The trio of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, Abba Yusuf and Salihu Takai are frontline contenders for the 2019 Kano State governorship election.
Next year’s governorship race in Kano State may largely be among the candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).
The APC has fielded the incumbent Governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje as its flag bearer, while PDP and PRP have Alhaji Abba Kabir Yusuf and Malam Salihu Sagir Takai as their candidates respectively.
While Ganduje emerged as an unopposed candidate, Yusuf got PDP’s ticket through a widely criticized primary election and Takai become the PRP’s gubernatorial candidate via a consensus process.
Ganduje enjoyed the incumbency factor to get the APC ticket while Yusuf secured his through the influence of his father in-law and political mentor, former governor of the state, Senator Rabi’u Kwankwaso. The primary election was widely criticized by many PDP members including top ranking members of the Kwankwasiyya movement, a pressure group with Kwankwaso’s philosophy.
Yusuf’s emergence generated an internal crisis which also led to the defection of some notable politicians including Malam Salihu Sagir Takai, former Kano State Deputy Governor, Professor Hafiz Abubakar and Alhaji Aminu Dabo among others. The aggrieved politicians left after Senator Kwankwaso insisted that his son-in-law be the PDP flag bearer.
In the PRP, Takai’s opponents were Professor Abubakar, Senator Isa Yahaya Zarewa, General Sulaiman Wali (rtd), Alhaji Kabiru Muhammad Gwangwazo and Alhaji Aminu Baba Nabegu but he later emerged through consensus Takai. He replaced Alhaji Sammani Shariff, the current state chairman of the party who was the initial candidate.
The party executives and top stakeholders held a meeting on Tuesday and after a painstaking debate, picked Takai as a consensus gubernatorial candidate, it was gathered.
As the 2019 elections draw near, the trio of Ganduje, Takai and Yusuf have been perfecting their strategies to garner votes, though they have their political strengths and weaknesses in the winning formula.
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje (APC)
The incumbent governor has many advantages according to political observers. First, he is far ahead in terms of experience in governance.
He served as Commissioner for Local Government, deputy governor for eight years, worked at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja for eight years and now a governor.
Again, incumbency factor may also help Ganduje to see his second term ambition through. Also, the governor may also enjoy the support of President Muhammadu Buhari and APC national headquarters. The President and APC cannot afford to lose Kano being one of the stronghold. Ganduje might also enjoy the backing of the political class, the Ulamas, businessmen and elites because he doesn’t have much problem with them.
Also, analysts say the governor has performed well in terms of project execution. Although he has not finished all the projects he inherited as promised, but has completed quite a number of them. So far Ganduje has completed the multi-billion naira Giginyu Specialist and Zoo Road Pediatric hospitals which were started by the former governor of the state, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau. He has also completed the Dakata-Bela dual carriage road started by Shekarau, link-roads at Gadon-Kaya underpass, Abdullahi Bayero road and Medile-Kwanar Taya dual carriageway all left by Kwankwaso.
Ganduje has continued with the 3-kilometre Murtala Mohammed flyover and Independent Power Project (IPP) all started by Kwankwaso. The incumbent has also initiated his own projects which include Panshekara-Madobi underpass already completed, Kofar-Ruwa inter-change flyover and multi-billion naira modern skill acquisition training centre. The project has attained 75 per cent of completion.
However, the governor must address some pertinent political issues in order to have headway in next year’s election. The major one is the recent bribery allegation leveled against him by an online publication. The matter has for now remained the main obstacle to his chance of winning the election and until and unless he clears his name, it will negatively affect his candidature.The governor also needs to strengthen his relationship with the leadership and some members of the Kano State House of Assembly.
Though not openly, the leadership of the house has been at loggerheads with the governor since the return of the present set of presiding officers.
The circumstances that led to the ouster and return of the present speaker of the house, Alhaji Kabiru Alhassan Rurum created disparity between the governor and the house.
Although not so glaring, the disquiet has started manifesting with the setting up of a seven-member committee to probe the alleged bribe video clips.
A state High Court issued an order stopping the committee from further investigation.
The leadership of the house is enjoying the backing of some of its members, especially those that felt cheated in the just concluded APC primary elections.
Another obstacle that may affect Ganduje’s chances is the Kwankwasiyya factor. Although, the popularity of the movement is diminishing courtesy of what many political analysts described as impunity by its national leadership, nevertheless, members of the group are still not happy with Ganduje and they can do everything possible to scuttle his chances.
Malam Salihu Sagir Takai (PRP)
Malam Takai has potentials to becoming a governor and under whatever political party he runs he will certainly make a serious impact in the race. He is considered to be tested and trusted in honestly and prudence in governance. He returned N560 million to the state treasury when he was the Commissioner of Water Resources under the Shekarau-led administration. The money was a surplus of the mega water treatment plant project.
Another added advantage for Takai is the current internal crisis within the APC and PDP. While the APC is battling with the issue of bribery videos, aftermath of primary elections and the crisis between the legislature and executive, PDP on the other hand has been hijacked by Senator Kwankwaso, a development that has set apart old and new members.
However, like Ganduje, Takai also needs to do a lot of work for him to secure the seat despite many advantages that may aid him. The two-time gubernatorial candidate and his party need to do a lot of campaign to sell his candidature especially now that he is running for the seat without the help of any political godfather. Takai refused to follow his political mentor Malam Shekarau to the APC when he dumped the PDP. He stayed back, hoping to get its gubernatorial ticket through the influence of Kwankwaso only for the latter to anoint his son-in-law as flag-bearer. Now he is running without the help of Shekarau or Kwankwaso. So, as an “independent candidate”, Takai needs to do a lot to get the support of the electorates.
Alhaji Abba Kabir Yusuf (PDP)
Although the name of Yusuf might not ring a bell as those of Ganduje and Takai, the PDP flag-bearer achieved a lot under the Kwankwaso-led administration when he served as Commissioner of Works. It was said that most of the infrastructural achievements Kwankwaso recorded were influenced by Yusuf. It was said that was one of the reasons Kwankwaso sided him for the gubernatorial race.
However, Yusuf has more challenges than Ganduje and Takai. Apart from the external challenges, the PDP candidate has to do a lot of homework to get the support of the aggrieved members of PDP and Kwankwasiyya movement. His emergence as gubernatorial candidate of PDP has generated controversy within the group and the PDP as a whole. The circumstances that led to his emergence have compelled members of the party such as Takai, Professor Abuabakar, Aminu Dabo and many more to leave the party.
Apart from Professor Abubakar and Dabo who left the PDP, quite a number of members of Kwankwasiyya who remained in PDP may not support Yusuf’s candidature. Members of the group such as former Secretary to the Kano State Government, Dr Rabi’u Sulaiman Bichi, former Commissioner of Water Resource, Dr Yunusa Adamu
Dangwani and the others may prefer to be watchers in the 2019 general election than to actively participate in Yusuf’s campaign.
Again, the flag bearer may not also enjoy the support of many members of the old PDP such as Ambassador Aminu Bashir Wali, Senator Bello Hayatu Gwarzo and Senator Mas’ud El-Jibril Doguwa and many others because of the twist of events that occurred in the party after the return of Kwankwaso.