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Weep Not For Kwankwaso

Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, ex-Kano Governor

Between 2003 and 2007, when Governor Peter Odili of Rivers State was serving his second term, he had so much solidified his grip on the politics of the state that he virtually had no opposition.

Those who opposed him did so from a distance for fear of incurring his wrath.

But by October 2007, when Rotimi Amaechi by a Supreme Court judgment was declared winner of the Rivers governorship election and he took over from Celestine Omehia, the table had turned against Odili.

By 2008, when Amaechi set up the the Truth and Reconciliation Commission where Odili was expected to appear, the same Odili who was so feared in Rivers publicly declared that Port-Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State was not safe for him to be and the commission had to offer to temporarily relocate to Abuja to enable him appear before it.

Such dramatic transpositions are not restricted to Rivers, other political leaders, especially governors, have had similar experiences to teach them humility in politics.

It would appear that fate has a way of reminding Nigerian politicians that no condition is permanent, unfortunately, the politicians prefer to learn only the hard way.

When, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso got a second opportunity to govern Kano, the feat of returning to office after eight years probably got into his head and the humility which he was known for during his first tenure was jettisoned for a haughty imperial posture.

The success he recorded in the area of building physical infrastructure during the four years of his second coming heightened the hubris while the support from the always massive crowd in that state it could be said, serves to overblow the air importance around him.

From there, Kwankwaso began to see himself as the political leader of Northern Nigeria and began to equate his popularity with that of past political icons like Malam Aminu Kano, only that in his case, he demanded proof of absolute loyalty from his supporters with evidence of a red cap.

He was to attribute the culture of the red cap to Malam Aminu Kano but he insulted the humility of the late leader of the Talakawas with the subtle compulsion by all who wanted to be in his good books,

He reminded many of the despotic days of Abacha when people had to clip Abacha badges on their shirts to prove their loyalty.

From there, Kwankwaso no longer saw himself as governor of a state, the over 10 million population of Kano to him is infinitesimal a number compared to the 180 million Nigerians his ambition covered.

And he began to look at then President, Goodluck Jonathan with disdain. He saw in Jonathan, a man sitting on a chair meant for him and wasted no time to show his contempt to the man he thought was standing between him and his throne.

He teamed up with other governors to defy Jonathan on every front, the height of impertinence expressed one hot afternoon, when after a meeting at the villa with the President, he refused to join his colleagues for a group photograph with the President and when Jonathan playfully tried to draw him close, it was not with a little push that he flung the hands of the then president away.

Kwanwaao was beside himself with joy when he led other governors to stage a walkout at the PDP national convention where the president was seated.

He was also among the governors that pretended they were in support of then Plateau governor, Jonah Jang as consensus candidate for the chairmanship of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) only to breach that agreement when voting commenced, leading to a serious crisis in the forum.

The former governor of Kano was so impressed with the treachery at that time that he granted an interview saying they ‘taught’ Jonathan and those thought to be supporting Jang, how to play politics.

Since he has leaped from being a student who lost elections as an incumbent in 2003 to being a political teacher with specialty in subterfuge, he felt it was time to claim the big prize in 2015, so he challenged Muhammad Buhari for the APC presidential ticket against all entreaties that he should out of respect, step down for the older man, who undisputedly, was the political leader of the north.

His defeat of Atiku to a second position at the primary was thought by clear headed analysts to be an upset, but Kwankwaso like the Asian leader, who asked for the names of those who did not vote for him after being told that only few fell within that category, felt slighted that Buhari defeated him.

It was probably then that he began to take a second look at his assumed political weight and was wise enough not to expect anything from an APC central government but ran back to Kano to, like Jim Nwobodo did in Enugu in 1999, to snatch the senate ticket of the party from a dark horse.

It was also under Kwankwaso’s watch as governor, that some governors and APC leaders drove into Kano in the middle of the night to influence the choice of an emir.

It is unfortunate however that Kwankwaso, less than three years after leaving Kano Government House, cannot ask his former colleagues to lend him that special purpose vehicle that transported them to Kano in the middle of the night to travel to his former base.

Mounting sentry at the city gate with a long stick meant for hunting hares and other non-domestic animals, is his former deputy and estranged political associate. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, the governor of Kano State.

Three times the former governor tried to go to Kano and thrice he was told not to dare.

Kwankwaso had forgotten that all the while he was being rude to his superiors, that his deputy as a good student, was taking notes.

When he showed open hostility to Jonathan, he did not know that Ganduje took a mental picture. When he refused to step down for Buhari, he did not know that Ganduje was recording, and when he showed proclivity for confrontation, he did not know that Ganduje memorized the art.

The statement from the Kano State Government House explaining the situation comes as a parallel to the ‘we taught them how to play politics’ boast of Kwankwaso and is better appreciated in Hausa when it said that it was out of ‘tsoro’, meaning fear, that the former governor cannot step into Kano.

All these may be happening because Kwankwaso has refused to learn from history. He has refused to accept that power is transient,

That was why even after handing over, he wanted to continue using the governor’s lodge in Abuja as his base and after being allowed a couple of times, was one day told to his face that he had to look elsewhere as that facility is meant for the exclusive use of the governor of Kano State.

Pride, it would seem, did not allow the former governor to pick a lesson from Sule Lamido’s tale about how power works, where he said, a certain prince, who was hidden by the Waziri of that that kingdom to save him from death, became the first causality when the prince became king because the prince thought that for the Waziri to have successfully carried out such a plot, then it is risky having him around the corridors of power.

But Ganduje it seems had not only followed the Sule Lamido story but has been a good Kwankwasiya student who has learnt impudence and rudeness from his boss That is why he is giving Kwankwaso doses of his own pills using his own prescription.

Agbese, a journalist, writes from Kaduna.

Disclaimer: This article is entirely the opinion of the writer and does not represent the views of The Whistler.

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