The February 16 poll for Kano Central Senatorial District pitches former governors Ibrahim Shekarau and Rabiu Kwankwaso in another round of political wits.
The political battle between former governors of Kano State, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau and Dr Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso seem to be unending. In one form or another, the affront between the two political giants takes amoebic manner with different shapes and colour.
Now, the contest for the seat of Kano Central Senatorial District in the February 16 polls has pitched the two again. It is considered the fourth political cold war between the two to showcase their popularity.
While Shekarau is contesting for the Senatorial seat under the All Progressives Congress (APC), Kwankwaso is also “contesting” by proxy through his anointed candidate, Alhaji Aliyu Sani Madakin Gini, running under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The first round of show of force between the two was in 2003 when Shekarau unseated Kwankwaso, then the incumbent governor.
The second battle was in 2007 when Shekarau contested for his second term while Kwankwaso anointed Ahmed Garba Bichi under PDP. Again, Shekarau emerged victorious.
However, the third bout was in 2011 when Kwanwkaso contested for governor while Shekarau anointed Malam Salihu Sagir Takai for the same position. At the end of the battle, however, Kwankwaso triumphed over Shekarau.
Now, the contest for Kano Central Senatorial District is too close to call as both former governors have strong bases.
Kano central district consists of 15 local government areas of Nassarawa, Dala, Gwale, Municipal, Tarauni, Kumbotso, Fagge,
Gezawa, Minjibir, Dawakin-Kudu, Warawa, Kura, Garun-Malam, Madobi and Ungoggo.
Eight of these local governments namely Nassarawa, Municipal, Gwale, Dala, Tarauni,
Kumbotso, Fagge and Ungoggo are the most populated hence, they always produce the bulk of votes during the election.
It is therefore apparent that any politician contesting for Kano central must get substantial votes from these local governments before emerging victorious.
Although Alhaji Madakin Gini, a serving member of House of Representatives representing Dala Federal constituency, is the person angling for the Senate, it is indeed Kwankwaso’s battle.
Interestingly, Shekarau and Madakin-Gini came from one out of the eight most populated local governments. While Shekarau is from Nassarawa, Madakin-Gini is from Dala local government.
According to a summary of the result of 2015 general election, Senator Kwankwaso of the APC got a total of 758,383 votes to defeat his opponent of the PDP, Senator Bashir Garba Lado who got 205,809 votes.
The summary indicated that as at 2015, Kano central has a total of 2,530,281 registered voters out of which 1,080,506 were accredited for the poll.
It was gathered that Nassarawa local government has the highest number of registered voters of 370,733 followed by Dala with 306,582 voters.
Kano Municipal Local Government occupied the third position with 284,359 voters, Fagge, 233,030 voters and Gwale as the fifth with 194,860 voters. Tarauni has 185,324, Kumbotso, 177,608 and Ungoggo has 172,508 voters.
A total of 127,507 votes were counted as valid in Nassarawa, 107,535 in Kano Municipal, 106,343, in Dala, 79,286 in Ungoggo, 73,297 in Kumbotso, 73,054 in Tarauni, 68,538, in Gwale and 56,153 votes in Fagge local government.
It was gathered that at the end of the poll in 2015, a total number of votes cast stood at 992,590, with 973,053 valid votes. This represented 42.70 per cent of the turn-out of voters.
Shekarau and Kwankwaso have their strong and weak points as far as Kano Central is concerned. For Shekarau, contesting under APC will certainly play a greater for him. The former governor was persuaded into the APC from the PDP by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje as part of the strategy to fight Kwankwaso, considered a common political rival.
Ganduje served as deputy to Kwankwaso for eight years before he became Governor in 2015. However, their political relationships later become sour and they never reconciled despite several efforts from within and outside Kano to reconcile them.
In fact, until the defection of Shekarau to APC, Governor Ganduje has been shopping for a credible and strong politician that can challenge
Kwankwaso or his anointed candidate in the contest for Kano central and other political positions in this year’s general elections.
Ganduje, in his quest to get a right person, persuaded and succeeded in returning Senator Basheer Garba Lado to APC and prepared him for Kano Central Senatorial District.
However, shortly after Ganduje succeeded in getting Shekarau back into APC, the political calculation completely changed as Lado was convinced to drop his ambition for Shekarau.
Another factor in favour Shekarau is a strong and functional political network.
Although some of his political associates like the gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Malam Salihu Sagir Takai, Alhaji Abdullahi Sani Rogo and the host of others have joined other political parties, yet Shekarau still enjoys huge support.
Another plus for Shekarau is the crisis within the PDP that have fictionalised the party into “old” and “new” PDP with Ambassador Aminu Wali leading the “old” and Kwankwaso starring the affairs of the “new” PDP.
The circumstances that led to the return of Kwankwaso to PDP and subsequent taking over of the leadership of the party in the state is still fresh in the memory of many PDP members especially those in the older camp.
According to an impeccable source in the “old” PDP camp, the majority of them have remained in the party because they believe in its ideologies but may not support Kwankwaso’s candidate.
Most said Kwankwaso succeeded in imposing Madakin-Gini on them but cannot force them to either vote for him or work for his victory.
However, the only challenge that is before Shekarau is his inability to manage some APC members that vied for Kano central position before he joined the party. Here, Senator Lado must be taken into account by Shekarau and by extension Kano APC.
For Kwankwaso’s anointed candidate, he also has the opportunity of getting more votes from the eight metropolitan local governments having come from Dala local government. Although, a first-timer for the Senate election, Madakin-Gini contest for the House of Representatives in 2015, has exposed him to some basics that could help him play a greater role in the February 16 senatorial poll.
However, the circumstances that led to his emergence as PDP candidate will be one of his major challenges.
After Kwankwaso returned to PDP, he took over the leadership from Ambassador Wali’s camp referred to as “old” PDP. This development has led to the replacement of Senator Mas’ud El-Jibril Doguwa-led executive with a new leadership headed by the former Secretary to the State Government, Dr Rabi’u Sulaiman Bichi, a diehard supporter of Kwankwaso.
The internal leadership crisis also led to a legal battle between the Doguwa and Kwankwaso’s factions. However, the PDP national headquarters recognized the Kwankwaso-led faction.
With this development, Kwankwaso and his anointed candidate may not enjoy the support of members of the “old” PDP.
Kwankwaso may not also get the support of many supporters of his Kwankwasiyya group because of internal squabbles that occurred during the last congresses. Some members were offended because of what they described as the imposition of candidates and may not support most of the candidates brought on board by Kwankwaso.
However, who takes the trophy between Shekarau and Kwankwaso’s proxy Madakin-Gini, in this fourth round of “hostility” is just a few weeks away.