September 27, 2022

Sen. Rabiu Kwankwaso
 
With 17 out of the 40-member Kano State House of Assembly joining the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), it looks like the state is about to change the face of its leadership.

    
Already, from the 29 lawmakers that it had at the beginning of the ninth Assembly, the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) is now left with just 24, while the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been pushed to the distant third place with only one lawmaker in the state legislature.
  
During the Second Republic, Kano State was Mallam Aminu Kano’s Peoples Redemption Party (PDP) strong hold. As things stand in the state, it is as if former governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso will replicate Aminu Kano’s feat and make the state his party’s fortress, especially if he clinches the NNPP’s Presidential ticket.
  
Strong grassroots political leadership has always generated momentum in the state. In fact, before the creation of new states by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in 1991, Kano witnessed massive grassroots following, when Alhaji Sule Lamido campaigned to be governor. The general singsong then was, ‘Gomna Kano, Sai Lamido!’
    
For Kwankwaso, after political peregrination from PDP to the APC and back to PDP, moving into NNPP appears to be his crowning moment.
    
Desirous of reigniting the acclaim of second republic Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP), Chief Boniface Aniebonam secured the recognition of NNPP at the return of democracy in the fourth republic. However, the party had been operating as a fringe political party until recently.

   
It would be recalled that the then national secretary of the party, Ambassador Agbo Gilbert Major, had, during a press briefing in Abuja two months ago, disclosed that NNPP was being repositioned, stressing that the party had opened talks with the former Kano State governor and his formidable Kwankwasiyya Movement.
   
Though Major disclosed that Kwankwaso would join 14 other prospective presidential aspirants to contest the party’s ticket, events of recent weeks have left the impression that the former governor may be the man to beat.
   
In what is gradually turning out to be a premonition for anticipated Kwankwasiyya Tsunami in Kano State, NNPP displaced PDP as the main opposition party in the state.
To show that things are falling apart in APC, efforts by the incumbent Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje to reconcile aggrieved loyalists of Senator Ibrahim Shekarau failed to bear fruits as climate of suspicion and crisis of confidence pervade the Kano polity.  
    
Last Friday, Governor Ganduje led a delegation of party stakeholders, including leader of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, to the Nassarawa residence of Malam Shekarau in a bid to prevent his planned defection to NNPP.
   
A source privy to the meeting confided in The Guardian that Governor Ganduje came along with his team to meet Senator Shekarau in the Senator’s home around 8:00pm.

   
“They had a closed-door interaction before they left. It was after they left that we learnt the governor came to convey a Presidential invitation to Mallam. They told Mallam that President Muhammadu Buhari was interested and willing to meet with the Senator on Friday night in Abuja to resolve the crisis between the G7 and the APC leadership,” the source disclosed.
    
The source explained that no sooner than the governor left that the Senator realised that it was a phony meeting, stressing: “We made our findings at the Villa and discovered that the President was not ready and never had any appointment for an audience with Malam.
    
“What actually happened was that, there was a meeting deliberately organised by Governor Ganduje and some key APC leaders in Abuja, which was actually intended to prevail on Mallam to shelve his planned movement to NNPP.”
     
Shekarau, a two-term former governor of the state, was said to have concluded arrangements to align with NNPP after meetings with Kwankwaso, who is now seen as the national leader of NNPP.
   
Such talk with Kwankwaso has become a daily occurrence in Kano. That could explain the gale of defections to NNPP in the last few days, particularly, the departure of Ganduje’s Chief of Staff, Ali Makoda.
    
Makoda’s shocking defection was said to have opened the door for the state lawmakers and some council chairmen, including the member representing Dambatta/Makoda federal constituency, Badamasi Ayuba; as well as Murtala Kore (Dambatta state constituency) and Abdullahi Wango, the Chairman, Makoda Local Government council.
  
Earlier, former Presidential aide, Abdulrahman Kawu Sumaila, former Chairman, House Committee on appropriation, Rep Abdulmumin Jibrin, current members of the House of Representatives, Kabiru Rurum (Rano/Bunkure/Kibiya) and Tijjani Abdulkadir Jobe, (Rimin-Gado/Tofa/Dawakin-Tofa) and a host of other defecting APC members formally received their NNPP membership flags at the weekend.

     
The Guardian gathered that Ganduje’s fear was that in the event that Shekarau and his loyalists team up with Kwankwaso in NNPP, APC would find it very hard to retain the state. But, the more the incumbent tries to settle the party’s rift, the more fault lines continue to widen.
   
Only recently, the Coordinator, Osinbajo Presidential Campaign, Professor Abubakar Hafiz, launched a flurry of attacks on Governor Ganduje’s anointed candidates for the positions of governor and deputy governor in Kano.
   
Prof. Hafiz, Ganduje’s former deputy, described the two, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna and former commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Murtala Sule Garo as governorship and deputy governorship candidates as not appropriate.
   
Prof. Hafiz, a former Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics) at Bayero University, Kano (BUK), spoke during the yearly memorial lecture on the political trajectory of the late sage and leader of political emancipation of Kano, Mallam Aminu Kano.
 
Narrating how the two potential APC gubernatorial aspirants allegedly orchestrated and successfully disrupted the 2019 gubernatorial poll in favour of APC candidate, the former deputy governor questioned the morality of rewarding the duo with the tickets.
   
But, speaking on the new momentum in NNPP, its national chairman, Prof. Rufai Ahmad Alkali, said the party would shock all those that “take us for granted.” He said NNPP is not part of the “deceptive zoning controversy midwifed by PDP and APC.”
    
Rufai, who addressed a press conference in Abuja, at the weekend, said NNPP is going beyond the issue of zoning to “carry everybody along to form an all-inclusive government.”
    
He said the party inaugurated a committee two days earlier to fashion out the mechanisms that would make it easy to carry everybody along, adding: “For now we are not going to enter into unnecessary controversies with political parties that came up with rotation and zoning, but who also violated them. 

    
“They came up with the concept. The only thing you must know is that they are violating it, because these issues have not been captured in the Nigerian Constitution that is why some of them are at liberty, today they say zoning tomorrow they say no zoning. NNPP is not part of it.”
  
Rejecting attempt to put the party into a narrow confine of third force, Prof. Alkali stated: “It is pertinent to remind you all that this great political party, NNPP was formed over 21 years ago. 
   
“However, ahead of the 2023 general elections, we have taken far reaching steps to re-launch and reposition the party as one of the major political parties in the country.  
     
“Given the massive support we have received and continue to receive so far from people across the country, we are very confident and optimistic that very soon and in no distant future it would move from its current ranking as the ‘third force’ to the top in Nigeria’s political space.”
 
He pointed out that in the last few months, “NNPP has successfully conducted ward congresses in all the Local Government Areas across the country. The Local Government congresses; the state congress and national convention were also conducted peacefully on March 30, which produced the national leaders of the party.”
   
The NNPP boss boasted that the party’s presence is now felt in all the Councils of the country, saying that Nigerians have continued to embrace the party in bewildering and astonishing circumstances beyond imaginations.
   
“We the NNPP as social democrats, are desirous of opening the political space for all Nigerians. That was precisely why, to encourage the youths, women and People Living with Disabilities (PLWDs), the party announced zero Kobo for the purchase of the Expression of Interest and a 50 per cent discount for the Nomination Forms. 
  
“This is a complete departure from those plutocrats, who are asking Nigerians to cough out over N100 million just to purchase a piece of paper whose value is no better than the value of the paper upon which the humongous amount was written,” he noted.
   
While remarking that NNPP remains the only party in Nigeria that has offered 50 per cent discount for the purchase of nomination forms to young people below 35 years of age, Alkali expressed satisfaction that the gesture has led to an upsurge of youths into the party.

   
He assured that the party was equal to the task, asserting that it has put in place all measures to avoid rancour during the forthcoming primary election.  “The party has started the process of rebuilding its structures across country. As I stated earlier, we started from the wards to the councils, to states, to the zones, and finally, at the national level. We now have fresh ward structures all over the country. 
    
“As you are all aware, since 1999, the political landscape in the country has been dominated largely by two political behemoths, but they have gradually and systematically lost touch with the realities on the ground. 
   
“This is why today they are enmeshed in free for all cut-throat do or die politics. They have utterly forgotten the people and the soul of the nation.
    
“Unfortunately, with less than one year to the end of the current administration and despite several promises made to Nigerians, and the massive resources squandered, there has been no solution to the issue of insecurity of life and property in the country,” he declared.
   
Also, relishing the waves NNPP is making, its founder, Aniebonam, said God has decided to intervene in the affairs of the party, remarking that at last, Nigerians are beginning to see the difference.
 
Aniebonam affirmed that Senator Kwankwaso’s entry has bolstered the stature and stamina of NNPP, pointing out that the membership strength of the party has grown astronomically.
   
He disclosed that after the events in Kano, other states are beginning to witness crossovers, especially the recent move by Musliudeen Adekilekun from Osun State APC to NNPP.
     
Although Aniebonam could not discountenance the impact of Kwankwasiyya Movement in the national acceptance of the party, he said that after 21 years, “NNPP has opened offices in all parts of the federation.”

    
He assured that the party would provide the right kind of leadership that would address most of the current challenges confronting Nigeria, adding, “NNPP is gradually becoming a movement. We are the beautiful bride in the North as it is and we hope to expand to all parts of Nigeria.”
   
While explaining that the party is benefitting from its gesture to the youths, Aniebonam disclosed that as a measure of NNPP’s acceptability, the party would be fielding a woman for Ogun State gubernatorial contest.
    
He said the party intends to empower more women through appointive and elective positions, noting that “women are more prudent and God-fearing,” even as he regretted that only few women are bold enough to come out for electoral contests.
    
With the twisted zoning logic in both APC and PDP, it is possible that with Kwankwaso on the Presidential ballot of NNPP in next year’s election, the party might claim Kano and Kaduna States like PRP did in 1979 and 1983.

 
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