On November 30 and December 17 last year, the Federal High Court in Abuja ruled against the faction of Governor Abbdullahi Ganduje in the internal crisis that has torn the All Progressives Congress (APC) apart in Kano State.
The crisis pits Mr Ganduje against a group led by a former governor of the state who is now the senator for Kano Central District, Ibrahim Shekarau. The two factions had held parallel congresses and produced two sets of state executives on October 18.
While Mr Ganduje’s group produced Abdullahi Abbas as state chairman of the party, Mr Shekarau’s camp elected Haruna Danzago to the same position.
However, the Federal High Court on November 30 declared the congress conducted by Mr Shekarau’s group as valid and the officials it produced as the duly elected leaders of the APC in the state.
On December 17, the court reaffirmed that judgment while rejecting a motion filed by the Ganduje faction asking the court to stay execution and set aside the judgment.
The judge, Hamza Muazu, further imposed a fine of N1 million against the plaintiffs for filing “a frivolous and time-wasting motion.”
The Ganduje factional chairman, Mr Abbas, while addressing the party executives produced by his faction at Coronation Hall, Government House, on December 1, dismissed the judgment as nonsensical. He said his executives would remain in place despite the court’s pronouncement.
“In this very Kano, we dealt with Kwankwaso (Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former governor also at odds with Mr Ganduje). Then who is Shekarau? You should wait and see what we will do with him,” Mr Abbass said on that occasion.
“We woke up to a commotion that one court in Abuja had dissolved the executives of the party at ward level. This is nonsense talk. No court can elect excos, you are the authentic party executives as far as we are concerned and you will continue to lead as executives,” Mr Abbas said.
At the event, Mr Abbas aimed jabs at Mr Shekarau, noting that the former governor enjoyed a waiver to clinch his nomination for his senatorial seat unchallenged.
“Shekarau hid under the cover of religion and was freely given governorship ticket under the APP (the All People’s Party now defunct). Also in 2019 that is how he became senator. But now he is planning to seize the party. That will not happen, unless all of us will lose,” Mr Abbas said amidst thunderous cheers from the party supporters.
“Any politician aspiring for elective seat must contest for the position, it is left for the electorate to elect him if he/she empowered them with motorcycles or vehicles but you cannot deceive us with religion again.
“You cannot tell us that this town (Kano) is not for infidels. Even before you came to this town (Kano), we were practicing Islam. Go back to your state and deceive them, we will no longer believe you in Kano,” Mr Abbas said.
A day after the pronouncements by Mr Abbas, thugs burnt down the campaign office of Barau Jibrin, the senator for Kano North and a leader in Mr Shekaru’s faction.
Although the Ganduje faction denied having a hand in the arson, the Shekarau faction petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Usman, accusing Mr Abbas and others as the masterminds.
United minority crushing divided majority
The Shekarau faction, known as G7, which has Mr Jibrin and four members of the House of Representatives, including Nasiru Abdua, Tijjani Jobe, Sha’aban Sharada and Haruna Dederi, appears to have the upper hand in the infighting after the court judgments.
However, Kabiru Gaya, the senator representing Kano South, abruptly withdrew from the G7 after the group wrote a petition to the national leadership of the APC accusing Governor Ganduje of hijacking the party.
Mr Gaya said, “I told them, if we have any grievances, let us go and meet the governor or any relevant person in the state to explain our grievances. We can hold meetings and discuss and resolve it.
“Unfortunately, they have written a letter and made a complaint which all of us should sign but I backed out because I was a governor in the state. I know what it takes when there is instability. I will not encourage instability for the governor in the state,” Mr Gaya said.
Mr Gaya said himself and 20 members of the House of Representatives in the Kano Caucus of the National Assembly had written a rejoinder to the APC headquarters to the G7’s petition.
But with the G7 gaining support in the party, Mr Gaya might be having a rethink of his decision as he is also confronting another challenge.
A former aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, Kawu Sumaila, who is in the Ganduje faction, on December 4 on a programme on Guarantee Radio, alleged that Mr Gaya has not provided satisfactory representation for his senatorial district.
Mr Sumaila is believed to be eyeing Mr Gaya’s senatorial seat and from the statement did not seem sympathetic anymore to the Ganduje faction. .
The Shekarau faction, on November 16, also recieved into its fold Mr Ganduje’s former deputy, Hafiz Abubakar. Mr Abubakar, a professor, was Mr Ganduje’s deputy from 2015 to 2018 but dumped him in the build-up to the 2019 election. But after losing the governorship primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he rejoined the APC.
On December 28, the Special Adviser to Governor Ganduje on State Affairs, Muhammad Shehu, also resigned his appointment and announced his loyalty to Mr Shekarau.
Mr Shehu told journalists that he took the decision to join the Shekarau faction alongside thousands of his supporters due to lack of purposeful leadership by the Abbas-led faction.
He said he and his supporters would be campaigning for Mr Jibrin for governor in the 2023 elections.
That is not all
A Facebook page, “Fagge A yaune” which propagates for former Kano speaker, Abbdullahi Atta, who is of the Ganduje faction, also congratulated the Shekaru faction over the December 17 court judgment. However, the post was later removed, PREMIUM TIMES gathered, at the directive of Mr Atta.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that some members of the APC loyal to Mr Ganduje are also registering their support for the Shekarau faction.
Forces dragging Ganduje in the mud
The party crisis has its roots in the dissatisfaction of many party members with their alleged marginalisation in the party in the state. But it has been aggravated by the politics of succession involving two governorship aspirants who had both been loyalists of Governor Ganduje.
Mr Jibrin, who is also the Chairman of the Senate Appropriation Committee, is considered one of the favourites to clinch the APC governorship ticket for 2023. But loyalists of the governor tend to prefer a member of Mr Ganduje’s cabint, Murtala Garo. The battle for the control of the party’s structure in the state to place the aspirants well in the race for the tickets of the APC was what led to the crisis becoming intractable.
Although Mr Jibrin hails from Kabo Local Government Area in Kano North, he was elected in 1999 to the House of Representatives from the Tarauni Federal Constituency in Kano Central District. In 2015, he returned home to Kano North when he was elected to represent the district at the Senate from Kabo.
Mr Garo, who is the commissioner for local government affairs, is also from Kabo. He had shot into political limelight in the 2019 general election after he stormed the collation centre and allegedly tore up the result sheets of Nassarawa Local Government. That infamous act contributed to the controversial declaration of the governorship election as inconclusive. Until that point in the election, the PDP candidate appeared headed for victory.
The Managing Director of Kano Road and Traffic Agency, Baffa Dan’agundi, said on Aminci Radio recently that Mr Ganduje was dragged into the crisis by desperate politicians surrounding him. Mr Dan’agundi, who is considered a member of Mr Ganduje’s kitchen, said the crisis was initially in Kabo local government area where both Messrs Jibrin and Garo come from. The former Kano lawmaker said contrary to public perception, Messrs Shekarau and Jibrin are not Mr Ganduje’s enemies.
“Barau Jibrin’s loyalty to Ganduje has been proven over time. Mr Barau was always there for the governor within and outside the state. He has been called names due to his loyalty and closeness to the governor.
Likewise, Shekarau is a long time friend of Ganduje and their wives are the best of friends,” Mr Dan’agundi added.
“I believed that Ganduje was caged by a cabal feeding him with fairy tales which do not reflect the true happenings on the ground. You can imagine that Mr Shekarau, who also holds the traditional title of ‘Sardaunan Kano,’ tryng to see the governor but could not for seven months.
“The governor might not be aware of their tricks but I believe he has learnt more from this crisis that he was dragged into,” Mr Dan’agundi said.
Ganduje’s wife endorsed successor
The wife of the governor, Hafsat Ganduje, had in August endorsed Mr Garo as her husband’s successor. Speaking at a political gathering in Ungogo Local Government Area, Mrs Ganduje said Mr Garo is the ideal person to succeed her husband. However, the statement was greeted with criticism from party supporters.
She said what she saw of Mr Garo’s achievements as commissioner during her trip to Ungogo local government convinced her that he is the ideal candidate to succeed her husband in 2023. She said the governor wants an educated, agile and hardworking young man to run the local governments and to succeed him.
However, after a backlash, the state commissioner for Information, Muhammad Garba, said the governor’s wife was qouted out of context. He said Mrs Ganduje was only impressed by Mr Garo’s performance and his support for the policies and programmes of her husband’s administration. Notwithstanding the statement, many believe that Mr Ganduje has a soft spot for Mr Garo and wants to impose him as the APC flagbearer in the state in 2023.
How the crisis will end
A political scientist, Sa’idu Dukawa of the Department of Political Science, Bayero University, Kano, has predicted a possible outcome of the current crisis in Kano APC.
“Three things will eventually happen in the Kano APC crisis. The losers after exhausting the legal process, will either concede defeat to the winning faction or leave the party or remain in the party to engage in anti-party activities in the forth coming elections,” Mr Dukawa said.
He said an internal crisis in a political party is not strange. He, however, blamed the Kano APC crisis on lack of internal democracy.
Mr Dukawa said had the APC leaders in the state conducted transparent ward and local government congresses, the crisis would not have degerated into a legal tussle. The party had adopted a consensus arrangement for the election of party leaders in in the 484 wards and 44 local government areas of the state. But Mr Dukawa said the consensus mode and the processes were shrouded in secrecy and featured intimidation and arbitrary used of government power, which resulted in the crisis.
“Political philosophers note the conflicting interests of humans. That brought about the concept of election to give chances for every aspirant to participate in the process. However, the politician for one reasons or other refused to conduct elections and came out with the consensus arrangement,” Mr Dukawa said.
“The consensus arrangement was designed to serve the interests of governors and political godfathers. In the process, they impose candidates on the electorate and that normally brings about internal party crisis because the popular aspirant may not emerge,” he said.
He said credible elections are the solution to internal party crisis, adding that failure of political parties to conduct elections will always result in legal tussle.
“If you can influence the outcome of the consensus process, you may not be able to influence a court judgment. If the Kano APC had followed all the processes, putting into consideration the Nigerian constitution, party constitution and the elections guidelines and procedures; that would have helped them in the legal issues,” he said.
2022, year of reconciliation, peace – Ganduje
Mr Ganduje, however, has been preaching peace and reconciliation. In his New Year message, he said 2022 will usher in a new era of peace and reconciliation among politicians in the state and the country in general.
The governor said the next few months should see internal democracy flourish and political parties produce credible candidates at the various levels who can win elections and build on the laudable programmes and policies of their predecessors.
The message signed by the state’s commissioner for Information, Muhammad Garba, said: “From all indications, recent event in Kano is likely to bring a new dawn in the political history of the state.”
He said seeing Kano political gladiators emphasising the need for reconciliation has elicited excitement among the people of the state.
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