The rank of supporters of former governor of Kano State Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has been further depleted with the defection of the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Rabiu Suleiman Bichi, to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
At the formation of the Kwankwasiyya movement, Bichi was next to Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje in hierarchy supporting the leader of the group, Senator Kwankwaso to penetrate the grassroots in Kano and other parts of the country. Playing leading role also was Professor Hafiz Abubakar. The trio played critical roles in the conceptualisation and formation of the blueprint for the movement.
First to drop his red cap, a key symbol of the movement, was Ganduje who was deputy to Kwankwaso twice (1999 – 2003 and 2011-2015). The relationship between Ganduje and Kwankwaso turned sour after the victory of the former in 2015 governorship election.
The lingering feud forced Kwankwaso out of APC and back to PDP where they were prior to the formation of the APC. Thus, the movement recorded its first political tsunami. It was split into two. A faction of those loyal to Ganduje, including some federal and state lawmakers, remained in the APC, while those in the camp of Kwankwaso followed him to the PDP.
Among those that followed Kwankwaso back to the PDP were Bichi and Professor Hafiz Abubakar who left the coveted deputy governor position under Ganduje for the red cap movement.
However, Daily Trust recalled that in the build up to the 2019 general elections, following issues revolving around the PDP governorship ticket in Kano, Professor Hafiz Abubakar returned to APC, after decamping to the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP). A staunch ally of Kwankwaso, Abubakar spent barely four months in the PDP.
It was also at that same time that a former managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Architect Aminu Dabo; one time National Treasurer of the APC, Bala Mohammed Gwagwarwa; Engineer Mu’azu Magaji, among other staunch members of the Kwankwasiyya, returned to the APC.
Regardless of the role of Bichi in recent times, the first challenge before the Kwankwasiyya movement and the PDP in Kano State is how to fill the vacuum created by his defection. It was gathered that already scheming and machinations have commenced by party stalwarts eyeing the position.
However, secretary of PDP in the state, Alhaji Shehu Wada Sagagi, said the exit of Bichi will not harm the party at all. It was further gathered that for long Bichi had been relegated to the background in the affairs of the movement, reportedly following his romance with Ganduje.
The defection of Bichi, a key player in the Kwankwasiyya, will naturally deflate the movement and balloon the ranks of the APC as he is moving into the party with his supporters. Politics thrives on supporters. A source in Bichi said the former secretary to the state government during Kwankwaso’s era had been a political orphan.
“His defection won’t make serious impact as being envisaged because of the nature of his politics. His supporters are not many because of the kind of politics he plays. Money is lubricant of politics but he doesn’t give. Go to his house. You won’t see anybody there,” the PDP source said.
During the second term of Kwankwaso, Bichi as the SSG used his expertise to contribute to the infrastructural transformation recorded in the state. With others in the then Kwankwaso cabinet, Bichi worked hard towards the successful implementation of the policies of the administration.
It is expected that Ganduje will tap from this expertise to consolidate on the successes recorded in the first term of his administration. It could be recalled that Ganduje retained Bichi as SSG when he was sworn in in 2015.
Political pundits believe that it would take time for the Kwankwasiyya movement to recover from the shock of Bichi’s defection, coupled with the previous exit of the foundation members of the camp.
With the defection, a new political alignment and realignment has commenced on both sides. The Ganduje/APC and Kwankwaso/PDP sides will have to intensify their strategies ahead of 2023. Many analysts believe that Kwankwaso’s grassroots support and his movement’s popularity among the youths, which was key to the party’s strong outing during last year’s gubernatorial elections, is unlikely to be affected by Bichi’s defection.
The battle has been shifted to next elections. But before then, Saturday’s rerun in some federal constituencies, where Alhassan Ado Doguwa and Abdulmumini Jibrin Kofa are expected to battle to return to the green chamber, will serve as litmus test.