For years, elections in most of the country were mainly between the two dominant parties, the Congress of All Progressives and the People’s Democratic Party. For many Nigerians, the 2023 election might not be an exception. Many people even believed that the momentum and popularity gained by the New Nigeria People’s Party and the Kwankwaso Labor Party in the run up to the general election were mere distractions that could never come as a surprise.
In fact, the governor of Anambra State, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, ruled out the chances of his party, the Grand Alliance of All Progressives, in the elections. He also dismissed LP Obi’s chances in the presidential election, noting that in addition to the APC and PDP, the other 16 political parties were only on the ballot to be fair, particularly in the presidential election.
In fact, elections, including for the governorship and the National and state Assembly, were held and the APC and PDP won more seats for governor, senators and representatives in the House of Representatives than the other 16 parties. APC’s Bola Tinubu was declared the winner of the February 25 presidential election.
Kwankwaso may have lost the presidential election, coming a distant fourth behind Tinubu, the PDP’s Atiku Abubakar and the LP’s Peter Obi, but the former governor and former minister did enough to remain in people’s minds.
First was that he won Kano State in the presidential election, defeating the state’s ruling APC. In fact, the margin by which he defeated the other parties was the largest of the states and the Federal Capital Territory. Second, NNPP gubernatorial candidate Abba Yusuf won the gubernatorial election, defeating APC’s Nasir Gawuna, who was the deputy governor at the time and was Governor Abdullahi Ganduje’s preferred candidate.
Of the 24 seats in the House of Representatives, the Kwankwaso NNPP won 17 and two of the three senatorial districts.
For many political analysts, the departure of NNPP was not unrelated to Kwankwaso’s imposing political image in Nigerian politics. Reminiscent of the days of yore when the late Aminu Kano ruled, Kwankwaso is arguably one of the most widely followed politicians in the north.
A visit to NNPP’s Abuja headquarters shows just how much loyalists love the engineer-turned-politician. Adorning the traditional red caps popularized by the former governor, members of the Kwankwasiyya Movement were seen exchanging pleasantries, with deliberations centering on their leader. It goes without saying here that Kano is once again in the hands of a man who, however, is no longer in power, but has his apprentices in strategic positions, in preparation for his political philosophy to be set for implementation once again. once again in Kano.
Kwankwaso, a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, left power eight years ago as governor of Kano state, but has continued to grow stronger with each election cycle. Despite his falling out with his successor and former Education Minister Ibrahim Shekarau months before the 2023 election, Kwankwaso retained and indeed expanded his influence in Kano and some neighboring states.
Prior to Yusuf’s inauguration, Kwankwaso had hinted that the dethronement of former Kano emir Muhammad Sanusi would be reviewed by the new administration, a statement taken for granted given his influence in the party. Sanusi was made Emir when Kwankwaso was governor, but was dethroned during the administration of Ganduje, who is Kwankwaso’s political enemy.
Speaking about the Kwankwasiyya Movement, NNPP leader Ladipo Johnson believes that Kwankwaso’s love for the masses and his willingness to defend the public good with little regard for their personal interest is the difference between him and other politicians in the country. In a phone conversation with Johnson, he attributed his love for Kwankwaso to his political philosophy of putting others first.
He said: “If you had seen the oath of the governor, Abba Yusuf, you would have seen the crowd in the stadium. If you relate that to the crowd during the campaigns, you would have realized that they were pretty much on par. Wherever Kwankwaso went, there were huge crowds to greet him, because his followers are organic.
“Many people in the Kwankwasiyya Movement believe in ‘Amana,’ which is the trust capital of our leader. That is why the motto of Kwakwasiyya is ‘Amana’. People have seen over the years that Rabiu Kwankwaso held various positions and was never found wanting. The masses believe that Kwankwaso’s administrative skills will always be used for the benefit of the people, the oppressed.”
He noted that Kwankwaso believes in creating opportunities in education, health and other sectors, adding that the former governor was always committed to improving society.
He added: “The people of Kano witnessed his first term as governor and his second, a total of eight years. They knew it would work for the masses. That is the influence he exerted. He did not have the support of big businessmen, but his campaign toured the country and people saw him go to local government areas in most of the states of the federation.
“Now the elections have come and gone, but the influence of the movement will only grow stronger because the people have seen that the governor, Abba Yusuf, and the deputy governor, Mohammed Gwarzo, and the members of the State House of Assembly, 17 members of the House of Representatives and the two senators who are all from the Kwankwasiyya school of thought, are ready to work.
“The Kwankwasiyya Movement, the Kwankwaso man and the followers are people who have dedicated themselves to the service of the people. Kwankwaso’s influence was very impactful in Kano’s choices and I daresay elsewhere, although it was not reflected. This influence will increase and will spread to other states of the federation in the coming years”.
For her part, the popular woman politician, Naja’atu Muhammed, told our correspondent that the Kwankwasiyya Movement had the prospect of becoming stronger because its disciples believed in their pastor.
However, he noted that NNPP’s victory in Kano did not reflect much of Kwankwaso’s influence or leadership.
She said: “Kwankwaso did very well. It cannot be taken away from him that he is a leader with eyes for the future, but the elections in Kano were a bit complex that we would like to admit. Kano has a story that you must watch. No doubt Kwankwaso has tried, but Kano has a history of political rebellion.
“In the past, Kano was under the Progressive Union of Northern Elements against the ruling establishment of the Northern Peoples Congress. Later, he was under the governorship of the People’s Redemption Party against the Nigerian National Party. The change of parties is not new to us.
“Kano people always say no. To be honest, it was the PDP that won in 2019; he won the same person but there was a lot of manipulation here and there. You have to give Kwankwaso credit for his ability to mobilize people. All he needed to do was give people directions. Kwankwasiyya is more about his personality and that is why the movement is named after him. Aminu Kano was not like that, Abubakar Rimi was not like that.
“At a time of political elections, people need a figure to provide a rallying point and that is where Kwankwaso comes in. He is a charismatic leader who has become the rallying point in Kano.”
However, a member of the Kwakwasiyya youth wing and former director of social activities in the Ahmadu Bello University Student Union government government, Solomon Sule, disagreed with Naja’atu, noting that without Kwankwaso in the picture, there would have been It has been difficult for the NNPP to make the kind of impact it had in the 2023 election.
He said, “Kwankwaso was the reason people hugged us in Kano. Without him, our chances would have been pretty slim. The Kwankwasiyya Movement has grown over the years and is now bigger than the individual known as Rabiu Kwankwaso. Most of the things that were done in Kano State were done under the Kwankwasiyya ideology.
“The Red Cap Movement has been copied by many of the incoming governors. In Kebbi, for example, you have the Blue Cap Movement. It is called the Karonian Movement and it was inspired by the Kwankwasiyya Movement because they have seen its impact. Once you’re a member of the movement, no matter how small you are, if you believe in the principles and ideology, there’s nothing you can contest in Kano that you can’t win. All you need to do is put yourself under the umbrella of Kwankwaso through the Kwankwasiyya Movement and you are good to go. You may want to know why you didn’t win the presidential election. It was due to poor marketing. They didn’t promote it well enough.”
Furthering the reasons why many people tend to lean towards the former Kano State Governor, Sule said that Kwankwaso provided free education from primary to tertiary level to all bona fide indigenous people and donated N10,000 to poor women for the business creation. He said that Kwankwaso, as governor, also built convenience stores in the 44 local government areas, provided street lighting and enforced traffic regulations, to name just a few.
He added: “It touched all areas. This is the solid foundation that he has built so that he is now the greatest force in Kano. Ganduje, who gave us a headache in the last three years, was chosen by Kwankwaso. In the primary, he simply said, ‘this is my preferred successor’ and there was no discussion.
“The Kwankwasiyya Movement is for everyone, regardless of their tribe, gender, religion or social status. The love that the people of Kano have for Kwankwaso has gone beyond mental reasoning. They don’t know how to celebrate it in silence. That’s why you see them crowding around him all the time,” added Sule.
Like Naja’atu, Sule agreed that Abba Yusuf, the current governor, actually won in 2019, saying, “How did Abba Yusuf, the current governor, lose to Ganduje in 2019? The people who came out to vote they wore red caps and were whipped to return to their homes.
“We knew the caps would give them away and we asked them to remove their caps, but they said they were too loyal to refuse Kwankwaso. The man is a legend. You can see that even the newly elected president asked him for a four-hour meeting in Paris, where many things were discussed. He is the most important politician in the north today.
Sule argued that Yusuf, in addition to being a commissioner of works, was relatively unknown but through the movement had become governor of the state. “His rise to the governorship of Kano centers on the enigma known as Rabiu Kwankwaso,” Sule said.