QUARTET OF KANO PDP SQUARES UP FOR 2011
To an average Kano citizen, they come across as aspirants of uncommon attraction and estimation. Their creativity have sustained their presence in the public glare. These men do not belong to the ruling party in the state, but they are not to be ignored. The quartet of Kano politics are all Peoples Democratic Party, [PDP] chieftains: former Kano State governor, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; son of late military dictator, Alhaji Mohammed Abacha; former military administrator of Benue State, Colonel Habibu Shaibu and House of Representatives member, Hon. Farouk Lawan . These men, no doubt, are in open contest to clinch the party's gubernatorial ticket.
A few weeks back, the ancient city of Kano was tortured to a contrived home-coming reception for the Minister of National Planning, Dr Shamsudeen Usman( Shamsuden and Kwankwaso are locked up in a battle as to who is the authentic leader of the party in the state). That reception, sponsored by one of the gubernatorial aspirants, was a counter show of strength against a similar posturing of the Kwankwaso's camp.
Today, rallies in Kano PDP have become personalized platforms, and individual aspirants, hiding under different disguises, deploy new tactics to wage a war of attrition against one another. On each of these pomp rallies and party events, thugs, a few of them wielding terrifying weapons, are contracted and driven in rickety buses to the venue of events, accompanied by a sizeable traffic of paid motorcyclists.
But all these are happening mainly because the party organ, the PDP Kano State executive that should restrain the excesses of the faithful is helpless as the main culprit, the Kwankasiyya faction, is being promoted by Kwankwaso who has the party structures in the state firmly in his grip.
If might is right, then it is safe to say that the man to watch in the gubernatorial riddle of the PDP is Dr. Kwankwaso, the second civilian governor of the state.
To his supporters, the former Defence Minister remains the man to beat as he has invested his time, energy and resources to keep the party alive. He is also credited with a huge organizational skill, which they said he has deployed to lift the party from the ashes of failure to a height of renaissance.
Some few months ago, Kwankwaso told reporters in Kano that his only concern was to help build a strong party that has the capacity to meet and match the All Nigeria Peoples Party,[ANPP] at the polls. He talked about building structures and receiving the defecting members of other parties, but said nothing about his own ambition.
It is believed that he would soon make public his ambition. His supporters has said he is one aspirant who has a point to prove to the government of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau: that it would not be a tall dream for an accomplished former governor to return to office.
Signs of his ambition are all over the place. His name has been composed into local Hausa songs and folklores. His personal residence had been turned to party secretariat by his faithful, a beehive of activities each time he is in town.
Like a godfather, majority of aspirants make it a point of duty to pay allegiance to him and make sure there are no dull moments around the complex, with their own followers and thugs hanging around too often.
Kwankwaso's grip on Kano PDP is legendary, but his success did not come without a fight. He was not the best of political friend of the late Mohammed Abubakar Rimi and has kept Alhaji Aminu Wali, Nigerian's ambassador to China and a major stakeholder in the party at arms length, politically.
But Kwankwaso's edge over these men of political pedigree, could be attributed to his shrewdness and foresight. During the Obasanjo administrator, he stood by the former president in his war against Rimi and other recalcitrant opposition elements from the state. Drawing from this capital, he systematically deployed State patronage to his trusted aides and before he lost in his second term bid, he had ensured that only his friends and sympathizers control the grassroot structures of the party.
But despite his strength, some party sources are bitterly offended by his permanent claim to the leadership of the party, even when he has since stopped being a minister or governor. Many, too, are pissed off by his serial governorship aspiration. To this group, Dr. Kwankwaso has had his fill.
His greatest drawback, till date, is the question of the legal dispute with the Kano State government over his indictment. The matter is still before the Supreme Court and a favorable judgment could clear the coast for him to contest.
But party sources told Daily Sun that the former governor may not be the best candidate for the gubernatorial slot of the party. Those who share this line of reasoning contend that although he has a sizable number of friends, he has made enormous political foes.
Next on the list of combatants is Shuaibu, a fine gentleman and former military administrator of Benue and Niger states . Being an IBB loyalist, whatever happens to the presidential aspiration of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida in PDP will impact on the chances of this aspirant.
If IBB becomes the presidential choice of the PDP, Shuaibu will gracefully walk away with the gubernatorial ticket of the party in Kano, as many of the contending factors will naturally swing in his favour. On the contrary, if IBB loses out , it would be an Herculean task for Shuaibu to pick the PDP ticket.
But Shuaibu is not leaving anything to chances the fact is not lost on him that the party is mainly in the hands of a few power brokers, who decides who gets what.
But certain indices could work in his favour.. One, he is very experienced, having served as two time military administrator. He has also not pitched tent with any of the cantankerous factions. He is on good terms with the Kwakwassiya and the Garukuwa factions. At one point in the past, he was appointed the chairman of the reconciliatory committee of the party.
A Daily Sun source disclosed that Colonel Shuiabu is smarting to explore his neutrality to an advantage.
Mohammed Abacha, son of the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, is also a force in Kano PDP. He is undeniably, a man of means.
As is expected, his aspiration is a buoyant plus to the race in Kano PDP. The Abacha family is still very much respected, very much loved and this could swing a number of votes in favour of Mohammed at the party primaries.
But some PDP stalwarts are opposed to his ambition and have dismissed him as a late comer to the race. “These people feel that he is a starter and should think of a less exalted position, not the leadership of the most populous state in Nigeria,“ a PDP stalwart told Daily Sun.
His main obstacle is the domineering influence of Kwankwaso in the party. But Mohammed Abacha is not relenting and has been confronting, frontally the Kwankwaso challenge. Other factions seem impressed by his courage to curtail the excesses of loyalists of the former minister. This new role may count in his favour as the race takes shape .
Hon. Lawal is the exceptional character in the noisy crowd. He is obviously one of the few in the race who has been running an excellent structure and issue- based campaign. His critics admit that he has a tradition and pedigree, yet they also say that he might trade off his ambition for the position of a deputy governor.
A three-time member of the House of Representatives, his resume is enviable and many agree that if intelligence is all that is needed to drive to the State House, he got it all. He speaks fluent Hausa and English and drives home his point with ease. Speaking on radio or the television, he seems to have all the answers to the problems of Kano State.
One of his strongest weapons is that, in the eyes of Kano people, he is their own hero. He has represented them well, everybody agreed, and has spoken out when many of his colleagues were silent and missing in the House. He is also adored for his role in the Nigeria 's debt cancellation deal. And because he is admired by so many people, on an inter- party basis too, some politicians think that he should be given the slot as the candidate of the party for the general elections, if wining is what the party wants at this time.
While the aspirants continue the battle of wits, one factor that may count is the party zoning arrangement. At its National Executive Committee, [NEC] meeting on Thursday in Abuja the party resolved to throw open the presidential ticket while also declaring that zoning subsists. If President Goodluck Jonathan picks the ticket, those who are seen as his foot soldiers in the state may use it as a bargaining tool to pick the gubernatorial ticket. But the anti -Jonathan sentiment in the North may cost the PDP victory in the gubernatorial election in the state.