Is this the end of the politics of Kwankwasiyya in Kano State? Or is the Movement likely to come through this and become stronger like it has always done in the past? These are the questions on the lips of so many observers in the state, including the non – partisan actors, who are watching the screenplay of politics play out in the recent times in Kano State.
The question came to life in the wake of the sudden and unexpected defection of the Kano State Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Rabiu Suleiman Bichi, who only last week, switched his loyalty to the All Progressives Congress (APC), and in the act, ended an era of political loyalty to his benefactor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
Over the years, Bichi had established a reputation as an astute administrator, a seemingly devoted party man and an unassuming associate of Kwankwaso. It was for these reasons that the news of his defection, not only shook the state, but took many by surprise!
But while his defection was undoubtedly breath- seizing, his reception by the governor and the ruling party at the Government House on a night Kwankwaso was abused and derided, made the big news!The reception, planned for a select few, turned out as a huge assembly of former lieutenants of the godfather of Kwankwassiyya politics and an opportunity to talk him down.
The role call included the former boss of the Nigeria Ports Authority, Aminu Dabo, General Idris Bello Dambazau (rtd), a former national officer of the Peoples Democratic Party, Nasiru Aliko Koki, former National Treasurer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bala Gwagwarwa and Kano State Chairman of the APC, Alhaji Abdullahi Abbas.
The reception was significant to those heavyweights. In their eyes, it was a symbolism of their collective victory, their literally overcoming of the firm grip of the lion king. In the eyes of others however, it was a picture of their humiliating fall from the crest, a sobering submission to Governor Ganduje, whom they had all fought with all their might. What a denouement, many would say!
At the reception which was jazzed up with intermittent party songs, everybody smiled, barriers of hostility crashed and years of enmity melted and fizzled out. Soon after, it was time to speak. First, it fell on Bala Gwagwarwa, then General Idris Bello Dambazau (rtd), then Architect Aminu Dabo and then Nasiru Aliko Koki and the APC Chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Abbas.
As they spoke to the Kano audience, who were primed to their local televisions, they told the story of their common path, right from 1999, some aspects of which were marked by shrewd political maneuvering and selfishness. They abused, assaulted and demystified Kwankwaso at every point of the night. It was a sad revelation.
To illustrate Kwankwaso’s alleged highhandedness, greed and selfishness, Aminu Dabo told the sad story of how the former governor singularly imposed his own Personal Assistant, Abba K Yusuf on the PDP as the governorship candidate, despite the fact Abba was clearly a very younger, less experienced party member among the lots of aspirants. He also recalled how Kwakwaso again handed over power to none of the aspirants when he was asked not to re-contest the governorship race in 2007 and he rather chose an unknown character.
Abdullahi Abbas derided Kwankwaso as a man of unparalleled selfishness, saying he imagines himself the sole owner of the party, the sole owner of Madobi and the sole owner of Kano State, while assuring that with the caliber of people who had left his camp, the state was rightly under the grip of the APC and Ganduje.
Bichi, while accounting for why he defected, insisted that Kwankwaso had derailed completely from their set objectives, adding that he was attracted to the ruling party by the invitation of Govenor Ganduje to the opposition to come forth and join hands with his government in the development of the state.
Bichi, who claimed that he defected alongside Kwankwasiyya Coordinators from all the 44 local governments of the state, expressed confidence in the governor’s commitment towards the development of the state.
He recalled that he shares a common bond with Ganduje, observing that they both were the brains behind the formation and nurturing of Kwankwasiyya Movement, within the larger PDP family.
“We grew it up and we used our intellects to make it what it is today. So when we abandon it, it is a clear indication that there is something fundamentally wrong with it”, he said, and asked all their members who he left in the PDP to leave now.
In his response, Ganduje assured defectors of his resolve to carry everybody along in his government. He retold the story of his painful relationship with Kwankwaso, adding that all efforts to work with him in peace failed.
“In 1999, when military lifted the ban on politics, we contested primary election for the governorship post of the PDP with him and it was very clear for all those who participated in that process that it was me Abdullahi Umar Ganduje who emerged as the winner of that primary, but the numbers were changed in his favour.
“ I revolted and demanded that a fresh primary election be conducted. I was sure that if the exercise was repeated, I would defeat him hands down. But I was prevailed upon by the headquarters of the party, who in their wisdom felt that the best bet for peace to reign was for me to take the position of his running mate. I succumbed to that and let the matter die down,” Ganduje said.
“I accepted in good faith. When he was trying to make it as if he was doing a favour to me to take that position, I reminded him point blank that he was not doing any favour to me to be his running mate” he stated.
He recalled his tribulations and humiliation working as Kwankwaso’s deputy while describing Kwankwaso as a selfish politician. Ganduje was very particular about how Kwankwaso, following his “illegibility” to contest the governorship polls in 2007 barred him from contesting that year. Ganduje said Kwankwaso settled for a candidate whose highest work experience as at then, was a head of department in a local government area.
He recalled that when Kwankwaso was made a Minister, he humiliated him with an appointment as his Assistant despite the fact that he had served as a Deputy Governor.
“When I got the ticket to run for gubernatorial position in 2015, and he was vying for Senatorial seat, he never, even for once, followed my campaign trail” he stated, adding that he also did not also contribute a Kobo to his campaign trail.
Ganduje also recalled how Kwankwaso refused to accompany him to the Sani Abacha stadium for his swearing in ceremony, adding that he rather left for Kaduna, immediately after he handed over to him at the Coronation Hall.
As far as Ganduje was concerned , Kwankwaso never wanted peace to reign between them despite all his efforts in this regard, including allowing him pick some members of his initial cabinet.
He regretted that Kwankwaso was a clueless politician who only thinks about himself adding that,”if you look at his executed infrastructure and other policies, you will all agree with me that he lacks focus, as a leader”
He said that Kwankwaso’s greatest ambition was to become the President of Nigeria, saying that it was this ambition that was behind his recurrent migrations from one party to the other, adding that he was already scheming to return to the APC because he felt that President Muhammadu Buhari tenure would end in 2023.