21 January 2008

Nigeria: Issues Behind Kano LG Election Crises (2)


Kano — Here the PDP made very effective use of the internal schisms in ANPP where it was said my friend, the State Assembly Deputy Speaker Hon. Aliko dan Shuaiba Muktar was thought to be fighting Alhaji Salisu Maje Ahmed Gwangwazo (Alhajin Baba). Mahmuda of Dala and Alhajin Baba of Municipal were all key actors in ALGON, the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, which paved the way for Engineer A. M. Tijjani, the Deputy Governor to be picked by Shekarau for the 2007 polls.

In Municipal there were rumours yet that ex-House of Representatives member for Kano Municipal, Honourable Umar El-Yakub said to be anti-Alhajin Baba may have provided fuel for the PDP to make a very powerful showing on Election Day. Kano Municipal is known to be the heart of ANPP. But despite that elections couldn't hold at Chedi, the Ward of the Deputy Speaker. The elections also failed to hold at Gandun Albasa, Senator Najaatu and ex-Governor Rabi'u Kwankwaso's Kano Municipal home wards.

The internal tensions in ANPP here became fuel well used by the leading opposition party, the PDP much as they used the disaffection of the followers of Sharu Salisu Mekaho, the energetic young, very young, multi-millionaire frontline candidate for Kano Municipal chairman who has over the past three years made the politics of the Local government a lot more exciting and heated, especially with his effective use of disaffected ANPP youth as 'yan Banga. And he had the amazing support of Alhajin Baba's very political younger brother, Ali Auwalu Danzaki, whose formidable team of political activists was the initial platform for Alhajin Baba's "Mai-Taimako" campaign team during his first outing as KMC chairmanship aspirant five or so years back. Alhajin Baba was only returned as elected chairman for my Local Government on Tuesday, a whole four days after the elections. By then the tension had upped and downed beginning Saturday, with teargas liberally sprayed around the Kwalli College of Qur'anic Studies venue for collation of results. And reports even then suggest that in some polling Centres most of the voters did not get to vote. Probably due to the apparently deliberate squeeze on polling materials orchestrated by the state electoral commission. The State Independent Electoral Commission Secretary, Barrister Bashir Wada Galadanci is an old hand from the INEC I recommended for the post to Governor Shekarau after we won the 2003 elections and I was told he had fallen victim of the federal INEC Commissioner because he didn't do what PDP had ordered, to manipulate the polls against ANPP.

Of course I later learnt other different sides of the story from then ANPP National Legal Adviser General Bashir Salihi Magashi whom I, as ANPP State Chairman, had begged to lead our INEC team ultimately determining the Shekarau/Buhari victory in 2003. But by the time I learnt the other side from General Magashi it had become too late to make amends as he had already been given the job, General Magashi and other members of the team had confirmed how Barrister Bashir Wada actually made strenuous efforts to aid PDP only getting neutralised by Magashi at the head of our team. Barrister then changed sides seeing where the wind was then blowing; and of course he now appears to be doing quite well as KANSIEC secretary under the ANPP Government.

Anyway back to the LG elections. With the spreading tension, the impression fed the people of Kano is that an attempt was being made by enemies of the ANPP Government, particularly the PDP to heat up Kano so as to provide the conditions for a state of emergency. That is why when Haladu says government should take stern measures against perpetrators of the violence and arson I was and still am one with him.

But then I don't subscribe to the tales that there was any plan to heat up Kano in aid of a state of emergency. No. I rather look at it more dispassionately. Can the PDP Federal Government of Yar'adua impose a state of emergency on any state as at now? I don't think so. Even if it can, which I very much doubt, it doesn't appear to be the type with such a Machiavellian will as the late and unlamented PDP government of Olusegun Obasanjo.

The Yar'adua Government has proved time and again it respects due process and the rule of law. It respects separation of powers. It is also not a government established and entrenched in such a position as to throw its weight about, yet! No. It isn't. As for the PDP itself in Kano, the reality on ground is that the people of Kano had never truly been PDP, they are not PDP now either. Apart from a very few areas, probably less (and surely no more) than one third of Kano, which are no doubt PDP strongholds, wherever there was disquiet and chaos it was as a result of the internal conflicts of ANPP. Much as happened in 2003 when we, in ANPP, made effective use of the PDP's internal problems among other factors to upstage the PDP Kano Government of Dr Rabi'u Kwankwaso. There is the argument (which I believe to be most reasonable, as the ANPP chairman at the time of the 2003 elections) that even though APP and its heir ANPP had the greatest following in Kano, it had the weakest of leadership structures before the PDP's internal schism of 2003 gave ANPP the required leadership structure (at the PDP's expense, naturally) especially at the level of many of the 44 Local Governments in Kano. In much the same manner that hubris set in with Kwankwaso's PDP in 2003 so has it with ANPP after these four years of the party in Government at the State Level. The LG polls, the confusion, the chaos and arson in many LGs can well be said to have come about as a direct result of ANPP's own failures.

On the fact that the arson was or was not spontaneous you never can tell. It is only the security agencies that can (may be) tell us, how spontaneous the events before, during and after the elections were. We have to wait and see who and who has been arrested and taken to court and the facts adduced before the courts. And with the positive vibes from the courts now you also actually have to wait for the pronouncement of the courts. Else we will have to wait for the history books. When those political actors involved decide to tell all in their memoirs. As a practicing politician I have come to learn that practically all the initial embers of most "spontaneous" politically related actions - even, and especially violence related are far from being spontaneous. No matter the twists they turn into as they MOST CERTAINLY do as they do develop a life of their own later, they are in the beginning always deliberately and willfully ignited by the political elite who matter.

Of course when you sit them down to ask why they do so, they may well have genuine excuses and compelling stimuli that get them to do their thing releasing the dastardly genie of violence so "spontaneously". For the reality of life in politics as in everything else is that like our Form Three Physics teacher, Mr. Steele ("kazamin bature", late Samanja RSM DanBauchi Riba's name for Mr. Steele on account of Steele's bushy and unkempt beard) taught us more than three decades ago, "for every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction". That is why reviewing matters since the LG polls I asked myself and asked around as to what may have truly prompted the palaver, the chaos, the confusion, the arson and wanton destruction of lives. Yes, those many lives unjustly prematurely terminated. And oh! So much property too. For instance no matter what anybody says in Takai, Salihu Sagir's efforts at affirming his mastery of the polity has been on all these nine years of democracy. He had been brought to the limelight by Honourable Garba Umar Durbunde, the more grassroots rooted politician. Salihu Takai had thus won the elections for LG chairman as one of the five APP chairmen in PDP dominated Kano state under Garba Durbunde's tutelage.

Durbunde was two time ANPP member of Kano House of Assembly and former zero-party LG Chairman who earned his grip on Takai LG from his days as an agricultural extension worker in the zone. He was Hon. Salihu Takai, the bearded Ustaz's first political Qa'id and guide long before Mallam Shekarau adopted him. With the coming of Mallam Shekarau onto the scene and our drafting in of Salihu onto the State executive of

ANPP and the intrigues that ate up the ANPP before and after the 2003 ANPP SAK landslide, Garba Durbunde, the ANPP's first choice for Speaker of the Kano Assembly in 2003 worsted by the House's intrigues masters found himself on the wrong side of his Party's Government. And from then began the many battles on Takai LG's political turf that ultimately forced Durbunde out of ANPP and into PDP. The fight for supremacy in Takai also engulfed Hon. Danbazau Mai-Karas, one time vice chairman of Takai under Salihu. When Mai-Karas fell out of favour with Hon. Salihu, now powerful LG Commissioner it was only a matter of time for Mai-Karas to be squeezed out of ANPP too. And so he was forced into the PDP.

Thus was the battle line further drawn when PDP dons in the area led by Colonel Senator Isa Kachako and Durbunde drafted Mai-Karas to become the LG's PDP chairmanship candidate. And so on and on to the elections with ANPP candidates seen to be no more than Salihu shadows the elections held. And there were claims and counter claims on whether they held or not at all or how they held in Takai and indeed most other LGs. And there was chaos and arson. Even the market stalls in Takai were not spared. Many vehicles were burnt down. The town which is headquarters of Takai, the LG where I was born, had its water works vandalized. And numerous other atrocities were committed that day according to reports that were effectively suppressed and thankfully I must admit not allowed into the media at that time.

Kabiru Muhammad Gwangwazo, a former chairman of Kano State ANPP, writes from Gwangwazo, Kano City

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