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The Kwankwaso, Ganduje Factor in Kano Emirate Crisis



By Emeka Alex Duru

Beyond the uncertainties in Kano Emirate Council over the reinstatement of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the 16th Emir of Kano and dethronement of Emir Ado Bayero, is the struggle for the soul of the state ahead 2027 politics and beyond, TheNiche investigations, indicate.

Sources in Kano equally indicate that Sanusi and Bayero, two cousins, who had previously enjoyed chummy relationship but are currently in consuming battle over the exalted seat, are merely objects of proxy war between immediate past governor, Umar Ganduje of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and his predecessor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the founder of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP), the ruling party in Kano.

“What is playing out is the unfinished battle between the two which effectively started in 2019”, a highly authoritative source in Kano confided in our correspondent.

Partners in progress

Both politicians, according to records, took off on a jolly good note in 1998 when, with the intervention of some Kano political power brokers, Ganduje was persuaded to run as Kwankwaso’s running mate in 1999 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

They won the election and served for four years. In 2003 they re-contested but lost to Malam Ibrahim Shekarau. Even after losing the election, they remained close friends, while Kwankwaso was appointed minister of defence by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

In 2007 they attempted recontesting for the governorship but were stopped by a White Paper issued by the then Governor Shekarau. Having been prevented from staging a comeback, Kwankwaso and Ganduje devoted their time in establishing a political movement that saw to their return in 2011. That was the moment at which the Kwankwasiyya movement, the Kwankwaso grassroots political machine gained grounds in Kano. Ganduje was the lead apostle of the movement that sees its members wearing white caftan and a special brand of canoe-shaped red cap.

With Kwankwaso dumping the PDP for the APC in the run-up to the 2015 polls, Ganduje naturally tagged along. Their friendship was consolidated when against odds, Kwankwaso accepted and worked for Ganduje as his successor in 2015.

The curtain falls

Ganduje contested and won, thus succeeding his friend and political boss. But barely after a year of Ganduje coming to office, huge cracks emerged in the relationship between the governor and his godfather, leading to Kwankwaso leaving the APC for the NNPP.

The battle line was fully drawn in 2019 when Ganduje narrowly escaped losing his seat to Kwankwaso’s candidate, following the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s declaration of the poll as inconclusive.

The battle of supremacy between the two continued in the March 18, 2023 governorship election, in which Kwankwaso’s candidate, Abba Yusuf trounced Ganduje’s godson, Nasir Yusuf Gawuna.

Enter the Sanusi – Bayero saga

Our reporter gathered that since the Supreme Court validated the election of Abba Yusuf, Ganduje, the national chairman of the APC, has not had it easy. “He has been operating as a tree without roots. His tenure as APC chairman will soon come to an end. After that, returning to Kano under a rival, or if you can say, “hostile” government is one difficult reality facing him.

“On the side of Kwankwaso, there is compelling need to uproot his successor (Ganduje), completely. The first step in that direction, after winning the governorship to NNPP, is to go for the traditional institution. This informed the need to return Alhaji Sanusi. Don’t forget that it was Kwankwaso that gave Sanusi staff of office in 2014. It was therefore, for him, a big stab on the back for Ganduje to depose him (Sanusi). This is now the time to hit back at the former governor and get him completely alienated from Kano politics ahead 2027”, our source stated.

Federal Government connection

The struggle for the control of Kano politics ahead 2027, is what insiders consider as another factor responsible for the alleged federal government’s interest in the kingship tussle in the state. Against the tradition of deposed Emir leaving the emirate, Bayero was sighted in Kano early on Saturday. Kano State government has in fact, accused the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, of facilitating the return of the dethroned Emir to Kano.

The Deputy Governor, Aminu Abdussalam Gwarzo, who laid the accusation in a short video interview at the Emir’s palace in Gidan Rumfa on Saturday, alleged that the NSA released two jets to bring Ado Bayero to Kano.


Meanwhile, in an audacious move at consolidating his rule, the re-instated Emir Sanusi II, on Friday, led the Jumat prayers at the Government House Kano moment after receiving his letter of appointment from Governor Yusuf.

God, he said in his first public reaction to his re-instatement, gives leadership to whom he wants and at the time he wants. “When He gives, no one can take it away, and when he takes it away, nobody can take it back,” he said.

Heavy security presence in Kano

While the two “Emirs” battle for the Kano stool, there is reportedly, heavy security presence in the state. The danger of the governorship representing modern politics and the traditional institution, being under the influence of Kwankwaso and his perceived supporter, is not lost on Ganduje and the APC. For Ganduje, it is akin to being prepared for exile from a state he was governor for eight years. For the APC, the fears are more.

Kano and 2027 politics

Kano is among the states with large voter populations in the country. Others are Rivers and Lagos. Presidential candidates and their parties usually target winning the states to outclass their opponents. That is one strategic consideration, Ganduje and APC do not intend to gamble with.

In doing so, the apparent hold of the NNPP on the state must be broken. The emirate council is the starting point. And having His Royal Highness, Aminu Bayero on the seat, a good beginning.

Already, Kano state police Command has said it will enforce the court order restraining the state government from dissolving five newly created Emirates in the state. The state Commissioner of Police, Muhammad Hussain Gumel, disclosed this while briefing journalists at the police headquarters in Bompai Kano on Saturday. That, by simple interpretation, indicates the federal government not recognising the processes that returned Sanusi to office.

But will Kwankwaso and NNPP budge? The governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf, had earlier ordered the arrest of the deposed Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero. The battle ahead seems quite complex and unpredictable.

-The Niche

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