Of all its opponents among the PDP aspirants, the APC knows very well that none can give it a good run for its money in the upcoming 2019 elections better than Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the former Governor of Kano State. In the fear that follows this acquaintance, the APC government did nothing better than to copy from its predecessor, the Jonathan administration, which it defeated at the polls despite similar repressive measures against it.
It is too early to say that history is about to repeat itself, as it often does, because Kwankwaso is yet to clinch the PDP ticket. If PDP would give the ticket to any other contender, APC would begin celebrating victory, instantly. Sure. That is why the other aspirants are not the focus of its attention. If Kwankwaso would win it, then the ruling APC knows that a formidable opponent is in the ring.
This is the reason behind denying Kwankwaso the Eagle Square after he has paid for it upon earlier approval by its facility managers as shown in the documents attached to this post. The sudden change of mind and the further denial of a second venue – the Old Parade Ground of Area 10 – portray a calculated attempt to suppress him. It is like the earlier attempt of the present Kano State Government to stop his entry rally in Kano by blocking his route at Kwanan Ɗangora with the promise of bloodshed. Kwankwaso was wise enough to call off the rally. A time will come, he estimated, when as a candidate he will be unstoppable.
The fear of Kwankwaso has not stopped with the APC governments in Abuja and Kano. Two weeks ago, some APC supporters booed him at a mosque in Kaduna when he attended a Friday congregation and many others felt happy about the irate supporters.They would not have done so were the prayer attended by Atiku or Makarfi or any other presidential aspirant in the PDP. A supporter who gladly posted on the incident on Facebook defended their action by citing the case of late Samuel Akintola who was violently confronted as a collaborator with northerners against Yoruba interest by the ethnic Action Congress of Obafemi Awolowo. So, in the view of that writer, the North is now reduced by the political interest of Buhari to so little as being a sole proprietor business of the APC which no formidable northern contender should be allowed to challenge.
The reason for these repressive efforts is to prevent Kwankwaso from displaying the sea of supporters which he is known for. Once the breathtakingly scene is allowed, it will tilt the balance of opinion in his favour both within the PDP and among the larger Nigerian electorate.
It is unfortunate that nothing has changed in our democracy in spite of the promises of the present government. The bad methods of previous administrations are still used by the present one at every given opportunity. In addition to repression, high level corruption is also employed. Huge sums are used by the APC to win elections to the extent that even the electoral umpire, INEC, had to publicly express its disapproval after the Ekiti elections. The same public funds were brazenly used in the recently held bye-elections in Katsina and Bauchi States. I have testimonies of tampering with the card reader which could not prevent multiple voting and was unable to transmit – real time – accreditation data at polling unit. It appears that in spite of assurances from INEC, we are not yet done with election rigging in Nigeria. APC may have mastered the card reader already. If so, we will start celebrating Jonathan and the PDP who naively allowed it to work intact in 2015.
Well, Senator Kwankwaso is determined to hold his rally elsewhere today, where he will declare his intention to run for the presidency in 2019. He did the same in APC in 2014 and came second in the primaries. Since then, APC would have seen this repeated in 2018 and prepared to prevent it. It would have kept him and other similar aspirants within the party at bay by giving them and their supporters prominent roles in government and the party.
APC – or the President to be precise – chose a different path. It thought that its 2015 electoral victory will be everlasting such that no party or aspirant can gather the courage to seriously challenge the incumbent. So it failed to reinforce its link with some of the pillars of its victory. It excluded, instead of including, them. APC would have gotten away with it had it strengthened its link with the electorate by keeping its promises and putting up an impressive performance. However, the fact that at this moment the mere mention of PDP and Kwankwaso is sending shivers down its spine and compelling it to resort to repression shows that the party has not been able to retain the level of support it had in 2015.
The fear of Kwankwaso, for the APC, is the beginning of wisdom. For us, ordinary Nigerians, we have no cause to fear him or any aspirant for that matter. We have seen all kinds before. All we yearn for is the rule of law not dictatorship even if it would come from a benevolent person. Equal opportunities in the utilization of public space and freedom of expression must be accorded all parties and citizens. Denying Kwankwaso the use of Eagle Square or other public facilities to express his political ambition is a violation of his fundamental human right and an attempt to truncate the democratic process. In fact, as other commentators have said, it will achieve the opposite – make him more popular and a focus of attention in his party and among Nigerians.
The President, who by his nature may never contrive this measure, can passively allow it as he has done in this case, once it will serve his cause. Honestly, this blunder is the least he needs at the moment. As a result, his government is already receiving a handsome measure of bashing from the press and citizens alike. Should Kwankwaso win the PDP primaries, such steps must be avoided because their impact on public opinion in Nigeria and overseas could be very damaging to the government. In his best interest, the President should therefore call his agents and supporters to order.
We hope the declaration today would start and end peacefully without any incident like a police blockade or DSS barricade.
The world is watching.
Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
29 August 2018