The conventions have come and gone, and now the stage is set for a serious campaign, in the struggle for the political control of Nigeria. It is a battle between all the political parties, which, according to the show and display of their strengths, can be classified into heavyweights, middleweights, and lightweights.
Under normal circumstances, in a political contest, the one-party that should be of concern to everybody is the heavyweight, because it is the frontrunner. However, with what is trying to happen in Nigeria, as the country prepares for the 2023 general election, the scenario seems set, for the lightweight to gain more prominence than the heavyweight, with Kwankwaso poised to play the central actor.
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The 2023 general election of Nigeria is scheduled to hold in February and in the bid for who succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari, the two major political parties have fielded juggernauts, with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in the PDP, and the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the APC.
APC is the ruling party and PDP is the major opposition party. But a seemingly inconsequential party with the name NNPP has also entered the race, driven by the force of an individual, that is fast becoming a thorn in the throat of Nigeria’s political heavyweights. The person in question is Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the former governor of Kano state.
Ordinarily, if Muhammadu Buhari is contesting, the coming of Kwankwaso would not be much of a problem, they have tested their strengths before, and the result has shown the clarity in the difference. But Buhari would not be there. It would be a clear contest between Atiku and Tinubu, and Kwankwaso had once beaten Atiku. But can he beat Tinubu?
The theory under test is not whether Kwankwaso can beat Tinubu or Atiku right away. No. All rationale indices are not in support of such supposition. But the major worry is that he can play the spoiler that would dampen the performance of the two.
With Kano being a major reservoir of votes in Nigeria, and with his large followership in Kano, anyone who thinks Kwankwaso can not harm the calculation, needs to visit a psychiatrist. Yes, anyone unwilling to perish the thought of Kwankwaso’s inferior political powers, can be classified as a certified candidate for Dawanau or Arrow mental home.
I am not a supporter of Kwankwaso, because his political humility conflicts with my concept of modesty in politics and followership. However, I am not a nincompoop, who would play the fool, or hide behind a finger, by downplaying the political powers of Kwankwaso in Kano. He has visible followers, and where need physical presence is required, they can come freely as a fearful force.
Whether their intimidating presence can effect a change, is another subject of discussion. But on face value, they are there with a no-nonsense posture.
It is in recognition of his ability to command or even control and influence the outcome of political events in Kano, vis-a-vis the strategic importance of Kano as the state with the second-largest registered voters, that I feel, there is a lot to gain, by collaborating with Kwankwaso to gain victory in the 2023 general elections.
Sometimes last month, on a Channels TV programme, former governor Orji Kalu, and the current senate chief whip, cried out loud that, Kwankwaso stands to benefit if the APC and the PDP failed to field the 2023 presidential candidates from the Southeast and Northeast. Alas, the two parties have not heeded the warnings of Orji Kalu, whose main concern is the votes of Kano, and how Kwankwaso can play a spoiler, which is beginning to manifest in the high-profile defections to the NNPP, the party he is controlling.
Kwankwaso was in the APC, but dumped it and joined the PDP. Not long ago, he also dumped the PDP for the little-known NNPP, wherein he declared his intention to run for president in 2023.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Lagos, and Kano states have the highest number of registered voters with 6.5 million and 5.4 million respectively.
In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari won all the 44 local government areas of Kano State with 1.4 million votes, to beat Atiku Abubakar, who succeeded in getting only 391,593 votes. Overall, PMB cornered 15.2m votes compared to the 11.3m for Atiku Abubakar.
So if the arithmetic is done well, it means, that out of the nearly 2m vote margin between PMB and Atiku, about 1.5m votes came from Kano. This means whoever has control of Kano, is virtually a winner in waiting. Hence, the concomitant credit of collaborating with Kwankwaso come 2023.
I am sure even Kwankwaso is aware of this. He knows that his party hasn’t the wherewithal to grab the presidency, but because of his support in Kano, he can play the spoiler.
The news making the rounds is that Atiku is making moves to reach out to Kwankwaso for possible collaboration next year. On Friday, Mallam Nasir El-Eufai was on Channels TV, talking about the importance of his party, the APC reaching out to Kwankwaso.
So either way, Kwankwaso has become the necessary bride, that needs to be courted because there is concomitant credit in such collaboration.
Governor Ganduje is there for the APC, but there is an adage in Hausa that says, even if you are handsome, it would do you some good to boost it with a bath.
By Bala Ibrahim who writes from Abuja