Kano Governorship: No Victory Dance Yet

After a controversial victory at the polls, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano faces tough battles ahead 

Kano, usually a hotbed of ethno-religious violence, has been calm in the last few years. But residents of kano are no longer sure whether things would stay the way they had been, no thanks to a governorship election that ended in a controversial victory for the incumbent governor, Abdullahi Ganduje.

On Sunday, March 24, Ganduje was declared winner of the Kano governorship election after scoring a total vote of 1,033,695 as against his closest rival, Abba Yusuf of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who polled 1,024,713.

The results come amidst reports of violence as hoodlums reportedly invaded about six Polling Units in Nasarawa Local Government Area of the state where a supplementary election was held on Saturday, March 23, inflicting violence on voters and snatching ballot boxes.

The governorship election was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, March 11, saying that the margin between the two leading parties (PDP and the APC) was not enough to declare a winner. The Incumbent governor Ganduje was trailing the PDP candidate with about 27,000 votes, and many believed the opposition party was cruising to victory.

But INEC later announced it had cancelled the election in more than 200 polling stations in the state, including the whole of Nasarawa Local Government where the state’s deputy governor, Nasiru Gawuna and the State Commissioner for Local Government, Sule Garo were arrested by the Kano State Police Command for breaking into the collation centre.

The action of the state officials was seen by many residents, especially supporters of the PDP, as acts of desperation to prevent an imminent loss at the poll. Tension quickly rose in the metropolis and the police had to deploy to flash points across the state to prevent any threat to peace. The situation was however calmed after INEC’s cancellation of the election in Nasarawa LGA.

The supplementary election was widely and eagerly anticipated by supporters of both parties and other residents of the state. Umar Yau, a businessman who supported the PDP candidate, told TELL before the supplementary election “there would be trouble if they rig the election because people don’t want this governor,”-referring to Ganduje.  

There was indeed violence after Ganduje was declared winner of the election last Sunday but was quickly brought under control by the police which had been on high alert during the election. Ganduje came from behind to snatch victory after polling additional 36,000 votes ahead of Yusuf.

It was a victory that clearly dazed the opposition PDP even before it was announced. Rabiu Kwankwaso, a senator and leader of the party in Kano, asked for the cancellation of the results of supplementary election as, according to him, “there was no election, they just allocated votes to themselves.” Kwankwaso complained that supporters of the PDP were not allowed to vote in their strongholds while their opponent stuffed the ballot boxes.

Agents of the PDP and other parties also walked out of the collation centre during the declaration of the result by INEC’s Returning Officer.

The PDP later issued a statement rejecting the result of the election. The statement signed by Kola Ologbodiyan, stated:

“The so-called governorship supplementary election in Kano is a national disgrace and a mere figure allocating exercise by compromised INEC officials, who collaborated with power drunk politicians in the All Progressives Congress (APC) to award results to the APC candidate.

The party therefore cautions INEC against any attempt to import contrived figures from the illegitimate March 23 charade as such will be a clear recipe for anarchy and serious crisis in the state.

The people of Kano state have a long history of firm resistance against corrupt and oppressive forces. Their will must therefore not be stretched in this election.

The Kano people have abundantly expressed their rejection of the corrupt and incompetent government of Abdullahi Ganduje and his party, the APC, and no amount of machination can cow or force them to abandon their resolve for a new governor in Abba Yusuf.”

Domestic and Foreign observer groups such as the YIAGA and the European Union also condemned the election as marred by voter intimidation, violence and vote buying. The PDP has said it would challenge the victory of APC at the election tribunal.

The Amnesty International also called on the Federal Government to investigate the conduct of the Kano supplementary election. Isa Sanusi, spokesman of the organization, said the election was marred by violence against the electorate and Journalists covering the election.

“Extensive electoral security problems were observed in some areas, with groups of men with weapons intimidating and obstructing the process, and security agencies ineffective at protecting citizens’ right to vote,” Sanusi told the BBC Hausa Service.

But the Kano State Government has described the allegations as untrue. The state’s commissioner for Information, Mohammed Garba, told the magazine the reports of violence and killings were fabricated by the opposition to discredit the election.

“The desperation of the opposition to discredit the election was the reason why they continued to spread all sorts of rumours and lies on social media platforms to misinform the public. I want to challenge anyone with proof of killing during the election to come and give the names of those killed,” Garba said.

The Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido, and other community leaders in the state have been appealing for calm and urged the aggrieved to seek redress through legal means. So far, the appeal has been headed, but no one knows for how long.

Kwankwaso, whose son-in-law is the PDP governorship candidate, has also appealed for calm, and promised party supporters that they would get justice at the tribunal. Sources close to Kwankwanso told TELL that the senator believed they had enough evidence to get them victory at the court. “That is why you see that everything is calm because they do not want to ruin the opportunity to unseat Ganduje at the tribunal,” the source said.

Sanusi Bature, spokesman of the PDP governorship candidate, told TELL on Wednesday that the party would seek justice at the tribunal because “we have overwhelming evidence” that would give us victory.

He said the state has been “mourning” since the APC candidate was declared winner of the election. “Ganduje would only be governor at the Government House because he cannot attend functions in the city.”

In truth, many on the streets of kano are despondent after the election. But supporters of the APC and Governor Ganduje say its not because the governor won. “Residents are always apprehensive whenever there’s election in Kano. Governor Ganduje has worked for the people and they re-elected him. It is the opposition that are spreading falsehood and causing tension,” said a former commissioner in the state who did not want to be quoted.

It now appears attention would shift to the election tribunal in the days ahead. And it would seem that whatever happens at the election tribunal may decide the way forward, for Governor Ganduje and the state.

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