For the two terms they worked together as a governor and a deputy, Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso and Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, stood out among other political officer holders as a model for a harmonious working relationship that was devoid of disloyalty, suspicion and quarrels. But just five months after 2015 elections, a wide crack is emerging between the two.
On Wednesday, October 21, 2015, the 59th birthday of former Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, which is usually marked in Kano as Kwankwasiya Day, the crack in the political wall that joined Kwankwaso to his successor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, was noticed.
It was the fifth anniversary of the Kwankwasiya political movement, and instead of the groups to come together to mark the event, the pro-Ganduje elements celebrated it at the Government House, while those who identified themselves as loyalists of ex-Governor Kwankwaso, led by his former Chief of Staff, Alhaji Yunusa Dangwani, held its own at Mambayya House in Kano.
Though Kwankwaso was not in Kano for the event, it was one of the clear evidence that the political group on whose crest Kwankwaso and later Ganduje rode to Kano Government House has be split down the middle.
On his part, in the last five months since he handed over power to Governor Ganduje on May 29, 2015, Senator Kwankwo who represents Kano Central Senatorial District, has not visited Kano State.
When asked recently why he has stayed away from a state he governed for eight years, Senator Kwankwaso responded by saying he didn’t want to meddle in the affairs of the state. But his decision may not be unfounded, as the no-love-lost relationship between him and his successor began to stare everyone in the face shortly after he left Kano Government House.
First, none of the commissioners in Kwankwaso’s executive was retained by Ganduje, with the exception of Alhaji Nasiru Yusif Gawuna, who was Commissioner for Agriculture under Kwankwaso.
In Sokoto State, the opposite happened as Governor Aminu Tambuwal retained several executive members who worked with his predecessor, now Senator Aliyu Wamakko.
In the case of Gawuna, he had been in government since the days of former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau. Alhaji Rabiu Suleiman Bichi is also retained as the Secretary to the State Government, but he had a very good working relationship with the current governor when Ganduje was Deputy Governor to Kwankwaso.
Also, some of the policies of Kwankwaso were soon halted by the new regime. Recently, the portrait of Kwankwaso on the Coronation House, an adjoining building to the Government House, was removedand replaced by that of Ganduje. The portrait was an indicator that the building was constructed during the tenure of Governor Kwankwaso.
If some of these instances and issues were in secret, the daily political debate on Freedom Radio, Rahima Radio and Radio Express, all FM stations in Kano attest to the extent to which things have fallen apart between the two political figures in Kano.
On the radio stations, there is a regular cross-fire between supporters of the previous administration and those of Governor Ganduje, such that active listeners to the radio stations have seen the crack in their relationship.
KWANKWASO AND GANDUJE’S POLITICAL JOURNEY:
A very strong political tie developed between the Kano State Governor Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso right from the first time Kwnakwaso was elected as governor with Ganduje as his deputy in 1999.
The bond between the two appeared unbreakable when Kwankwaso staged a comeback to power with Ganduje as his deputy, eight years after his defeat by Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, thus setting a record as the first Kano governor to run two (1999 – 2003 and 2011 – 2015) tenures with one deputy.
During the eight years they were out of the Kano State Government House, Kwankwaso continued to work with Ganduje, when the latter was appointed Defense Minister by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo and when he was sent to Darfur as Nigeria’s envoy by the same president.
The relationship had remained cordial, according to officials close to the duo, because of Ganduje’s absolute loyalty, for which his supporters thought Kwankwaso would anoint him as his successor in the 2015 elections.
Since Ganduje was sworn in as a governor, however, a proxy war has erupted between him and his former principal, with their supporters and aides taking the centre stage and launching attacks and counterattacks at each other.
A first indication that the going between Kwankwaso and Ganduje was not going to endure any longer, emerged prior to the 2015 elections, when Kwankwaso kept mute about who was going to succeed him, even when the generality of people in the state believed that position should go to Ganduje.
Kwankwaso’s delay to name Ganduje as his successor paved way for speculations that the former governor was not interested in handing over power to Ganduje, but one of his commissioners.
In his effort to convince the public that his relation with Kwankwaso was still cordial, Ganduje said during in his inaugural speech that: “I owe it an obligation to first and foremost, express my profound gratitude to Allah (S.W.T) for our monumental victory in all the 2015 elections. I want to pay special tribute to our former governor, senator, Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, for his support and contribution to our success and for his selfless service to Kano State. I pledge to continue with the good works we started since the first tenure of our Administration.
“There is no gain saying the fact that the APC as a Party, and we as contestants in particular, gained tremendously from this colossal giant whose monumental strides virtually obliterated the political relevance of other parties in the State. I, on behalf of all other elected office holders therefore, assure you that we will continue to be good ambassadors of the Kwankwasiyya movement in the service of our dear state and the country at large.
Pundits believe that Ganduje’s proclamation was an attempt to play down the crack between him and Kwankwaso, saying that even though the two leaders were pretending that things all were normal, recent political happenings in the state strongly suggested that the relationship had gone sour.
The Ganduje side accuses the former governor of leaving behind liabilities that would burden the new administration and slow its progress in delivering its promises to the electorate, while the Kwankwaso side faults the claim by arguing that Ganduje was part of the previous government and could not exonerate himself from sharing in its failings, real or imagined.
Making one of the charges against Kwankwaso, Ganduje had while receiving members of the General Association of Northern Nigerian Students based in Egypt who paid him a courtesy visit recently, blamed the government of his predecessor for the delay in settling their tuition fees.
“For one year, the Kano State government did not pay a single kobo as tuition fee for our students abroad. Kano State government owes these students about N3bn…,’ he said.
The governor disclosed that funds were sought for the payment of tuition for 50 female nursing students at one of the weekly Executive Council meetings held in September 2014, while Kwankwaso was in power, and wondered why the money was not paid.
Equally, Ganduje’s supporters have criticized Kwankwaso for indulging in last minute award of ambitious projects and offer of employment to hundreds of people, to showcase as achievements that could boost his chances when he aspired for the All Progressives Congress (APC’s) presidential ticket.
“The former governor massively awarded foreign scholarships for first degree and master’s, leaving the new administration with the burden of settling their tuition fees for two to three years coming,” a former aide the governor, said.
“He also employed 1600 teachers, who he did not pay a kobo before he left power, passing the responsibility to Ganduje, who has since started paying them,” the aide added.
Ganduje’s camp also accused Kwankwaso of regularizing the employment of 1,800 casual teaching staff on the eve of leaving office, in addition to a debt of N1.7billion on street lights.
“The situation that we have is that Kwankwaso is enjoying the credit for providing the lights, but few people know that Ganduje is the one who is left to settle the N1.7billion debt for providing them,” he explained.
The chasm grew wider when Ganduje terminated the appointments of 2,620 casual street sweepers recruited by Kwankwaso and revoked allocations of corner shops to traders within the vicinity of Sani Abacha Stadium.
A verification committee that was set up to screen the sacked workers uncovered 1,830 ghost workers among them, making government to lose N18.1m in paying them.
The committee had also uncovered names of some personalities, including former commissioners under Kwankwaso who were involved in the alleged mismanagement.
The new administration also investigated some top officials of Kano State Road Traffic Agency (KAROTA) and agency established by Kwankwaso.
The officials were accused of alleged financial mismanagement, hence, being probed by the State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission.
According to the chairman of the commission, Alhaji Muhuyi Magaji Rimingado, 23 officials including two former managing directors of the agency were being investigated by the anti-corruption commission over misappropriation of over N100m.
He said most of the officials were members of the Askarawan Kwankwsiyya outfit set up by the former governor of the state.
He said the commission was also investigating another a N947.7m fund for 37 microfinance banks in the state.
However, he said all the cases were not meant to witch-hunt the formergovernor, as according to him the present government had no hand whatsoever in all the cases.
Again, just last week, the Nigeria Chamber of Indigenous Contractors, Kano State branch called on the Federal Government to probe Kwankwaso over alleged N200bn unpaid contractors debts.
According to the chairman of the union, Alhaji Auduwa Maitangaran, the former governor used their monies to build Amana, Kwankwasiyya and Bandirawo housing estates at the detriment of the contractors, saying most of the contracts executed under Kwankwaso had not been paid for.
He pointed out “the former governor only paid 30 per cent of the entire projects he executed in four years, leaving behind 90 per cent unpaid, lamenting that 50 per cent of indigenous contractors have not been paid their monies by Kwankwaso.”
In a related development, one of the commissioners in the present government, who does not want to be named, confirmed to Daily Trust on Sunday that the former governor had invested N4.1bn pensioners’ fund in building houses for retired workers in the state.
“Kwankwaso borrowed the sum of N4.1bn pensioners’ funds to build Bindirawo and Amana Housing estates with aim that the pensioners could benefit from the houses, but when he realized that the houses are too expensive for them to occupy, he slashed the price of the house by 50 per cent and even at that the pensioners could not afford to buy the houses,” he said.
Commenting on the relationship between Kwankwaso and Ganduje, a former commissioner of state affairs under Kwankwaso, Comrade Aminu Abdulsalam, said there was no rift whatsoever between the two leaders, saying “ their relationship is still cordial.”
However, he confirmed that there were some people in Ganduje’s government who were bent on creating confusion between the two in order to have space in government.
He explained that “wherever a new government is formed, you will find some people who are new in the system but trying to create space for themselves and to achieve that, sometimes they have to create a situation that can favor them.”
“To be honest with you, the whole issue was narrowed at change of approach in governance. I think the approach to governance by the past administration is entirely different from that of the present government. Again, there are some new faces around the new government and close to the chief executive, that are struggling to create space for themselves and in the process they raising the dust we are witnessing now in the state.
“But principally, Ganduje and Kwankwaso are still together. Ganduje has been saying it that he has no problem with his boss on so many occasions and so also Kwankwaso when the former paid him Sallah homage in Abuja. But in between, some wrong unpleasant things are happening which they are not suppose to happen. Some followers have the feelings that they should get more than what they got and so on so forth,” he noted.
On the part of the former governor, he added, there also some of his followers who felt cheated by the present government because they did not get what they expected and so on, noting that “but since the two leaders have maintained maturity, things will not deteriorate.
Of course, those that are following things will definitely notice some dust fanning around the two leaders in the recent times. But despite that the situation did not reach to a point of falling apart.”
He added that there are also other people precisely from the opposition party who are naturally capitalizing on the present situation to create confusion for the ruling party, stressing that “by and large, I don’t think Kwankwaso and Ganduje have fallen apart for now. And our hope is that they will not allow that to happen now and in the future.”
On the pension funds, Abdulsalam confirmed that Kwankwaso had invested the money in Bandirawo, Kwankwasiyya and Amana housing units with the intention to help the pensioners benefit from the venture.
He said: “The pensioners should rather commend Kwankwaso for investing their money in a solid venture. Apart from the housing units in Kano, the former governor also completed another project in Loko Goma area in Abuja which is solely for pensioners.”
For Bindirawo, Kwankwasiyya and Amana housing estates, Abdulsalam, said nobody said the houses will be sold to pensioners, rather they would benefit from the profits expected to be generated from the venture, stressing that “the beauty of the whole issue is that the houses are still there waiting for buyers and when sold, the pensioners’ fund will go back to them not to the former governor.”
On the indigenous contractors’ claims, comrade Abdulsalam, said up to the last hours of the Kwankwaso’s administration, some contractors were at various sites conducting their work. “Can the contractors that have not been paid for a very long time work for you up to the last hours of your administration?” he asked.