Kwankwaso: Pulsating, Resolute


Charles Ajunwa 

Political commentators have described former two-term governor of Kano State and presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, as a grassroots politician whose political career has been eventful so far. But whether Kwankwaso would translate his popularity especially in the North-west to votes, remains to be seen as he goes to the polls today.  

Kwankwaso, who became the governor of Kano State from 1999 to 2003 and 2011 to 2015. After he lost his re-election in 2003, he was appointed the first Minister of Defence from 2003 to 2007, under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He was later elected to the Senate in 2015, serving one term under the platform of the APC, representing Kano Central Senatorial District.  

In 2015, Kwankwaso unsuccessfully contested the presidential primaries nomination under the opposition All Progressives Congress, but lost to President Muhammadu Buhari. In 2018, he returned to the PDP and contested the presidential primaries losing out to Atiku Abubakar.

In 1992, Kwankwaso made his entry into politics on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He was a member of the People’s Front faction of the SDP led by General Shehu Yar’Adua and other popular politicians such as his former boss Senator Magaji Abdullahi, Babagana Kingibe, Atiku Abubakar, Bola Tinubu, Tony Anehih, Chuba Okadigbo, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila, Abubakar Koko, Lamidi Adedibu, among others.  

In 1992, Kwankwaso was elected as a member of the House of Representatives   representing Madobi Federal Constituency. His subsequent election as deputy Speaker in the House brought him to the limelight of national politics. During the 1995 Constitutional Conference, Kwankwaso was elected as one of the delegates from Kano, as a member of the People’s Democratic Movement led by Yar’Adua. He later joined the Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) in the political transition program of General Sani Abacha.

Kwankwaso joined the PDP in 1998 under the platform of People’s Democratic Movement in Kano led by Mallam Musa Gwadabe, Senator Hamisu Musa and Alhaji Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila. In 1999, he contested the PDP primaries alongside Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Mukthari Zimit, Alhaji Kabiru Rabiu.

Kwankwaso was elected for his first term as the governor of Kano State from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2003. His first tenure as the governor of Kano State was very eventful because of several other groups who were opposed to his high-handed governorship and his attempt at supporting Yoruba President Obasanjo.  In 2003, he lost re-election to his rival Malam Ibrahim Shekarau.  

He was re-elected for a second term in office as governor of Kano State from 29 May 2011 to 29 May 2015. During this time, he set out to rejig the political structure of Kwankwassiya: building roads, hospitals and schools and sending residents to study abroad.  In August 2013, Kwankwaso was amongst seven serving governors who formed the G-7 faction within the PDP.  In November 2013, Kwankwaso, alongside five members of the G-7, defected to the new opposition party, the APC.

 In June 2014, Kwankwaso was at loggerheads with long-time Emir of Kano Ado Bayero over his appointment of Waziri of the Kano Emirate Council. On 6 June 2014, Ado Bayero died and a succession crisis loomed amongst the royals. On 8 June 2014, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi Dan Majen Kano (Son of Emir-Maje) emerged as the new Emir of Kano. His accession led to widespread protests from supporters of Sanusi Ado Bayero, son of the late Emir and Chiroman Kano (Crown Prince), and allegations that Kwankwaso supported Sanusi because of the 2015 presidential election.  

In October 2014, Kwankwaso used his large political following in Kano to contest the APC presidential primaries. The presidential primaries results held in Lagos were: Muhammadu Buhari won with 3,430 votes, Kwankwaso with 974 votes, Atiku Abubakar with 954 votes, Rochas Okorocha with 400 votes and Sam Nda-Isiah with 10 votes. Coming in second, Kwankwaso endorsed the winner Muhammadu Buhari.

After losing the bid to contest the 2007 governorship election, he was appointed as the Special Envoy to Somalia and Darfur by President Obasanjo; and was later appointed by President Yar’Adua as a Board Member of the Niger Delta Development Commission, a position he resigned from in 2010.

In July 2018, Kwankwaso alongside 14 serving senators of the APC defected to the PDP. In October 2018, Kwankwaso contested the PDP presidential primary. At the primary held in Rivers, amongst 12 presidential aspirants Kwankwaso came in fourth behind Atiku with 1,532 votes. He later endorsed the winner Atiku and refused to seek re-election into the Senate, with Ibrahim Shekarau replacing him. 

On 22 February 2022, Kwankwaso set up the National Movement as a political movement against the staying power of the two major political parties the APC and the PDP.  He co-opted the New Nigeria Peoples Party as the political wing of the movement and became the national leader of the party on 30 March 2022.

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