I believe the answer lies in Tinubu’s method, more than any differences in the social, political and cultural contexts of Lagos and Kano.
Tinubu built a political structure, with well defined leadership, plan and resources to execute such plans. Political activities start at local levels where local party leaders are rewarded, engaged and consulted in every major decision. It is a perfect political orchestra that produces a symphony between the godfather, party leaders and activists at local levels, and political loyalists embedded within various arms of government.
That’s why in all of this, Tinubu didn’t speak until today. He left everyone guessing. He did his talking through the party leaders. It is they who first rejected Ambode, it is they who first endorsed Sanwo-Olu, and it is they who flooded the media space with their campaign of delegitimization against Ambode. What that means is Tinubu was able to build a consensus and put his political house in order before calling for a fight.
The amazing wisdom behind this strategy is that the godfather gives party leaders the feeling that they are the ones making the call when in reality they are merely puppets in a grand game of political chess. That’s an important lesson in politics. All that political and grassroots followers need is reward and accessibility. Reward in terms of opportunities for wealth and position; and accessibility in terms of consultation and being sensitive to their interests.
Contrast with Kwankwaso where the whole Kwankwasiyya movement is entirely about his person and nothing else, so personal that it was even named after him. Today, if you remove Kwankwaso, there’s nothing left of the Kwankwasiyya movement. There’s no individual that will hold the flock together in the absence of Kwankwaso.
That’s why in the build up to the decision to field a governoship candidate, he flirted with different options before finally settling on Abba. Instead of following Tinubu’s method by influencing local Kwankwasiyya leaders to champion that choice and build a Kwankwasiyya consensus from bottom up, he became the godfather, the fixer and the spokesman, and in the process, subjecting his authority to rebellion.
Last month, I wrote a political commentary on Kano’s 2019 outlook and many Kwankwasiyya songbirds denounced me with their ‘siyasan Kano Sai dan-Kano’ gibberish, wrongly claiming that only those from Kano are capable of understanding Kano’s political intricacies. Today many of my predictions have come to pass and some of those songbirds are now part of the rebellion against Kwankwaso.
Aspiring political godfathers have a lot of learning to do on Tinubu’s method. The game may change, the players may also change, but the strategy remains the same. As Napoleon said, the world is divided into kings and pawns, emperors and fools. And that is not going to change any time soon.