very high cancellations, it was not enough to declare PDP winner in the contest and so, the cancelled units will be reviewed by the INEC.
The collation had to be suspended around 1:30 am on Monday due to the delay in submitting the Nasarawa Local government area result to the collation center at the INEC headquarters. It was later reported that hoodlums had attacked the local government collation center at Nasarawa and disrupted the process thereby doing away with the result of Gama ward.
INEC was able to regenerate the disrupted results of 10 out of the 11 local governments but the Gama result was cancelled due to the circumstances surrounding the loss of the result sheet by the local government returning officer.
Reacting to the election outcome, Governor Ganduje said the PDP candidate and his supporters would receive the shocker of their lives in the scheduled supplementary governorship election.
Ganduje boasted that he was unperturbed by the wishful thinking and slapdash deportment of the PDP candidate, considering what happened in the inconclusive election, which he claimed was widely characterised by alleged vote-buying and voter intimidation by the party.
He said the APC and its candidate remain upbeat and sure of victory as Kano remained an APC state.
“I remain committed to the conduct of free and fair election, all loopholes that gave them chance of rigging, vote-buying and intimidation of voters have been blocked.
“APC as a party has also re-strategised and very confident of victory because the local government areas where the rerun will take place remain the APC stronghold and the electorate in these areas have made up their mind to vote massively for the Governor they trust.”
He also claimed that the APC did not believe in campaign of calumny but on issues that pertain to the development of Kano State, which endeared him to the people.
“The modest achievements recorded so far by the Ganduje administration have touched the lives of the people in all sectors of development and also remain determined to continue if returned,” he said.
Yusuf too has boasted that he would still win the supplementary election after INEC has declared the first ballot inconclusive. He assured his teaming supporters of victory but accused the APC of massive rigging, which he claimed resulted in over-voting and the eventual cancellation of 172 polling units.
“Kano people have seen glaringly, how the enemies of democracy, who are high ranking officials of the state government, vandalised an election collation centre with the sole aim of truncating the declaration process to deny PDP’s victory”.
He also alleged that PDP reliably gathered that over 500 cartons of ballot papers were printed by Kano State Printing Press, syndicated to various polling units across the state, adding that over 10 cartons of the ballot paper were arrested by the Police.
“It is our prayer that all election offenders would be charged to courts at the earliest time to serve as deterrence to all anti-democracy. We call on all our supporters to remain calm. We are known to be peace lovers and so we shall remain, as we are very sure of victory during the rerun.
“Our supporters should not forget that PDP is already leading in the last count of the election and interestingly, the bye-election would take place in the strongest areas of our party,” he said, adding that “We urge everyone to keep hope alive on our quest to rescue Kano from the hands of corrupt leaders and agents of distraction.”
The former Commissioner for Works in the state therefore called on the people living in the areas where the supplementary polls would take place to come out in large number to cast their votes for PDP, expressing hope that the party would still emerge victorious in the poll.
The election process in the state will be a rigorous campaign by both parties, even as the candidate of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) has thrown his support behind Yusuf for them to reclaim the state from the ruling APC.
Politicians of the two major parties including the other political parties had since embarked on rigorous campaign to ensure their victory on Saturday, March 23.
In Kano, also, the Police arrested two women and three men trying to buy votes in the disputed Gama ward in Nasarawa local government area of Kano state.
Confirming the arrest in a statement on Wednesday, DSP Abdullahi Haruna Kiyawa, spokesman of the police command, gave the names of the two female suspects as Sa’adatu Ismail, 39 years and Halima Abba, 55 years, residents of Brigade and Tal’udu quarters respectively.
“On 12/03/2019 at about 2000hrs, based on credible information received, two women namely (1) Sa’adatu Ismail, 39 years old of Brigade Qtrs and (2) Hajiya Halima Abba, 55 years of Tal’udu Qtrs in Kano were arrested for purchasing Permanent Voters Card from unsuspecting Voters at Gama Qtrs Nassarawa LGA at prices starting from N500.00k and above. 8 Permanent Voters Cards and cash sum of N10, 000.00k were recovered from them,” the statement said.
Kiyawa also added that two other suspects, Mukhtar Suleiman and Idris Dankanawa were arrested after they were found moving around Gama ward apparently to purchase PVCs.
He said the suspects were almost lynched by a mob before they were rescued and subsequently arrested. The police spokesman said another suspect Mukhtar Shuaibu was arrested for allegedly buying two PVCs at N3,000 at Dandinshe Gabas area of Dala local government area of the state.
Kiyawa, also debunked rumours that the state commissioner of police Mohammed Wakili has been transferred from Kano, describing the rumours as the “handiwork of mischief makers”.
According to him, “Rumours going viral especially on social media that the Commissioner of Police Kano State, CP Wakili Mohammed has been transferred away from Kano is not true. He is still the CP in Kano State. Members of the public are advised to shun the rumours and consider it to be the handiwork of mischief makers”. Interestingly, INEC too has vowed to conduct free, fair and credible supplementary election in the state on March 23.
According to INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Professor Riskuwa be Shehu Arabu, the supplementary elections would determine the winner of Kano state governorship election, explaining, that cases of violence and over-voting invoked the decision to cancel the ballots cast in some polling units. He reiterated that the gubernatorial election held in Kano was inconclusive, stressing that the election did not produce a winner.
He explained that the cancellation of results in some units located within some local Government Areas was due to violence and over voting, which led to cancellations of results in 210 Polling Units, which constitutes 88 Registration Areas, adding that the affected Polling Units have a total number of 128, 572 registered voters.
The Kano REC said the contenders with the highest votes are the candidates of the APC with 987, 819, while the candidate of the PDP had pouched 1,014,474 votes. He said the PDP is currently on a marginal lead with 26,655, even as he disclosed that the sum of 128,572 votes was cancelled.
According to him, the cancellation action by the commission is in compliance with Section 41 (e) of the Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of 2019 General Election, which provides as follows: “Where the margin of lead between the two leading candidates is not in excess of the total number of registered voters of the polling unit(s) where election was cancelled or not held in line with sections 26 and 53 of the Electoral Act, the returning officer shall decline to make a return until polls has taken place in the affected polling unit(s) and the results incorporated into new form EC 8D and subsequently recorded into form EC 8E for Declaration and Return.”
Meanwhile, ahead of the rescheduled elections, the Senor Special Assistant, Urban Beautification to Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Alhaji Hashim Suleiman has tendered his letter of resignation to Secretary to the State Government.
Suleiman, who thanked the Governor for offering him the opportunity to serve, attributed his reason to the failure of Governor Ganduje to concede defeat to Yusuf, who won the election but declared inconclusive in controversial circumstances by INEC.
According to him, Ganduje, as a transparent Khadimul-Islam ought to have conceded defeat, so as to serve as a precedent to other Muslims, who serve Allah in truth and sincerity.
His letter of resignation dated Wednesday, March 13, 2019, which he personally signed, reads, ‘’I write to formally inform you of my voluntary resignation from the office of SSA, Beautification. I thank you for offering me the opportunity to serve under your administration as SSA.’’
In the final analysis, the electorate is the final decision makers of whom they want to govern them in the next four years but the outcome of the supplementary elections determines the winner. But some political observers are already worried about the implications subverting the will of the people in Kano State.