By Kabir Dakata
The outcome of the 2019 gubernatorial election in Kano state did not come to many people as a surprise because it was very clear long before the election, that the incumbent Abdullahi Ganduje would not win. Ganduje, in addition to the serious opposition he faced by the Kwankwasiya movement, a movement that produced him as the state governor in 2015, was battling to control a damage created by the “dollar video” which captured him allegedly collecting bribes in American dollars from contractors. The election had two major candidates; the incumbent Abdullahi Ganduje of the APC and Abba Kabir Yusuf of the PDP. Abba Kabir Yususf or Abba gida-gida as he is politically called, was favored by many factors including his outstanding performance as the commissioner of works, housing and transport during the second tenure of Sen. Rabiu Kwankwaso between 2011 and 2015. He was very instrumental to the housing infrastructural development, road and flyover infrastructural development, massive development in the transportation sector, etc. all achieved by the Kwankwaso`s administration. Ganduje on his part, was favored by the last minute endorsement by President Buhari who initially did not intend to raise Ganduje`s hand at their rally in Kano, but because of the persuasion of the national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshomole, Buhari raised Ganduje`s hand and said “Ga Gandujen ku nan” meaning see your Ganduje. Also, in their effort to sabotage the chances of Abba gida-gida, the Aminu Wali`s faction of the PDP and other close allies of Kwankwaso joined Ganduje`s camp.
On the last day of campaign for the 2019 gubernatorial election, Ganduje, in an interview he granted to media men, said since his party won the presidential and national assembly elections in the state, therefore, he was confident that he will win his election with a wide margin. But two days after that interview Ganduje received his greatest political shock as the result of the March 9th 2019 gubernatorial election in the state showed that Abba gida-gida got 1,020,465 votes while Ganduje got 987,459 votes. That was after the alleged political thuggery led by the deputy governor, Nasiru Gawuna, to the Nassarawa local government collation centre where the duo of Nasiru Gawuna and Murtala Sule Garo were alleged to have tore the result of Gama ward a situation that contributed to the declaration of the election as inconclusive. It was also alleged that Abba gida-gida was not well represented by the agent of his party at the state collation centre where about 60,000 of his votes were wrongly cancelled all as part of the deliberate plan to declare the election as inconclusive. When PDP complained about the incident on Gama ward, the then INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Kano, Prof. Ruskuwa told journalists that the disruption at the Nassarawa collation centre would not affect the outcome of the election because the commission has the power to regenerate from the PUs result copies given to both INEC officials and party agents. Unfortunately, Prof. Ruskuwa did not stick to his earlier commitment of regenerating the result, but went ahead to declare the election as inconclusive.
When INEC fixed March 23rd 2019 as the date for the supplementary election to hold in Gama ward and other areas in the state, nobody thought that Ganduje’s government and his party in Kano could connive with INEC officials and security agencies to rig the election. The supplementary election in Kano failed in all standards as all polling units were taken over by thousands of thugs who were given cover by the security agents to intimidate any voter willing to vote for PDP. The election was marred by thuggery, voter intimidation, ballot box stuffing, etc. by members of the APC and supported by INEC officials, police and other security officers, as reported by different local and international media organizations and similarly captured by both local and international observers in their respective election observation reports. Some of these organizations include the European Union Election Observation Mission, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), YIAGA Africa, etc.
The EU stated categorically in their report that, “On 23 March, extensive electoral security problems were observed, particularly in parts of Kano where polling units became inaccessible to EU observers in some areas. The environment was intimidating and not conducive to voters’ free participation in the election. Party leadership locally and centrally did not appear to take any steps to rein in supporters and prevent evident violence, intimidation or other misconduct. Throughout the day, INEC did not comment on electoral disturbances, despite its overall responsibility for the election and security arrangements.” Likewise, Part of the CDD`s report reads, “In Kano State, violence and disruption of polling were widespread as an army of thugs reportedly took over polling activities in several local government areas (LGAs), including Nasarawa, Dala, Karaye and Gaya. In PU 011, Kwanya waward and PU 002, Chede ward, both in Karaye LGA; and PU 001 and PU 034-036, Gama Ward of Nasarawa LGA.” The YIAGA`s report also highlighted how political thugs disrupted the conduct of the election. According to the report, “YIAGA AFRICA questions the credibility of some results announced by INEC in polling units and LGA collation centres where observers and voters were chased away by political thugs and police officers. “This was prevalent in Kano state in places like PUs 008 and 010, Kwarkiya Ward of Minjibir LGA, PU 008, Kanawa ward; Cikin Gari ward 05, in Sumaila LGA; and PU 07, Batayya ward 02, Albasu LGA; Zango PU 021, Karaye ward 03, Karaye LGA in Kano state. In addition is the result from Polling unit 003 Alkala, gaya Arewa ward in Gaya LGA where voting was not concluded at the polling unit, however, results were announced at the collation centre.”
After declaring Ganduje as the winner of the election, the PDP and its candidate Abba gida-gida went to court to regain what they described as their “stolen mandate.” But after spending about 8 months battling at the tribunal, court of appeal and supreme court, Abba did not get the justice he deserved and Ganduje remained the governor of the state.
Even as he lost at the courts, Abba didn’t neglect the people of Kano state, between 2020 and 2022 Abba was always on his way to different local government areas for condolence visits, wedding ceremonies, political gatherings, etc. From the way people receive and welcome Abba whenever they see him, you will know that unless he will not contest the 2023 gubernatorial election in the state, the people of Kano will vote for him again. Since his first victory in 2019, Abba is always seen as an elected governor not a gubernatorial candidate. As anticipated by many analysts, Abba gida-gida even though he contested under a new political party, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), he defeated the APC`s candidate, Nasiru Gawuna. Not only defeating Gawuna, Abba scored the highest votes than any gubernatorial candidate from any political party in Nigeria in the 2023 general elections. While Abba of NNPP scored 1,019,602 votes, the APC`s Nasiru Gawuna came second with a total of 890,705 votes. He was declared the winner of the election by the Returning Officer of the Kano governorship poll, Prof. Ahmed Doko.
Now that the Kano governorship election is over, the eyes are on the winner, Abba gida-gida to face the huge expectations of the Kano people. Many people are of the belief that despite the economic challenges, huge domestic and foreign debt he is going to inherit, if he goes by his well-developed blueprint and the Human Capital Development principles of the Kwankwasiya movement, he is going to succeed as the governor of Kano state between 2023 and 2027.
Kabir Dakata writes from Nassarawa Local Government in Kano state and can be reached via [email protected]