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The ticking political time bomb in Kano

Kano, the nation’s most populous state, rich in political and economic history, and the most sought-after state politically on account of its massive voting strength…

Kano, the nation’s most populous state, rich in political and economic history, and the most sought-after state politically on account of its massive voting strength is now seething with political discontent which threatens to boil over with potential negative consequences to the nation.

The ruckus in Kano, as many know, follows from the last governorship election which pitted the Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso-led New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and the All Progressives Congress Party (APC) in a contest of political will. NNPP featured Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf as its candidate and APC fielded Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, the deputy governor to the outgone Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, at the elections.

Engr. Abba Yusuf emerged as the winner but the APC filed a suit claiming irregularities in the vote tally of Engr. Yusuf which the tribunal, through a judgment delivered via Zoom, concurred with and declared the challenger Gawuna as duly elected. Not satisfied, Engr. Yusuf and the NNPP took the matter to the Appeal Court which on November 16, affirmed the judgment of the tribunal with a new twist, declaring that Engr. Yusuf was not even a duly registered member of the NNPP as of the time he stood for the election.

Following this judgment, Engr. Yusuf, who currently sits in Government House Kano while the suit is being determined through the courts, has proceeded to the Supreme Court where the final verdict will be given on the case.

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All through the case – from the tribunal to the Appeal Court and now as the judgment of the Supreme Court is being awaited with bated breath -tension has been building in the ancient city and the 44 local government areas of the state. Indeed, due to the strategic political and economic importance of Kano State to the nation, interest on the case and its outcome has generated interest across Nigeria with legal experts, politicians, analysts and common folk weighing in with their thoughts and views.

Although on the surface the issue may look like an aggro between the NNPP and APC, in reality, it is essentially a battle to establish who between the two former governors of the state, Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso the national leader of the NNPP and Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who is now the National Chairman of the APC, has the political bragging rights to Kano.

During his tenure as governor of Kano State, Kwankwaso had Ganduje as his deputy for eight years and the relationship between them was congenial. The parting of ways, however, occurred when Ganduje succeeded Kwankwaso as governor and Nigerians watched as the perennial Nigerian factor of friction between ‘’godfather’’ and ‘’godson’’ began to kick in.

The no-love-lost relationship between the two manifested ominously during Ganduje’s tenure as governor such that Kwankwaso was declared persona non grata in Kano which kept him out of the state for quite some time.

I paid a brief visit to Kano last week and the political tension building up was so palpable you could cut right through it with a knife. On the highway to Kano, as you approach the ancient city right from Dangora, into Kano municipality, you could see billboards, and vehicles conveying people to processions and rallies blaring with songs protesting the tribunal and appeal judgments which went against the current governor of the state, Abba Kabiru Yusuf.

On the streets of Kano, in the ever-bustling markets, mosques and public places, the main talk is that of the Supreme Court verdict which most people caution that the only way trouble could be avoided is for the apex court to set aside the judgments of the two lower courts.

My sense is that the majority of people in Kano feel that the APC wants to get back through the courts what they could not win by popular votes at the last governorship election. There is also the belief that Ganduje, who is now the chairman of the party, is under pressure to deliver Kano politically for two reasons; first to justify and consolidate his position as chairman of APC and secondly, to secure the rich votes of the state for the 2027 elections.

For the NNPP, the bone of contention is that as in the 2019 elections which it feels it won but had its victory snatched away, the APC again is trying to repeat the same in 2023. The NNPP recalls painfully that in the 2019 governorship election the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) somehow curiously declared the election inconclusive and ordered a re-run which the APC contrived to muscle its way to victory.

This time around, with the NNPP in Government House Kano, toppling it from power will result in grave consequences for Kano and Nigeria.

Perhaps that is why the people of Kano are leaving nothing to chance. In an unprecedented development, Kano women, in their thousands, came out onto the streets in protest about what they viewed as an attempt to snatch the mandate of NNPP.

The civic actions are not just limited to Kano alone, they are spilling over to other states. Similar demonstrations have been held in Abuja, Ibadan and Lagos.

Indeed, the stakes are so high in Kano that we may have reached a point of no return. If the Supreme Court affirms the judgments of the lower courts, with the charged political atmosphere as it is in Kano, it will be hard to avoid a major political crisis in Kano and even beyond. If on the other hand, APC loses, then not only will Ganduje’s position as chairman of the party be shaky, it may likely result in APC losing ground in Kano and possibly the vote-rich North-West region of Nigeria. This will so seriously dent the standing of the party nationally that it may affect its chances at the 2027 elections.

Nigerians cannot but recall that similar developments occurred in the first and second republics. In the first republic, it was the insistence of the central government to politically capture the Western region of Nigeria at all costs that was largely responsible for the political turbulence of that period in Nigerian political history. We need not recant the tragic results that followed. Similarly, in the second republic, the ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the 1983 elections sought to re-enact the same political scenario in the infamous ‘’landslide’’, ‘’moonslide’’ attempt at political capture of opposition areas using federal might.

The current political developments in Kano are in many ways a replay of those unfortunate developments of the past.

That is why we must view and approach the Kano political situation with extreme caution. With the prevailing harsh socio-economic situation in the country, the developments in Kano might just be the trigger for a chain of untoward events that may engulf the country.

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