The invitation extended to the Kano State governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf and the national leader of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso, by the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Ganduje, has continued to elicit different reactions in the state, Daily Trust Saturday reports.
While Ganduje’s invitation to Kwankwaso and Yusuf to join the APC should ordinarily be seen as a move to end the raging cold war between the two erstwhile political allies, this, Daily Trust Saturday gathered, has kept agitating the minds of supporters of both gladiators in Kano.
Ganduje was the deputy governor to Kwankwaso between 1999 and 2015 before he was elected governor (2015-2019). He won re-election for another term in 2019 after surviving a looming electoral defeat by then Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Yusuf, who was leading before the election was declared inconclusive. Ganduje, however, won a highly controversial rerun election in Gama ward to retain his seat.
After failing to ensure that his deputy, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna succeed him at the polls and a keenly fought legal battle, Ganduje returned to Kano for the first-time last week.
At a stakeholders meeting, which Daily Trust Saturday gathered was at the behest of President Bola Tinubu, who is desirous of having Kwankwaso in the APC, Ganduje invited the former governor, Yusuf and other NNPP leaders to join the ruling party at the centre.
But Governor Yusuf, through his spokesperson, Sanusi Bature Dawakin Tofa, declined the invitation, arguing that it was not properly channeled and only circulating on social media.
“The governor does not have plans to leave his party,” Tofa said.
Not the type that succumbs easily, Ganduje repeated his call the following day, this time mocking the logo of the NNPP (fruits) and passing a cryptic message to Kwankwaso, that he would not lose out if his former boss decided to join the ruling party.
The APC national chairman said, “We are calling on the NNPP and the rotten fruits to join the APC if they want to save the fruits.
“If you are talking about the APC, we are the leaders; not in local governments, not state, not even zones, but national.
“If you are an APC card-carrying member you are under the national leader, same thing with leaders in ward, state and zonal levels.
“If you defect to the APC today you are our subordinates and followers. It is important for you to note this: a child of the house and a stranger are all under the care of the head of the house.”
Daily Trust Saturday reports that the leadership of the NNPP and other party stalwarts in the state viewed these comments by Ganduje as derogatory.
The chairman of the party in the state, Hashimu Dungurawa, who rejected any reconciliation with Ganduje, told Daily Trust Saturday that the APC national chairman was Kwankwaso’s arch enemy who would go to any extent to frustrate his political ambitions.
“Ganduje is an example of the saying that the human being is a complex and dynamic creature. After all that Kwankwaso has done for him, he is now our arch enemy; therefore, we cannot be in the same bed with him.
“He is not even qualified to extend an olive branch to us; he was just speaking on radio. If he is serious he should come to our houses. He knows. There is nothing on earth he has not tried to kill the political future of Kwankwaso,” Dungurawa said.
Another NNPP stalwart in Kano, Ahmadu Haruna Zago, popularly known as Danzago, also faulted the reconciliation move since no consultative committee was set up to meet NNPP members to discuss the possibility of defecting to the APC.
But an APC chieftain and former lawmaker who represented Kano Municipal in the State House of Assembly, Baffa Baba Dan Agundi, sees things differently. He said it took a courageous politician with a forgiving heart to extend such gesture to a political opponent. He added, “I hope Governor Yusuf and my former boss, Kwankwaso would accept the invitation to move the country forward and end political crisis in Kano State.”
Agundi dismissed the insinuation that Kwankwaso would take over the party structure when he defects to the APC.
He said Governor Yusuf was a party leader, and if he would be just and fair, there would not be any problem.
“When Kwankwaso joined the APC in 2014 he was made the leader of the party. I came from the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) but he nominated me for the position of zonal vice chairman. That’s what leadership is all about. It is politics. We are fighting against him today, but we will be fighting for him tomorrow,” Dan Agundi, who served under Ganduje as the managing director of the Kano Road Transport Agency (KAROTA) said.
But Governor Yusuf’s liaison officer in Tarauni Local government Area of the state, Abdullahi Maikano Bashir, said that while the conversation on reconciliation was ongoing, he would support the emergence of a former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, to replace Ganduje as the national chairman of the APC for equity and fairness to the North Central geopolitical zone of the country.
He insisted that reconciliation would only take place if an invitation was officially received and members consulted.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that it is not only NNPP members that have been speaking against Ganduje’s choice of words while extending the olive branch to Kwankwaso.
Speaking on a radio political programme, Dahiru Maiwuddadu, the embattled spokesperson of the APC candidate for Kano Central senatorial zone, Abdulkarim Abdulsalam Zaura, popularly known as AA Zaura, was also not happy with what he perceived as a sarcastic invitation by the APC national chairman.
Daily Trust Saturday observed that Maiwuddadu was absent at the APC stakeholders’ meeting.
Instead of personally meeting Kwankwaso and other NNPP leaders to placate and woo them to APC, he said Ganduje’s comment rather provoked the Kwankwasiyya faithful and their leaders.
“As supporters of AA Zaura, we believe the party will fare better under Kwankwaso as its leader in Kano because under Ganduje’s leadership, Nasiru Gawuna lost the election,” he said.
Gawuna’s running mate, Murtala Sule Garo, who spoke on behalf of his principal at the APC stakeholders meeting, asked members of his party to remain steadfast and loyal, saying that at the moment, the party in Kano has two ministerial slots and the North East Development Commission Board membership, which are strategic political appointments. He said members would benefit from more appointments soon.
Despite this, however, some die-hard supporters of the party at the meeting, who spoke in low voices, said that should Gawuna decide to leave the party because of the perceived injustice meted out to him, they would go with him.
But an aide of the former deputy governor, who preferred anonymity, said Gawuna, though not at the meeting, was fully in support of their resolutions, contrary to the insinuation that he was angry, and therefore, distanced himself.
The question that remains hanging in the Kano political discourse is whether Kwankwaso and his cult-like followers would defect to the APC and work with President Tinubu.
Analysts are also raising the question, whether this attempt by President Tinubu to woo Kwankwaso into the APC in preparation for the 2027 presidential election would happen with Ganduje as the party’s national chairman.