From Desmond Mgboh, Kano
The political robustness, typical of the ancient city of Kano, boomed to no end on Wednesday following the defection of the former governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The defection of the former ANPP’s presidential candidate, which had been top on the card for weeks, took place at his residence in Bompai, in the presence of thousands of supporters and leading faithful of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
High on the table were the party’s former governorship candidate, Alhaji Sagir Takai, the chairman, elders committee of the defunct ANPP in the state, Alhaji Amani Inuwa, the party’s chairman, Alhaji Hashim Sani Hotoro, the minority leader in the state House of Assembly, some of the 44 ANPP local government chairmen as well as some former permanent secretaries in the state.
Earlier in the day, the crowd had surged in the direction of his residence, which is situated at the heart of the city. There was equally a slight upbeat in vehicular movement to that direction. Party thugs and faithful were everywhere to witness the historical switch that was bound to alter the calculations of the politics of Kano State by some strokes.
Mallam Shekarau was the last to step out into the open, but hugely crowded veranda of his residence, edging through the crowded space to the high table, amid a deluge of voices, praises and stampeding characters that whirled all around him.
The former governor defined the narratives of his defection in a democratic way. What he did was set the ball rolling, without imposing the decision to defect on his loyalists. In the end, it was the party faithful that passed the motion to end the union with the merger party.
After a debate which involved the whole crowd, the motion to defect was put forward by the former ANPP chairman in Doguwa Local Council, Alhaji Shehu Maigari and seconded by Alhaji Yakubu Musa Hausawa.
Thrice, Mallam Shekarau asked the party crowd if they were sure that they had had enough of the maltreatments in the APC and thrice the surging crowd shouted: “PDP : Power. Power to the People” . He even asked if there was anybody among them who was opposed to the defection, but they all screamed to the negative.
Prior to that moment, Mallam Shekarau had made a fine and delicate speech, the tone of which would draw down tears from the heart of the strongest of men.
He painfully recalled their sacrifices and investments toward the emergence of the APC and the great hope that was posted by the party at birth, but felt that soon after, the party slipped into the hands of a dangerous cabal that manipulated its fortunes and ruined its vision.
He explained that they resolved to terminate their stay in the APC on the grounds that the party was insincere, lacked internal democracy, disregarded their interests and breached their understanding, among others.
According to him, the sudden defection of five PDP governors did not help matters, noting that while they were not exactly opposed to the admission of new members into the party to boost its strength, fair play and justice demanded that all party members be treated equally and justly. He restated that everywhere in the world, a stepson does not come to more recognition than the biological son of the family, except in the APC.
He recalled that following the admission of the five governors and the subsequent injustice that was inherent in the terms of their admission, they petitioned the party headquarters in Abuja drawing attention to the abnormalities but regretted that six weeks after, nobody had deemed it fit enough to acknowledge their letters.
He bemoaned the fact that their petition, which was co-signed by 250 members crying for justice, could not attract an acknowledgement from the party or the listening ear of the interim leadership but that rather than address the irregularities, the party elected to beat about the bush.
Mallam Shekarau noted that contrary to the agreed schedule of party activities, including the lifespan of the interim national leadership prelude to the registration of APC, six months after, nothing is on the ground in the party to hold to.
“Within these six months, there is nothing to show, not a single member of APC has been registered, and not a single leadership structure exists anywhere within the states. No structure of interim leadership at ward levels, at local government levels, at state levels.
“Up till this time, we are yet to receive any detailed programme of democratic elections to produce leaders of the party at various levels. To our dismay and to our surprise, within the six months which was the formal and official constitutional period given to the interim leadership of the party, we now hear that leadership of the interim has no limited period”, he stated.
The defection of Mallam Shekarau has since jolted the state to a certain kind of political awakening. A number of politicians in the state are still finding it hard to accept, given the hard stance of the protagonist, over the years, against the values of the PDP and their leadership style.
In the camp of the APC too, the political maneuver is being attended with a lot of seriousness as several key players of the party are politically alert to its implications.
Reporters gathered that the defection of Mallam Shekarau to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would likely reduce the dominance of the All Progressives Congress (APC), whose anti-PDP gospel had blossomed like flowers in most of the core northern states.
With last Sunday’s defection of the former Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it is certain that the joyful ride of the All Progressives Congress (APC) may not be as smooth and straight in the region as was previously anticipated.
It is also likely that the political rivalry that once existed between Mallam Shekarau and General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) for the soul of Kano politics would be re-enacted.
In the last few years, both men, one way or the other, have inherently shaped the dynamics of voters’ choices in the state. While in the APC together, both men had attempted to bury their differences, with Mallam Shekarau submitting to the Katsina General on several grounds. But with the role, allegedly played by General Buhari (rtd) in the relegation of Mallam Shekarau and his loyalists in the APC, it is most likely the warpath is back.
One other noticeable fact is that the PDP in Kano today is gradually becoming a melting pot of several influential gladiators, opposed to the politics of the state Governor, Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso or to the ploys of the APC to corner the entire state to itself.
These personages include the son of the former Head of State, Alhaji Mohammed Abacha, two former Speakers of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Salisu Buhari and Alhaji Ghalli Umar Na’ Abba, the former military administrator of Niger State, Col. Habibu Shuaibu, Nigeria’s Ambassador to China, Alhaji Aminu Wali, Dr. Hakilu Ndabawa, Senator Mohammed Bello, Senator Bello Isa Hayauto, Senator Lado, among others.
Much as analysts are unanimous that the APC, with Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso as driver, has performed creditably in the state ahead of 2015, they also believe that the inclusion of Mallam Shekarau to the towering ranks of the PDP would throw up new possibilities and bring forth huge dividends.
A former Special Adviser to Governor Shekarau, Alhaji Mukaila Adebayo told reporters in Kano that they are now at peace having ended their sojourn in the desert of the APC arguing that the personalities in the PDP are matured and refined enough to give everybody a sense of justice and fair play.
He also said that it is a win-win situation for all.
He argued that Mallam Shekarau encapsulates the totality of the cherished values of a Kano man in the 21st Century, noting that, “he is deeply religious in the Islamic way, he is a member of the Kano traditional institute for which he is turbaned the Surduana Kano and he is well educated in the Western style.”
According to him, nobody can, therefore, isolate the PDP or President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in Kano State on the basis of religion or ethnicity, pointing out that the PDP now has the right medium by which it could send its messages, and connect to the imaginations of the people of the state.
“The great difference between the present set of PDP disciples and those who masqueraded as their lieutenants in the past is the fundamental issue of loyalty.
Those who were in the PDP of yesterday worked against their party, worked against their president, worked only for themselves and developed themselves as bigger brands than their party. The result is obvious.
But Mallam Shekarau is never like that. He has the credential of fidelity, commitment and dedication to party values and team play”, said Alhaji Adebayo.