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Tinubu’s fresh push for Kwankwaso in APC rebuffed

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Tinubu's fresh push for Kwankwaso in APC rebuffed

President Bola Tunubu again met with former Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso in Abuja before his latest ‘private visit’ to France, according to sources close to the Kano politician, as conversation around his potential move to the All Progressives Congress (APC) continue. But stumbling blocks have emerged.

Kwankwaso’s relationship with Abdullahi Ganduje, his successor turned political adversary, now chairman of the ruling party, and opposition within his own camp in the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) had stalled the initial attempts – said to have been facilitated by Abdulmumin Jibrin, Tinubu’s loyalist, who had followed Kwankwaso to his new party, from where he secured reelection into the House of Representatives – to bring him into the ruling party. And this time, it’s proving to be not different.

President Tunubu, with eyes already set on second term bid in 2027, had moved to enlist Kwankwaso in the APC before he was sworn in as president on May 29 last year. A marathon meeting in Paris, the French capital on Monday, May 15, 2023 centred on the leader of the Kwankasiya Movement joining the Tinubu government, with ministerial positions considered a possibility.

However, the discussions, it was gathered, stalled mainly over the rift between the former governor and Ganduje, then governor of Kano, now chairman of the APC. The latter, sources said, had expressed his reservations to Tunubu, whose effort to reconcile their differences yielded no results.

As the initial attempts stalled and Tinubu subsequently formed his government, a fresh plot was hatched to take the state from Kwankwaso’s NNPP through the courts. Both the Kano State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal had indeed, in very suspect rulings that threatened to set the politically charged state aflame, sacked Abba Kabir Yusuf, the state governor and Kwankwaso’s political godson, and declared APC’s Yusuf Gawuna as governor.

The thinking within the APC camp, according to sources familiar with the plot, had been that since there’s no religious colouration to the election dispute, large scale crisis was unlikely to erupt in the event that the NNPP governor was eased out through the courts.

“The idea is that Kano is more likely to react violently to religious matters than political issues involving two Muslims,” an APC source, who craved anonymity said. “But it soon became obvious that the reading was not entirely correct.”

The reaction that trailed the decision of the Court of Appeal, which upheld the sacking of the governor, and the controversy that subsequently surrounded the certified true copy of the judgment, however, sent clear signal to Abuja, forcing Tinubu to back down, it was gathered

Thus, on Friday, January 12, the Supreme Court validated the victory of Abba Yusuf, prompting wild jubilations in the populous North West State.

Speaking after the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the election of Kabir as governor, Kwankwaso alleged that his political opponents in the state had also plotted to incite violence in the state and blame it on him so he could be arrested.

“Politics is not dirty as many are saying. Politics is a clean game. With my experience, I can assure you, someone cannot outsmart me in this game,” Kwankwaso boasted.

He also used the occasion to respond to speculations about him joining the APC, noting that he was never contacted even though his doors were open.

Equally admitting that he considered ministerial portfolio in the APC government, he said, “The ministerial appointment they are talking about, I spoke to the President (Tinubu) that my willingness to accept position is to assist him.”

 

Fresh push

 

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With the court election dispute settled, and the presidency ultimately backing down from the plot to take Kano through court, Business Hallmark gathered that Tinubu has begun fresh push to bring Kwankwaso and Kano into the APC. Sources said both men met for hours in Abuja before Tinubu left for France last week with an instruction to Ganduje to lead the negotiations.

“Tinubu is putting pressure on Kwankwaso to join APC,” said an NNPP source. “You know that Kano has 2million votes at least, and the president cannot afford to leave that in the hands of the opposition. So, he’s doing everything possible to secure Kano ahead of 2027.”

The source, however, noted that two key issues have so far stalled the discussion.

“One issue is that of Ganduje, but beyond Ganduje, Kwankwaso’s supporters are also divided. Many don’t want him to join the APC because they insist that the party is not doing well, and is losing popularity in the North. So, in their view, joining APC will be a bad political move now. They are not also comfortable with Ganduje and his approach.”

Ganduje, it is understood, was dispatched by Tinubu, and has been in Kano since Thursday for the purpose of bringing as many NNPP stakeholders into the APC, a push said to be causing ripples in both parties.

The APC chairman, while at his assignment, sources said, is more interested in having Kwankwaso accept his leadership, an interest he’s unlikely to succeed in actualising.

After a stakeholders’ meeting last week, Ganduje extended a hand of fellowship to Governor Yusuf, and others to join the APC, but in a way that suggested he wanted them to beg for it.

The the governor had, however, rejected the call, saying that it did not follow a formal channel of communication.

“The governor does not have plans to leave his party,” Yusuf’s spokesperson, Sanusi Bature Dawakin Tofa, said.

Ganduje had, while extending the invitation, made the point to Kwankwaso, his former principal, that should he join the ruling party, he would be his subordinate, a major sticking point in the conversation.

“If you are talking about APC we are the leaders of APC. Not in local government, not in state, not zones but national as a whole,” Ganduje had said while speaking to the teeming supporters of the APC in Kano.

“If you are an APC membership card holder, you are subordinate and follower of the national leader. Same thing with leaders in ward, state and zonal levels. If you defect to APC today, you are our subordinate and follower. It is important for you to note this; a child of the household and a stranger are all under the care of the head of the house.”

He added, “Don’t be afraid if someone came to your house to get one thing or the other. For you to go to his house looking for anything and for him to come to your house, which one do you prefer?

“One, who has what to offer is the one, who welcomes others. One that doesn’t have anything to offer is the one looking for where to enter.

“Lend me your ears, I want to tell you a story. What is the work of the national chairman of the APC? Is it in Kano State alone? 36 states and Abuja wherever I go I am the King, I am the Sheikh, I am the Modibbo, I am the Alanguburo. So, same thing here at home, we are calling on the NNPP to pack those their perishable fruits, where it will be preserved in a fridge so that it will not get spoiled or rotten.

“We are calling on them to come back to APC. Is that a crime? One that has something is the one to beg, one that has something is the one, who gives so we are begging then to measure and see, leading this country in their party is not going to be possible. So it is something to be proud of for us when we call on them.

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“Like I told you people, whoever you are and your status in the party even if you are ‘Jagora’ (leader, a term used to refer to Kwankwaso by his supporters) once you come to APC then your grandfather is here!”

Ganduje was the deputy governor to Kwankwaso from 1999 to 2003, and subsequently from 2011 2015 before he was elected governor in 2015.

He won re-election for another term in 2019 after surviving a looming electoral defeat by then Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Yusuf, who was leading before the election was declared inconclusive. Ganduje, however, won a highly controversial rerun election in Gama ward to retain his seat.

After failing to ensure that his deputy, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna succeed him at the polls and a keenly fought legal battle, Ganduje returned to Kano for the first-time last week at the behest of Tinubu to negotiate Kwankwaso’s return to the APC.

The NNPP leadership in the state has meanwhile, not welcomed his calls, which according to them is derogatory.

“Ganduje is an example of the saying that the human being is a complex and dynamic creature. After all that Kwankwaso has done for him, he is now our arch enemy; therefore, we cannot be in the same bed with him,” the chairman of the party in the state, Hashimu Dungurawa, who rejected any reconciliation with Ganduje, told Daily Trust.

“He is not even qualified to extend an olive branch to us; he was just speaking on radio. If he is serious he should come to our houses. He knows. There is nothing on earth he has not tried to kill the political future of Kwankwaso.”

Also responding to Ganduje’s overture, Buba Galadima, a chieftain of NNPP and Kwankwaso’s loyalist, said it’s the APC chairman, who should beg Kwankwaso because Kwankwaso never quarrelled with him.

“It’s Abdullahi Ganduje that should reconcile with Kwankwaso because Kwankwaso never quarreled with him,” he said during an appearance on Arise TV on Monday.

“When he was governor, Kwankwaso allowed him to run the state as he deemed fit, having anointed him, and without spending one kobo, he won election in 2015. All the senators, all the House of Representatives, and the House of Assembly, all the local government chairmen and councilors. That was Kwankwaso’s handwork. But after four years, Kano people rejected his style, rejected his attempt to instigate fights, so it is him that should go to Kwankwaso and kneel down and ask for forgiveness.”

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