By Emma Aziken
The defection of Senator Ibrahim Shekarau to the newly formed New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP may not just be read as another in his cyclical political gyrations but reflects a political realignment that could ultimately affect the whole country.
The NNPP is led by Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, Shekarau’s predecessor and successor as governor of Kano State. The two men had almost always avoided one another politically.
Shekarau was one of the pillars behind the APC when the party was in formation. However, as the party was formed and Kwankwaso joined it from Abuja being part of the new Peoples Democratic Party, nPDP that joined the new party, Shekarau made a quick exit and joined the PDP.
In recognition of the big catch, President Goodluck Jonathan promptly appointed him as a minister.
After his time in the APC following the 2015 polls and after successfully placing his man, Abdullahi Ganduje as governor in 2015, Kwankwaso rejoined the PDP. Ganduje refused to go with him and started a war of attrition against his former political mentor.
As Kwankwaso rejoined the PDP, Shekarau also left the party and returned to the APC on whose ticket he easily won a Senate seat in 2019.
The two men are known to control a sizeable proportion of the political following in Kano. However, this is about the first time that the two men will be having a political collaboration and it was not easy that the movement has gotten many unnerved. Ganduje in desperation tried to woo him back and as part of his appeasements dropped his senate bid to appease Shekarau’s former ally, Senator Barau Jibrin.
Among those to have been seriously shaken by the development was the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who visited Kano on Thursday, May 19, 2022.
Tinubu depends heavily on Kano to swing his presidential aspiration and had invested much political capital in the state and reaped the support of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje. He had also appointedd Abdulmumin Jibrin as the director-general of the Tinubu Support Groups.
However, the internal political crisis in the APC led to Jibrin’s exit from the APC. Jibrin joined the NNPP.
A number of serving political office holders in the Ganduje government have also left the governor for the NNPP. Likewise a sizeable proportion of the members of the House of Assembly.
As at yesterday, there were doubts over the political inclinations of Alhaji Murtala Garo, the immediate past commissioner for local government affairs who had been nominated as the running mate to the APC governorship consensus candidate, Dr Nasir Yusuf Gawuna.
Gawuna, who is the incumbent deputy governor had been nominated by APC stakeholders at a meeting presided over by Governor Abdullahi. Abdullahi had apparently wanted to follow the path of his predecessor, Kwankwaso in pushing forward his deputy as a successor.
However, the move was said not to have been well received in Ganduje’s home and some doubt that he had a good meal the day the decision was taken about two weeks ago.
That is because Ganduje went against the alleged inclinations of his powerful wife, Professor Hafsat Ganduje who was said to have been a very powerful force behind the governorship aspiration of Garo.
As commissioner for local government, Garo was largely believed to have used the position to build a political network across the state that was supposed to favour his political aspiration to be governor. Indeed, until few days ago, few believed that he could have been stopped especially given the support he was said to have been receiving from Mrs Ganduje.
However, the governor stood with the majority of stakeholders and decided on the incumbent deputy and Garo was BEGGED to accept the position of running mate.
However, that plan was said to be collapsing on Thursday after reports emerged that Garo was about joining the current of defection to the NNPP.
The substance to the rumour was fed by the fact that Garo was until the crisis between Ganduje and his predecessor as governor, known to be a loyalist of Kwankwaso and a relative.
Indeed, it is generally known that Kwankwaso was the one who brought Garo into politics. However, Garo for whatever reason especially after he was appointed commissioner of local government, and the comfort he got from the family relationship with the governor’s wife, jettisoned Uncle Kwankwaso for Governor Ganduje.
A move by Tinubu to reconcile the tendencies and stop the bleeding within the Kano APC was not totally successful on Thursday, May 19, 2022 as Garo was not present. His absence fueled the rumours that he was about defecting to the NNPP.
Your correspondent, however, gathered that Garo surfaced at the Government House yesterday, Friday with the prospect that he may well no longer defect to the NNPP.
But whatever the intentions of Garo, the announcement by Shekarau that he was defecting to the NNPP was a defining moment for Kano politics. Indeed, Kano politics has in recent times been edged between two or more godfathers.
The rapprochement of two of the major godfathers, Kwankwaso and Shekarau under one umbrella poses a serious turn around for Kano, nay the nation.
Even if Kwankwaso does not win the presidential election, the historical votes from Kano are not likely to be in the bank of anyone of those that the PDP or the APC may produce as presidential candidate.