The Forces Against Ganduje, By Kazeem Akintunde

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Kazeem Akintunde

The Forces Against Ganduje, By Kazeem Akintunde

 

Abdullahi Ganduje, the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), is presently battling one of the toughest battles in his political career. The two-time Governor of Kano State is facing political challenges from three different angles. One, from the incumbent Governor of the state, Abba Yusuf, who will stop at nothing in ensuring that he accounts for his eight-year stewardship while in office. Secondly, from his home front, where one of his children would be happy if he is disgraced, and lastly, from members of his political family, the APC, starting with those at his ward, who are hell-bent on seeing his exit from the party. Whether he would survive the three-pronged attack is still unclear.

The current occupier of the seat of government in Kano, Abba Yusuf, is currently examining what Ganduje did and did not do while in power for eight years. Already, the state has filed criminal charges against Ganduje over $413,000 and N1.38 billion bribery allegations. The state has also assembled 15 witnesses that are ready and willing to testify against Ganduje.

Joined as co-defendants are Ganduje’s wife, Hafsat, and his son, Umar. Yusuf has also urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to release the result of it’s probe into the alleged dollar bribery video involving Ganduje while he was Governor.

A two-minute video had gone viral in 2017 in which Ganduje was seen collecting dollars before rolling them into his white Babanriga in what was clearly a bribe paid to him from a foreign contractor. In the video, the then Governor, now APC National Chairman, appeared to have received a $230,000 bribe. Although he denied the bribery allegation then, the EFCC launched a probe. Till date, the report of the probe has however not been made public, but Yusuf is bent on unearthing what went down during the period.

The Kano State anti-corruption Agency has filed a lawsuit against Ganduje’s dollar bribe in court. As if that was not enough, one of his children, Abdulazeez Ganduje, has visited the office of the anti-graft agency in the state to lend his support.

Abdulazeez, last week, paid a solidarity visit to the Chairman of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Commission, Muhyi Rimindago in his office. He also expressed his endorsement of the charges brought against his father, mother, and brother by the Commission. Abdulazeez became embittered with his dad when he was allegedly removed as a Director of one of the companies undergoing trial alongside his father. He had in September 2021, shortly after his removal, lodged a petition with the EFCC against his mother, Hafsat Ganduje, accusing her of corruption. This is a clear case of a not-too-cordial home front.

Then, some APC executives in Ganduje ward of Dawakin Tofa Local Government Area of Kano State on April 16, suspended him over corruption allegations levelled against him by the state government.  The party’s legal adviser in the ward, Haladu Maigwanjo, who announced the suspension in Kano said that Ganduje was suspended from the party to allow him to clear his name over allegations of corruption levelled against him by the Kano State Government. “The members decided to suspend the National Chairman’s membership after a vote of no confidence was passed on him due to his inability to clear his name from various allegations of corruption leveled against him, which range from the circulated dollar video, where he was allegedly collecting bribe from contractors”, Maigwanjo said.

In a swift response, the State Working Committee of the APC sanctioned the Ganduje ward executives hours after the suspension was announced. The State Chairman of the party, Abdullahi Abbas, announced the suspension of the Ganduje ward executives for six months for anti-party activities. “We have evidence of meetings between the State Government officials and those that suspended the National Chairman, and the state working committee has agreed to sanction them for six months and they stand suspended”, Mr Abbas said.

He added that the suspension announced by the ward executives was invalid, null and void and urged concerned parties not to bother about it. But some members of the executives at Ganduje’s ward proceeded to a Kano High Court for legal backing of the suspension. The Court, presided over by Justice Usman Malam Na’ abba affirmed the suspension following an ex-parte motion filed by Dr. Ibrahim Sa’ad on behalf of two executive members of the Ganduje ward of the APC. The Assistant Secretary, Laminu Sani and the Legal Adviser, Haladu Gwanjo were plaintiffs in the case. Subsequently, the court ordered that henceforth, Ganduje should desist from presiding over the affairs of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC. To show that they really meant business, members of the APC from Kano went to the National Headquarters of the party in Abuja to remove Ganduje’s banner from the office without anybody questioning them. The video was uploaded on social media last week.

Ganduje has, however, proceeded to another court to secure an injunction against members of the APC from his ward from suspending him. Justice Abdullahi Liman of the Kano Federal High Court granted an interim order directing all respondents from implementing or giving effect to the suspension of Ganduje pending the hearing and determination of fundamental right of fair hearing filed by the APC National Chairman before the court.

The big questions are, who are those behind Ganduje’s ordeal? Why are they bent on humiliating the Kano State-born politician just eight months after becoming the National Chairman of the APC? If the 74 year-old politician did not know where his present political ordeal emanated from, then, he could still be regarded as a learner in Nigerian politics. Those that made him the National Chairman of APC are no longer comfortable with him occupying that position and are bent on seeing his back at the party headquarters. To be fair to the power brokers within the party, Ganduje’s proclivity for corrupt tendencies was known to them but his yeoman efforts during the 2023 general elections and his unbending loyalty to Bola Tinubu before he became president was enough to win him the coveted seat.

However, recent events upon his assumption of office has left a sore taste in the mouth of many, hence the decision to ‘take him out’ politically. One of his ‘sins’ was the way and manner he went about the conduct of the Bayelsa and Imo States’ Governorship elections last year. Being the first major elections after the 2023 general poll, the party felt that the APC must not lose Imo state to another political party while Bayelsa State could also be won easily if all hands were on deck for the task. Although Hope Uzodimma won a second term in Imo State, the APC primaries was seen as a sham by many. The Bayelsa State election was lost to the incumbent, Douye Diri due to the series of court cases in the APC which led to the disqualification of Timpre Sylva as the APC Gubernatorial candidate before he was later reinstated by the Court of Appeal. All of these counted against Ganduje. There were allegations too, that he collected money from some of the aspirants before the primaries.

Again, the 2027 general elections may still be far away in the reckoning of most Nigerians, but the truth of the matter is that permutations and realignment of forces have started in earnest. There are indications that President Bola Tinubu may no longer be comfortable with Ganduje being the Chairman of the party and that what he is experiencing now may be a prelude to easing him out of office. It is no longer news that Tinubu was not happy with the loss of Lagos and Kano to rival opposition parties during the 2023 presidential election, and has started perfecting strategies on how to reverse the loss.

In Lagos State, he has directed one of his staunch supporters, James Faleke, to take over and reinvigorate a political tendency within the APC – The Justice Forum – from old leaders whom he felt betrayed him by not doing what was expected to win the presidential election in the state. There were allegations that money meant for APC campaign coordinators and polling agents were diverted to private pockets. With Faleke on board, young and grassroot politicians are to be mobilised across the 20 local governments and 37 local development areas to take charge of the presidential election in 2027.

In Kano State, there could be the possibility of a sort of alliance between Tinubu and the leader of the Kwankwasiyya Movement, Rabiu Kwankwaso. Already, there are underground discussions between Tinubu and Kwankwaso on the duo reaching some sort of alliance ahead of the polls. It is either the NNPP dissolves into the APC, or for the party to work with the APC during the presidential election. If such an alliance is in the offing, it is certain that Kwankwaso will demand the removal of his enemy, Ganduje, from the APC National office. And Tinubu, a master political strategist, will do anything possible to get re-elected come 2027. So, in essence, Ganduje may become a sacrificial lamb for Tinubu’s 2027 political permutations. An inkling of what is expected to come very soon emerged from a powerful press statement issued by Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle, when he called on Northern politicians working with the Tinubu administration to either identify with him by making their stand known, or take a walk from his government. Matawalle’s statement was in response to a press release signed by the Northern Elders Forum where the group stated that it regretted it’s decision to support Tinubu during the 2023 presidential election as he has not done anything for the region. Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed issued a statement perceived to be in support of the NEF before Matawalle came out hard on his colleague. “It is pertinent to state that every appointee of President Tinubu, including Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, owes the government a copious duty to promote, elucidate and advance the good works and commendable efforts of the government across all sectors. This is not the time to keep quiet in the face of intimidation and misrepresentation of the efforts and achievements of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR. We must stand up to be counted for being on the part of government or take our exit,” he said.

For now, I hope that Ganduje will survive the forces against him and the APC National Chairmanship Chair. If he does not, he should take it calmly as a man and quietly retire from politics to enjoy his wealth. At almost 75, there should be time to quit the stage and allow younger element to take charge of the direction of things in the country. He could also look at it from the brighter side that his friend and colleague played a deft political game against him in order to guarantee his own survival. 2027 is like tomorrow to Nigerian politicians, and it is clear that they have started their permutations in earnest.

See you next week.