Tunde Opalana, Abuja
Engr. Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, 63, is an all round politician, driver of a mass socio- political movement and architect of modern day Kano State who turned the state into an infrastructure development site during his staggered two terms as governor.
In the nation’s fourth republic, he has served in different political space from 1999 till date.
He started his service to his people as an elected member of the House of Representatives in 1992 when he won election on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) to represent Madobi Federal Constituency.
Kwankwaso was the first governor of Kano State in the fourth republic who was elected under the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
He lost re-election bid in 2003 to Ibrahim Shekarau and was in July same year appointed Minister of Defence by President Olusegun Obasanjo and he served the nation in that capacity till 2007.
He launched a comeback to power in 2011 when he succeeded Shekarau and held sway till May 2015.
But before the expiration of his tenure, he alongside four other PDP governors defected to the new opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC), and formed a PDP splinter group in August known as the G-7.
In 2015, Kwankwaso unsuccessfully contested the presidential primaries nomination under the opposition All Progressives Congress, and lost to Muhammadu Buhari.
He then swapped to contest the senatorial seat for Kano Central Senatorial District and was elected Senator.
Once again, he was swept by political gale of defection in 2018 when he alongside Senate President Bukola Saraki and other 13 Senators returned to the PDP.
In preparation for party’s primaries ahead of the 2019 general election, Kwankwaso threw his hat into the ring to contest the PDP presidential ticket.
Proponents of Kwankwaso’s candidacy were of the opinion that a PDP candidate from the Northwest zone could swing surprises by splitting the humongous number of votes from the zone which President Buhari has always enjoy in past elections. They thought this, Kwankwaso could do conveniently.
Though there were other aspirants from the North West geopolitical zone such as Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Datti Ahmed, Kabiru Turaki, Aminu Tambuwal, Attahiru Bafarawa and Sule Lamido, none of them had the support strength of Kwankwaso from the geopolitical zone.
The Kwankwasiyya Movement whose followership transcends the Northwest remains the largest political movement in Nigeria. No single household in the entire north that does not have a Kwankwasiyya member. His loyalists believed that the massive support base could be an asset to the party.
Those who rooted for his aspiration as PDP presidential candidate believed that with about 40 % of the northwest votes in his kitty, he should be able to muster impressive number of votes from the Northeast and North central while other aspirants from these zones will pull their voting strength together to give him a landslide in the north.
They thought the party would have no problem securing the needed majority in both the Southeast and South South which are traditional catchment areas of the PDP, leaving the Southwest presently in the control of the APC for efforts of its members to rake as much votes as it could to complement its harvests. This is necessary because politics is a game of number.
But the party under the chairmanship of Prince Uche Secondus could not arrive at a consensus candidate; hence the 12 aspirants went to the Port- Harcourt convention ground to test their popularity.
In the early hours of October 7, 2018, Kwankwaso and the rest ten other aspirants lost to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who eventually emerged and fly the standard bearer of PDP in the February 23,2019 presidential election won by President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
As a loyal party man who abides by the outcome of the convention, he joined hands with others to support the campaign of Atiku Abubakar.
He remained a Senator till the end of the winding of the 8th Senate because he lost his return bid in the 2019 general election.
Much can be said of the political deftness and dexterity of Kwankwaso, whose administration policy thrust is to take Nigeria out of political woods, secure both internal and external territory of the country, making life better, creating wealth rather than promising bogus employment, and prioritising education as the panacea to eradication all the social ills that has plagued the country.
As a Defence minister, he initiated the first ever defence architectural policy.
In the development and promotion of education, a political analyst once said that no other Nigerian apart from late Chief Obafemi Awolowo can surpass Kwankwaso.
During his time as a governor, he prohibited child begging in Kano by ensuring every school age child was enrolled in school, provided free school uniforms and give free meals. In fact, the free meal policy of the APC government was copied from Kwankwaso.
He established 44 Islammiya schools to provide combined secular and quoranic education, 44 technical colleges for vocational and technical trainings, 8 colleges of education to give teachers education a boost, 27 institutions to train Kano indigenes in self dependency and two universities in the state.
He as well paid tuition fees of medical students of Kano origin both within and outside Nigeria.
During his time as the governor, he sponsored over 7000 students to study abroad across different disciplines and level from undergraduate and postgraduate.
He believe that with adequate education, the social vices of drug addiction and other causes by population explosion could be drastically reduced and crime rate and radicalisation of the youths can be curtailed.
Kwankwaso is believed to be an ideal leader because he is a detribalised Nigerian who is also not a religious bigot.
It is on record that in 1993, Kwankwaso supported the late MKO Abiola to win Kano for the SDP against Bashir Tofa of the NRC who is a Kano indigene.
He did the same in 1999 by supporting the candidature of former President Olusegun Obasanjo against Abubakar Rimi in the PDP presidential contest.
He lost his seat in Kano for running against the religious tide by not supporting the adoption of Sharia law prevalent then in northern Nigeria because of his believe in one indivisible country.
Above all, Kwankwaso does not forget old friends; he has record of service, has passion for the unity of the country and he has fanatical supporters which any aspiring President needs to succeed.