Kwankwaso and Shekarau: The coalition of political arch-enemies
There was an interesting development in Kano State and on the nation’s political scene last week- the coming together of two political arch-enemies- Rabiu Kwankwaso and Ibrahim Shekarau.
They decided, after years of bitter rivalry, to work together in the interest of their state and of the country.
The two political heavyweights in Kano have made politics in the ancient city very dramatic. Both have over the years built strong followership. Their ambition to control the state has always pitted them against each other. On a number of occasions they had tried to resolve their differences, but such moves have always hit the rocks.
In the last two months, Rabiu Kwankwaso, who was with the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has decided to adopt the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), a party, not well known across the country. He decided to rebrand it.
Kwankwaso, who is aspiring to contest for the president on the party platform, had gone to convince Ibrahim Shekarau to join the NNPP from the APC. Shekarau’s exit from the ruling party a few days ago troubled the state Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje.
In 2014 when Kwankwaso decided to move from the PDP to join the then newly formed APC where Shekarau had been; the latter dumped the APC and moved to the PDP. At that time, Kwankwaso was governor of Kano and was by virtue of his position; he became the leader of the party in the state. Shekarau was unhappy that the party he helped to build was asking him to relinquish the control to a “journey just come.”
When in 2017, Kwankwaso returned to the PDP where he had more contemporaries, PDP welcomed him, but despite the fact that the party seemed to prefer Kwankwaso ahead of Shekarau, the latter decided to move on. In 2018 September, Shekarau moved back to APC and was formerly received by Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.
Shekarau’s entry into politics was dramatic. Pat Utomi, in a recent interview with BusinessDay traced the man’s journey to the Soap Box.
“Shekarau was a civil servant, who Kwankwaso as governor decided to mess around and demoted to a classroom teacher.
Shekarau was urged by the young people to challenge Kwankwaso in election and Shekarau said ‘me, civil servant where do I have the money to run an election?’
Until he ran into the late Dan Masanin Kano, Maitama Sule, who said to him, ‘Ibrahim, they said you are a coward.’
He said, ‘how am I a coward?’ he said, ‘but they asked you to run for a governor you said you don’t have money. Who told you is money that wins election?’ That’s how Shekarau was emboldened. He decided to seek nomination.
Even the opposition party was reluctant to even consider him for a ticket. Even when the youth mobilised and he actually won the primaries he was still reluctant.
The convention of the ANPP was in Gusau, this Buhari refused to give Shekarau the flag; then the then governor of Zamfara State, Sani Yerima, just went and grabbed the flag and gave to Shekarau because the youths were massing round the stadium, and they were ready to burn down the stadium if they did not give him the flag.
And they went to the field. Central Bank materials arrived and the youth followed the bullion van and surrounded Central Bank; moved to the polling booths and manned the booths; and Shekarau beat Kwankwaso by four hundred thousand votes.
That was how he became governor in 2003. Since then, until recently, the two men had been political foes.
Those who fought for them and probably lost their lives in those days, when their ambitions were setting Kano on fire, may have died in vain. That is politics for you- no permanent friend nor foe, but permanent interest.