It goes without saying that Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso and Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje have enjoyed a very fruitful working, or rather, political relationship over the decades. But as the saying goes, “there is only a thin line between love and hate.” Daily Trust Saturday writes on how things are falling apart between the two hitherto political bedfellows.
The duo began their cordial political journey in 1998 when, with the intervention of some Kano political power brokers, Dr Ganduje was convinced to drop his gubernatorial ambition to join Kwankwaso as his running mate in 1999 under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
They won the election and served for four years, and in 2003 they re-contested and lost to Malam Ibrahim Shekarau.
Their relationship continued even after losing the election as Kwankwaso was appointed minister of defence by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
They served together and never parted ways.
However, in 2007 the duo made an attempt to stage a comeback move but was stopped by a white paper issued by the then Governor Shekarau. That affected their ambition to return as gubernatorial aspirants in 2007, and for eight years, Kwankwaso and Ganduje devoted their time in establishing a political movement that saw to their return in 2011 under the PDP after the lifting of the white paper.
It was indeed a historic and hopeful development that the cordial political relationship between them stood the test of time for decades.
Moreover, after a secret intra-party battle in the quest for a successor, Kwankwaso accepted Ganduje as his successor in 2015.
Consistently, Ganduje contested and won, thus succeeding his friend and political boss.
How things fell apart
However, barely a year after his succession, issues began to spring up on the once cordial relationship between the two. What really broke the camel’s back was the outcome of Kwankwaso’s visit to condole Ganduje on his mother’s death in 2016. It became clear that all was not well between the then Governor Ganduje and his predecessor, Kwankwaso.
It was clear that the once cordial relationship between the two political friends had degenerated into political enmity.
In 2019, Ganduje narrowly escaped losing his seat to Kwankwaso’s candidate, all thanks to the ‘Inconclusive’ saga, and after the 2019 issue, it gradually became apparent that despite moves by some concerned citizens in the state, the chances for peace between the two politicians departed for good as two strong supporters camps – Kwankwasiya and Gandujiyya emerged.
However, in 2023, Kwankwaso’s candidate for the number one seat in the state under the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) was declared winner by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC). As expected, Ganduje’s political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), protested the victory at the tribunal.
Consequently, the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Kano, on September 20, 2023 sacked Governor Abba Yusuf of the NNPP and declared the candidate of the APC, Nasir Yusuf Gawuna as the winner of the March 18, 2023 governorship election.
Although, both political heavy weights are ex-governors of Kano State, the feud between them took a renewed dimension as both scrambled for relevance in the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led administration, to an extent that Ganduje openly said he would have slapped Kwankwaso if he got the opportunity.
Kwankwaso also openly replied Ganduje by saying, “I heard that he said he would have slapped me, but I am here. He was just confused. These are all my boys, politically. They can’t even look at me straight in the face if we meet.”
The Ganduje camp also alleged that the NNPP-led Kano State Government had begun what they called a vendetta move in destroying all the good works it did in its eight years, while the Kwankwaso camp claimed that they were only rescuing Kano from being destroyed.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that not a few analysts have said the feud between the two political giants was affecting the state’s polity and heating the political atmosphere in many ways.
It would be recalled that at a point when the judgement of the tribunal was awaited, the then Commissioner for Land and Physical Planning in the state, Adamu Kibiya, issued a death threat to the judges hearing the governorship election petitions in the state. This forced the NNPP government in the state to sack the commissioner, along with a special adviser on youths and sports, Yusuf Imam, for making unguarded statements against the person of Vice President Kashim Shattima.
These happenings were viewed as the aftermath of the trend the state politics had taken. Also, supporters of the NNPP claimed that the same threat to their party members was issued before the 2023 elections by the chairman of the APC in the state, Abdullahi Abbas.
Similarly, a 23-year-old woman, Fiddausi Ahmadu was arrested by the State Security Service (SSS) for threatening to stage a suicide bomb attack on an election tribunal judge, alongside those she felt were responsible for the victory of the APC governorship candidate at the tribunal.
For one of the state’s APC chieftains, Alhaji Abdulmajid Dan Bilki, this development is a threat to the state’s political sanity. He added that the political atmosphere in the state was under threat due to the feud between the two political giants. He is of the view that the state’s polity is facing a serious threat that would only spell doom for its political records.
Dan Bilki attributed the feud to personal quest for political supremacy and not the state’s political independence.
“Let the truth be told, these two important personalities in the state’s political history have the same root in politics, they are birds of a feather that have refused to flock together. Their feud has introduced politics of no respect and inciting activities to the state.
“These are indeed bad omen to our politics and a threat to the state’s sustainable political stability. These people should understand that they have no base better than Kano, and the earlier they learn to retract their steps, the better,” Dan Bilki said.
It is apparent that with the Kwankwasiyya movement, which is seen as more powerful than any political party in the state, Ganduje’s followers are also trying to form theirs (Gandujiyya), and this attempt is seen as preparation for a political battle that no one knows when it will end.
However, political professionals in the academia view the current political antecedence in Kano State as becoming nasty and unhealthy as it has failed to preserve democratic values.
Dr Saídu Ahmad Dukawa, a political scientist and lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Bayero University, Kano said, “Most certainly, politicking in Kano State is gradually becoming nasty, and it is not healthy for the development of democracy or national development generally.
“The essence of democracy is largely to preserve values and encourage development. But the way things are going in Kano today is counterproductive.
Things are happening in such a way and manner that you can hardly say there is anything positive in it,” he said.
He said it was unfortunate that the two political godfathers in the state had taken their competition for relevance too far at the detriment of the state’s development, thereby making many of their supporters insensitive to citizens’ plights and being reckless with their words.
Dr Dukawa said there was need for caution in order to put the state’s development processes in focus.
“Actually, there is a need for greater caution. These big wigs in Kano politics should put the interest of the state first and sit down and see how they can cooperate in facilitating the development of the state.
“There is nothing wrong if Ganduje brings whatever is good for the state from the federal government to Kano and Kwankwaso uses his party and the government he has formed in the development of Kano.
“I don’t see any reason they should engage in such clash, to the extent that they are causing a great deal of harm to the development of the state,” he stated.