Ladies and gentlemen, something very terrible are happening in Kano right now. And before anyone thinks some bandits have attacked the frontline state that has since 2003 undergone social re-orientation to become a bastion of peace and tranquility, let me say that this is mainly about politics and politicking, though the undercurrents have all the potential to throw Kano to the kind of conflagration that could affect the rest of Nigeria.
It is a crisis involving two major politicians, seen as some of the most decent in the political history of the state. These politicians are incumbent Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, and a former governor now senator, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau. It is about 2023 and cheap politics of opportunism.
Since the beginning of the crisis that has in the past few weeks torn the Kano Chapter of the All Progressive Congress (APC) into two major factions, I have refrained from commenting on it because no matter the efforts any just and fair commentator would make, he cannot fail to take sides, even if inadvertently.
Firstly, I have many friends in the administration of Governor Ganduje, and this friendship predates the positions they currently hold. Secondly, I am one of those who voted for Ganduje in 2019. I, therefore, see myself as a stakeholder in the Ganduje Project, no matter what anyone might say.
Thirdly, I have served as an aide to Malam Ibrahim Shekarau from 2007 to 2011, during his second term of office as governor, and the former governor now senator is my neighbour in Kano. By these facts alone, chances are I may be termed as an interested party, though the truth is I only met or spoke with Shekarau less than ten times in the past ten years since he handed over power after a resoundingly successful tenure of office. In any case, some of the biggest beneficiaries of the Shekarau Administration are now also among the frontline beneficiaries of the current government in power in the state. They are politicians of all seasons, in whose dictionary seeking relevance and pecuniary benefit with any government in power is what politics is all about.
Not only Senator Shekarau. I am also somewhat close to Senator Barau Jibrin who I see, without any iota of doubt, as one of the most composed, organized and decent politicians I have ever been privileged to know. But just like Shekarau, I have not seen or spoken to Senator Jibrin in many years now. I am therefore writing as an indigene of Kano State and surely one of its stakeholders, hoping my small intervention will help restore decency and common sense to what is fast becoming dirty politics now turning to madness.
Shortly after Governor Ganduje hosted Nigerian editors to the biennial convention of the Nigerian Guild of Editors in June this year, I was one of few editors who wrote commending the governor for what I truly saw as his great efforts in development of infrastructure. Governor Ganduje personally led editors to inspect projects he executed, and it must be stated that he did wonderfully well, even if there are widespread rumors of underhand dealings in foreign currency, around the projects.
In 2019, both Senators Shekarau and Barau Jibrin worked their hearts out to ensure Ganduje won a second term of office as governor of Kano State. In return, Governor Ganduje supported the two of them to the senate, though in the case of Barau, he was already in the upper legislative chamber when Ganduje became governor for the first time in 2015.
Now, what is it that has gone wrong, making these otherwise good friends to turn to foes, politically speaking? Here, I want to focus my main advice on Governor Ganduje, since he is the one controlling the levers of power in the state, and every current holder of power will want to bequeath a legacy for posterity. More so, chances are the situation is still redeemable, and the governor can still continue his friendship with Shekarau, Barau, Sha’aban Sharada and other House of Reps members that have aligned with Malam Shekarau in the fight for Kano’s political soul.
Starting with Senator Shekarau, the truth is no matter what anyone might say about this man, decency and integrity have been his defining hallmarks right from his secondary school days when he consistently won the award of most well-behaved student for almost all the five years of his studies. And when the current crisis erupted, Shekarau made it very clear that his brand of politics is averse to vengeance or name-calling. He believes that an eye for an eye will make the whole world turn blind, and resisted all entreaties to pay back Governor Ganduje in kind by replying the insults rained in him by the governor, saying instead that everyone exhibits the type of training he or she receives at home.
If I were Governor Ganduje, I will not forget in a hurry the fact that I am in the office today courtesy of the common front I forged with Shekarau in 2019. Of course, nobody in this world has done as much as Engr. Kwankwaso to Ganduje. But at that time, Kwankwaso, Ganduje’s benefactor for decades, was desirous to teach Ganduje a lesson that betrayal was evil and should be resisted. Kwankwaso was hellbent in ensuring Ganduje was denied a second term of office, and the threat was very potent and real until Ganduje played a masterstroke by wooing Shekarau to his side.
There is simply no way Ganduje could defeat the combination of Kwankwaso and Shekarau working together, and this is going to be proven in the 2023 election, unless Ganduje is able to reconcile with Shekarau and the other politicians he is now opposed to. But with Shekarau now on his side, Ganduje was able to win re-election, even if there are widespread allegations of rigging. Of course to the credit of Ganduje, he, as pointed out earlier, has ensured Shekarau was made a sole candidate of the APC in the general election in 2019. But APC will have lost that senate seat if Shekarau were not the one flying its flag that year.
So if I were Governor Ganduje, I will engage in deep sober reflection and remember that all those in my camp urging me to continue fighting different stakeholders in the state are most likely doing so simply to feather their own nests and lead me to ruination. In other words, I will see all the commissioners and advisers urging me to continue with the needless fight as doing so not because they are interested in my wellbeing, but because unity among these heavyweight politicians is likely to play to the individual and collective disadvantage of these promoters of hate.
Governor Ganduje should remember that at the end of the day, all those urging him to continue the fight will run away and leave him all alone in the cold when the chips are down. They have done the same to his benefactor, Kwankwaso, and some of them have done similarly to Shekarau, also their major benefactor. And Ganduje should write it down: all of them, with perhaps no exception, are going to betray him as soon as he leaves power.
Not too long ago, we have seen those characters that Ganduje now considers as his genuine supporters licking the boot of his predecessors, in particular, Kwankwaso and Shekarau, respectively. Shamefully, these same characters are now licking the boot of Ganduje for no reason other than the opportunities their hypocrisy is offering them to make money, which is all they have always been interested in.
Ganduje came to the office soundly educated, as a holder of a doctorate degree. But people wonder why he made creating too many enemies as his style of governance, even when the best of military generals are said to be wise enough to pick their battles. The governor is not on good terms with most businessmen, and particularly small-scale traders. He has also lost out with most members of the ulama, two classes of people Kano takes deep pride in. Under his watch, schools are being converted to shops, education is at its lowest ebb in Kano, even with the government’s rhetoric of free education, and Kano’s master plan is suffering the worst kind of abuse since the creation of the state in 1967.
If I were Ganduje, with a wife who is now a professor, I will count my blessings and only engage her in the confines of our bedroom as my chief private adviser on crucial issues. Sadly, the talk in Kano right now is that the wife of Ganduje is the de facto governor of Kano State who decides what happens, more than even the governor. While some of the things being said could well be in the realm of rumors, the fact that their own son could report the wife, his own mother, to the EFCC, accusing her of malfeasance is frightening enough.
If therefore I were Governor Ganduje, I will remember the very sad and unfortunate situation where a former governor of neighboring Jigawa State was clamped in jail with his two sons that he allegedly allowed to play key prominent roles in his government. Just for a moment imagine how bad it will look like if someone, who just left the position of Governor is also clamped in jail with his wife and daughters that are said to be multi-billionaires.
Harsh as it might sound, there is simply no way anyone with any iota of decency will want to remain in a political party whose state chairman is prone to hurling insults at decent people, all in his desperate bid to prove false loyalty to the governor. And this was the same person that exhibited all sorts of false loyalty to a former governor but ended up betraying that benefactor, and will definitely do the same to the next benefactor. So, really the alternative is either a replacement of such a person or if adjustments cannot be made, decampment from the political party altogether.
Finally, if I were Ganduje, I will remember that, violence has never been an alternative to peace, and that all religions, including Islam, are opposed to a crisis. The resort to burning of political offices of opponents, as it happened yesterday in Kano, or locking up the office of a lawyer simply because he did his job diligently, can only be comprehensible in the Stone Age or some banana republic. But that is what Kano is fast turning into under the watch of Ganduje. The explanation that it was done in happenstance is an insult to the intellect of every discerning member of Kano society.
The Kano Governor should remember that his biggest asset is his personal integrity and not any tons of dollars. He therefore should, especially as an elder, guard it jealously and resist all the palace courtiers leading him to perdition. I am one of those who still see Ganduje in the mold of an elder statesman, and with one and a half years before the end of his tenure of office, he still has chances to make amends and ensure he bequeaths noble legacies and is remembered as one of the best persons that have governed Kano State.
In concluding this piece, I recommend to my Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, a treatise captured under Life’s Daily Diary, authored by Gbille Akanni, Nigerian preacher and renowned author, to help him understand the urgent need to round up his tenure of office in a blaze of glory.
The treatise goes in the format of Akanni asking about the cost of hatred. And he went on to write as follows: “I never knew it was that costly. I wanted to know the cost of HATRED, so I decided to branch to a shop where it’s being sold. As a good businessman who was looking for a buyer, the salesman rushed out to ask what I wanted.
“I told him I wanted just a cup of hatred, and then he smiled and asked if I can afford it.
‘How much does a cup cost?’ I asked?! Hmmmmm! He took in a deep breath, then started: It will, first of all, take away your inner peace. It will cost you incurable worries. It will eat up your heart. You will be deeply bitter whenever you set your eyes on the person you hate. When others are celebrating him or her, you will always be looking for why he or she doesn’t deserve it. You will become so weak and tired of seeing the person. Whenever he or she laughs, you will cry.
“While others are busy planning their future, you will be busy looking for how to pull him or her down. The Spirit of God will leave you and you will become the temple of devils where demons reside. You will begin to have different health issues like High blood pressure, diabetics, stroke, cancer, liver disease, kidney disease, etc, as long as you drink from the cup of hatred, bitterness, grudge, unforgiveness, malice, Anger, Jealousy, envy, resentment. Worse still, prayers or drugs cannot help much because you have disobeyed the natural and supernatural laws. You will die before your time and go to hell.
“The seller was still counting what a cup of hatred will cost me, when I shunned him, realizing how EXPENSIVE hatred is. I left because I knew deep down I could not afford it. I refuse to pay such a huge amount when I can LOVE so easily and cheaply.
“Brethren, don’t allow anybody to take away your joy and sell or give you hatred.
Avoid gossips, bitterness, anger, etc because a lot of times, it is what you hear about somebody that breeds hatred. Don’t die before your time. Stay safe and be blessed.“
Mr Gaya, a former Deputy President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, wrote from Kano.