Kwankwaso: Sagacious political bride in the north, by Prof MK Othman
Deep Thoughts with Othman
On the Nigerian political chess board of today, Kwankwaso is the most sought political bride by the three dominating parties; APC and PDP. Each of these two keenly contesting parties may be ready to offer high valuable dowry to woo this political bride, as a guarantee for a huge success in the forth coming presidential election. However, the bride is neither willing or ready to be wooed for the sake of winning election by any means. As a true disciple of the sage, Mallam Aminu Kano of blessed memory, Kwankwaso is not likely to cave-in just for mere inducement of political office position. Aminu Kano became a painful thorn in the flesh of feudal lords who took over from colonial masters, continued with colonial policies and danced the kind of music played by their masters. Today, we are all paying the price of the divide-and-rule system we inherited from the colonial lords. Mallam Aminu Kano lived all his respectful and revered life not only fighting against injustice but for emancipation and freedom of the citizenry irrespective of ethnicity, regional and religious differences. He similarly died while fighting the twin evils of injustice and inequity. He abhorred political alliance for the sake of winning election, and occupying political office for the privileges while shirking away the office responsibilities. He was however, disposed to alliances for nation-building, patriotism, justice and equity. Can Kwankwaso follow his foot-steps?
The overnight emergence of New Nigerian People Party (NNPP) under the indefatigable Kwankwaso has caused disequilibrium in the political equations of both APC and PDP at least in the north. 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 PDP. He co-opted the NNPP as the political wing of the movement and became the national leader of the party on 30 March 2022. Why is Kwankwaso causing political disequilibrium with high potential of unseating APC-PDP?
You may not adore Kwankwaso but you must cherish his startling and superb performances as the two times Governor of Kano State.
Kwankwaso’s time in office was characterised with tremendous achievements. In his first term of office as the first governor of Kano state in the 4th republic (1999 to 2003), he established the Kano University of Science and Technology in Wudil, the first and only state university in Kano at the time. During his second tenure (2011 to 2015), he established the North West University, Kano, the second state University in Kano. Why establishing the two universities? He did it out of his determination to take the university education to the door-step of the deserving youths whose parents, living in Kano city but couldn’t afford maintaining their upkeeps in Wudil. He also established 26 academic and manpower development training institutes, kind of skill acquisition centers and through these institutes over 360,000 youth and women were trained and empowered. He is the first governor in Nigeria to introduce free school feeding and uniforms for primary school pupils. This exponentially increased the school enrolment figures from 1 million in 2011 to over 3 million in 2015 when he left office. His passion for education saw to the introduction of free education at all levels in the state and saw to the adequate provision of teaching and learning materials. He established 230 secondary schools of which there are 47 technical colleges, 44 schools of Islamic studies, a Chinese college, a French college, and the first boarding girls’ college as well as a boys’ college in Damagaran and Niamey jointly with the Government of Niger Republic. In his four years as the governor of Kano State, he awarded over 1,500 postgraduate and 1,100 undergraduate foreign scholarships in 14 countries across the world. This is in addition to the local private university scholarship in Nigeria. Among the beneficiaries, there were 100 pilots trained in Jordan, 100 marine engineers trained in India and UK, and 200 medical doctors trained different countries. His educational support covered all youths living in Kano irrespective of their ethnic and religious differences. The major criteria for selecting the beneficiaries of Kwankwaso’s postgraduate scholarship were graduating with the First-Class or Second-Class Honor degree and living/resident in Kano state. He did away with the so-called indigene-ship.
In the area of infrastructure for the first time in the history of Northern Nigeria, three flyover bridges were constructed, 5 km dual-carriage lighted roads were being constructed in each of the 44 Local Government Areas of Kano, and two underpass bridges were constructed. Kwankwaso also initiated the covering of drainages with interlocking tiles in the state, including the covering of the Jakara River which cuts across the city of Kano with a dualised road, which greatly improved the environmental and sanitary condition of the entire city of Kano. Similarly, Kwankwaso built many houses and estates in both his first and second tenure in office. Three modern cities, Kwankwasiyya, Amana and Bandirawo were built with about 3,000 housing units of various capacities put up for sale to the general public. About 1,500 houses have been constructed and donated free to rural poor communities and victims of flood disasters. Similarly, he built 2,000 primary school blocks with each block, consisting of four classrooms. He then constituted Community Re-orientation Committee in each LGA, which consisted grassroot people for the rehabilitation of all primary schools in Kano. The committee identified the volume works and mobilized financial resources among the people while the government provided counter fund to execute the works. Kwankwaso was well known for high level supervision as he used to physically visit most of the project sites without notice.
Another area of focus was the economic empowerment to the people, Kwankwaso established 44 microfinance’s, one in each LGA and paid initial capital of 200 million Naira. He set up an Economic Empowerment Foundation, mobilized the wealthy people in the state to provide fund to the Foundation and then provided the counter fund. The Foundation supported the people with capacity building, soft loans and market opportunities. In fact, Kwankwaso was able to perform a magic of transforming Kano state from an income generation of 500 million Naira to over 2 billion within just one year. He earned supports of the generality of the people in Kano state and attracted millions of supports from other states especially in the north.
Today, NNPP has an estimated supports of 70% of the electorates in Kano state, 45% in Jigawa, 40% in Katsina, 30% in Bauchi and Kaduna, and over 25% in Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi states, respectively. These statistics as conservative as they look are capable of making the first-round of 2023 presidential election inconclusive and the nation has to be ready for the second-round.
Kwankwaso has willingly offered himself to replicate and multiply what he did in Kano State at federal level and he is capable, sagacious and intelligent enough to do so. The nation is highly desirable to have a repeat of Kwankwaso’s Kano experience but incapable of making Kwankwaso to occupy the Aso Rock as his NNPP lacks the political structure to make it happen in 2023. This is the irony of Nigeria’s type of democracy where the best is played down while questionable characters with money bags make it. This is what makes the 2023 presidential election 2023 a contest between two parties; APC and PDP.
As a last note, I am calling for the umpteenth time, the progressives (Kwankwaso, Mustapha, Obi, Adebayo, Jega, Utome, etc) to come together, unite and wrestle power from the current power holders and chart a new path for the survival of Nigeria and arrest the rot. We are tired of going down as a nation.
Professor Othman is the Executive Director of National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), ABU Zaria.