In December 1998, several nocturnal meetings, often ending in stalemate, were held at the two residences of late Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi – one at Hotoro GRA (Gidan Akida) and another at Durbin Katsina Road in Bompai GRA, Kano.
Top on the agenda of the meetings was the selection of the running-mate of the then PDP governorship candidate, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, ahead of the January 9, 1999 governorship and Houses of Assembly elections.
Several efforts were made to convince candidate Kwankwaso to pick Abdullahi Umar Ganduje as running-mate, but the former insisted on picking Bello Hayatu Gwarzo.
One day, while one of the high-level meetings was holding, Kwankwaso took excuse and called Ganduje out to a corner.
“We have come a long way together,” Kwankwaso muttered, “I have now decided to pick you as my running mate.”
He told Ganduje further that his resolution was not because of the party leaders’ insistence but voluntary.
“I am not bowing to their (Rimi and co) pressure. I made the decision because we know ourselves for a long time. And I believe I can work with you.”
To the amazement of the power brokers who were left jaw-jawing, the two friends returned to the meeting, holding hands, to announce their resolve to vie for the seat together.
I was present at an April 2015 meeting held in the ante-chamber of the Kano Governor’s Office when Kwankwaso narrated this story, detailing how they had come together as friends.
“When I was the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives in the early 90s,” Kwankwaso continued, “he took me in the car to go round Abuja because he had been there before me. And when I won the primaries, he called immediately to congratulate me.”
But it was obvious Kwankwaso’s resolve to pick Ganduje in 1998 was not prompted by their long-time relationship since the 80s, but rather the Rimi factor – a factor which, in 1991, cost Engineer Magaji Abdullahi Kano governorship seat. The memories of the consequences of Rimi’s action were fresh in the mind of the Tabo apparatchiks. And they couldn’t just afford to make a similar mistake.
Political observers at the time said it was actually Ganduje who won the primaries, but was rigged out in Doguwa, Tudunwada, Madobi, Dambatta and Gabasawa Local Government Areas.
Caving into the complacency of the Santsi group that was backing Ganduje in 1998, Kwankwaso obviously struck a deal with then chairman of the party, Yusuf Baita and two other strong leaders of the PDP: Mas’ud El-Jibrin Doguwa and Bello Hayatu Gwarzo.
Yusuf Baita was later made a commissioner (of Environment I think), while El-Jibrin Doguwa and Bello Hayatu Gwarzo got senatorial tickets of Kano South and North respectively.
But in politics, karma never misses the bull’s eye. Take a cursory look at the list of the actors instrumental to Kwankwaso’s emergence in 1998 primaries. I doubt if Kwankwaso is/was even on speaking terms with Aminu Babba Dan’Agundi, Abba Dabo, Zubairu Dambatta, Yusuf Baita, Senator Mas’ud Doguwa, Bello Hayatu Gwarzo and Sa’adu Sule.
Again, three key politicians, to wit: Senator Hamisu Musa, Musa Gwadabe and Abubakar Rimi, who must be given the credit of making Kwankwaso a Member of the House of Reps in 1991, a member of the Constituent Assembly in 1997 and a governor in 1999, had long parted ways with him. That is politics for you. Betrayal is a gene inherent in all politicians – no exception to anyone.
But Ganduje and Kwankwaso maintained unbroken relationship until in 2007 when Ganduje joined the quintet of Ibrahim Little, Aminu Dabo, Yusuf Ado Kibiya, Ibrahim Salisu Buhari and Isa Yahya Zarewa to fight Kwankwaso’s anointed governorship candidate, Ahmed Garba Bichi.
But a year or so afterward, the two friends settled their differences and began the 44-local government campaign tour together. The choice of Ganduje in 2011 as Kwankwaso’s running-mate never came as a surprise to any regular goer of the Gandu political chancellery and its two annexes on Miyangu Road and Lugard Avenue.
Kwankwaso ensured most politicians loyal to Rimi were either dumped or assimilated into his camp a few months after becoming governor in 1999. The Speaker of the House of Assembly, Gwarmai, a Rimi’s protégé was impeached for whitening (bleaching) his skin, while some Rimi’s top disciples like late Yusuf Chiroma Kutama and Muntari Ishaq were assimilated into the fold.
As I said earlier, karma never misses the bull’s eye. Late Abubakar Rimi also did similar political treachery to late Malam Aminu Kano in the early 80s. In 1978/79, Rimi wanted to contest for senatorial seat, but when the anointed Malam Aminu Kano’s anointed PRP aspirant, Engineer Salihi Iliyasu, was disqualified by FEDECO, Malam Aminu Kano picked Rimi. As powerful and charismatic as Malam Aminu was, Rimi betrayed the sage.
I really saw the crisis between Ganduje and Kwankwaso coming. The nature of Ganduje’s appointments, excluding a chunk of politicians loyal to Kwankwaso, tells any politically discerning mind that the crisis was unavoidable.
Also, Ganduje’s sweeping reforms in the civil service, purging of the number of ministries, the continuation of Shekarau’s projects abandoned by Kwankwaso, and the governor’s demonstration of independence and control over the party might have irked Kwankwaso.
While those fuelling the crisis in Senator Kwankwaso’s camp do it NOT out of love for the senator but because Ganduje did NOT offer them the “choice positions” they expected or never offered them any at all.
In the same vein, those that are currently in Ganduje’s defence league are NOT there because they love him or he is more kind-hearted than Kwankwaso, but because he offered them appointment. Had Ganduje not appointed them, they would have been part of a detachment of political worshippers performing political ‘tahajjud’ in the wee hours of the night at Senator Kwankwaso’s Maitama residence.
Ganduje should be ready for this epic fight because I remember, in one the meetings held in his last month in office, Kwankwaso stated clearly that he would never interfere in areas of administration or policy but would certainly resist attempt to distort the party architecture.
“I will not meddle in your government but once the political setting in the party is tampered, I will surely fight back,” Kwankwaso said in his office last year.
The recent events in the political of turf of my state leave me in a state of worry. Politics is surely a dirty game. In a scene reminiscent of how late Kutama dumped Rimi for Kwankwaso, I shook my head in amazement seeing Umar Doguwa, the state APC chairman, announcing a decision to “penalize” Kwankwaso. Kai duniya!
This same man was caught on tape abusing Ganduje a few months back, and was a year or so ago, one of the key political sleuths spying Ganduje’s political activities for Kwankwaso. Umar Doguwa was one of the very few simpletons Kwankwaso, despite his anathema for incompetence, blinked over their ineptitude to give them the privilege of sitting with him in the EXCO as commissioners.
Still assured of his loyalty, Kwankwaso later anointed the nincompoop to become the party chairman, against several other competent politicians. Ganduje too should be careful working with such scoundrels running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.
Why I fault Kwankwaso’s cameo appearance at Ganduje village to condole with his predecessor and his subsequent “politicondolence” rally, is the timing of the two events.
I know Kwankwaso doesn’t want to visit Kano, but there are certain things that should make him take exception to his vow. Death of the mother of his long-time friend, deputy, aide, deputy and successor should be an exception. I learn that Kwankwaso’s decision to come was at the instance of some notable individuals in the country.
Despite being made of sterner stuff, Senator Kwankwaso should have known the situation was exceptional enough to melt his cast iron spirit. He should have come surreptitiously, attended the funeral prayer and left quietly on the very day four serving ministers took off from Abuja to Kano to attend the funeral. He could have chosen to come at night unannounced.
My cross is with the timing of Senator Kwankwaso’s condolence visit. Gospel writer Joshua Harris summarized Kwankwaso’s action in a punchy line when he wrote: “[doing] the right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.”
Now that the thorny relationship between the two politicians has manifested like a rash of blisters on a chicken pox patient, I pity the two giants for having years to spend fighting before election.