…How Shekarau’s romance with Ganduje will affect Buhari’s second term bid
….As KNSG allocates parts of Kofar Mata Eid ground to cronies for conversion as shops
By DESERT HERALD Correspondent
Notwithstanding the incumbency advantage which Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje will certainly deploy in his favour in a bid for what keen observers of Kano politics described as a “desperate second term ambition”, his chances of securing that mandate look decidedly slim in view of a combination of factors and considering the worrisome situation in Kano today under his watch. The conventional wisdom is that the governor will most likely find things very challenging vis-a-vis the history of Kano politics. The incumbency factor coupled with reckless use of state resources by virtually all governors during electioneering campaign and processes, will not be enough to determine and guarantee Governor Ganduje’s return in 2019 because, apart from widespread allegations of corruption, nepotism and misused of public resources under Mr. Ganduje, claims which DESERT HERALD has painstakingly verified, virtually all other factors that made the APC to secure almost 100 percent electoral victory in Kano in 2015 are today gradually crumbling and in some instances are no more while the approval and popularity rating of the governor despite the execution of some projects to his credit are at a lowest ebb.
Pollicy somersault, activities of sycophantic aides that resulted in the deterioration of the governor’s relationship with his ex-boss and leader of the Kwankwasiya movement, Sen. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, is no doubt a major albatross to Mr. Ganduje. The Buhari factor or the APC Sak slogan that blinded voters in 2015 and secured victory for virtually all APC candidates at all levels, particularly in the north, will certainly not work for the APC in 2019 as most voters across the country are in consensus about the generally perceived failure of the APC government at states and national levels. Also, the strong and formidable Kwankwasiya movement that vigorously worked for the victory of the incumbent governor in 2015 will no longer be available for him in 2019. In fact, the popular movement which was under Senator Kwankwaso is increasing in popularity not only in Kano but across Nigeria and remains the single largest threat for Governor Ganduje in 2019.
The odds against Mr. Ganduje in 2019 are many and can be highly unpredictable. So far, there is free flow of so-called sensitive government secrets – mostly officials documents detailing its financial transactions, EXCO approvals, questionable payments, etc – that are weighty enough to indict any government or damning enough to be used by stakeholders to influence the decision of voters in the hands of influential supporters of Senator Kwankwaso. While there are some completed and ongoing projects the governor is targeting to use to justify his ‘performance’ to the highly enlightened Kano voters, records of federal statutory allocations – including excess crude oil proceeds, Paris Club refund and particularly the billions the state is generating every month through a highly questionable tax regime – is not commensurate with what is actually on the ground in present day Kano.
Experts and key stakeholders that interacted with DESERT HERALD told this reporter that NOBODY, not even the Ministry of Finance or the key officials of the Kano State Inland Revenue Service knows exactly what the Ganduje administration is generating every month from IGR. An insider that pleaded not to be mentioned confided in this paper that, “in Kano today it is an open secret that only the governor and his alter ego, one Mohammed Nadu Yahaya, know exactly what the state is generating monthly. “In fact, not even the governor can tell you our actual generation every month. That monopoly is left exclusively by the governor in the hands of his friend, Nadu. I can tell you without fear of contradiction that what Nadu’s company is remitting to the state is not up to 60 percent of the actual monthly generation. I don’t need to tell you where the remaining 40 percent or above is going to or who are the actual beneficiaries. Lagos is the only state in Nigeria that generates more revenue than Kano. When you compare the transparency and accountability Governor Ambode entrenched in the collection, remitting, management and administration of IGR in Lagos you will be convinced that only few privileged in Kano are benefiting from the hard earned returns of the masses. Everybody in Kano including the poor Adai Dai Sahu owners are today feeling the effect of Ganduje’s extreme and fraudulent tax regime,” a concerned chieftain of the APC in Kano told DESERT HERALD.
Investigations by DESERT HERALD weekly reveal that the same Mohammed Nadu Yahaya that was mentioned by many insiders is indeed in charge of revenue collection in Kano State. The job was reportedly given to his company, M. Yahaya and Associates by his bosom friend, Mr. Ganduje. Nadu Yahaya our findings reveal is from the same local government with his friend, Mr. Ganduje. They are both from Dawakin Tofa LG. Further findings also reveal that it was the same powerful Nadu Yahaya that recommended, facilitated and ensured the appointment of another kinsman, from Dawakin Tofa, Mohammed Dambo as the head of the Kano State Inland Revenue Service ostensibly according to the insider to perpetuate the fraud through IGR. Pundits have questioned the justification of engaging Nadu Yahaya from Dawakin Tofa as a consultant to collect Kano IGR and the appointment of another person from the governor’s local government as the head of the important and multi billion naira state Agency.
To many insiders, the engagement of M. Yahaya and Associates to collect Kano revenue is not only fraudulent but is seen as an insensitive gesture to an undeserved and unqualified ‘personality’ that gave Kano State virtually nothing when he was/is in a position to empower and assist many. They averred that Mr. Ganduje had gave preference to friendship and compromised state interest to favour Nadu. This paper can also reveal that M. Yahaya and Associates did not have the technical and professional expertise to collect revenue of a state as big as Kano. The company according to one of its employee did not have any previous experience and record of competence to justify it’s questionable engagement in Kano by Mr. Ganduje. DESERT HERALD can also reveal that the powerful Nadu Yahaya who has the governor’s ears more than anybody in Kano today and arguably one that can decide who gets what in Kano is the former Surveyor General of the Federation. Nadu was the Survey General during Gen. Sani Abacha’s reign and was accused of denying many Kano indigenes plots of land. As a demonstration of his closeness with Mr. Ganduje, he (Nadu) was recommended to Sen. Kwankwaso during his final term by the then deputy governor. Nadu was Ganduje’s candidate for the slot in the state executive council during the immediate past regime that carried unprecedented development in the entire state. Kwankwaso was magnanimous and eventually appointed Nadu as his Commissioner of Lands base on Ganduje’s recommendation.
Several employees of M. Yahaya and Associates have complained to this reporter of unfair treatment by Nadu during an interview with this reporter. They alleged that while the company’s revenue generation has continued to appreciate every month and the scope of their work increases, Nadu has consistently violated all their contract and terms of employment as well as allegedly shortchanging the state government with glaring impunity which suggest that he might not be the only one benefiting from the alleged under-declaration and remittance of the actual IGR due for the government every month. Subsequent reports will provide full official details of what M. Yahaya and Associates has remitted to the coffers of the government on monthly basis and what insiders revealed would have been the actual monthly generation. If the claims of the insiders is true, the figures and the differences that suggest monumental fraud are quite staggering.
While Nadu had continued to dictate the tune in today’s Kano, he also remains highly connected, influential and untouchable. He is a very close ally of the factional chairman of the state APC, Abdullahi Abbas Sanusi. Abdullahi is the son of the current Galadiman Kano, Abbas Sanusi. The Galadiman Kano is a junior brother to the father of the present emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II. Abdullahi Sanusi’s chairmanship of the state APC is still in dispute as the powerful faction of Sen. Kwankwaso that produces Umar Haruna Dogowa insist that the emergence of Abdullahi is fraudulent and undemocratic. Dogowa remains popular and is seen as the authentic Kano State APC chairman by most followers of the party in the state. Members of the APC in the state are generally complaining of neglect and lack of government patronage and assistance under the leadership of Abdullahi Abbas as the state chairman unlike when Haruna Dogowa was fully in-charge of affairs of the party. They accused Abbas of greed and lacking in focus to reposition the party ahead of the challenges of 2019. They also alleged that real stakeholders of the party and other influential members are not benefiting at all from whatever Abbas is getting on behalf of the party from Mr. Ganduje. Keen political observers of Kano politics are almost unanimous in their views that the proposed local government elections slated for February 2018 will determine the political strength of Mr. Ganduje if fairness and transparency which is highly unlikely will be allowed by the state independent electoral commission which is funded 100 percent by Mr. Ganduje’s administration. Already, all potential chairmanship aspirants that are loyal to Sen. Kwankwaso are being systematically scheme out from the contest. Eventually as is being predicted by Kano residents, the upcoming LG elections will only be a formality where all candidates of Mr. Ganduje’s faction of the party will be announced elected.
Another issue that has lately become a subject of discuss and lamentations in Kano is the unpopular decision of Mr. Ganduje to convert major part of the Kofan Mata Eid Prayer Ground to shops. The decision as unpopular as it was is also capable of undermining his second term ambition. The widespread and seemingly credible allegation which DESERT HERALD is still investigating is that the “rich” and strategic lands at the Eid prayer ground is being allocated and shared between Mr. Ganduje, his allies and the Kano State Emirate Council under Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II for the building of shops inside the premises. Islamic scholars and other stakeholders have expressed concern to this reporter during an interview. All those interview by DESERT HERALD which was recorded in audio and video have all confirmed that Mr. Ganduje had indeed started allocating lands inside the vicinity of the prayer ground and that such allocations are being given to the privileged including the emirate council which is being sold at highly exorbitant prices to potential shop owners.
Mr. Ganduje will certainly have a lot of explanation to make during electioneering campaign about his reported decision to allocate lands at the Eid prayer ground while the Kano emirate council that symbolises religion and culture will have to convince the general public that it is not a beneficiary of what citizens described as “fraudulent land allocation to aides, cronies and emir Sanusi”. Considering the sacred and historic nature of the large premises as a place of worship where both the governor and the emir used to pray, previous governments of Mr. Ibrahim Shekarau and Kwankwaso did not go near the land not to talk of using it as a means of generating money by way of selling some portions. As a densely populated commercial area that houses one of the largest and most patronized markets in Africa, Kantin Kwari and usually with heavy traffic, the Kofan Mata Eid Prayer Ground is currently being used as a temporary parking lot for shop owners at Kantin Kwari market and visitors to the market which is very close to the prayer ground. Revenue is already being generated at the prayer ground as the thousands of cars and motorcycles that are being parked everyday are paying for the services of using the place. Allocating space in the prayer ground which means an approval to erect structures at the mosque is seen as highly insensitive by worshippers for whatever reason.
A NEW ROMANCE THAT WILL UNDERMINE BUHARI’S CHANCES
Governor Ganduje’s reported romance with former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau of the PDP in a bid to form an alliance of convenience against Sen. Kwankwaso is seen as a marriage that will end up affecting President Muhammadu Buhari if he decides to run in 2019. While Mr. Ganduje and Mr. Shekarau considers Kwankwaso as a common enemy that must be embarrass and be defeated in 2019 hence the unholy alliance, it is not entirely so according to the calculations and focus of political pundits. They believed that Mr. Shekarau who has gone bankrupt has no option than to willingly accept Mr. Ganduje’s overtures. But the shrewd Shekarau obviously wants to kill two birds with one stone; while he remains ‘solidly’ behind Ganduje for the execution of the Kwankwaso project and continued to benefit from the governor’s largesse, he also maintains solid support for the aspiration of former vice president, Atiku Abubakar who after resigning his membership of the APC penultimate week had espectedly decamp to the PDP last Sunday ahead of the party’s December 9th elective convention. Even though Atiku had officially decamp to Shekarau’s party, the PDP, Ganduje had maintained his highly questionable political marriage with Shekarau with the hope that the alliance will ensure that all Kwankwaso’s interest in 2019 will be squarely defeated while by implication that of Buhari has been compromised because while Shekarau will be willingly ready to do anti-party by supporting the Kano hopeful APC gubernatorial candidate for 2019, he will certainly work for the presidential candidate of his party, the PDP which may likely be the former vice president. For Ganduje according to those that analyses the political intrigues and power play, it does not matter to him if Shekarau has decided to work for the presidential candidate of the PDP in 2019 as long as his mission against Mr. Kwankwaso which is to secure his second term mandate will be realised.
DESERT HERALD can report exclusively that the relationship between Ganduje and Shekarau was so ‘cordial’ now that the governor had secretly took Shekarau recently to the two hospitals he upgraded and equipped at Giginyu opposite the DSS office and the one in Zoo road. Shekarau had reportedly seen and inspected the two hospitals even before the personality that will commission the two hospitals who happens to be the president visited Kano for the commissioning. The two hospitals were started by Shekarau and completed by his new friend, Ganduje. The faction of the APC under Sen. Kwankwaso have lambasted Mr. Ganduje for the secret visit he allegedly took Shekarau to the two hospitals. They said it is disrespectful to take a PDP member, Shekarau to the hospitals before Buhari’s visit this week.
DESERT HERALD can also confirm that two weeks before ex-VP Atiku Abubakar resigned from the APC he had visited Shekarau at his Mundubawa palatial resident in Kano. They met behind closed doors and the meeting lasted for hours. And barely 24 hours after the said meeting, the Kano State PDP Chairman, Rabiu Dan Sharu was reportedly removed and replaced immediately with his deputy. It is certain considering Shekarau’s utterances against the APC’s federal government that he will not support the aspiration of President Buhari in 2019 and that by all his actions so far, the former governor will certainly work with Ganduje to see if they can dislodge Kwankwaso’s political interest in 2019. If that is the case pundits rhetorically asked, “is he is actually loyal to Buhari? Why will Ganduje engaged in political romance with a PDP chieftain that has never hide in showing his disdain and opposition to his supposed mentor, Buhari? Is Ganduje giving preference to his political interest and compromising that of the president? Questions are also being asked that why is Shekarau always criticising and making uncomplimentary remarks against President Buhari, his government and Sen. Kwankwaso but that at no time he ever criticise Ganduje or his government?” Perhaps only Mr. Ganduje can provide answer(s) to this nagging questions.
As we continue to report issues in Kano and the politics of the state as 2019 approaches, a lot of interesting stories that define what DESERT HERALD actually represents, and which involves major political gladiators of the time, their intrigues, failure and success will continue to be at the door steps of our readers in the weeks, nay months, ahead.