By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor and Abdulmumin Murtala
KANO—Kano, the hotbed of Northern politics was turned into play, yesterday, after the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar turned out for a mega rally in the ancient city.
Kano had always been in in support of Muhammadu Buhari, who had won the state with massive margins even defeating locals from the state.
However, yesterday’s rally which was signposted by the defection of the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso from the APC to the PDP has now projected Kano as a state which could be hotly disputed.
Though suggestions that someone could contest Kano with Buhari could be seen as a fairy tale, the reality after yesterday was that Buhari might face a heated challenge the state.
Reflective of the new power permutations on the ground, Atiku and his entourage including the national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus had arrived Kano donning the Kwankwasiya cap that is signature for followers of the former governor.
That was to show that Kano PDP belonged to Kwankwaso and to reap the votes; the PDP presidential candidate had toe the line of the philosophy as espoused by the former governor.
Before Kwankwanso’s defection, the PDP which was in the hands of Ibrahim Shekarau seen as inactive. The party did not contest the local government election that took place in 2016.
However, that began to change after Kwankwanso came to the party last year. An alignment with Shekarau did not work as the later did not consider it proper that Kwankwaso was gifted with 51% of the structure.
Shekarau was also in some sections, accused of joining the APC by some PDP members to save his neck from the EFCC on charges of alleged corruption while the APC used him as the candidate to contest for Sen Kwankwaso’s Senate seat of the Kano Central.
Corruption has also emerged as an issue in Kano following the video recording of the governor allegedly accepting wads of dollar cash as bribes from some unnamed contractors with the state government, which he denied.
After Kwankwaso defected to the PDP, many serving APC political office holders and associates of the former governor, including the then incumbent deputy governor of the state, Prof. Hafiz Abubakar moved with Kwankwaso to the PDP.
Given the bad blood that had emerged between Kwankwaso and Ganduje, the coming battle has largely been constructed to be a personality battle between Kwankwaso and Ganduje. For some, the collateral benefits or damage could then impair or harm the two major presidential candidates, Buhari and Atiku.
A major threat to Kwankwaso’s ascendancy in the PDP was the issue of the governorship candidate. The emergence of Abba Kabir Yusuf, a scion of Kwankwaso, as the anointed gubernatorial candidate of the PDP led to mutterings here and there in the state as some stakeholders, especially those who had positioned themselves prior to Kwankwaso’s emergence felt betrayed.
Although the Kwankwasiyya lost some followers because of the emergence of the governorship candidate, the party has now been able to find a balance as was reflected by what party officials were noting as the success of yesterday’s rally.
Senator Kwankwaso has used his political prowess to bring the PDP back to life in Kano and is also struggling to induce a generational change in the leadership of the state with his anointed candidate Yusuf, who is seen as closer to the youths.
Ganduje had promised to deliver 5.4 million votes to Buhari, something that was at one time seen as unrealistic.