KANO: How Odds Favour Salihu Sagir Takai - Nigerian Elections 2011

15 February 2011

By Saka Raji Audu

The name, Malam Salihu Sagir Takai has become a household one in Kano politics. A once obscured man has suddenly risen to become a political scion that any mention of his name will certainly send discomfort into the spines of his political opponents and detractors.


Takai is an accomplished administrator and a former Commissioner of two ministries in Kano state under the present administration of Governor Ibrahim Shekarau. The two ministries Takai presided over are the Ministries of water resources and local government. During the period he held sway, he injected progress in the two ministries, which the good people of Kano felt. It was during his tenure as the Commissioner of Water resources that one of the major landmarks of improvement in water supply was recorded for the state. These include the increase of 150,000 litres of water into the daily water consumption of the state, a feat which has never been recorded since Audu Bako administration in about forty years ago.


Takai simplicity and doggedness to issue are legendary. As a matter of fact, he takes after his boss, the workaholic and dedicated governor of the state, Malam (Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau in terms of hard work, integrity, religious uprightness and commitment to Kano culture and tradition. He is one of the extremely few people that can be relied upon and who has the genuine desire in the uplift of his people's aspirations.


TAKAI, for those who do not know, simply means "Take All Kanawas Along Islamically." As we know, Islam is the dominant faith and pillar upon which the good people of Kano rest their lives. Governor Ibrahim Shekarau will, by the grace of God, be completing his two terms of eight years of meritorious services as governor of all governors in Kano State on 29th of May 2011. Going by the electoral law of the country, Governor Shekarau cannot go beyond two terms at a stretch.


Some time last year, the state ANPP caucus together with all the would-be governorship hopefuls in the ANPP met and resolved that Malam Shekarau is their political father and whoever he pointed to them to succeed him would be accepted to every one. The party caucus gave Shekarau a challenging task because he required endorsing one out of many people eyeing his coveted seat in the party. In dicey situation as this, the governor has always called on God for divine guide.  Perhaps, in accepting Shekarau to pick his successor for them, every one interested in the seat was hoping to be picked, which is not possible.


After a long search, on 5th May of last year, leaving up to the people's mandate and expectation, the endorsement of Malam Salihu Sagir Takai by governor Shekarau came into the national news. Other notable contenders who had individually thought they would get the governor's nod for whatever reason became sad and revolted. At the end of the day, out of the seven governorship aspirants in ANPP, three dropped their ambition, one defected to another party and three went into primary election to determine the party governorship candidate. Takai had an overwhelming resounding victory at the primary and became the party's governorship candidate for the April 2011 election.


It is however my belief that Shekarau as a man of hard work and integrity cannot endorse a man to take over his hard earned seat if he is not confident of the man. This is especially so, in view of the governor's assertion that "success without successor is a failure."Shekarau had also disclosed in one of his interviews with the Sun newspapers that, "no stooge would succeed him." These point to the fact that the governor has the interest of the state at heart and would prefer some one who will perform far better than what the governor has achieved for the state.


Asides, Malam (Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau as a person, has the inalienable right to declare his support for any one he believes would add feathers to his myriad of achievements. This is why it should not surprise any one that Malam Salihu Sagir Takai got the nod of His Excellency, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau to fly the ANPP flag come 2011 and as confirmed by the primary election that eventually saw Takai on top.


Having done with the issue of ANPP governorship candidate, all is now set for the final contest for Governor Shekarau's seat in April 2011. At least, four leading political parties namely; ANPP, CPC, PDP and ACN will be slugging it out in the forthcoming governorship contest in Kano.  The four main candidates in the governorship election are Malam Salihu Sagir Takai of ANPP; General Lawal Jafaru Isa of CPC, Alhaji (Dr) Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of PDP and Alhaji Ahmed Tijjani Mohammed Gwarzo of ACN.


Apart from the candidate of ANPP, the other three candidates are not without some level of political bitterness. The final outcome of the CPC Congress was received in some quarters with mix feelings and heavy reactions. For instance, it is alleged that CPC conducted an inconclusive Congress, adding that only in 21 out of the 44 local governments of the state the Congress took place. But after weeks of silence by the party Board of Trustees, a candidate was finally presented to INEC as the party governorship candidate in the person of retired General Lawal Isa Jafaru. This decision did not go down well with the other governorship aspirant of the party, Alhaji Mohammed Sani Abacha who described the CPC decision to unilaterally endorse Jarafu as travesty of justice and his people have therefore lost faith in their presidential candidate of retired General Muhammadu Buhari.


In order to make things worse, Alhaji Mohammed Sani Abacha filed a case against CPC, asking INEC not to recognize retired General Lawal Isa Jafaru as CPC governorship candidate in Kano; and instead he should be declared as the duly winner of the inconclusive Congress and which conferred to him as the governorship candidate of the party. The INEC initial lists of governorship contestants show that Alhaji Mohammed Sani Abacha is the duly recognised governorship candidate of CPC. The CPC National Executive Council, NEC later called Press Conference to express dismay over the tampering of her preferred governorship candidate. Again, INEC reversed her decision and removed Mohammed Abacha's name from being governorship candidate of his party. In this case, no one can tell who the actual governorship candidate of CPC in Kano is.


The governorship candidate of PDP in Kano also suffered some level of controversy as the National Executive Council of the party had earlier annulled the party governorship primary that saw the former governor of the state, Alhaji (Dr) Rabi'u Musa Kwankwaso as its governorship candidate. A rerun primary was ordered by the party, which did not also go down well with the royalists of the erstwhile governor of the state because they believe he had already won and presented with certificate of return by INEC. In spite of this, the PDP NEC insisted on rerun for reason best known to it. At the end of the day, rerun materials were brought to Kano for the rerun election but the materials were snatched away, thereby, putting the party in a state of indecision. Since time was not on the side of the party to properly do its bidding, the PDP NEC eventually kowtowed and presented the initial winner of its governorship candidate in Kano, Alhaji (Dr) Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso as the man to carry its flag in the State.


First impression, they say, is last impression. The Kwankwaso PDP loyalists in Kano considered the PDP NEC attempt to conduct a rerun against the winner as an attempt to deny him his ambition by the presidency because of the perceived role of the Kano PDP during the party national convention/presidential primary, which saw Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in a landslide victory against the incumbent President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. This mutual suspicion has now led to a crack in the relationship between the Presidency and the Kwankwaso Kano PDP.


The ACN governorship candidate in Kano is the deputy governor of the Kano state governor and presidential candidate of ANPP, Malam (Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau, Sardaunan Kano. Alhaji Ahmed Tijjani Mohammed Gwarzo defected from ANPP to ACN so that he can have opportunity to contest the seat of his boss. He is one of those who opposed the endorsement of Malam Sagir Salihu Takai by the state governor.  He had doubled as Commissioner of Water Resources together with being the deputy governor.


At present, Malam Salihu Sagir Takai of ANPP, Alhaji (Dr) Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of PDP and Alhaji Ahmed Tijjani Mohammed Gwarzo are the main contestants to slug it out in the forthcoming Kano State governorship poll, as CPC is still battling with her. Among the candidates, Kwankwaso of PDP is the only old timer. He was a governor of the state between 1999 and 2003. He attempted for re-election in 2003 but he could not get the people's mandate. In 2007, Kwankwaso also staged a come back, won the primary but could not proceed due to corruption charges leveled against him as espoused in the state government White Paper. He was however replaced by Alhaji Ahmed Bichi. Kwankwaso's entry into the governorship race for the 2011 election is still being marred with controversy, having also won the primary and was annulled by his party that ordered a rerun that never was.


Unlike Takai, Kwankwaso and Gwarzo or even retired Brigadier Lawal Isa Jafaru, Alhaji Mohammed Sani Abacha though a billionaire business man, might not have held any leadership position in the state except his late father who was President and Commander –in-Chief of the Armed forces of Nigeria before his death. Mohammed's seemingly lack of leadership experience might have made his party, CPC to prefer more experienced person to him in the party as retired Brigadier-General Lawal Isah Jaafaru who is being supported by his party. As you know, in democracy, candidates are made from election and not selection. Perhaps, it is in this spirit of winning by votes that INEC earlier recognised Mohammed Sani Abacha as the winner of the CPC primary before INEC reverses self.


Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Tijjani Gwarzo is the Deputy Governor of the state. He was formerly in ANPP before he decamped to ACN as its governorship flag bearer. He was loyal to his boss until recent time when he decided to ditch him due to his governorship ambition. The seemingly smeared relationship that now exists between ATM Gwarzo and his boss is not peculiar to Kano alone. It happened in Sokoto between Governor Wamakko and Bafarawa, in Zamfara between Governor Shinkafi and Sani Yerima Bakura, in Bauchi between Governor Yuguda and his deputy and in Plateau between Governor Jang and Mrs. Pauline. But the only thing that might be peculiar to that of Kano is the fact that those who ditched their political mentor in the past had never achieved their political goal. Our perfect example was the political crisis between the late political icon, Malam Aminu Kano and the late Alhaji (Dr) Mohammed Abubakar Rimi who ditched Malam Aminu Kano of PRP for NPP. In spite of the highly celebrated performance of the late Rimi as the Governor of Kano State, he was not able to get second time through his new party, NPP. Instead, a less qualified person, the late Sabo Bakinzo of PRP won and became the governor of the state. The message of that scenario was that Kano people till date value trust and obedience. Still, if the alliance between ANPP and ACN works, one of the condition is that wherever in any state, ANPP has stronghold, the governorship aspirant of ACN should step down and vice-versa. But this seems not to be working and ATM Gwarzo will remain a candidate to his new party.


This is how odds against Kwankwaso of PDP, Gwarzo of ACN and Mohammed Abacha or Brigadier-General Lawal Isa Jafaru might favour Malam Salihu Sagir Takai as the likely winner of the April 16, 2011 governorship election in Kano to take over Malam (Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau seat as the next civilian Governor of the most populous state in Nigeria, Kano on 29th May 2011. Whatever the case, time shall tell.


 Saka Raji Audu writes from Kano and can be reached on his email: sakaraj@yahoo.com


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