As a stakeholder in the 2019 Kano state gubernatorial and the state house of assembly general elections organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the results did not come to me as a surprise in one way, considering the historical antecedents of beating an incumbent governor in the previous similar elections. But the only surprise is the way the ruling APC in general and governor Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje in particular were caught off guards with everything at their disposal. Many people were of the opinion that it was for Ganduje and APC to lose the election at their own free will; and it was so when one looks at the clean sweep APC had during presidential and federal legislative elections winning all the three senatorial seats and 24 members of the House of Representatives coupled with the 44 local government chairmen and over 600 local councillors at their service.
Suffice it to say that the then Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso was defeated by a retired school teacher in the person of present Senator-elect, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, in 2003; and even Shekarau’s anointed candidate, Mallam Salihu Sagir Takai, was also beaten in 2011 by Kwankwaso. The margins in the previous elections were almost in the same range with what happened in the just un-concluded gubernatorial elections.
INEC on Monday, March 11, 2019 declared that the governorship elections in Kano state as inconclusive after compiling results from the 44 local government areas of the state even though the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf, was in a clear lead polling 1,014,474 votes, while the incumbent Governor Ganduje scored a total valid votes of 987,819 in a total votes cast of 2,155,128 while a total of 49,761 were rejected as invalids.
The election was declared inconclusive by the Returning Officer, Prof B. B. Shehu, because the total number of cancelled votes were more than the margin between the two leading contenders, that is Engr Abba Kabir Yusuf and Governor Ganduje with Mallam Salihu Sagir Takai of the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) coming distant third. The total margin between the two was 26,655 votes while the total valid votes were 2,155,128 with 49.761 as rejected votes. This is in compliance with the Margin of Lead derived from Sections 26 and 53 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and Paragraph 41(e) and 43(b) of INEC Regulations for the conduct of elections for which the outcome could not be determined without conducting polls in the affected areas.
Other issues INEC considered as reasons for the re-run include but not limited to the discontinuation of the use of Smart Card Readers (SCRs) when the election was ongoing or not using them at all as reported in some polling units, over-voting and intimidation of voters and election violence in many of the cancelled polling units. This is not the first time INEC declared elections inconclusive as it happened in 2011and the recent Kogi and Osun states gubernatorial elections where the incumbent governors subsequently won.
To those who forget so easily, Kano state is just like Florida in the United States of America. It is not so easy for anyone to win a presidential election in the US without winning Florida, likewise Kano nowadays after the introduction of Smart Card Reader in elections, no presidential candidate of any political party can win the presidency without convincingly winning Kano state. You will recall that in the just concluded presidential and general elections, Kano state alone gave the All Progressives Congress (APC) a whopping over 1.4m votes which is just 200,000 votes less than what South-eastern states or Igbo speaking states gave to the PDP even though that is the strongest base of the latter.
Why the issue of winning Kano is so crucial to the two leading parties is because of 2023 presidential and general elections, it is more than Ganduje and Kwankwaso feud as both are clobbers in the political game plans. Kwankwaso wants to get back his political base and constituency, Kano, at all cost and by all means necessary so he can use it and possibly the state coffer for his 2023 ambitions as he did in 2015. But the ruling APC is aware of that, and they too are so sure that if such happens, they will have a run of their money come 2023 as Buhari factor may not be in their favour, especially if Kwankwaso is picked as the running mate of whoever PDP fields as a presidential candidate if after the winning the state for Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf he does not decamp back to the APC as there are strong insinuations of that possibility.
The second permutation is that, supposing PDP wins Kano in the re-run elections and he and his supporters including Engr. Abba decamp back to the APC, how will the situation look like when APC picks a presidential candidate most likely from the South-west and will zone the VPship to the North-west which is Kwankwaso’s geo-political zone? Many of those political gladiators who are planning, aligning and re-aligning to be made the vice presidential candidates will have a heavy milestone awaiting them, that is why some of them would do everything humanly possible to see that APC wins come March 23.
The re-run is scheduled for March 23, and many people are of the opinion that it is not over until it is all over. Either of the two leading candidates can win the coveted seat as there are many intrigues currently going on and a lot of factors may come into play which at the end of it, a winner will surely emerge. What we need now is prayer for a peaceful conduct of these re-run elections as either of the two candidates is capable of taking Kano to greater heights, politics apart.
Engr. Liman writes from Kano.