NNPP: Between credible opposition party and political SPV

Ahead of the 2027 general elections, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) has become a beautiful bride the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and others want to woo. But as a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)’ for the interest of a few, a mass of NNPP loyalists is wary of what becomes of the establishing ideology of the party and its Kwankwasiyya movement, MURTALA ADEWALERecall that a frontline member of the Labour Party, Prof. Pat Utomi, recently disclosed that he has spoken to the national leader of NNPP, Mallam Rabiu Kwankwaso, to be part of the mega party being proposed to redefine Nigerian politics and rescue power from the APC.
Members of NNPP in Kano State have begun discussions on which direction the party is heading ahead of the 2027 general elections and the implications of accepting a love letter from APC on the political gladiators in the party and governance in the state.
However, some NNPP members saw the APC invitation as part of the moves by President Bola Tinubu to get in-roads to Kano State that has the largest number of electorates in the country while others believe that the invitation is a follow-up to a perceived agreement between Governor Yusuf and the presidency before the Supreme Court verdict that validated the governor’s victory.
Rising from a state-wide consultative meeting held on January 25, 2024, in Kano, APC stakeholders agreed to open its entrance doors wider enough to accommodate members of the NNPP to join their party.
Critical members in attendance at the meeting included the Deputy Senate President and senator representing Kano North, Barau Jibril; former leader of the House of Representatives and member representing Tudun-Wada/Doguwa Federal constituency, Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa; Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Abdullahi T. Gwarzo; APC state chairman, Prince Abdullahi Abba; among other prominent members. 
APC national chairman, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who conveyed the resolution of the stakeholders to the media, disclosed that APC has extended an open invitation to Governor Yusuf and members of NNPP to solidify the ruling party in Kano. 
He said: “Our hands are open, and we are appealing to those who like to join our party, in particular, we are inviting Governor Abba Yusuf and his officials to join our party, the APC.
“We are calling him with a loud voice that we are creating an enabling environment for the governor of Kano State and his party to come into our party so that we make a solid and large followership. Since we are the most populous state in the federation, we must also have the highest followership of APC in Nigeria,” Ganduje appealed. 
Yusuf who denied knowledge of any formal invitation from APC said there was no decision to dump the party that brought him to power.
Some members of the NNPP believe that the governor’s response was too weak and not categorical enough to convince them that he would not cross the carpet. Their concerns hinged on the rumour spreading around the state that there was a nocturnal agreement between the governor and the presidency that made the governor win the appeal at the Supreme Court.
Amid these political squabbles, tongues have been wagging on how President Tinubu intends to balance the dangling equation between the Kwankwasiyya and Gandujiyya political movements, and still achieve his goal in 2027.
APC sources in the state told The Guardian that President Tinubu understands the wave of Kano politics and undoubtedly holds sway over the voices that decide votes in the ancient city. 
“Kano is a beautiful bride and very critical when it comes to who becomes President of Nigeria, such that no politician would attempt to joke with the state. The reason is not far-fetched. Kano has the population and more essentially the giants that propel the voices.” 
It was also gathered that Tinubu will not contemplate joking with the dexterity of Kwankwaso, if he is keen to secure Kano in future elections. It is also believed that the president encouraged the reconciliation between Ganduje and Kwankwaso to reduce the perceived cost of injury that may be inflicted on Ganduje’s interest if Kwankwaso is not wooed to join APC. 
The source said: “Tinubu has seen it all. He knows who controls Kano politics. He understands who won and defeated him during the last presidential election in Kano even when APC was in control of government in the state. He knows Kwankwaso is the real champion of Kano politics, so make no mistake about who becomes leader, if Kwankwaso returns to APC.” 
It was also gathered that President Tinubu would not leave any stone unturned to woo Kwankwaso to APC to prevent possible political alignment with the former vice president and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, who is still interested in 2027 presidential election. 
“Bearing in mind the recent call by Atiku for members of the opposition to form a formidable front against the ruling APC, Tinubu is doing everything possible to get Kwankwaso on his side,” a source said. 
It was also being speculated in the state that Kwankwaso has been pencilled down for a fresh list of appointments that will replace casualties in the federal cabinet. 
Little wonder why some politicians in the state believe that the victory of Governor Yusuf at the Supreme Court is a win-win game for Tinubu despite the defeat of his party. 
But there are emerging concerns about Kwankwaso’s political future and his ambition to become president of Nigeria that may not be possible if he decided to join the APC. Those who understand the political antecedent of Kwankwaso insisted that he would not concede to an agreement that would jeopardise his presidential ambition and his continuous holding on to political happenings in the state. 
One of the challenges Ganduje is facing now is how to accept Kwankwaso’s domineering tendencies. Incidentally, the winner-takes-all attitude came into play in 2013 when Kwankwaso dumped the PDP for APC and subsequently forced former Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, a founding member, out of the party. 
However, it was gathered that some APC members have vowed to dump the party if the terms of reconciliation with NNPP did not favour them and Ganduje.
APC state chairman, Abdullahi Abbas, dropped the hint recently in Kano while receiving Ganduje on a reconciliation mission. He said APC members in Kano have resolved to remain loyal to the leadership of Ganduje and would be ready to leave APC if the national chairman decides to leave. 
He said: “Mr Chairman, these are core party loyalists. They have pledged their unalloyed loyalty to you for better or worse. If you decide to leave APC they will follow suit. They are with you 100 per cent,” Abbas said. 
Amid the entire intrigue is the deafening silence of Kwankwaso since Ganduje extended an olive branch to Governor Yusuf. Although Ganduje had tactically omitted Kwankwaso’s name when he extended the open invitation to NNPP, it is obvious the APC chairman was only being clever with the presidential directive to reconcile with Kwankwaso. 
A political appointee of Governor Yusuf, who preferred to anonymity told The Guardian that Kwankwaso would not easily fall for Tinubu’s ‘selfish’ interest and tactical move to cloud his political career. 
“First, are you saying Kwankwaso will agree to remain an APC member under Ganduje as chairman? Do you think Kwankwaso will easily abandon his presidential ambition simply because Tinubu allowed NNPP to remain in power?” 
However, watchers of political events in the state believe Tinubu has all it takes to penetrate Kwankwaso through Yusuf who would be ready to crush any odd standing against his second term in Kano. 
“Well, you can say Governor Yusuf may not hesitate to join APC because of his second-term ambition unlike Kwankwaso, but that may be the beginning of another crisis in the Kwankwasiyya fraternity. If Kwankwaso eventually declares war against Yusuf in APC, some Kwankwasiyya members loyal to Yusuf will abandon Kwankwaso. So, it’s a very tricky scene that Kwankwaso will have to carefully evaluate. 
“But I must say that the game is Tinubu’s interest. As soon as that is settled, who secures Kano will not matter to the president. The rest is local politics. We will cross the bridge when we get there,” a source disclosed. 
Speaking on the development, Professor Kamilu Sani Fagge of Ado Bayero University, Kano said that the likelihood of Kwankwaso returning to APC is high but not without consequences. 
But another political analyst from the same university, Dr Kabiru Sufi, insisted that President Tinubu would need to balance the political equation between Kwankwaso and Ganduje to avoid disruption of his interest in Kano. 
According to Fagge, “I don’t think it is not possible for Kwankwaso and Governor Yusuf to return to APC because our politics is self-serving and not based on ideology. It is about interest. However, the dilemma will heap on Ganduje because power will return to Kwankwaso and his boys in Kano. 
“Then, is there a possibility of Ganduje leaving the APC I will say yes and at the same time, he may want to remain to remain relevant. But if you ask me, as it stands, Ganduje has no choice but to accept Kwankwaso in APC otherwise he should be ready to be forced out because the president will not hesitate to sacrifice him if he and his boys are going to be a stumbling block against his ambition in 2027.” 


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