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Kano Guber Tussle: Between opportunism and legality, by Dr Saleh M. Maina

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Kano Guber Tussle: Between opportunism and legality, by Dr Saleh M. Maina

On March 18th 2023, Nigerians came out to vote for their preferred candidates in the gubernatorial and state assembly elections in all but a few states of the federation. In Kano State, the gubernatorial election was a straight fight between the New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC). The NNPP had Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf as its flag bearer, while the APC was represented by Dr Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna. After what was obviously a hot contest, the NNPP defeated the APC hands down, thus leading to the emergence of Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf as the popularly elected Executive Governor of Kano State and was duly sworn into office on May 29th 2023. The rest is now history.

What is important, at least for now, is that though Dr Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, the APC’s candidate in the elections initially conceded defeat and went ahead to congratulate His Excellency Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf for his well-deserved victory, the APC as a political party refused to concede defeat and, instead filed a petition at the Governorship and State Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal challenging the declaration of Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf of the NNPP as the winner of the elections by the Independent National Electrical Commission (INEC).

The petition field by the APC at the Election Tribunal did not come as a surprise. In Nigeria, conceding defeat in a widely believed freely and fairly conducted elections, is not in the DNA of most politicians. In their desperation to cling to or acquire political power, it is the culture of Nigerian Politicians to cry blue murder where the result of elections did not favour them. Thus, the decision by the APC Kano State leadership to challenge the victory of Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf was akin to behaving true to type.

The petition field by the APC challenging the declaration of Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf as winner of the governorship election was anchored on two major grounds. First was the claim that Engineer Yusuf contested the elections without being a registered member of the NNPP.

This obviously spurious claim was based on the allegation that the Kano State Governor, H.E. Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf‘s name was not in the list of NNPP members submitted to INEC 30 days before the conduct of the election. And based on this allegation, the APC is claiming that Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf cannot be considered the NNPP candidate in the election, let alone being declared as winner by INEC.

Secondly, the APC also claimed that the total votes won by the NNPP in the Governorship elections consisted of about 165,000 votes which ballot papers were not signed or stamped by INEC in contravention of Provisions of the Electoral Act. And for this reason, the ballot papers in question are not valid, presumably smuggled into the votes declared in favour of H.E, Engineer Rabi’u Yusuf.

So far, the Kano State Governorship Election Tribunal, after listening to the augments advanced by the NNPP and APC legal teams, ruled in favour of the APC claims, thus went ahead to annual Engineer Kabir Yusuf’s victory and the declaration of Dr Yusuf Gawuna of the APC as the elected governor based on the subtraction of the 165,000 ballot papers that were allegedly not signed or stamped by INEC.

Not satisfied with the ruling by the Election Tribunal, the NNPP went to the Appeal court to challenge the Tribunal’s ruling. Surprisingly, the Court of Appeal upheld the Election Tribunal’s ruling in the case by also declaring Dr Yusuf Gawuna as the duly elected Governor of Kano State.

The battle is not yet over as H.E Engineer Kabir Yusuf, the Executive Governor of Kano State and his party, the NNPP have gone to the Supreme Court praying for the setting aside of the rulings by the election Tribunal and Appeal Court in the hope that the apex court will uphold his declaration as winner of the elections by INEC. Thus, for now, all eyes are on the Supreme Court to do the needful towards reconsidering the rulings of the Court of Appeal and the Election Tribunal.

The over a million people who braved the odds to vote massively for His Excellency, Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf as the popularly elected Governor expect the Supreme Court to live up to the revered name of the Judiciary as the last hope of the common man. The apex Court cannot afford a ruling that amounts to robbing Peter-to-pay-Paul, as the rulings by the Election Tribunal and Appeal Court that voided the election of Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf tends to suggest. For the avoidance of any doubt, this is not the first time Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf’s victory in a free and fairly conducted election is being voided. It may be recalled that is the 2019 Governorship election, Engineer Yusuf’s victory was cut short in controversial circumstances leading to the declaration of the election as inconclusive, which was a clever by half mechanism that led to a rerun in some of the Local Government Areas of Kano State. The outcome of the rerun is now history. Suffice is it, however, to state that history shouldn’t be allowed repeat itself.

Beyond the issues of legality, what appears to be at play is as much related to Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf’s victory as it also affects APC projections for victory in the 2027 Presidential Elections. Going by the results of the 2023 elections in which the NNPP defeated APC in Kano State, the fear of a repeat performance in 2027 seems to be the factor behind the desperation by the APC to seize control of Kano State. What is therefore at play is sheer political opportunism by the APC who appear ready to go to any extent to retain power in 2027.

While it is in the right of APC chieftains to aspire to remain in power after 2027, respect for the rule of law rather than crude opportunism and impunity should be the name of the game.

The evil plot by the APC to regain power in Kano through the window after losing it through the door is a barefaced injustice which should not be allowed to stand. Denying victory Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf and the people that voted for him in the gubernatorial election on baseless claims is an unpardonable breach of democratic principles. The people of Kano voted for him in the belief that he and his party will add value to their lives and any attempt to deny the opportunity of enjoying the fruits of their popular choice in unacceptable. The Supreme Court should rise of above being used by the ruling party as tool for imposing themselves on a people that rejected them at the polls. The APC should be held responsible for any crisis that arises out of the day light robbery of the mandate freely given to H.E Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf as the Executive Governor of Kano State.

It is, therefore hoped that the Supreme Court will live up to public expectations by dismissing the rulings of the Election Petition Tribunal and Appeal Court by reinstating Engineer Abba Kabir Yusuf the duly elected Governor of Kano State.

This is the path of honour for the Justices of the Supreme Court.

Dr Saleh Maina is an Editorial Board member of Neptune Prime. He writes from Kaduna State.

 

Disclaimer

The opinions and views expressed in this article belong solely to the original author and other contributors. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or opinions of Neptune Prime’s management.

 

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