The defection of former Kano State governor, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, to the Peoples Democratic Party has brought the party back into reckoning, writes Ibrahim Shuaibu
For the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kano State, it chances in the 2015 elections are brighter. This is on account of the large support it garnered following the defection of a former governor of the state, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, who left the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the PDP along with his supporters.
There was a mammoth crowd in Kano the day President Goodluck Jonathan and his entourage came to receive Shekarau into the PDP along with his supporters across the 44 local government areas of the state.
As early as 6am that Tuesday, people from different parts of the state began trooping into the venue of the rally, while a majority of the people bore PDP flags and wore T-shirts with message of support to the president and Shekarau.
Shekarau, who commands support among the masses in Kano because of his stewardship during his eight-year term as governor of the state, took maximum advantage of the rally.
Observers had predicted that his defection to the PDP would boost the morale of the party with more supporters who are ready to work hard for the party’s victory towards securing the state in the 2015 elections and also contributing to the party’s success from the wards to the state. Shekarau has considerable control in the state.
It was also observed that hundred of pensioners, traders, youths and old men were seen with T-shirts bearing the picture of Shekarau and subsequently declaring that they would work assiduously for the PDP because their ‘messiah’ had joined the PDP.
In an emotion-laden voice, Shekarau had told the crowd that his defection to the PDP was a good omen to the good people of Kano State, adding that the party comprises people who are wishing the best for the country and its citizenry.
Shekarau, during his speech, described the day as memorable and promised to protect and promote the interest of the Kano masses so long as he remains in politics and irrespective of the platform.
“As long as I remain in politics, I will be dedicated and do all within my ability and capability to remain loyal to the party so as to do everything within our power to show solidarity and support to the party.
“I wish, first of all, to pledge my commitment and that of my new members who made the choice to join PDP with me; to work together with the party to achieve the ideals of democracy, inclusion and development to which our dear party, PDP, is committed at the local, state and national levels.”
Jonathan, while speaking, expressed appreciation to the Kano people for the warm reception accorded to him. “Let me thank the good people of Kano State for the reception. From the airport to this venue, people lined up to welcome us.”
The president described Shekarau as a man of the people. “You all know Shekarau very well. He is the man of the people. When he was a governor, he was a member of ANPP and I visited him two or three times as the vice-president of the PDP-led federal government. But because Shekarau is a Nigerian, a well-learned man, an intelligent man, he received me at all the occasions I came here.
“These are the kind of people that Kano needs to project and follow. We thank Shekarau for joining the PDP today. He is fully welcomed and fully integrated into the party,” Jonathan said.
Among those who contributed to the success of the rally were Senator Bello Hayatu Gwarzo, who is the second highest political office holder in the North-west, apart from the Vice-President Namadi Sambo. Gwarzo is the Senate Chief Whip. Others were Honourable Farouk Lawan, member representing Shanono/Bagwai Federal constituency, former Speaker of Kano House of Assembly, Honourable Gambo Sallau among others.
The Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, who is also the Chairman of the PDP Governors' Forum, in his speech, said the PDP as a disciplined party would recapture Kano State.
When the National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Ahmadu Adamu Mu'azu, spoke, he first thanked the crowd for its unflinching support and cooperation and added that they were happy to witness the coming of the former Kano State governor to the PDP.
In his short remarks, the Senate President, David Mark commended the Kano people for their turnout and expressed appreciation to the electorate of Kano North Senatorial District for making Gwarzo one of the few senators serving since 1999 because of his quality contribution to the people of the senatorial.
Others in Jonathan’s entourage included the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State, Governor Saidu Dankigari of Kebbi State and the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku.
Shekarau's defection, many have said, would alter the political landscape of the state in the race towards the 2015 elections. Shekarau is not just any politician but one already has his name etched in the consciousness of the people.
Whilst the state Governor, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, who though elected on PDP platform has defected to APC is equally a political juggernaut and has a huge and intimidating following often described as cult-like, the fact that the two camps of the PDP and APC boast prominent personalities respectively, makes the battle for the soul of Kano dicey in 2015. But how well each of the camps can sell the message of change would also go a long way in determining their performance.