Postponement, Money Working in PDP's Favour in Kano (allAfrica.com)

Barely a week to the commencement of this year’s general elections our correspondent takes a look at how the two main political parties stand in Kano State.
If money will determine electoral victory in the forthcoming elections, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kano State may be cruising to it, as of recent, the party is reportedly wooing the electorate ahead of the polls with cash.
Before the postponement of the election, the party was at the receiving end, the pendulum swung in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. Then, the campaign of the PDP was at its lowest ebb as defeat stared members of the party in the face. At that time, members of the party were even scared of campaigning for President Goodluck Jonathan, a development that forced the party machinery to rely on the campaigns of its governorship candidate, Malam Salihu Sagir Takai, that of Senator Bashir Garba Lado and Senator Bello Hayyatu Gwarzo.
The postponement of the poll however afforded the party the opportunity to address the challenge though the APC remains the party to beat in the state in view of the unmatched popularity of its presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, in the state.
Buhari won all his three contests – that of 2003, 2007 and 2011 presidential polls – in Kano State with wide margin and from all indications nothing has changed in that direction. The general’s magic wand played key role in the emergence of the state’s governor in 2003 and 2007.
The spending spree was kick started by Senator Bashir Garba Lado of Kano Central Senatorial District when he launched a programme on local radio stations where voters are given N10,000 after information on PVC.
Two weeks ago, the special adviser on schools agricultural programmes to President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Baraka Sani added colour to the campaign when she mobilised hundreds of stakeholders to the Royal Tropicana Hotel to take the campaign to their respective communities.
The big one was in last week when the Vice President, Architect Mohammed Namadi Sambo, arrived in the state and met with critical stakeholders at the residence of the minister of education, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau.
For four days, the number two citizen had crucial meetings with political groups, NGOs, professional bodies, non-indigenes associations and other key players in the elections. During his stay, Sambo took time out to cement the crack in the PDP. On a local radio station, supporters of the party were heard discussing the largesse of the vice president’s visit.
Aftermath of the vice president visit was the defection of two key members of the APC to the PDP. The defectors include a serving member of the House of Representatives from Kano State, Bashir Husain, and the special assistant to Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso on empowerment programme, Hajiya Maryam Kofar Mata.
But as the PDP was basking in the euphoria of the defection of these two politicians, former speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na’Abba dealt a deadly blow to the party when he dumped it and moved to the APC. Although a PDP pressure group, PDP Frontiers, said Na’Abba’s defection won’t make any difference in the party.
The coordinator of the group, Ahmed Sani Kabara, described Na’Abba’s defection as a non-issue saying the politician “was of no value aside the relics of him serving an office. His presence is of no impact, so would his absence be”.
It was reliably gathered that the president’s men in Kano State are working not to defeat Buhari but to secure the 25 percent votes in the forthcoming poll.
Running mate of the APC governorship candidate in Kano State, Professor Hafiz Abubakar in an interview said feelers from the PDP caucus in the state have shown that the party has accepted defeat.
Governorship race
Except for miracle, the next governor of the commercial centre of the North, Kano State will be either Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of the APC or Malam Salihu Sagir Takai of the PDP. The fight for Kano government house has reached its crescendo.
The postponement of the election is negatively affecting Ganduje’s campaigns as before it; he had almost completed his tour of the 44 local government areas of the state. The shifting of the poll has over-stretched the financial muscle of the deputy governor.
Shortly after the poll shift, Ganduje travelled to Saudi Arabia where he spent two weeks in an apparent move to save campaign cost and since his arrival, he has been staying in Abuja more than in Kano. In Kano, reports kept filtering out that he is being starved of fund, but his handlers have since dispelled this.
But for Takai, the oiling of the structures of Malam Shekarau by the Presidency is working in his favour. Of recent his campaign teams are seen moving from one place to the other in the state reaching out to the electorate. Unlike Ganduje, the postponement of the election is working in the favour of Takai.
Who occupies Kano government house between the duo? The millions of the state voters will answer this question on the April 11.
Senatorial race
Of all the three senatorial seats being contested for, Kano central seems to be more interesting as the battle is between Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Senator Bashir Garba Lado.
The duo have been boasting about defeating each other in next week’s poll. While Kwankwaso is seeing his battle with Lado as a walkover, Lado on his part is not leaving any stone unturned in a bid to maintain his stay at the senate. His campaign train has been moving from house to house, market to market and from one mosque to the other.
Until last Saturday, Kwankwaso’s senatorial campaign has been hanging. He launched his campaign on Saturday with four local government areas. If Kwankwaso defeats Lado, it may not attract much fun but if the outcome of the poll turns the other way round, it will be spectacular as Lado is regarded as a novice when compared to his rival’s political exposure.
Aside from Kano central, the battle for the Northern senatorial district is also of interest in view of the personalities vying for the seat. Senator Bello Hayyatu Gwarzo of the PDP is the sitting senator and he has been holding the position since 1999. Gwarzo is said to have the firm control of his constituency but his rival, Barau Jibril popularly known as ‘Malia’ is his match in term of reaching out.
However, the legal tussle between Malia and the former deputy governor of the state, Engineer Abdullahi Tijjani Gwarzo may affect the fortune of the APC in the area. The former deputy governor who is also a grassroots politician is challenging the emergence of Malia as the APC candidate for the race.
For Kano South senatorial contest, the incumbent senator, Architect Kabiru Gaya, who is of the APC is being challenged by a former commissioner during Shekarau’s tenure in the state, Alhaji Abdullahi Sani Rogo.
Our correspondent recalled that the duo once battled for the ANPP ticket but Rogo withdrew from the race during the party’s primary. The race for the senate seat would be very interesting as both contenders are crowd pullers in their respective capacities.
In a telephone interview, former deputy chairman of the PDP in Kano State, Alhaji Saidu Garba Dala, said the postponement of the election is working in favour of the party.
“The postponement of the election is working in our favour because we have succeeded in addressing our challenges. Victory is ours in all positions except the presidential poll.
“The issue of spending of money is just speculation. You can’t say because the vice president came and gave N20,000 to ward heads of our party and you call this a spending spree,” he said in a phone interview.
A stalwart of the APC in Kano State, Alhaji Kabiru Sani Abdullahi said they have since resumed campaigns and that their party would come out victorious at the polls.
“The campaigns are just formality because the opinion polls have shown that we will win all the positions being contested for in the state. The state is for General Buhari and the people of the state are happy with the good works of Kwankwaso,” he said in a phone chat yesterday.
However, there is the possibility of the political permutation changing just hours to the election as has been the tradition in Kano politics.