Ganduje: Indefensibility of Moral and Political Burden, By Salihu Moh. Lukman

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Early in the afternoon of Monday, April 15, 2024, the news of Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje’s alleged suspension from the APC by his Ganduje Ward of Dawakin Tofa Local Government, Kano State broke out. Announced by Haladu Gwanjo, who was reported to be the Ward Legal Adviser, the decision to suspend Dr. Ganduje was hinged on alleged bribery and misappropriation of funds against Dr. Ganduje by the Kano State Government. According to Gwanjo, members of the Ward Executive decided to pass vote of no confidence on Dr. Ganduje ‘due to his inability to clear his name from allegations of corruption against him.’ Specifically, the 2019 video where Dr. Ganduje was supposedly shown stuffing US Dollar into his agbada was cited.

In addition, already, Kano State Government has filed a criminal suit in Kano High Court against Dr. Ganduje, his wife, Haj. Hafsat Umar and three others, including his son, Umar Abdullahi Umar, bordering on ‘allegations of bribery, diversion, and misappropriation of funds…’The case will be heard on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 before Justice Usman Na’aba of State High Court number four. Kano State Government has declared readiness to present 15 witnesses to testify to the charges.

In a panic response, the APC Kano State Working Committee, in a Press Conference addressed by the APC Kano State Chairman, Alh. Abdullahi Abbas announced the dissolution of the APC Ganduje Ward Executive. Similarly, the APC Chairman of Ganduje Ward Executive, Alh. Ahmed Mohammed Koko, in a Press Conference, dismissed the announcement made by Gwanjo as action carried out by ‘non-APC members in the Ward.’

There is no need to go into technicalities of whether the vote no confidence is valid. No need to debate the merit or otherwise of the response of the Ganduje APC Ward Chairman and Kano State Working Committee led by Alh. Abbas. The incontestable reality is that the allegations of corruption against Dr. Ganduje with purported evidence has been in existence since 2019. The purported evidence is available in many media platforms. Sadly, it outlived the tenure of Dr. Ganduje as Governor of Kano State.

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Without prejudice to the allegation and the case in court, all these may have contributed to APC’s electoral defeat in Kano State during the 2023 General Elections. It is quite unfortunate that, as a party, we must contend with this reality. Noting the high confidence President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu invested in the person of Dr. Ganduje, which accounted for his emergence as the National Chairman of APC, it is important that leaders of APC handle all the challenges surrounding the allegation of corruption against Dr. Ganduje with caution. On no account should APC as a party attempt to sweep issues under the carpet.

APC leaders must be reminded that one of promises in 2015 based on which Nigerians supported us and gave us the mandate to rule the country for the last nine years was the commitment to fight corruption. If there is any instance requiring us, as a party, to renew our commitment to fighting corruption, this is it. We must appeal to especially President Asiwaju Tinubu and all APC leaders not to consent to any action other than supporting Dr. Ganduje to take advantage of the current reality to clear his name. As much as Dr. Ganduje should be adjudged to be innocent until proven otherwise by a competent court of law, on no account must allegations of corruption against him be swept under the carpet.

If as Dr. Ganduje made the mistake, while serving as Governor of Kano State without defending himself and clearing his name of allegation of corruption, which cost APC the 2023 election, we must not repeat the same mistake by supporting him not to clear his name. A clear reality is the fact that unless Dr. Ganduje succeeds in clearing himself of allegations of corruption, he will remain a moral and political burden and to that extent therefore will not be able to provide our party the needed leadership that could earn the confidence of Nigerians.

Without doubt, this situation presents an opportunity for President Asiwaju Tinubu to demonstrate his progressive and political dexterity. It is a low hanging fruit, which, if properly managed could also save the politics of Dr. Ganduje. The hard truth is that, somehow, the politics of Kano State was mismanaged and as it is, if we were unable to win election in Kano State when we were in control of Kano State Government, it will be foolhardy to imagine otherwise.

Being progressives require honesty, which given current political reality we must accept that Sen. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and his NNPP has stronger support base in Kano State. Noting that Sen. Kwankwaso was in our party up to 2018; and acknowledging that between 1999 and 2019 both Sen. Kwankwaso and Dr. Ganduje worked together, we need to revisit issues surrounding their disagreement. On no account should APC leaders limit the engagement of issues surrounding all the political challenges facing us as a party to only the issue of bribery allegation against Dr. Ganduje.

President Asiwaju Tinubu and APC leaders must consider this as an opportunity of renewing the APC in Kano State and by extension North West and the entire North. If this means another round of negotiation for political alliance or merger with Sen. Kwankwaso and NNPP, our leaders should proceed to act accordingly. President Asiwaju Tinubu and APC must take the full advantage of the current reality to renegotiate the support base of the APC. Renegotiating the support base of the APC should also be about reigniting the progressive credentials of the APC.

It is very painfully disturbing that unless this kind of opportunity is utilised to the fullest, based on which new actors such as Dr. Kwankwaso with strong commitment to democracy based on principles are recruited into our party, the downward slide and retrogression towards conservatism and lawless management of the APC will continue. With due respect to President Asiwaju Tinubu, after pushing Sen. Abdullahi Adamu and Sen. Iyiola Omisore to resign from the leadership of APC and nominating Dr. Ganduje to emerge as National Chairman, the culture of discretionary management of the party has continued under the leadership of Dr. Ganduje. All the organs of the party as provided in the APC Constitution have remained frozen. In short, all the wrongdoings of Sen. Adamu have continued under Dr. Ganduje.

As things are, it is very clear that APC requires change of leadership because Dr. Ganduje has been unable to measure up to the confidence invested in him by President Asiwaju Tinubu and APC leaders. Instead, he (Dr. Ganduje), with all the current allegations of corruption against him only constitutes an embarrassment, which could only continue to erode the electoral viability of the APC. President Asiwaju Tinubu and APC leaders need to urgently save APC from this embarrassment by easing Dr. Ganduje out the position of National Chairman of APC.

Perhaps, we need to also appeal to President Asiwaju Tinubu to also use this as an opportunity to correct the political imbalance in the leadership of the country by returning the North Central into the mainstream leadership of the country. It was quite unfortunate that the imbalance was allowed to happen. Certainly, the objective couldn’t have been to marginalise the people of North Central from the political leadership of Nigeria. I am confident that President Asiwaju Tinubu and APC leaders will do the needful to renew APC and return APC to its founding vision of progressive politics.

Salihu Moh. Lukman
Kaduna

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