Days before the 2023 general elections, there was this speculation that the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso was in a tacit relationship with his opponent in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
It was said that Kwankwaso, a god-father of Kano politics, would stay in the race so as to undermine the chances of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar from rounding up the huge votes of the state that would have naturally come to Atiku in a situation where there is a single Northern candidate.
Kwankwaso, despite clear and consistent signals that he would not go far in the race, remained in the race and captured about a million votes from Kano State alone and in that way, divided the total votes of the state into halves- a move which indirectly contributed to the overall victory of Tinubu.
The rest is now history. But recent contacts between Kwankwaso and Tinubu present a fresh reason to evaluate the speculation once again and accord it some measure of legitimacy. The meeting in Paris between both political gladiators reinforces the suspicion that Kwankwso indirectly sided the victory of the APC’s presidential candidate or as some had argued, played the role of a spoiler against Atiku’s hold on the North, the reason he is a target for some form of political reward.
Details of what exactly transpired in that meeting in Paris remained much of media conjecture. But of certain is that the meeting is a symbolism of where the wind is blowing or where the wind will blow in the months and years to come. Not with a ministerial offer on the table for Kwankwaso, which also implies that he would become an APC member once he accepts to serve in Tinubu’s cabinet.
However, this latest Tinubu’s romance with Kwankwaso will come with some political consequences no doubt. So far, it has not gone down well with the majority of the members of the APC in the state, who feared that they would be suffocated under the domineering presence of Kwankwaso in their party. They also lamented that Tinubu has put them to shame in the public space while describing his romance with Kwankwaso as a betrayal happening too early in the life of the administration.
“To host our rival abroad soon after securing over 500,000 of our votes is not the best way of showing gratitude. This is unfair. Tinubu understands well enough that Kwankwaso is our arch-rival in Kano politics. He ought to have respected our sensibilities and not shame us before our enemies,” lamented Abubakar Ado Fagge, an embittered party member.
Even the governor of the state, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje is not left out in this collective grief and sorrow. He was said to be unhappy but helpless in the face of the dramatic turn of events.
In a leaked audio that is currently trending in the region, he was overheard lamenting about Kwankwso’s visit to Tinubu while hinting at the fact that Tinubu wants to take in Kwankwaso as their alternative simply because they were no longer in government. He also hinted at the fact that they lost out of the election in the state simply because of their support for the President – elect.
A very critical opposition to Tinubu’s current romantic exploits with Kwankwaso is Abdulmajid Danbiki Kwanmada. He is an outspoken associate of President Muhammadu Buhari and currently an ally to the Vice president – elect, Shetima who sees a bad omen in the present quest for Kwankwaso by the President -elect.
Speaking to the press in Kano, he said the move betrayed the supporters of the party in the state and the North, who went through a lot of difficulties to making the Tinubu’s Presidency a reality.
He warned that the move to bring back Kwankwaso into the APC would breed disaster for all, adding that “We in the region do not want or welcome Kwankwaso into our party.”
He reminded the president – elect of how they suffered to mobilize the people of the state and the region to vote for him as against voting for a fellow Northerner, lamenting that it was unfortunate that the only way he deemed fit to appreciate their efforts was to embrace their main opposition.
He warned that, “Should Tinubu proceed to invite Kwankwaso into the party, we in the North, will disrupt the APC and withdraw our support for the party.”
There is a general feeling in Kano that in bringing Kwankwaso, the president-elect may be initiating his own waterloo in the politics of the state. Arguments in favour of this thought hold that handing Kwankwaso any ministerial position in the present arrangement amounts to empowering him financially and politically ahead of 2027.
“It is not right to empower a man who is after your seat. Kwankwaso’s ambition is to become Nigeria’s President, taking advantage of the majority votes in the North. Kwankwaso is not the type of person that can be persuaded against this ambition, neither with gifts nor with appointments. He made enough trouble and pulled out of PDP when they didn’t handover the party’s platform to him. When the time comes, Tinubu will find it difficult to manage him” said Anthony Audu, a political commenter in the state.
However, the present relationship between Tinubu and Kwankwaso is a script that has been long predicted. Analysts believed that both men had remained political friends, in spite of the very disturbing migratory tendency of Kwankwaso, and despite the fact that both of them had an inelegant history of playing lords over their fellow party men. Somehow, they have been in close contact in their different parties.
According to Balarabe Musa Umgogo, it is fairly unintelligent for anyone to expect Tinubu to cast his politics on individuals at the expense of the throne. A politician like Tinubu knows exactly what he wants and who is sure to hand it over to him. In this present case, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje is an out- going occupant of the throne and technically, Kwankwaso is the incoming occupant of the throne of Kano Government House”
“Tinubu’s eyes on Kano, including its votes is understandable. He stands to benefit a lot from retaining Kano as one of his political outposts. With a shaky control of Lagos, a very poor outing in Abuja and a suspicious performance in Rivers State, Kano’s over 1.5 million votes and its strong influence in the North remain a beautiful bride to the future politics of Tinubu. And anything done to secure these votes should be seen and absolved as political exigency” he added
Many believe that the consequence of Tinubu’s not romancing with Kwankwaso is equally eerie and frightening. Over time, it has been consistently proven that Kano people vote in a particular direction, and more often in sympathy with their own. By implication, except Tinubu continues to use local influencers and Government House proxies, like he did with Ganduje, to grab a share of the votes of the state, then these votes would go in bloc to a Northerner like Abubakar Atiku or to any other available Northerner that is interested in the presidential race come 2027.