President Muhammadu Buhari won Kano State by a landslide in the 2015 presidential (s)election. He got 1,903,999 votes to incumbent Goodluck Jonathan’s 215,779. Then it only took a shout of “Sai Buhari” to get the teeming masses in the state going over the former military dictator who had an almost messianic status in the state. But a lot has changed since Buhari came into office.
The disappointment among the people of Kano is palpable and hunger stalks the land, with hyperinflation related to the steep fall in the value of the naira. It means the cost of the basics has soared beyond the earnings of most people in the state. Despite the fact that many in Kano and across Nigeria are worse off than they were in 2015 and the Buhari regime has done little to live up to the lofty expectations and fulfill the promises made when he was running for office, many Nigerians, including the president, take his popularity in the state for granted.
During a visit early in December last year, Buhari said in Kano: “I know the elections. If they are to be free and fair, if it is a question of numbers, if it is a question of allowing people to make their choice, then I think the people of Kano are in my pocket.” But going by what some Kano politicians in both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) told Naijiant.com, the state be crawling with haste out of Buhari’s pocket.
The word on the street in Kano is that Buhari “has only delivered suffering”. Anyone that shouts “Sai Buhari” now was risking mob justice. One source said that people are fed up to the back teeth with Buhari’s rule and the numbers struggling for a decent meal a day have more than doubled.
With severe hardship the reality for most, Buhari also seems to have made enemies of the likes of former two-term governor, defence minister, and current senator for Kano Central Rabiu Kwankwaso. The former governor lost to Buhari in the APC presidential primaries about three years ago and still has his eyes on the biggest job in the land. He also used to belong to the PDP. One of his close allies told Naijiant.com that the “Kwankwaso group was regrouping in the PDP”. The senator’s defection is seen as only a matter of time, but it may hedge on whether he can secure the PDP’s presidential ticket.
Regardless of whether Kwankwaso is the PDP flag-bearer in 2019, he is determined to stop Buhari at all costs. He told his ally that Buhari promised to serve one term and is now reneging on that promise. The Kwankwaso camp is very confident that the rise in poverty since Buhari took over should guarantee the president’s defeat in 2019. They also claim that the anger and disappointment with Buhari would explode into violence if the president tries to use incumbency to fix the result in his favour.
One of our sources said that the difference between 2019 and 2015 is that then the entire state was united in purpose to elect Buhari. Buhari supporters also had a monopoly of the violence that was deployed in 2011 and was used as a deterrent against PDP malpractice in 2015. The source said that any attempt by the Buhari camp to rig the (s)election in 2019 would be met by mob violence because the people of Kano would see it as an attempt to impose an unpopular candidate on them.