Kano: The Red Cap Controversy

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Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and his predecessor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, are squabbling over the red cap symbol, which has been traditionally associated with the Kwankwasiyya group led by Kwankwaso. Ibrahim Shuaibu, in Kano, looks at the implications for politics

The political atmosphere in Kano State is cloudy, as the immediate past governor, who is now a senator, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, and the incumbent governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, engage in a supremacy battle. The issue in dispute is the red cap symbol that has been associated with supporters of the Kwankwasiyya political ideology formed by Kwankwaso during the 2007 general elections.

Ganduje was the deputy governor when Kwankwaso was governor between 1999 and 2003 and between 2011 and 2015, before succeeding Kwankwaso as governor under the banner of All Progressives Congress in 2015.

Disagreement
The disagreement between the two leaders started after Ganduje took over as governor last year and, allegedly, began to side-line loyalists of the former governor who had worked assiduously to ensure his victory. Ganduje was said to have resorted to bringing into his government some of the political opponents of Kwankwaso in APC.

Among the loyalists of Kwankwaso that were sacked from the government was the then Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Rabiu Bichi, who was one of those people that served Kwankwaso and also remained loyal to Ganduje at the time he was deputy governor. His removal from the cabinet came as a surprise to many people in the state considering that the governor and the former SSG come from the same senatorial district of Kano North.

Ganduje replaced Bichi with Alhaji Usman Alhaji, from Kano South senatorial district, who came into APC from the legacy party, the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, as SSG.
It was also learnt that removal of Bichi was one of the immediate causes of the rift between Kwankwaso and Ganduje. Another issue that was said to have contributed to the faceoff was the inability of Ganduje to incorporate the Kwankwaso men into government.

A source revealed that some former commissioners under Kwankwaso teamed up against Ganduje because of the governor’s inability to continue with them in government and this resulted in the incitement of some APC members against the Ganduje government.

Growing Popularity
But there was also the allegation that some of the former commissioners never saw Ganduje as someone competent. They had opposed him during the governorship contests. When Ganduje eventually emerged governor, many of them remained opposed to him and refused to congratulate him.

It was also learnt that some of the people from the Kwankwaso administration were acting as saboteurs and working against the smooth running of the government, just to discredit Ganduje before the populace.
Some of the former commissioners of Kwankwaso accused Ganduje in a radio programme and jingles because of failing to include them into his government. This situation culminated in removal of the Alhaji Haruna Doguwa leadership of the party and its replacement with that headed by Alhaji Abdullahi Abass. Doguwa is Kwankwaso’s loyalist

Many local government chairman in the state threw away the red caps of the Kwankwasiyya ideology and declared their support for Ganduje. This situation was repeated in the House of Assembly, which passed a vote of confidence on Ganduje, with legislators throwing away their red caps.

Members of the National Assembly from the state have also thrown their weight behind Ganduje by throwing away the Kwankwasiyya red caps. Among them are Senator Kabiru Gaya representing Kano South senatorial district, and Senator Barau Jibrin representing Kano North senatorial district. Thirty six members of the House of Assembly, out of 40 members, are currently with Ganduje, while19 members of the House of Representatives, out of 26, have also declared their support for him along with their supporters across the state.

Ganduje has repeatedly on many occasion that he is the second in command in the Kwankwasiyya ideology, as he was the deputy governor of the state from 1999 to 2003; and also served as Kwankwaso’s political adviser when he was Minister of Defence during in the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

During the inauguration of some road projects in the state recently, Ganduje accused Kwankwaso of mismanaging projects. Speaking in the Hausa language, Ganduje said, “Wasu sun yi aiki wasu sunyi aika aika,” meaning that some have done good projects while others mismanaged the projects, an indirect reference to Kwankwaso.

Faceoff
It could be recalled that during the one year anniversary celebrations, the Kwankwasiyya group attempted to discredit Ganduje’s government by organising a mass wedding at the time when the government was celebrating its one year in office. To forestall any clashes, the security agencies had to intervene and barred the supporters of Kwankwaso and Ganduje from holding any public gathering without police permit.

But the Kwankwasiyya loyalists organised and conducted secret mass wedding at Kwankwasiyya headquarters in Kano at Lugard Avenue before the police sealed off the venue.
A member of the Kwankwasiyya Movement told THISDAY, “The mass wedding was conducted secretly, with only the brides and grooms, next of kin, and some selected Islamic scholars in attendance.“

Red Cap Controversy
Recently, while addressing the press as part of Kwankwaso’s 60th birthday celebration, a group of Kwankwaso loyalists led by Alhaji Sharu Garba Gwammaja gave Ganduje 48 hours to shed his red cap or face legal action. Gwammaja said, “Kwankwasiyya stands for peace, progress transparency, accountability, good governance and rule of law. Ganduje has betrayed the movement by not keeping to its ideals since he assumed office as governor of the state in 2015.”
Gwammaja said Ganduje had betrayed the entire movement. “This made it possible for about 2.3 million people to register as Kwankwasiyya members in the state,” he added.

But in a swift reaction, Ganduje threatened to probe alleged illegal activities of the immediate past administration of Kwankwaso, ranging from illegal land deals to education and infrastructure.
The Commissioner for Information, Malam Mohammed Garba, warned the Kwankwasiyya group over its “laughable allegation”, and threatened to institute a commission of inquiry to investigate Kwankwaso’s lack of transparency in governance. He cited the foreign scholarship scheme by the previous administration as of the ill-planned and poorly handled projects that were full of financial irregularities. Garba added that the government was not perturbed by such embarrassing scams but was going ahead to address the anomalies.

The commissioner stated, ‘’This deliberate distortion of facts and spreading of falsehood is capable of provoking the government to drop its non-confrontational stance and a institute commission of inquiry to probe the previous administration, particularly, on illegal land deals, education and infrastructure.’’
On the allegation of abandoning the five-kilometre road projects initiated by the previous administration in all the 44 local governments areas of the state, Garba said the projects were characterised by contract scam, suspicion, financial mismanagement. He said no wonder the project had become the subject of investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Ganduje said his government would not be distracted by the spread of falsehood by the Kwankwasiyya forum, which the administration believes is hell-bent on tarnishing the governor’s reputation.
‘’In addition, the statement is another futile attempt to hoodwink people of the fast and unceasing waning popularity of the red cap across the state, as more than 80 per cent of those that hitherto wore it have since dropped it,’’ the commissioner said in the statement.

The statement maintained that Ganduje had the constitutional right to wear the red cap, which was introduced and popularised by the late Mallam Aminu Kano, describing the threat by the Kwankwasiyya group as misguided, laughable, pathetic, pitiful, as well as a desperate attempt to misguide the public and bring the administration of Ganduje and his personality to disrepute.

Disregard
A political observer in Kano, Comrade Musa Lawan, said many people in Kano believed that Ganduje was side-lined during the administration of Kwankwaso. Lawan said Ganduje will soon outshine Kwankwaso considering his political ideology of involving competent people in government.

According to him, “People always forget history; this political hullabaloo is not something new in Kano politics and the entire country because anyone who succeeded his boss in office must always try to outshine his master. So the issue will sort itself out in before 2019 whereby those looking for political office to contest must surrender their loyalty to the government in power, not somebody who could not control the party.”

Division
The supremacy battle over the red cap symbol has generated tension among members of the APC in the state because of the popularity of the two personalities involved, Kwankwaso and Ganduje. Kwankwaso, through his aides, is rooting for the grassroots for more supporters, while Ganduje as the governor of the state is busy executing projects to try to woo people to his political fold.
THISDAY learnt that the second term campaigns for Ganduje and President Muhammadu Buhari have already begun, under the theme: 4 +4 for Buhari and Ganduje 2019.

Supporters of Kwankwaso, apart seeking to control the grassroots, are also making plans and holding series of meeting with a view to paving the way for Kwankwaso to contest the presidency in 2019.
Whatever may be the case, 2019 will be a litmus test for Kwankwasiyya and Ganduje, as they battle for political control under the red cap banner.