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Kano guber poll: It’s Gawuna versus Abba

The title implies that only the candidates of APC and NNPP can win next year’s governorship election in Kano State. Hence, let me hasten to…

The title implies that only the candidates of APC and NNPP can win next year’s governorship election in Kano State. Hence, let me hasten to add that I am not discounting the chances of other candidates such as Sadiq Aminu Wali of PDP, Sheikh Ibrahim Khalil of ADC, Sha’aban Ibrahim Sharada of ADP, and Salihu Tanko Yakasai of PRP. In fact, the election of Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya as governor under the defunct NRC in December 1991 had taught us to never assume that only the candidates of popular parties can win elections.

That year, there was tremendous support for Engr. Magaji Abdullahi of SDP because he was backed by political heavyweights and the party had state-wide popularity. So, everyone thought the governorship seat was for late Magaji to pick; no one gave Gaya a chance. However, in the night of the voting day, as a result of infighting, one of the SDP leaders, Muhammad Abubakar Rimi, who was the state’s first executive governor, asked all his supporters to cast their votes for the opposition candidate. To everybody’s surprise, including Gaya himself, the NRC won and he emerged as the third executive governor.

Right now, there are indications that the same scenario might play out in 2023. Sharada and Khalil, for instance, may cause upset due to certain factors that favour them. While the former is making waves as youths and women flock around him, the latter as a leading Islamic cleric could sway the votes of the Ulama and their followers whose large number is a force to reckon with in any election.

You may wonder why Sadiq Wali of PDP – the supposedly main opposition party in all non-PDP states – is not in the equation. Many parties in Kano have fielded greenhorns, but people are more concerned about PDP. Besides, Kano PDP has been bedevilled by squabbles that have left it comatose for too long. Actually, as at the time of writing this piece three people still claim to be its governorship candidates. A court verdict is being awaited on which of them is legitimate.

Thus, to say that the main contenders are Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna of APC and Abba Kabir Yusuf of NNPP is not far from the truth. In any case, Gawuna and Abba are popular politicians in their own right. While the former is the deputy governor who has the power of incumbency at his disposal, Abba was works, housing and transport commissioner who executed important capital projects.

As his son-in-law and foremost loyalist, Abba is under the tutelage of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, a political patriarch and former two-term governor of Kano State. Kwankwaso has proven beyond doubt his ability to galvanise the youth, who constitute the bulk of registered voters in the country, to win elections in the past. In 2019 Abba, then contesting for governorship under PDP, was coasting to victory when the election was suddenly declared “inconclusive” by INEC.

Consequently, the re-run was won by the incumbent governor who was seeking a second term, in spite of alleged cases of rigging and an earlier boast by a party leader that willy-nilly he would emerge victorious. Despite the loss, however, observers were amazed that Abba nearly won the election even after several of Kwankwaso’s associates had deserted him in protest against his choice of Abba as candidate. The fear now among contestants is that he might repeat the same feat in 2023. 

Evidently, APC and NNPP have the largest number of supporters in the state. However, both have faced avoidable crises that now threaten their chances at the polls. 

Let us start with APC. Even though Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has incumbency advantage and many achievements to showcase as reasons for his anointed to be elected, he had several drawbacks to contend with. 

Generally, people are dismayed by some government actions which are viewed as self-serving. Such actions include haphazard allocation of plots to associates for indiscriminate construction of offices and shops all over town. Also, thousands of workers, pensioners and their families are distraught for suffering from deductions and delays in payment of salaries and pensions. Pensions keep decreasing monthly.

Similarly, some politicians are disgruntled by government’s inability to exploit partnership with diverse political groups. They also complain about the existence of alleged intrigue groups instigating crises in the party, while others point to alleged failure by leaders to deal effectively with emergency situations which led to the exit of notable politicians.

However, in a deft move to remedy the situation Governor Ganduje made some sacrifices. Admirably, he forsook the choice of a governorship aspirant by an important member of his innermost circle. He also surrendered the ticket for Kano North senatorial seat, which he so much desired, to hitherto disaffected Senator Barau Jibrin. Yet, he could not stop several other stalwarts from defecting.

Among those who defected in recent months are Senator Ibrahim Shekarau and his supporters, Kawu Sumaila, AbdulMumin Jibrin, Bala Gwagwarwa, Sha’aban Sharada, Kabiru Rurum, Tijjani Jobe, Haruna Dederi and Nasiru Abduwa – each with their supporters in tow. If with all these stalwarts APC could only win the governorship via “inconclusive” in 2019, can it cope without them next year?

As for NNPP, save for some defections, lack of funds is its only known setback. This made some friends of Abba to call for donations of N1000 each by party supporters recently. However, shortly after criticisms, Abba stopped the move. Analysts attributed the development to the likelihood that Kwankwaso, NNPP’s main financier and presidential candidate, has focused his attention elsewhere.

Having said that. Is the title of this piece which suggests that the governorship contest is essentially between APC and NNPP justifiable or not? If not, would the reader rather pray for a repeat of the 1992 miracle in 2023, which will produce an unexpected winner from the PDP, ADC, ADP or PRP?

Muhammad wrote from Kano and can be reached via [email protected]

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