The battle for the 2023 presidential election seems to have shifted to Kano State at the moment.
Frank Talk Now reports that there is an ongoing tussle among the leading presidential candidates to inherit the millions of votes in Kano State, as President Muhammadu Buhari will not be on the ballot.
The supremacy battle between Governor Umar Ganduje, ex-governors Rabiu Kwankwaso and Ibrahim Shekarau could decide where the pendulum swings for or against any of the presidential candidates.
For the past 20 years, Buhari monopolized the votes in Kano. In 2011, Buhari under the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) polled 1.6 million votes. Shekarau of the ANPP, was at that point the incumbent governor of Kano State.
In 2015, Buhari polled 1.903 million votes, while PDP polled 215,777 votes. In 2019, even with Kwankwaso in PDP, Buhari still polled 1.4 million votes, leaving Atiku Abubakar with 391,593 votes.
However, during the 2019 governorship election, Ganduje won the election with a margin of 8,982.
With Buhari not on the ballot for the first time in 20 years, presidential candidates are scheming to crack the Kano votes. As it appears, Buhari’s votes are non-transferable to anyone. When he won the 2019 election with a margin of over 1 million votes, two weeks after, Ganduje struggled to win the election with 8,982.
Last week, the candidate of the PDP, Atiku, his running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa and several other presidential bigwigs were in Kano to receive Shekarau. The main opposition is counting on the former governor to deliver the votes.
Kano’s political cobweb
The ruling party is relying on Governor Ganduje to deliver the votes against his former boss, Rabiu Kwankwaso of the NNPP.
The political relationship in the State is like a cobweb. In 2003, Shekarau defeated Kwankwaso and his deputy Ganduje. In 2011, the duo of Kwankwaso and Ganduje made a comeback when they defeated the ruling ANPP led by Shekarau, who had completed his tenure.
By 2016, Kwankwaso, who was in the Senate had a fallout with his successor, Ganduje and was forced to move to the PDP. In the 2019 election, both Ganduje and Shekarau teamed up against Kwankwaso but managed to win the governorship race with less than 10,000 votes
Within this election cycle, Shekarau has been in APC, but left after losing the supremacy battle. He defected to NNPC, however, he claimed that he was betrayed by Kwankwaso and he is now finally in the PDP.
Interestingly, the Shehu Sagagi-led State executive of the Kano PDP is loyal to Kwankwaso. However, on Tuesday, the Court of Appeal removed the Sagagi led exco. Which means Shekarau will be the leader of the PDP in the State.
The ruling party, APC and Ganduje will rely on their political structure. They have two Senators, several House of Representative members, among others.
During the primaries, Ganduje backed Tinubu completely and was even on campaign entourage to several States. This fueled speculation of Tinubu picking him as running mate, however, the former Lagos State governor settled for Kashim Shettima.
On the other hand, the Kwankwasiyya Movement proved themselves in the last election. They narrowly lost the governorship election with slim margins.
Also, with Kwankwaso on the presidential ballot as the only candidate from the Northwest, many believe that the group is well prepared.
Abdulmummin Jibrin, the spokesperson of Kwankwaso, had recently claimed that his principal is the one to inherit the votes.
“Somebody who is the beneficiary of the 12 million Buhari’s votes. Kwankwaso is the most popular person, most loved.
“He is the person who is going to control those votes. Now look at the dynamics of the election today, there is no sitting governor in the northern part of the country that is contesting for the presidency, so every governor has peculiar challenges in his State,” he said.
Meanwhile, a statement in June had suggested that there could be a possible alignment between Tinubu and Kwankwaso, when the latter said, “If I cannot get (the presidency) I can recommend Tinubu.”
Jubrin responded that there is no alliance between his party and Tinubu.
“People should disregard all these rumours that Kwankwaso is working for Asiwaju,” he said.
Atiku will be looking at how to improve his votes in Kano. The highest votes he has gotten from Kano is 391,593 in 2019.
Although, with Buhari out, he may fancy his chances, but considering that Kwankwaso is on the ballot and Ganduje is working to deliver the State for Tinubu, the Kano votes may be balkanized and not in its usual bulk.
“Atiku and Shekarau will be seeking to convince Kano voters that he is the only one that can ensure the North retains power for another 8 years,” Mohammed Jafar, a political analyst in Kano told newsmen.
Where is Peter Obi
Some months back, there was a serious conversation on alliance between Peter Obi and Kwankwaso.
However, the talks broke down because none of the two candidates was willing to deputize.
Still, Obi will be counting on non-indigenes in Sabon Gari and other parts of Kano. Also, he will be relying on the strength of his deputy, Yusuf Datti. Although Datti is from Kaduna State, he is from a large family with strong connections in the north.
It is unclear how these factors will translate to getting a significant bite of the Kano votes.