Baring last minute change, the governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, will unveil his deputy, Nasir Gawuna, as the consensus governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Kano State.
There have been intense lobby and power-play in the last few weeks as the governor narrowed his choice to either Mr Gawuna or the powerful former commissioner for Local Government, Murtala Garo.
In August last year, the governor’s influential wife, Hafsat Ganduje, dropped a hint at a function in Ungogo that Mr Garo would be her husband’s successor.
“I remember, while on a short trip. At all the time… He is here listening to me, in every battle, there has to be a commander (Mr Garo’s nickname). I swear to God, he didn’t sleep because he was working hard to discharge his responsibility as a commissioner. I hope, you chairmen are listening to me? You are hearing this from Goggo’s mouth. Therefore, these are the people that His Excellency said they would succeed him,” Mrs Ganduje said.
Although Mr Garo maintains a firm grip on the party structure in Kano and the support of the governor’s immediate family, several factors played against him.
In contrast with other governorship aspirants, insiders said Mr Garo ranks below his opponents in terms of educational qualifications and emotional intelligence.
“Holding top level offices for several years had shaped Murtala Garo’s skill as an administrator such that he is even above some of the aspirants with higher qualifications, but one thing he still lacks is emotional intelligence to treat people with respect. Another issue with his candidacy is that he is not from the municipality. The metropolitan votes decide who becomes the governor, and a formidable candidate needs to be fielded to checkmate the rising popularity of the NNPP in the city,” said a source familiar with the situation.
Pundits argued that the governor must to field a candidate from within the metropolitan local governments in order to checkmate the anointed candidate of Kwankwaso’s NNPP, Abba Kabir Yusuf, and then get a chunk from the mass of the metropolitan votes.
The power-play that led to emergence of Gawuna
The governor, according to inside sources, had narrowed his choices to members of his kitchen cabinet and effectively knocked out other aspirants such as a former Group General Manager at the NNPC, Inuwa Waya; businessman A.A. Zaura; member of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Rurum and; Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris.
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that the governor held a meeting with Mr Waya and allegedly challenged him to prove that he gave him money to get the governorship ticket. This issue, it was gathered, was used by the governor to technically push Mr Waya out of the ring.
“The governor’s family was embarrassed by the rumour that Waya had earlier paid billions of naira to get the ticket, and that the governor allegedly invited him to Dubai to pay the balance. Although Waya had denied ever saying so, Baba Ganduje was very angry, and he challenged Waya to give proof of any payment,” said a source.
But Mr Waya later clarified that the governor never reprimanded him over rumours making the rounds that he paid billions of naira to get the party ticket.
“As a matter of fact, the governor never confronted me on this silly issue. It has never happened. I have never given the governor a dime and he has never confronted me over the unfounded and mischievous rumours,” Mr Waya added.
At least three factors militate against the possibility of the emerge of A.A. Zaura as the APC governorship candidate. Despite his largesse and funding party activities, his case with the EFCC, lack of administrative experience as well as his being an “outsider” worked against him.
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that the governor had clearly told his close confidants that he would not support former Speaker of the state House of Assembly Alhassan Rurum as guber candidate because of his leading role in a plot to impeach him over dollar videos.
The governor, it was reliably gathered, knocked out the ambition of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, at a meeting last week. DAILY NIGERIAN learnt that Mr Ganduje had earlier rejected Mr Idris’ nomination for a traditional title by the Emir of Kano Aminu Bayero.
Sources said the accountant-general read the governor’s body language and forwent the plan to vie for the coveted seat.
Insiders also told DAILY NIGERIAN that the governor had about two weeks ago sent his chief political adviser, Nasir Aliko Koki and the state party chairman, Abdullahi Abbas, to intimate Mr Garo about the governor’s plan to field him as running mate.
It was gathered that Mr Garo was bitter about the decision, and complained bitterly over the governor’s sudden change of decision. He was also allegedly angry with the governor for sending emissaries to intimate him instead of inviting him personally.
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that the governor may have prepared a ground for the emergence of the duo of Messrs Gawuna and Garo as governorship and deputy candidates when he ordered for the printing of thousands of posters showing the trio of Messrs Ganduje, Gawuna and Garo with the caption: “Dakarun Inconclusive” (which roughly means the heroes of inconclusive election rigging).
Insiders told DAILY NIGERIAN that Mr Gawuna was sighted in the government house last night in company of his wife, where they met with the governor and the first lady. During the meeting, which lasted hours, sources said the governor revealed to Mr Gawuna about his decision to field him as the consensus governorship candidate.
Although the governor had once described Mr Gawuna as “mota ba fasinja” (a ranking politician without followers) for his inability to deliver his local government in the 2019 elections, it is however apparent that he is the only politician in the APC fold who can make significant electoral impact in the metropolis.
The factors that favour Mr Gawuna, who hails from Nassarawa Local Government, include his ranking posing position as deputy governor, metropolitan background, educational background, administrative experience and refusal to join issues with other aspirants.