Events that unfolded this week have further widened the perceived crack in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kano State as a former governor, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau and incumbent governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, made strategic moves for the heart and soul of the party, as delegates today ‘elect’ their state leaders.
For many observers of Kano politics, while the union of different political players that teamed up to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 governorship election in the state has been shaky after the election, developments this week brought the dichotomy between the camps to the fore.
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Shekarau, a two-term former governor of the state and current senator representing Kano Central, had teamed up with Senator Barau Jibrin (Kano North), as well as House of Representatives members – Sha’aban Sharada (Kano Municipal), Tijjani Jobe (Dawakin Tofa/Tofa/Rimingado), Haruna Dederi (Karaye/Rogo) and Nasiru Auduwa (Gabasawa/Gezawa), as well as and Shehu Dalhatu, the chairman, Buhari Support Group – to write a petition to the national secretariat of the party under the auspices of Joint Stakeholders Forum.
They had, among other things, alleged that they had been sidelined by the leadership of the party in the state despite investing to the success of the party. They demanded for the cancellation of the ward and local government congresses of the party.
Before the petition, observers of Kano politics had identified at least seven issues causing rift in the party, notably, the perceived coldness between Ganduje and Shekarau. Sources in Shekarau’s camp in June indicated that all was not well, stressing that they believed the governor had not been fair to them after their role to help him retain power in 2019. This line of thought informed the major crux of the petition, submitted to the party’s headquarters on Wednesday.
Other issues include the rift within the APC family in Kano Municipal, leading to the reported suspension of Sharada (the rep member) as well as the issues between the governor and Jobe, the federal lawmaker for Dawakin Tofa/Tofa/Rimingado, the constituency of the governor. There are already insinuations that the governor is grooming one of his sons to take over the seat of the lawmaker at the green chamber.
After the ward and local government congresses, the duo of Sharada and Jobe had marched to the state headquarters of the party to submit the results of a parallel congress that members of the party loyal to them organised.
Another issue identified as the cause of the crisis is the animosity between Senator Barau Jibrin and the commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs, Murtala Sule-Garo. While both are from the same senatorial district, personal ambition and struggle to control the local politics in the zone is said to be tearing them apart, with thugs believed to be loyal to both clashing at several events.
Senator Jibrin is believed to be hoping to replace Ganduje as governor in 2023, while Sule-Garo is being touted as a deputy governorship candidate in 2023 to run on a joint ticket with the current deputy governor, Yusuf Gawuna; hence, Jibrin’s decision to team up against the governor came with mixed feelings for many.
With the state congress of the party holding today, the battle for the chairmanship of the party had also been identified as one of the major reasons for the crack in the party.
The current interim chairman, Abdullahi Abbas, who has been adopted as a consensus candidate by the party’s stakeholders that met on Thursday, is having a formidable challenger for the seat in the person of a former chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Ahmadu Haruna Danzago. Both of them are considered close to Ganduje but are seldom seen together with the governor at any occasion because of the perceived animosity between them.
Danzago’s presence at a meeting on Tuesday in Shekarau’s Abuja house that preceded the petition had indicated that perhaps he was on the side of the opposition, according to observers. But the veteran politician told Daily Trust Saturday that he was at the meeting to solicit the votes of the lawmakers during the forthcoming congress.
Meanwhile, indicating that no one has been shut out from contesting in the state congress, Ganduje said, “The congress will hold; and the doors are opened to all from every camp to come and contest. It is either by election or consensus. Even where there are no opposing candidates, the contestant will still be subjected to voting.”
The governor said this on Thursday during the APC stakeholders meeting at the Government House in Kano, where he also lambasted Shekarau and other signatories to the petition.
Shekarau group countered
Similarly, on Friday, a former governor of the state and current senator for Kano South, Kabiru Gaya, as well as the majority leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Ado Doguwa and 19 other House members from Kano State, said they had jointly written a letter to the national headquarters of the party, wherein they denounced the content of the Shekarau-led petition.
Gaya, who addressed the press on behalf of the group, insisted that there was no crisis in the Kano APC and that the party leadership in the state had been carrying them along in all the issues that have to do with the state, contrary to the contents of the petition of those he called “Abuja-based petitioners.”
“We are united and will continue to work together as a team,” he said.
Gaya, who had also attended the Tuesday meeting but opted out of signing the petition, told journalists that he had appealed to the aggrieved lawmakers not to take a combative posture, but his position was dwarfed by that of the majority at the meeting.
“I had to back out (from signing the petition) because I was a governor of the state and I know what securing the state is like. As a former governor, I will not encourage instability of any kind in the state. We voted this government into office and we cannot destroy the house we built,” he said.
He added that he had not been attending the meeting with them normally, saying he hoped the lawmakers would see reasons to come back to the main group.
Also speaking, the majority leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Doguwa, said that in the course of interaction with his colleagues, “We have always extended a hand of fellowship to make sure we remain together and work as a team.”
Alluding to the four rep members that joined the Shekarau petition, Doguwa said “We have discussed with them extensively at various times; and we will continue to extend our hand of fellowship to them. It is our hope that they would see practical reasons to return to the mainstream and not to continue to astray. The APC will remain united.”
While the daggers appear to have been drawn ahead of the 2023 general elections, observers said all hope for the party now rested on how the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led national caretaker committee of the party is able to resolve the issues and bring the disgruntled lawmakers and their teeming followers back into the fold if the party intends to retain its hold on the country’s most populated state.