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(OPINION) Tinubu’s obsession with Kano and Northern backlash

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Since pre-independence, Kano’s politics has been radical and non-aligned. Even when the state finds itself pitching tents with the center, its leftist tendency never dies. Both Sardauna of Sokoto and Shagari did not find favors with Kano politics despite sharing similar ethnic and cultural biases with the Hausawan Kanawa. History reminds us about how Kano jettisoned its son, Alh. Bashir Tofa, who was the presidential candidate of NRC, and openly dashed his hope for SDP’s Chief Abiola. For Kanawa, politics has a deeper meaning and purpose- and both are aligned to emancipation of talakawa (masses). In Kano’s politics, talaka, not the elites, holds the four aces. This should be clear to any discerning mind.

Kano is blessed with the numbers, resources, and ideological persuasion. It’s quite unique that it once rejected Kwankwaso but later made him both a king and kingmaker. What that tells us is that you can lose Kano and later gain its total control by doing the right thing. If there is one thing Kano people will not condone is testing their will by imposition of unpopular candidate, which they collectively rejected at the polls. This is akin to riding a tiger by the tail. And it is exactly where I see Tinubu failing to learn from the history. What am I trying to convey here? The answer will be clear when I analyze the dynamics of both 2023 and 2027 elections. In 2023, the North had two presidential candidates (Atiku and Kwankwaso) so also the South (Tinubu and Obi). If you go back a bit you would realize that Atiku, Obi and Kwankwaso (two opposition candidates from the North and one from the South) were all members of PDP, and combined their votes in 2023 surpassed Tinubu’s by a wide margin beyond any tricky manipulations. Technically, 2023 elections was won by the PDP had it not split its votes across LP and NNPP.

This analysis has a serious implication on 2027 elections. First, Tinubu’s administration is unlikely to be popular in its first term because of the economic hardship caused by its deliberate policies such as removal of petrol subsidy and floating of naira. Therefore, 2027 elections will come at a time when things might still be turbulent, because it takes a while for a radical reform to get well entrenched and trickle down to generate shared prosperity. Ideally, the most potent strategy that could guarantee Tinubu’s success in 2027 is the divide and rule. Maintaining a healthy alliance with at least Kano’s NNPP so that its cult-figure leader, Rabiu Kwankwaso, will close any window for Kwankwaso to reunite with Atiku and Obi to forge a formidable force that could jeopardize Tinubu’s chances in 2027. Unfortunately, Tinubu has failed Kwankwaso by his aggression in wresting power from NNPP in Kano through a series of bizarre, contradictory, and unlawful court rulings. Tinubu’s intention of ignoring the gentlemen’s agreement and unashamedly attempting to snatch Kano mandate for his unpopular APC candidate (Gawuna-Ganduje) seems rather not sagacious. It is a popular adage that you can lose a battle to win a war. Having a friendly opposition in Kano is more useful to Tinubu than the backlash of robbing a popular mandate.

As the saying goes in The Game of Thrones, the North remembers. At the beginning it will appear as if Tinubu’s camp has snatched a victory. But we all know the sentiment in the North. The North will always favor its own and can unite and fight together when sensing a danger signal from an outsider. It will remember how its stars are decimated and ravaged like the Starks by APC’s blind quest for power. My fear is how would the North react when it rallies around a charismatic cult-figure? Tinubu’s ticket is already battling with the tag of excluding the vast Christian population. The Igbos and minorities from oil-rich South South are grumbling about exclusion. The ticket is apparently standing on partially crippled leg supported largely by the strength of the North, especially northwest where Kano is epicenter of its politics. If Tinubu trips and ignites the fire of hatred among the Muslim North, the allied forces would emerge to change the narrative. I do hope my intervention will open the eyes of the strategists within the Tinubu’s camp to change their thoughts on ill thought judicial heist they are planning to stage in Kano.

Ibrahim Musa is a public commentator. He writes from Rijiyar Zaki, Kano State. He can be reached at: muazamusa@yahoo.com

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