Ado Sani Musa: Kano PDP 2015: Who will win the race?

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kano has already got the most likely torchbearer for 2015 election in Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, the state deputy governor which has upped the ante of the battle for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Ganduje's emergence couple with Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso's cult-following, however, means one thing to the PPDP: the party must have an equally sale-able flag–bearer to match the ruling party. Anything short of that is an invitation for another round of defeat, something that the PDP cannot afford again.

The PDP in Kano, no doubt, boasts of array of experienced names angling to fly its flag in the forthcoming contest. Personalities such as Alhaji Sagri Takai and sons of two Nigeria heads of state, Mohammed and Abacha and Risqua Murtala Mohammed have since declared.

Takai, a former Commissioner for Water Resources and Local Government Affairs and three-time Chairman of Takai Local Government Area was believed to be the minister of education and former governor of the state, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau's political son. Speculations are rife that Shekarau is backing his anointed for the ticket.

However among the trio, there is no doubt that the sons of the late Generals have the wherewithal and influence that cut across all strata of the state and even beyond, and therefore have electoral values that will see their party to success in the next election.

The ambition of Mohammed Abacha, is not anything new. His main asset is big war chest, something that is being challenged now by another son of late general.

Yet, pundits have emphasized the need for the PDP to get a right candidate with unimpeachable credentials and unsoiled background to lead it into the contest.

“Somebody in-between; a liberal minded figure with unsoiled background with acceptability standing that cut across”, one of the PDP youth leaders in the state, Alhaji Sulieman Gwarazo noted.

The trio of Abba Risqua, Mohammed and Takai many are wont to say, fit this description, but the onus, as it were, now rests with the party's stakeholders to decide on the aspirant of “impeccable” standing they could collectively support through consensus as it is done elsewhere. On the hand, they could allow the aspirants to test their individual strength through open primaries.

Whatever may the party's decision in the end, a popular candidate must emerge out of the arrangement for it to excel in the forthcoming elections. There is a consensus that party leaders must shelve personal ambitions of fielding individual aspirants that may spark intra-party rivalries, which will undermine the party in future elections.

They point at the situation in 2003, when the devastating effect of intra-party crises, cost Kwankwaso who was in PDP then his bid for a second term. He lost to a relatively unknown Ibrahim Shekarau of the then All Peoples Party (APP) to buttress their argument.

He was to reclaim his second term mandate at the 2011 polls, incidentally due to an intra-party crisis in the ANPP over Shekarau's resolve to anoint the less fancied Salihu Sagir Takai as his successor.

It was hoped that the PDP must have learnt from past experience and will not allow the impending succession tussle to cost it the ultimate price in 2015.

As it is playing out, the odd seems to rather favour Risqua going by the calculation. He came into the race rather early. He was the first to have indicated interest to contest having yielded to pressure from within and outside the state to do so. Risqua is no doubt, the most proactive opposition politician currently in the state. He's also enjoying his father's tremendous goodwill.

His declaration was not really a surprise for the army of supporters, who were anxiously waiting for such. And as expected, his interest has generated heat and was subject of discourse in the ancient city.

It started with a call by members of the Kano Good Governance Project (KGGP) months ago. The group had at a gathering attended by dozens of political groups in the state invited Risqua to join the governorship race, saying he possesses the wherewithal to turn around the state.

The group's coordinator, Alhaji Shehu Usman Umaru, said they are wooing Risqua in view of his numerous noble leadership qualities bequeathed to him by his great late father.

“As the only surviving son of General Murtala, we find it desirous and needful to approach him with a sincere proposal to come forward and serve the people of Kano State as we are confident of his capacity to turn around the state,” he had said.

Risqua, who was a Special Assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo on International Relations for seven years, had later indicated interest in the job during a reception in Kano. He had revealed that he is considering heeding to the call of the people of the state to serve them.

“From all corners, people are mounting pressure on me to contest for the governorship race of our great state, Kano. I'm giving their calls serious consideration because we all want our state to be great,” the late General's son said. And he was soon to yield to the pressure and also hits the ground running by commencing consultations early across all the local government areas of the state.

He had set tongues wagging with his declaration, which was done amid unveiling of a clear blueprint on how to move Kano State forward contrary to the trend in the past.

“We will cooperate with other northern states in conjunction with the federal government to create an enabling environment for the generation of electricity in Northern Nigeria through the supply of gas to fuel our electricity generation plants and power our industries, ” he said while outlining his programmes for Kano.

Energy, Agriculture, Infrastructure, Health and Education are the areas that the politician said he would focus on, in his bid to take Kano to her next level of development.

“We are blessed with vast arable land, large deposits of various natural resources, a large population of able men and women, a people that are very proud of their heritage and culture, a state that has historically been the center of commerce and is traditionally regarded as the trading hub of sub Saharan Africa, and, of course, visionary leaders who have bequeathed legacies for us to build upon.

Thus according to him, the best way to express appreciation is to continue to build Kano State and make her an example for other African cities to follow by creating the enabling environment for wealth creation and prosperity among others.

As the race draws closer, analysts said personality without a controversial past that may later hurt him and the party like Risqua will be what the PDP needs at this point in time.

They argue that his father's impeachable credential as an upright leader is one the many factors that will work in favour of the party in the next elections.

However whether the PDP with its clannish style of politics will accept this postulations as it works to reclaim the ancient city is yet to be seen.

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Articles by Wale Odunsi