2023 Polls: Kano and Kwankwasiyya’s audacious exploits
Emerging fourth among the top runners in the 2023 presidential race with 1,496,687 votes, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso did not only match out to prove a political dexterity, his presidential outing altered the calculation of both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Although pundits had predicted that Kwankwaso’s presidential debut was deliberately intended to test his national outlook, it is clear to many that Kwankwaso was more interested in reclaiming Kano from the ruling APC to Kwankwasiyya dominance.
Nevertheless, Kwankwaso has rewritten history as the first presidential candidate from Kano who not only pulled majority votes but also defeated other candidates in his home state. For instance, Malam Aminu Kano contested the same position under the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) in 1979, but failed to gain majority votes in Kano.
With his massive grassroots support, Malam lost his base to Alhaji Shehu Shagari. Former Governor Malam Ibrahim Shekarau also made a similar attempt in 2011 under the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP). Shekarau did not only lose the race to a south south candidate, Malam was defeated woefully in his base.
Amidst uncertain political climax that greeted the 2023 elections, Kwankwaso clearly focused on the set target, not afraid of taking any political risk. Having frustrated out of the PDP, Kwankwaso was courageous enough to form a new political party the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) predominantly rooted by Kwankwasiyya ideology.
The former two term governor had realized, truly well, that beyond the diehard spirit, Kwankwasiyya movement had to renew their vigor in the scheme of polity to defeat the ruling party. The renewed energy was quite loud with the resounding victory of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) essentially in Kano.
After eight years behind the scene, Kwankwaso’s NNPP reclaimed the three senatorial seats, 18 out of 24 house of representatives seats and 21 out of 40 state house of assembly seats while elections in 16 state house of assembly constituencies are not concluded yet.
History and philosophy of the Kwankwasiyya movement
Originally formed in 2007, the Kwankwasiyya movement was initiated by political associates of Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso with the clear motive of building a formidable group to mount pressure against the ruling government. It was about three years after Kwankwaso was booted out of power by Shekarau and his conservative movement.
Built on strong human development, selflessness, commitment, and political fundamentals, Kwankwasiyya ideology over the years has endeared members to perseverance and consistency within and outside government.
“We were afraid at that time that if nothing was done to keep our political activities alive, after we were defeated by Shekarau’s government, many people would leave the party to other political parties. So, I came up with the idea in order to retain our supporters.
“I first approached Dr. Hafiz Abubakar and he agreed with me and together, we came up with so many ideologies like promotion of good governance, politics without bitterness, educating people to know their rights under a democratic government and promoting the youth to become self-reliant among other things.
“We spent like five months developing the ideas and programmes for the movement. So, after we developed these programmes and ideologies, we decided to incorporate Senator Bello Hayatu Gwarzo who was at that time the highest-ranking officer in the PDP being a senator.
“So, we continued with our meetings, sometimes in my house and sometimes at the residence of Senator Gwarzo or Prof. Abubakar. It was towards its final conclusion that we drafted Alhaji Aminu Babba Dan Agundi and Governor Ganduje because at that time, Ganduje was in Chad and he agreed with us.” former Secretary to the State Government, Rabiu Suliaman Bichi noted.
Having scaled through the formation level, the movement launched its first political encounter in 2011 gubernatorial election when Senator Kwankwaso staged his second coming under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against Saliu Sagir Takai, the anointed candidate of Mal. Shekarau. Incidentally, Shekarau could not survive the overwhelming forces and grassroot support gathered by Kwankwasiyya forces that upset the power of incumbency.
The return of Kwankwaso for his second and last tenure as Governor of the state further strengthened and empowered the movement to the extent that the leadership of PDP then felt uncomfortable. The insinuation, though not far fetched, was that Kwankwaso was being too powerful with the mass followers of Kwankwasiyya movement, he (Kwankwaso) may soon arrogate the supremacy of the party to himself.
In 2014, Kwankwaso entrenched his political audacity, with the unwavering backing of his movement defeated from PDP and joined then opposition party APC. With the foundation strength of Kwankwasiyya, it was rather an easy ride for the young APC to coast to victory in Kano.
However, Kwankwasiyya witnessed the first obstacle that drastically weakened the range and file a few months after Kwankwaso left government and handed the mantle of leadership to his deputy Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. It was the internal crisis that disintegrated Kwankwasiyya leadership.
Kwankwaso left APC and returned to PDP to restore the lost glory. Kwankwaso lost several political allies and founding members of the movement including Governor Abdullahi Umar Rabiu Suliaman. Yet, beyond a party front Kwankwaso continued gathering momentum with the formidable movement.
Little wonder, when the senator finally left PDP and took the decision to form a fresh part, NNPP, the momentum did not take too long to spread like fire, and at least, secure the most populous state in the country.
Kwankwasiyya and the lessons of perseverance and consistency
PROFESSOR Kamilu Sani Fagge of political science department of Bayero University believes that Nigeria politicians have lessons to gain in the leadership of Kwankwasiyya. Besides, Professor Fagge pointed out that behind any success and successful journey in life, the spirit of perseverance and consistency remains key.
“The success of the Kwankwasiyya movement in the recent governorship election in Kano is an indication of the politics of resilience. Remember this is not the first time Kwankwaso was down and out of government and soon returned to power.
“Remember in 2003 after his first tenure, when Kwankwaso lost to Shekarau and he came back after eight years. The Kwankwasiyya lost power for eight years and here they are back. The lessons politicians would learn from Kwankwaso’s political journey are enormous.”
Professor Fagge said further: “The first is, focus and be consistent on a particular principle, that will help you move on even when the party loses power. Despite the fact that they were not close to power for eight years, Kwankwaso held the movement strongly until they returned. So, the lesson very worthy here is consistency will lead you to success eventually.
“The second lesson is, for any movement to succeed, they must have ideal objectives that will be a guiding principle and driving force. Without strong discipline, a movement cannot stand. Centre can not hold in such an environment. An example of the opposite is the situation in PDP. Since the party lost the election in 2015, the party has found it difficult to reconcile its members.
“Another lesson is mutual relationship between the leaders and followers which means, leaders must constantly identify with the followers no matter the condition. And the leaders must be vigilant and focus to be able to mobilise and guide followers in order not to lose the principle.
“There has to be a kind of political mobilization. One of the major reasons politicians find it difficult to bounce back to power after some distant years is because they have also distanced themselves from people.”