In the last couple of days, I have read with keen interest, mixed reactions trailing Senator (Engr.) Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso’s remark about Governor Ganduje’s daughter, Hajia Fatima’s colourful wedding ceremony to Governor Ajimobi’s son, Alhaji Idris.
The wedding Fatiha, held on Saturday, March 3 at the Kano Central Mosque, saw in attendance the who is who in Nigerian politics, including President Muhammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Senator Bukola Saraki and other top wigs in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), among others.
In the midst of this, the former Governor of Kano State and a serving Senator, Engr Kwankwaso reportedly mocked the couple, describing them as ‘zawarawa’, an Hausa language translated to mean “non-virtuous” people. Unfortunately, this statement has been misinterpreted by some elements who want to take advantage of the cold war between the estranged political friends to score cheap political points.
One Adeleke Oyetola wrote that the immediate-past Governor of Kano State and a presidential hopeful, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who ordinarily should have been hosting dignitaries at the marriage ceremony, elected to use a forum in Kaduna to “mock” the couple and bring the dignity of the Yoruba race, and, indeed, the principles of national unity and one Nigeria to gross disrepute.
But Oyetola failed to acknowledge the fact that Senator Kwankwaso has been warned by the Police to shelve his proposed visit to Kano, which according to the State Police Commissioner, Rabiu Yusuf, may lead to chaos. If the former governor could cancel his visit to his state for security reasons, it is irrational for anyone to suggest that he should ignore the warning by attending the wedding of Governor Ganduje’s daughter.
Engr Kwankwaso, a two-time governor (from 1999-2003 and 2011-2015) and his friends cannot enter Kano due to security reasons, so they said, but it was safe for the Governor to bring all his political friends and bigwigs to Kano for his daughter’s wedding, while no one saw that as a double standard. Rather, the critics threw caution to winds by saying the Senator brought the dignity of the Yoruba into disrepute by the comment.
There is nowhere the statements attributed to Senator Kwankwaso suggested such. It was just a figment of the imagination of the writer, purportedly blown out of proportion to malign the former Governor and present him as an enemy of the Yoruba. Whatever statement he made about the couple has nothing to do with the lineage of the groom – Yoruba. Such deductions could only have been informed by the bitter rivalry between Senator Kwankwaso and Governor Ganduje, who were once said to be the best of friends.
My appeal is we should cease to behave in a typical Nigeria way by turning an internal matter between the duo into a ridicule of the Yoruba race as being misrepresented in some sections of the media, particularly social media platforms. This situation can be succinctly captured by the Yoruba adage which says: “Oro lo de, torin do we”.
It is equally important to state that it wasn’t only Senator Kwankwaso that threw tantrums about the presence of the high and mighty in the society at the wedding, with more than 20 States governors, several First Class monarchs and President Buhari himself attending the wedding, by describing them as people who are “less busy”. So many Nigerians, including religious leaders such as Sheikh Ahmad Gumi and Pastor Tunde Bakare, Buhari’s former running mate in the 2011 presidential election, did.
Many Nigerians criticized Mr President. They even likened President Buhari’s attendance at the wedding in Kano to the former President GEJ’s now infamous “dance of shame”, when he also visited Kano in the wake of the abduction of the Chibok girls, similar to the recent abduction of the Dapchi school girls. Like Shehu Sani, the Senator representing Kaduna Central put it, those criticizing President Buhari only “want him to be in the right place at the right time as our leader, as a human being, as a father; for history and for morality”. Hence, it is so cheap for anyone to single out Senator Kwankwaso with the intent of sowing seeds of discord between him and the Yoruba race.
Evidently, the relationship between Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and the Yoruba race could be dated back to the Second Republic. He was a close political ally of the late MKO Abiola of blessed memory during the SDP days. Kwankwaso openly and vehemently supported the late MKO Abiola, who hailed from Ogun State and a Yoruba against Bashir Tofa of the NRC, a northerner from Kano State.
Senator Kwankwaso lost his 2003 re-election bid as Governor of Kano State largely due to his tacit support for the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo – a Yoruba man and a Southerner – who later appointed him as Minister of Defence. At the time, he was tagged as a Yoruba man with the name Rabiu Idowu Musa, which his political foe, Ibrahim Shekarau used against him just to score cheap political points. At a point, Senator Kwankwaso was even tagged as someone who is anti-Islam, simply because of his close relationship with Obasanjo.
In conclusion, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso has maintained a very good and cordial relationship with top Yoruba leaders, including Bola Ajibola, Former Minister of Justice, Bisi Akande, late Lamidi Adedibu, late Isiaka Adeleke, Olusegun Osoba, Gbenga Daniel, Segun Oni, Niyi Adebayo and Kayode Fayemi, among others. As such, it will be in the best interest of all media and political actors to maintain utmost decorum, and stop all attempts to extrapolate the Kwankwaso/Ganduje feud beyond its original parties, while exporting such to the Yoruba peoples, with whom Senator Kwankwaso happens to enjoy a robust and ever-bourgeoning relationship.
Taiwo Balogun is a public commentator. He writes from Lagos. Email: email@example.com