Doubts over Shekarau, Kwankwaso’s marriage of convenience –

Doubts over Shekarau, Kwankwaso’s marriage of convenience – The Sun Nigeria

From Desmond Mgboh, Kano

Recently, Senator Ibrahim Shekarau defected to the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), a new political party founded by the former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.

The announcement was sequel to a protracted party crisis that raged in the All Progressives Congress (APC) state, and was eventually resolved in favour of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje by the Supreme Court.

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Much as Shekarau’s decision to go separate ways at that point in time cannot be described as a shocker, but what cannot be ignored was his new soul mate, Kwankwaso. This choice of his new abode has left many in utter disbelief.

Historically, both men had been arch-rivals and had battled for the control of the soul of Kano’s political space. Their paths have remained crossed and their followers have blazed one another with uncommon hate.

Perhaps, sensing the dusts his defection had raised, Shekarau took time to explain his case and the reasons things went the other way.

He stressed that the decision to defect to the NNPP was endorsed by his supporters, saying that they voted majorly to leave the APC in the face of  apparent disregard by its drivers.

At a press briefing marking his exit, Shekarau held that he exhausted every available option to resolve the issues, regretting that he was frustrated throughout the process of these efforts.

While accusing Ganduje of excluding himself and the members of the G7 on all matters affecting the party, he noted that, “we were never consulted or invited to functions or meetings organised by the party as critical stakeholders.”

Shekarau insisted that the elections of party officials at ward, local and state levels were not conducted in accordance with the stipulated guidelines of the party, adding that rather, people were handpicked and appointed at will and with impunity by the governor.

He explained that in reaction to the travesty, the G7 conducted a parallel, but proper elections at all levels with accredited representatives from the national secretariat and with INEC as observers, which produced Ahmadu Ahmed Danzago as the chairman of the party.

Shekarau acknowledged the intervention of the national leadership of the APC, but regretted that these efforts failed to elicit the desired results.

He assured that contrary to fears being expressed regarding his previous relationship with Kwankwaso, they have both resolved to move forward and work for the party.

THE KWANKWASO ANGLE

While the All Progressives Congress in the state was boiling with discord, Kwankwaso waited in the wings for the big catch. Sunday Sun gathered that he offered Shekarau an automatic ticket to contest the Kano Central Senatorial seat and followed that up with several canvassing visits to Shekarau’s home at Bompai area of the metropolis.

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Analysts believe that in doing this, Kwankwaso recognized Shekarau as a crucial factor in his drive to reclaim the Government House through a proxy.

It is generally believed that the success recorded by the APC in the state in the last election could not have been possible without the inputs of Shekarau and his followers.

Playing the same game of two against one, Kwankwaso expects Shekarau to widen the distribution of the new party among different categories of voters in the state and to make up for some of his obvious shortcomings ahead 2023.

One such benefits that Shekarau is bringing to the new party is the trust of the Kano elite class, many of whom are uncomfortable with the magisterial disposition of Kwankwaso even after leaving office.

While Kwankwaso unpretentiously offers himself as a political deity, adored by all those who are on the same train with him, Shekarau comes across as a team player, although with some attraction for unnecessary public adoration.

Shekarau is also beloved by the traditional and religious class. It is on record that Shekarau holds the traditional title of Sarduna Kano and is well received in that community.

This, it is reasoned, would certainly ensure zero the drift between Kwankwaso’s camp and the traditional institution in the state ahead of the polls.

Kwankwaso also hopes to benefit from Shekarau’s near national outlook in his presidential bid.

Shekarau is seemingly trusted in many distant Nigeria’s towns and cities as a detribalized leader compared to Kwankwaso who is heard the loudest on regional issues.

A ROMANCE NOT MEANT TO LAST

One quick look at the marriage of these two gladiators points to the fact that the future is doubtful.

There are many structural factors that suggest that the romance might be short lived or would die soon after the 2023 polls.

Several respondents have since described the New Nigeria Peoples Party as travellers’ lodge for aggrieved and ticket-seeking politicians from other political parties. They hold that many of their members are people who have scores to settle with Ganduje for denying them their tickets or for failing to anoint them over their immediate rivals.

Some of these politicians who fit into this class are the likes of the former Speaker, Kano State House of Assembly and member of the House of representatives for Rano, Bunkure, Kibya constituency, Alhassan Rirum, former aide to Buhari on Legislative Matters, Abdulkarim Kawu Sumaila, House of Representatives member for Dawakin Tofa Constituency, Abdulkadir Jode and former Chief of Staff, Kano Government House, Ali Makoda .

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The conclusion is that given their different backgrounds and varied motivations; the likelihood that they would remain in the  party if they failed to win their election seats, are rather slim and the chances that they would collapse into Kwankwassiyya is almost zero. 

A far more worrisome forecast about the future of the romance between Kwankwaso and Shekarau is derived from the fact that both men may betray each other soon after the polls.

From the side of Shekarau, his dearest ambition is the ticket to the senate, which was almost certainly not going to be reserved for him in the APC. There are those who reason that Shekarau might still return to either the PDP or the APC after the election, arguing that the former minister might not find a minority party like the NNPP best option in the Senate. 

“In addition to this, I want to assure you that if for any reason, Shekarau loses his bid to return to the Senate, he may not be very passionate about the affairs of the party thereafter and may just lapse into what we call “Sidom look ” a source said.

On the part of Kwankwaso, it is hard to believe that he will do better than the APC in his relationship with Shekarau after reclaiming Government House.

Several respondents in the state capital told Sunday Sun that with the governorship position in his kitty, Kano, not just Shekarau, would be too small for the former governor. They held that he would surely give Shekarau a cogent reason to review his presence in the NNPP or to regret his current moves.

Even before the commencement of the long walk together, there are already hushed murmurs from floor members of the Shekarau’s camp.

Their protest is drawn from the allocation of party’s elective tickets which were filled by aspirants before the coming of Shekarau into the party. Although Shekarau was given an automatic seat as agreed, a good population of his followers missed out and did not get a ticket.

While chatting with Sunday Sun, one of Shekarau’s aides insisted that “if you look at the list of those who have been anointed for different elective positions, about 90 per cent of them are actually from Kwankwaso’s group.

“The remaining 10 per cent are from the G7. But even if you study that 10 per cent from G7 well enough, you will discover that the likes of Jada, Rirum, Kawu Sulieman and Tofa cannot be rightly described as belonging to Shekarau family. They just met because of the trouble in the APC”.

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A yet another factor that endangers the future relationship of Kwankwaso and Shekarau  in the same political entity is that both men are guilty of running structures that individualize leadership and personalize loyalty to themselves.

It is a fact that Kwankwaso has never been a team-playing party man. He is always at the top of the power structure, issuing commands and instructions, thinking for everybody that is with him. Today he is the sole administrator of the Kwankwassiyya  Movement, who are identified by the symbol of their red and their fierce loyalty to Kwankwaso as a person.

It is also true that a political movement similar to Kwankwaso’s has since evolved around the personality of Shekarau. It is known as the Shura Council and has representations from the ward up to the state level. Though not as pronounced as that of Kwankwaso, Shekarau’s Shura Council walks within the same fouled pathway of too much power for the leader and absolute loyalty by the followers.

Umar Bisso, a political scientist at the Bayero University, Kano, opined that, “There is no way these two powerful groups and interests can ever fuse into one structure or into a single political party, given their different and opposing backgrounds. There will always be that competition, trust issues and narrow interpretations.

“The challenge of successfully fusing different political tendencies into one political party is easier said than done. The PDP in the state, 20 years after, are still divided along progressive and conservative tendencies. The APC in the state is still broken into fragments of Buhari’s CPC and remnants from the legacy APP structure. There is no way Shekarau’s loyalists would one day, come to adopt Kwankwaso and trust him as their leader or vice versa.

“This means that the NNPP is going to be a party of several parties until it finally implodes.”

He explained that about the marriage, saying, “yes, as long as there is a common enemy  -Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje- before them, both actors would mobilize their  full energies to try to chase him out of power and bring him down. But once they are done with their common enemy, the end of their union would just be a step away.”

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