Senator Rabiu KwankwasoAn oasis of progressive politics in a desert of conservatism that was Nigeria’s northern region, the then Kano province, from which today’s Kano State was carved, was a bastion of leftist ideological leaning at the beginning of the country’s attempt at participatory democracy.
Nurtured under the leadership of Mallam Aminu Kano, who emerged as an advocate of popular socialism that was influencing African politics at the time, thousands of indigenes were rallied under the banner of Talakawa ideology that primarily sought to relieve the poor masses of the social yoke inherent in the near-feudal system that was in practice in the vast territory that spread from Sokoto to Maiduguri.
For a movement that sought to change an oligarchy that was so entrenched that it became the pillar on which colonial administration rested, the new ideology overcome the odds only by the leadership traits and Spartan examples of the Kano politician who floated the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU).
It was to the resilience of the movement and the popular message of Talakawa liberation that Aminu Kano’s followers, even after the military setback of 1966, were able to regroup and formed the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) during the Second Republic to take control of the state even before Jigawa was excised out of it.
While South Western Nigeria often lay claims to being the stronghold of progressive politics because of the populist policies of its earlier political leaders, Kano State is driven by a deeper brand of leftism that derive strength from the masses on whose minds the ideology has been etched.
The Kano experience is so deep that during Nigeria’s botched third attempt at democracy, it defied the logic of Nigeria’s ethnic political considerations by voting for a left-of-the-centre political party against a platform that fielded an indigene as its presidential candidate.On June 12, 1993, Chief M.K.O Abiola of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) defeated homeboy Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention (NRC) even in the latter’s own ward, showing clearly that Kano electorate are dye-in-the-wool leftists who have fully imbibed the ideology of Aminu Kano.
IT was on this fertile soil that the seed of Kwankwasiyya creed was planted on May 29, 2011 at the second coming, after eight years out of office as governor, of Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwanso whose attempt at extending his first tenure term beyond 2003 was thwarted by Ibrahim Shekarau, a retired school principal with a more socialistic mien.
Like all power seekers in Nigeria’s political landscape who always claim political kinship with late respected leaders to convince the electorate of their good intents, Kwankwaso, in the campaigns towards the 2011 elections, adopted the Aminu Kano persona with which he won the hearts of the people.
During his inauguration at the Kano indoor sports stadium, thousands of supporters of the new governor were decked in white garment and red cap attire to signify the colour for which Aminu Kano and his Talakawa ideology were popularly known.
For four years, Kwankwasiyya became the call cry to rally the support of the masses especially members of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and later the All Progressives Congress (APC) to which Kwankwaso decamped with four other sitting governors, paving the way for the unprecedented loss of power by a ruling party at the central.
The red-on-white dress code became uniform among adherents of the ideology and those who wished, for political gains, to be associated with it. The governor, after the official adoption of the colour, encouraged local production of the caps and even provided financial assistance for the producers.
But whether that ideology survived beyond the euphoria and lived up to the expectations of its supposed improvement on socio-economic development of the common folks through provision of free and compulsory education, qualitative healthcare and making life generally easy for the ordinary man, is another area that requires empirical facts.
SUPPORTERS of incumbent Abdulahi Umar Ganduje, who since 1999 had been under the political tutelage of Kwankwaso, are however coming to replace Kwankwasiyya not only as a signpost of a new regime but as a direct fallout of the political enmity between the current and former administrations.
In what is turning into a study of Nigeria’s politics of godfathers, management of governorship succession and the enormous influence supporters wield over an incumbent, the crisis between Kano’s former and present governors has been festering under the wraps since the commencement of Ganduje’s administration with a systematic but consistent condemnation of Kwankwaso and his legacies.
Several plots of lands in choice areas allocated to associates by Kwankwaso at the twilight of his regime were revoked by Ganduje and some of the most popular programmes of the former regime, like training of Kano youths as pilots and sponsorship of indigenes education abroad, were discontinued.
The new governor also allegedly sidelined supporters of his former boss in political appointments while he also allegedly sent a memo to President Muhammadu Buhari, to dissuade the presidency from appointing Kwankwaso as the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, a post that the former governor allegedly lobbied for.
Even as the cold war between the two gladiators has come out into the open, supporters of the new governor have introduced a new ideology of Gandujiyya to replace the old creed.
Unveiling the new ideology last year, Special Adviser to Ganduje on Print Media, said, “very soon, you will not hear anything Kwankwasiyya in Kano again. Even the red cap will go with it. We are definitely going to dump it because it has no political benefit. That era is gone for good. We are now talking about the Gandujiyya ideology which we are entrenching.”
He further disclosed that the new creed is a reflection of the “unshakable belief on certain issues that will be beneficial to the common man and the people of Kano State. It is a political ideology that has direct bearing to the people, their needs and aspirations as far as governance and distribution of democratic dividends are concerned.”
The governor’s aide accused Kwankwaso of undue and overbearing influence on his successor saying, “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 for Governor Ganduje from Abuja and that is totally unacceptable; and does not conform with the constitution of APC, our great party.”
Few days later, 34 lawmakers in the 38-member House of Assembly, in a symbolic move signifying final severance of any ideological relationship with Kwankwaso and his supporters, appeared on the floor of the legislature without their usual red caps and publicly announced their intention to embrace the new creed.
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 although the governor, for reasons he explained later, did not follow suit.
From that moment, the 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 old administration.
Accusing the governor of betrayal, Kaduna State coordinator of Kwankwasiyya organization, Alhaji Bala Kubaraci Garkuwa said, “This is purely a case of betrayal. Somebody made you somebody when you were nothing; after making you a deputy governor, he took you to the Ministry of Defense, then to Niger Delta and Dafur; if he wasn’t a good man he wouldn’t do that.”
The coordinator said considering the favour done to Ganduje, even if Kwankwaso had offended him, the latter should have talked to him or sent some elders to talk to him about it rather than openly disparaging the former governor.
Other sources within the camp of Kwankwaso accused Ganduje of deliberately rubbishing the legacies of his former boss because of a selfish agenda.
HOWEVER while defending the position of his government, Ganduje who had earlier disclosed that his former boss did many unwholesome things that were detrimental to the development of the state while in office, said he was only “fine-tuning” policies and projects he inherited from his predecessor.
Speaking last weekend in Kano, Ganduje, who did not go into details “so that I don’t open up a new chapter for quarrel,” also blamed misconceptions and antics of sycophants as responsible for the feud.
The governor said the fact that he was “fine-tuning” policies and projects he inherited from his former boss because of new socio-economic and political realities, has made Kwankwaso and his supporters to accuse him (Ganduje) of betrayal and destruction of the legacies of his former mentor.
Although the governor disclosed that he was no longer on talking terms with Kwankwaso, he expressed his readiness to reconcile with the latter saying, “What is wrong in reconciling with a long time friend and political ally? After all, we were the best of political allies in the history of Nigerian politics.”
Indeed, before the crisis, the duo was actually the best political allies in Nigeria with Ganduje being described even by Kwankwaso as the most reliable and loyal Deputy-Governor in the country.
Although Ganduje had been in government long before Kwankwaso joined politics, having served as commissioners for six years during the military era, their paths crossed in 1999 when they both sought the ticket of the PDP to contest Kano State gubernatorial election.
While Kwankwaso won the primary election, leaders of the party persuaded him to pick Ganduje as his running mate and after winning the governorship poll, both of them worked together for close to two decades.
Last week however, Ganduje said although the former governor made him a running mate, the impression that he “was picked from the streets and made somebody from nobody” was not correct as he emerged number two because the system wanted to compensate him for “losing a primary election that was rigged in favour of Kwankwaso.”
After their defeat in 2003 by Shekarau and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Kwankaso was made the Minister of Defence, the cordial relationship continued and Ganduje emerged as the Special Adviser to his boss. At the end of that tour of duty and remaining in the same political boat, Ganduje was made a member of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) representing northern interests and later seconded to Darfur, Somalia by the Federal Government to head a Special Mission in the war-torn East African country. All these were said to have been influenced by Kwankwaso.
Throughout these political voyages, Ganduje continued latching on to the apron strings of his mentor such that it became natural to be entrusted, once again, with the position of Deputy when an ideological route was charted to the Government House in 2011.Subsequently in 2015, having traversed the same political course that took them to the APC with a high display of loyalty and submission that the Nigerian Constitution only allowed for a Deputy-Governor, Ganduje became the rightful successor to Kwankwaso who apparently didn’t envisage that his ward would seek to wean himself of his influence.
WHILE the crisis is taking its toll on state’s development because of project abandonment and policy summersaults that are at variance with a seamless continuity promised the electorate during the campaigns, a huge pall of suspense is hanging on the state’s political firmament.The government is said to be losing millions of naira in the destructive ego trips of the two gladiators and their supporters and in the process of outdoing each other, raising the state’s political temperature.
Last week, the Ganduje government announced a plan to redesign the multi-billion naira Kwankwasiyya overhead bridge and underpass in the Kano metropolis to accommodate new traffic realities but critics said the projects was only listed because of its name and that after the redesigning, it could be renamed after the incumbent governor.
But as 2019 approaches, the major fallout of the enmity between the Kano political gladiators will definitely be felt in the polity because of the far-reaching effects the feud is already having on the internal politics of the APC and the roles of Kano politicians in the next presidential polls.
As a major player in the presidential politics of 2015 during which he threw his hat into the ring and became a runner-up to the party’s candidate, pushing former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar to a third position, Kwankwaso is believed to be nursing the ambition of seeking the presidency again.
The Ganduje crowd has however assured him of a brick wall insisting that they were ready to work for Buhari’s re-election and “not for overambitious politicians who want to selfishly dominate the political space.”
During his first trip to the state after leaving office and taking up the seat of Kano Central Senatorial District, Kwankwaso, on a condolence visit to his successor for the burial of the governor’s mother in Ganduje town, rustled feathers when his long convoy of vehicles and hundreds of his supporters, chanted anti-Ganduje slogans and displayed banners promoting the Senator’s presidential ambition.
Of course, this didn’t go down well with the state’s political establishment, which threatened to suspend the former governor and his supporters who are believed to be nursing the ambition repeating the 2014 experience by floating a new platform to tackle the APC at the national level.
Worried by the crisis and reduce its effects on governance and politics of the state, northern states governors have began moves to reconcile the duo with Katsina State governor, Aminu Masari, leading the peace move.
The peaceful intervention of the governors has however not yielded the desired results as the two camps continue to dig deeper into the trenches and wait for an auspicious time to launch political offensives against each other.Confirming this, Ganduje said the duo has lost communication contacts with each other for a long time.
The governor blamed “sycophants” who alleged that he had abandoned the Kwankwasiyya ideology saying, “We were the proponents of that ideology. We wont abandon it because we were there when it was propounded.”
This was in apparent reaction to a demand by former Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to Kwankwaso, Alhaji Sheu Garba Gwammaja that Ganduje, being the only one still wearing the red cap in his administration, should drop it or face legal action. He had earlier offered to purchase the governor’s red cap for one million naira.
Ganduje’s Commissioner for Information, Mallam Garba Mohammed however said the governor retain the red cap to maintain the link with the legendary Aminu Kano and that the decision was “a manifestation of his high sense of decency, decorum, responsibility, modesty and political astuteness.”