L-R: Dr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje
Not many were surprised at the downturn of events between the former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso and his former deputy, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, which resulted in the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), threatening to sanction Kwankwaso over “political misconduct.”
For months, there have been speculations about the existence of a crack between the two political allies, who had a peaceful and rancour-free tenure as governor and deputy for eight years.
Reports had shown that the two had fallen out just five months after Kwankwaso handed over power to Ganduje, on account of disagreements over cabinet appointments. The Kwankwaso camp accused Ganduje of shutting out their men.
The situation has been clearer to residents of Kano, who, on a daily basis, listen to hostile exchange of tantrums on the radio by the supporters of either side.
However, both Kwankwaso and Ganduje had consistently denied the existence of any rift between them and blamed political spoilers for trying to drive a wedge between them.
Although they have tried very hard to downplay the crack, the controversy that emanated from the condolence visit paid by Kwankwaso to Ganduje over the loss of his mother must have put to rest, any remnant of doubts about the issue.
Signs that there might be tension in the state began to appear when Kwankwaso’s supporters besieged Malam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) to receive the former governor, who was coming to condole with his former deputy.
It was his first visit to the state after he was elected senator to represent the Kano Central senatorial zone, almost a year ago. Kwankwaso visited four days after the demise of the governor’s mother.
Eyewitnesses said a large number of Kwankwaso’s supporters that thronged the airport to receive him had broken the fence and damaged other facilities to gain access into the VIP lounge.
The supporters, who were clad in branded T-shirts and carrying presidential campaign posters bearing the pictures of the former governor, chanted his slogans, it was further gathered.
When Kwankwanso arrived, he acknowledged cheers continuously from the army of supporters who led him to Ganduje town in the Dawakin Tofa Local Government Area of the state.
Eyewitnesses told Daily Trust on Sunday that Kwankwaso’s fans brandished dangerous weapons, including cutlasses and axes while they escorted the senator’s long motorcade to the town, about an hour drive from Kano metropolis.
They said the senator had stopovers at towns like Tunfafi, Mile 9, Gangaren Dutse, Dandalama, Jalli, Bachirawa, to acknowledge cheers from other fans, before finally arriving at Ganduje where he met the bereaved governor at about 3pm.
It was learnt that after sympathising with the governor and praying for the deceased, Kwankwaso waved at the people while the crowd that came with him allegedly insulted Ganduje’s commissioners and threatened to deal with his principal private secretary, Usman Bala, a former permanent secretary.
“My mother died on Friday, about 7am, and announcement was made in the media for the funeral prayer, which held after Jumu’at prayer in Ganduje town. Immediately after she died, I sent a text to the former governor when I couldn’t get him on phone. Upon receiving my text, he called and said he would send his younger brother, Garba, to represent him at the funeral prayer. Alhamdulilah, his brother was able to participate at the funeral prayer. He later sent former commissioners that served in his cabinet to condole with me. Today, he was able to attend the three-day prayers personally and offer his condolence.
We thanked him for that and all those that condoled with us and prayed for the deceased,” Governor Ganduje said while receiving Kwankwaso.
President Muhammadu Buhari had sent the Minister of Interior, General Abdurrahman Bello Dambazzau (retired), who led the federal government’s delegation to the funeral.
It is believed that Ganduje’s bitterness towards the nature of Kwankwaso’s visit provided the grounds for the press conference held by the Kano chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which expressed dissatisfaction with the development.
Beyond condolence visit Officials close to the two sides have confirmed that the quarrel between Kwankwaso and Ganduje had been on long before it became public, explaining that the condolence furore was just the last straw.
According to a former adviser to Kwankwaso, the relationship between the two had since hit the rocks because of his former principal’s bitterness over the manner his successor had shut him out in running the state.
He said the situation had degenerated to the point where Kwankwaso was no longer answering calls from Ganduje or approving his request for visit.
“He does not pick Ganduje’s calls, and whenever the governor wants to see him, he will have to bump into his office to do that, otherwise Kwankwaso will not give him an appointment,” he said.
It was Ganduje, according to the former official, who had been striving to keep the relationship from falling apart.
He disclosed that Kwankwaso did not intend to pay a condolence visit to Ganduje over the death of his mother, but was prevailed upon by some of his loyalists to change his mind.
According to him, one of the issues that further ruined the relationship between the governor and his former boss was nominations for board appointments, which the federal government channeled through the state.
“Kwankwaso was not happy about it because he considers himself the leader of the party in the state. In addition to this, he was angered the more by the way the governor allocated a few slots to him,” he said.
He also mentioned a purported letter from Ganduje to President Muhammadu Buhari, appealing to him to consider a particular zone, different from the zones where the state governor and his deputy came from, when appointing ministers.
“That request hurt Kwankwaso because his goal was to be appointed the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), hence heeding to it would automatically deny him the post. But the President made his choice.
“When Ganduje came in, he revoked plot allocations that were done in the last minute of the Kwankwaso administration. Some of the allocations, which shouldn’t have been made at all, were given to relatives and cronies. For instance, he revoked the plots allocated in front of the Kofar Mata Stadium, which everybody supported.
“He also reduced the number of ministries and stopped some projects and policies initiated by Kwankwaso. Some of them were seen to be aimed at feathering the nest of the former governor’s 2015 presidential ambition, like the issuance of thousands of job offers, free education, etc,” he said.
The former aide said that all these, together with what Kwankwaso regards as the abandonment of 90 per cent of reliable political allies who worked for the success of the Kwankwaso/Ganduje tickets over the years, have continued to eat at the bonds between the two.
“Maybe Kwankwaso would have been comfortable with a Ganduje that would seek his advice and guidance before taking any major decision in the state,” he added.
Another official who is close to the two sides, however, supports Kwankwaso on the issue of loyalists, saying Governor Ganduje should have retained a significant number of them in his government because their loyalty was not just to Kwankwaso, but also to the administrations the two had headed.
“I don’t blame Kwankwaso when he is fighting for the party’s supporters to be carried along. Why should you set out to destroy the achievements of your former boss if you don’t want to court trouble,” he said.
Suspension dangles over Kwankwaso
The state chapter of the APC has already said it would investigate Kwankwaso over the unruly conduct of his supporters during the visit to Ganduje town.
Addressing journalists, the state chairman of the party, Alhaji Umar Haruna Doguwa, accused Kwankwaso and his supporters of exhibiting unruly character during the condolence visit.
Doguwa said the party would formally lodge its complaint to the APC national headquarters. According to him, the political misconduct shown by Kwankwaso’s supporters was childish and unacceptable, and was not in conformity with the religion, culture and norms of Kano people.
He alleged that during the visit, Kwankwaso mobilised political thugs who stormed Ganduje town, brandishing all sorts of dangerous weapons and chanting anti-Ganduje slogans, thereby politicising the condolence.
He said: “The APC and the Elders Committee in the state were not informed about the former governor’s visit, therefore, they condemned and dissociated themselves from the unruly manner and texture of the visit.”
He said many dignitaries had paid condolence visits to Governor Ganduje, but no one behaved the way the former governor and his supporters did.
He said that as a peaceful party, the APC would not condone such attitude in the state and would not support any of its members to promote disrespect to its leaders at all levels.
Doguwa added, “For the presidential campaign started by Kwankwaso’s supporters, we wish to categorically state that there is no vacancy for him in 2019. Our loyalty and commitment is still to President Muhammadu Buhari, and our leader in Kano is Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. This is the stand of the APC in Kano.”
Kwankwaso acted in good faith – Ally
However, in his reaction, a former chief of staff to Kwankwaso, Dr. Yunusa Adamu Dangwani, maintained that the senator made the condolence visit in good faith. He frowned at what he saw as a deliberate attempt to misinterpret the former governor’s gesture.
He said Kwankwaso’s decision to stay away from Kano since he handed over power to Ganduje has been to enable him focus on the important business of governance.
“Gentlemen of the press, since May 29, 2015 when the then governor of Kano State, now the senator representing Kano Central, Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, handed over the mantle to Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, the distinguished senator has not visited Kano so as to give the new governor space and time to settle down and consolidate on successful programmes and projects of the APC.
“The news of the demise of Hajiya Fatimma Umar Ganduje came to Senator Kwankwaso as a great shock, which, according to traditional norms, necessitated the visit to Kano. The visit was very important, especially considering their close ties as his former deputy for eight years and special adviser as minister of defence. He, therefore, found it pertinent to personally visit Kano to condole with the governor, his family and the people of Kano State.
“He deliberately gave a short notice for the visit, but he was pleasantly surprised at the turnout of the people of Kano to receive him.
“On this note, on behalf of Senator Kwankwaso, we wish to use this opportunity to thank the people of Kano for the show of support and solidarity. We also commiserate with those who lost loved ones, especially to fire outbreaks in our markets and schools. We assure them that very soon, Senator Kwankwaso will personally visit Kano to commiserate with them. Against this backdrop, at Ganduje town, we were surprised that some local people brandished local weapons, not minding the somber occasion. It is unfortunate.
“It is, therefore, appalling that the good gesture of Senator Kwankwaso has been mischievously interpreted wrongly.
“It is apt at this juncture to call on the Kano State government to concentrate on the enormous challenges of governance and earn the respect of the people,” he said.
But another political associate of Kwankwaso, Alhaji Alin Jallaba, said it was wrong for the former governor to politicise a condolence visit.
Jallaba, a die-hard supporter of Senator Kwankwaso said: “Although I am an ardent supporter of Kwankwaso, I totally condemn what happened in Ganduje town during the former governor’s visit. Such a visit should be peaceful. What the Kwankwaso’s supporters did was unfortunate.”
He alleged that the former governor directed his close associates to mobilise youths from all the 44 local government areas of the state to receive him at the airport, after which they proceeded to Ganduje town for the condolence visit.
“I reliably gathered that text messages were sent to the supporters of the former governor across the state, inviting them to come to Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport to receive him and subsequently escort him to Ganduje town,” Jallaba said.
He recalled that Kwankwaso occasionally came out from his car and waved his supporters, noting, “This is to tell you that he enjoyed and supported what his supporters did.”
He, therefore, appealed to the executive of the APC in the state to set up a disciplinary committee to punish anybody who had a hand in the incident.
But a senior security officer in the state told Daily Trust on Sunday that Kwankwaso’s intention was a low-key visit that would not ruffle any political feathers.
“His security team had hinted us of the need to make the visit secret, but his supporters got wind of it and converged on the airport in their thousands, two days before he set his foot in Kano.
“When he finally arrived, traders closed shops and people blocked roads to receive him,” he said.
When contacted, the state Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Muhammad Garba, said he could not comment on the issue because it was purely a party affair.
“This is not a government affair; it is something that concerns the ruling APC, and the party’s state chairman has addressed the press on the matter,” he said.