New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) chieftain, Alhaji Buba Galadima, on Tuesday’s edition of Channels Television’s Politics Today, took politics of bitterness to the extreme when he described the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje OFR as a scorpion in President Bola Tinubu’s pocket.
He tried to tar the immediate past governor of Kano whom he alleged bit the fingers that fed him, making inferences to Ganduje’s relationship with his former boss, Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
While one may choose to dismiss such utterances as typical of a political opponent, I am constrained, as a responsible and passionate Nigerian, to write a counter to set the record straight and dispel such prevarication garbed in metaphorical imbecility.
When the name Ganduje was being bandied as the incoming national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), many considered it as mere speculation but I knew it was a reality waiting to happen. I was settled in my conviction that the erstwhile governor is the knight with the shining armor soon to occupy the substantive prime leadership position of Africa’s largest political party.
While Nigerians clamour for good and effectual governance where round pegs are fitted into round holes in agencies of government that would work for the enhancement of their collective good, political parties yearn for leaderships with outstanding political skills and aptitude to place them on the path to sustainable growth and development and with ex-Governor Ganduje in the picture, APC party men and women set aside all manner of differing affiliations and aligned with the choice of the party.
Unarguably, the APC national chair has come a long way in politics and appears to be prepared for his new role in view of his pedigree and trajectory since the birth of the Fourth Republic in 1999 .
He played a key and indelible role in his party’s cohesion and indivisibility prelude to the 1999 governorship election in Kano State.
Ganduje’s tolerance, magnanimity and selfless inclination were put to test in 1999 when he was prevailed upon by party leaders to step down for Kwankwaso, who he defeated in the governorship primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in a contest that was clearly between two gladiators of the party: Abubakar Rimi of G35 and Baba Kingibe of People’s Front.
He sacrificed his victory in the primaries on the altar of party integration by giving the ticket to Kwankwaso, who came second while he became the running mate. And until 2015 when Kwankwaso was out of Kano State Government House, Ganduje remained his dependable ally whose ingenuity were linked to many of Kwankwaso’s administration’s achievements in education, health, agriculture, security, economy and infrastructure.
It is worthy of mention that Kwankwaso failed in his bid to return to Government House in 2003 having lost political base due to his overbearing attitude. He had fallen apart with his political mentors and followers like Abubakar Rimi, Baba Kingibe, Ghali Naaba among others, costing him the ambition to be re-elected.
It took the Kwankwasiyya Movement which was the creation of Ganduje to resuscitate Kwankwaso politically in Kano. Ganduje used the movement which he tailored along Aminu Kano’s Talakawa ideology and his famous red cap, to relaunch him into political reckoning and subsequently into Government House in 2011.
Ganduje’s midas touch as two term governor, kept Kano insulated from the activities of terrorists, bandits and killer-herdsmen. While sister states in the North West geopolitical zone were being plundered left, right and centre, there was no single record of terrorists activity/banditry throughout his tenure.
Kano did not only enjoy peace and calm when these peddlers of violence unleashed terror and held the entire nation at its jugular, Ganduje’s policies, programs and actions which never undermined the question of tribe, race or religion, to a large extent, inhibited ethno-religious crisis hence every Nigerian who lived and carried out their businesses in the city went about their duties without intimidation or molestation.
In June, 2016 when there was a looming ethnic uprising in Kano metropolis over the killing of Bridget Agbahime, wife of a Deeper Christian Life Ministry pastor from Imo State in Kofar Wambai Market by some Muslim fundamentalists, he was quick in rising to the occasion. He took many bold steps and far reaching decisions at bringing the situation under control and ultimately calming frayed nerves.
He did not just espouse the virtues of good neighborliness and brotherhood across ethnic lines, he worked actively at welding the disparate tendencies in Kano State and the country together, seeking and building consensus instead of confrontation, appealing to reason instead of rupture, and preaching peace while others spit fire and brimstone.
One of his extension of hand of friendship across the Niger was the renaming of Court Road in Sabon Gari to Rochas Okorocha Way after giving it a massive facelift. The street houses the majority of people from South East extraction.
It is on record that when the herders/farmers clash became seemingly intractable, Ganduje offered a permanent panacea to checkmate the crisis and put an end to hostilities. He invited all roaming herdsmen to his state to a game reserve in Falgore which was being designed to contain more than five million cows, human and animal clinics, markets and recreational centres. He was quoted as saying “Already underutilized, I am inviting herdsmen from all parts of Nigeria to relocate to Kano because we have enough faculties to accommodate them”.
In February 2021, he led other governors of northern states to Ibadan, Oyo State to calm frayed nerves and restore peace in the aftermath of the clash between Hausa and Yoruba traders at Shasha Market which left in its trail death on sides of the tribal divide.
As governor, the Yoruba, Igbo and other ethnic groups considered Kano as home. His open door policy gave room for the grievances of non-indigenes to be promptly addressed. He gave moral and financial support to the various associations of ethnic groups. An example of his act of generosity is the allocation of a big expanse of land for the construction of Yoruba House.
In recognition of his efforts in the advancement of the fortunes and peaceful coexistence of residents irrespective of tribe or religion, he was conferred with the Igbo traditional title of Agunamba of Igboland (The lion that guards the lamb of Igboland) in Abia State while the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Senator Dr Olalekan Ishola Balogun CFR, (Ali Okunmade II) conferred on him and his wife the honorary chieftaincy titles of Aare Fiwajoye, (President of People of Sound Character of Ibadanland) and Yeye Aare Fiwajoye of Ibadanland.
In his speech shortly before conferring the awards, the Olubadan of Ibadan had quoted the 30th United States president, Calvin Coolidge who said: ” No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave. Ganduje is not just our inlaw he is one of us . Nothing that Ganduje does by way of extending the hand of fellowship to our people can come as a surprise to the Olubadan throne. Ganduje is our own.
“His bonding with Ibadan, the political capital of the Yoruba nation and the South West as a whole can be traced to many years back when he applied and was admitted as a doctorate degree student at the University of Ibadan. He cut his intellectual teeth at the premier university of which today, he is a worthy alumnus with many milestone projects to his credit. The latest being the large lecture theatre built at the Faculty of Social Sciences”
The erstwhile Kano State governor’s prodigious leadership quality took Kano to a new lofty heights. He changed the paradigm and governance mindset. Unlike many public officers, he not only set the template for development in the state, he actually got things done. Many would agree that under him, government worked for all residents. It wasn’t business as usual.
Today, the signposts of the successful tenure of this man of honor is there for all to see. Just as he built bridges of friendship across Nigeria, Ganduje has actually enhanced the beauty of Kano State with physical bridges that link communities and provide a pleasurable drive around the state.
It is indeed not surprising that this worthy Nigerian, who recently exited Kano State Government House after eight years of meritorious service, was picked as the ruling party’s helmsman.
To say the cap fits him absolutely is an understatement. The APC national chairman’s track record as a teacher, administrator, politician has been that of impactful service to his immediate constituencies and the nation at large.
An advocate and symbol of national integration, a passionate leader and strategic thinker, I have no doubt that when the nation’s contemporary political history is to be written, the name Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje will occupy a pride of place. He has paid his dues in all human endeavors he had been opportune to serve.
Unfortunately for Alhaji Galadima and his cohorts, no amount of campaign of calumny and mindless destruction of people’s properties believed to be his political associates, can obliterate the unblemished credentials of Agunamba of Igboland and Aare Fiwajoye of Ibadanland.
Prince Bello, the Akogun Aliiwo designate is a public affairs commentator resides in Ibadan