Last week, at the colourful Hawan Daushe durbar to celebrate the eid festivities in Kano, political tensions that have been rising in the state came to a fore when violent confrontations between supporters of former governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso clashed with supporters of incumbent Abdullahi Ganduje.
Apart from cleaving open human flesh with dangerous weapons, Saturday September 2nd clashes at the Emir’s palace Kofar Kudu could have opened deeper chasm on the political canvass in the state and the two leading political figures. With jostlings already on for the 2019 elections, there is no telling how much implication this would have on the ruling All Progressives Congress, especially considering that Kano, is one of the largest support base of the party.
The rift between Kwankwanso and his army of red cap supporters and his once close ally Ganduje has surprised many. The two have served two terms as governor and deputy in Kano and have had a long history of working together and when Kwankwaso championed Ganduje’s 2015 bid to succeed him as governor of Kano State, many observers expected a happy ending to the story. But barely two years down the line, has the bad blood between the two politicians resulted in an outbreak of violence.
Already the horse trading and buck shifting has started, with each faction blaming the other for the clash. The APC faction loyal to incumbent Governor Ganduje has denied responsibility for the attacks.
“It is unfair for the members of Kwankwasiyya to blame the governor and his loyalists for the attack,” Alhaji Abdullahi Abbas, factional chairman of the party said. “I want to state categorically that the governor and his loyalists have no hand whatsoever in the unfortunate attack.”
He went further to lay the blame on loyalists to Kwankwaso saying, “Prior to the clash, precisely on the 28th August, 2017, I wrote a letter to the commissioner of police informing him about the Kwankwasiyya’s plan to disrupt the Hawan Daushe. And, after the clash, I also wrote another letter to the police commissioner and made reference to my first letter. I called on the police to take serious action on the matter and I am confident they will.”
According to him, the reason for the clash was simply the refusal of the Kwankwaso–led red caps to recognize that Ganduje was now the man in charge and therefore the leader of the party in the state.
“We have had a change of leadership in Kano but Kwankwaso has failed to accept this fact,” he said. “When he was the governor, we all followed him and respected him and therefore he should also respect Ganduje and follow him.”
But despite the state of affairs in the state, he still retains hope of reconciliation between the two violently opposed factions.
“To be honest there is still hope that this internal crisis will be over. This kind of crisis is normal in any party that formed government but I can confidently tell you that we will resolve our differences before the 2019 general elections,” he said.
However, on the other side of the divide, leading the APC faction loyal to Kwankwanso is Alhaji Umar Haruna Doguwa who felt that Ganduje has betrayed the ideals of the Kwankwasiyya movement and hence the crisis.
“I am the party chairman that led the Ganduje’s campaign in 2015. He became governor under my leadership and I am quite aware that Dr Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso is no longer the governor of Kano State. But the bone of contention between Kwankwasiyya and Gandujiyya is that the latter has deviated from our actual political ideologies that we campaigned and formed government,” he said.
For him, there is a really simply solution to the problem. Only, it is not so simple.
“If today they will go back to our ideologies, I can assure you everything will be okay and we will support each other to move the state forward,” he said.
Even though Ganduje himself has not deviated from identifying with the Kwankwasiyya ideals – he still appears in public in red caps as is practiced by Kwankwaso himself and his supporters – many of his supporters have turned their backs on this tradition and whatever ideals form the Kwankwasiyya ideology.
For many of Kwankwaso’s supporters, this is the most contentious issue.
A former commissioner under Kwankwaso Comrade Aminu Abdulsalam echoed their desire for Ganduje to return to the Kwankwasiyya fold.
“All we want is for the governor to return to the ideologies of Kwankwasiyya which include good governance, provision of quality education, good road, drugs in our hospital and so on so forth,” he said. “Presently, the governor has completely deviated from all these. The people of Kano consider Ganduje as Kwankwaso and it was based on that that they elected him into office in 2015. So, we cannot fold our hands and watch him disappoint them.”
But Ganduje’s commissioner of information Malam Muhammad Garba dispelled allegation that the Ganduje has deviated from the ideologies of Kwankwasiyya as claimed by Comrade Abdulsalam.
“Programmes such as school feeding and foreign scholarship are still being implemented in the state by the Ganduje – led administration. In fact, there is no single project that is important to the people that is left behind by Kwankwaso which Ganduje did not continue,” he said. “Some of these projects have been completed and some are still on. So it is not true for someone to say Ganduje has deviated from Kwankwasiyya’s ideologies.”
However, he did not fail to take a potshot at the former governor and his supporters, accusing them of masterminding the violence outside the Emir’s palace.
“I can confidently tell you that the Kwankwasiyya group planned to embarrass the governor during the durbar and fortunately for him they did not succeed,” he said.
While the accusations and counter accusations continue to be pinged back and forth, one thing that can’t be denied is the deepening rift between the two factions and its implications for the fortunes of the party going forward.
Haruna Doguwa is mindful of this.
“Honestly speaking, the rift is affecting democracy and the state in a negative way and it will possibly affect the party in the subsequent elections.”
If the APC fails to unite its house, the one party that could benefit from the division is the PDP, which was ousted from power by the APC. The opposition party is already relishing the idea and rubbing its palms in anticipation.
A chieftain of the PDP in the state, Ambassador Aminu Wali, Nigeria’s minister of foreign affairs between 2014 and 2015 when the PDP lost power to the APC said this much when contacted by our correspondent.
“The crisis is weakening APC and I can assure you that at the end of it, PDP will be the beneficiary which means it will reclaim the state come 2017,” he said.
He said Kano has had a history of intra-party rifts, recalling the crisis of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) in Kano during the second republic.
“PRP was at that time torn into Tsantsi and Tabo factions. So, this is exactly what is happening in the APC and it will not serve them well in the subsequent elections.
“We are not happy with the crisis, but I can tell you with this crisis going on, APC will not serve the people of Kano well even if it wins election in 2019. What will happen is that if Ganduje becomes the next governor under the party, Kwankwaso will not allow him to work for the people and likewise if Kwankwaso’s candidate becomes the next governor under the party, Ganduje will not allow him to serve the people well,” he concluded.
This however is not an isolated view as the PDP’s Publicity Secretary in the state, Alhaji Musa Dan Birni said, “Instead of fighting each other, they should wait till the election day when they can fight each other with their votes. The clash is very unfortunate and I hope it will not happen again because it is affecting democracy in a negative way. I am sure people will now understand that PDP is the best choice for Nigerians because for the 16 years it governed the country, we never had this kind of clash among the PDP members. With this kind of internal fight between members of APC, I am confident that PDP will reclaim power in the state come 2019,” he said.
A close political associate to both Ganduje and Kwankwaaso, who preferred anonymity, told Daily Trust on Sunday that the crisis was long in the making.
“For the leadership tussle between Kwankwaso and Ganduje, this is something that started since 1999. Though the two politicians have been playing their politics together for many years, but in reality, they differ in terms of political ideologies and their differences are known to many people that are very close to them.”
He also alleged that the crisis has been exacerbated by the management of the 2015 victory with those who worked to entrench the party in power have been sidelined in favour of others.
“Some people who did not contribute to the party’s victory in the last general election have now hijacked APC, while those who lifted the party have been sidelined. So, to be honest with you, the future of APC in Kano as far as 2019 general election is concern is at stake. Unless and until, the party addresses this problem it will not augur well to it in the next election. And, remember Kano is a stronghold of the party.
Another renowned politician in the state, Alhaji Dan Azumi Gwarzo, said the political atmosphere in Kano is gradually deteriorating as according to him, the tussle between Ganduje and Kwankwaso is benefiting others to the detriment of the state.
“The most unfortunate thing in the whole issue is that the national body of the party has failed to take necessary action to address this problem. I’m made to understand that the party is afraid to lose any of them because if today Ganduje approaches the leadership of the party with an issue, they will please him and if tomorrow Kwankwaso approaches them with an issue, they will also console him,” he said.
He went on to make a bold claim saying, “I am suspecting that the party’s national leadership is benefiting from Kwankwaso and Ganduje courtesy of this rift and that is why it has failed to address the rift. In my opinion, either President Muhammadu Buhari or the party’s national body should intervene and address this problem once and for all otherwise the crisis will be definite.”
But the National Publicity Secretary of the APC Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, said the party would comment on the clash when the National Working Committee (NWC) receives a detailed report on the latest incident.
Abdullahi, who said the party leadership still stood by the last statement issued on the leadership situation in Kano APC, said the party’s National Vice Chairman, North-West, Alhaji Inuwa Abdul-Kadir, who is familiar with the issue, would bring the report on the latest incident, to the NWC.
When contacted, the APC national vice chairman, North-West, said the party was already handling the situation.
Abdul-Kadir, who said the matter was being managed silently because ego and emotions were involved in the Kano APC crisis, added that the strategy was adopted to achieve results.
Asked on what the party was doing on the latest clash in Kano, he said, “There are mediation efforts and mechanisms which are being deployed. It’s not ripe enough to make it public. When you are managing ego, clash of interests, as leaders, we are supposed to manage the situation in a manner that will achieve results.
“But by the time we start talking that we are taking these steps and measures etc, that will compound the situation because ego is involved and emotions are involved.”
He, however, added that the zone still recognized Alhaji Abdullahi Abass as the party chairman.
He said, “You see the issue of crisis, it’s a human phenomenon. You solve one, and another one arises. So, like you know, the issue of leadership in Kano, at the level of the North-West zone, we have resolved that in terms of who is the chairman of the party, Abdullahi Abass is the chairman of the party. But that doesn’t stop people from having crises. The question is how do you manage it. And this is something that is continuous.
“What I mean here is that people are bound to disagree, especially politically. They disagree on opinions. They disagree on line of actions etc. If it is managed well, that is part of democracy. People embrace democracy, recognizing that the other person is entitled to disagree with you. You are also entitled to disagree with him.
“But the missing link is not respecting my own position and I’m not respecting your own position. That is the point where crisis escalates. But always, we have a mechanism of mediation which at every time, we deploy. And that is about management of this crisis. That is what leadership is all about. There are people when they reach certain level, they should assume the position of statesmanship.”
When told that the silence of the party might be responsible for the protracted nature of the crisis, he said, “forget about even the party, when you go to court, if court gives judgements, they may not necessarily be enforceable.
“Your wife takes you to court that she didn’t like you, she wanted divorce and you were insisting that you must stay with her, when the court decreed that the marriage should not be dissolved, will that make it work?”
Any end in sight?
With reports that the two main figures in the crisis, Senator Kwankwaso and Governor Ganduje are not on speaking term, chances of reconciliation seem far off.
In his most recent interview he granted journalists in Abuja, Kwanwkaso said it was not time yet to comment on the feud with his successor.
“This is not the time to talk about Kano. The time will come when you will come on your own or you will be invited for me to talk on it,” he said.
He said the feud has not in any way affected his support base, rather he said it has grown from strength to strength.
“You see what is happening now has nothing to do with my support base. I want to assure you that I’ve more supporters than ever in Kano central, so also in Kano itself, we are growing from strength to strength and not only in the state but across the northern Nigeria,” he said.
However, Kwankwaso’s media aide, Binta Spikin, said that Kwankwaso has refrained from commenting on the issue in order not to stoke the crisis, saying that her principal has not made any demands for contracts or political appointments on behalf of some persons from the governor to warrant any disagreement.
“He wants Ganuje to accept Kwankwasiyya as APC members and allow them do things freely as members of the party in Kano,” she said. “We have no quarrel with Ganduje,” she concluded.
While the Kwankwassiya group is insisting on Ganduje’s return to the fold, the Kano State information commissioner Alh. Garba says the Gandujiyya faction is disposed to reconciliation without any conditions attached.
“Gandujiyya is always ready for reconciliation. We do not have any condition in respect of that. In fact, Gandujiyya has exhausted all available avenues to reconcile with Kwankwasiyya group in the past but unfortunately the latter refused to reconcile with the former,”
Garba recalled that the APC national leadership had made several efforts to reconcile the two politicians but Kwankwaso refused.
“I can vividly recall that at one time, the party invited Kwankwaso and Ganduje and after a heated debate, an agreement was reached and the leadership of the party resolved that the two of them should be given 20 minutes to choose a person that will be APC chairman in Kano.
“Ganduje agreed with the arrangement but Kwankwaso rejected it and left the party’s secretariat unceremoniously and that was how the reconciliation move ended. So, to be honest with you, the Gandujiyya group is ever ready for any objective reconciliation because the crisis is not good for the two politicians, the state, the APC and indeed democracy in general,” he said.
As 2019 crawls into view and this feud rages, members of the APC will be hoping for an amicable end to the crisis, while the opposition will be relishing a chance to sneak in and reclaim the state.