Nigeria election 2023: Rabiu Kwankwaso profile

Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso


Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, di 66-year-old politician wey dey contest to be Nigeria next president, dey always appear for public with im red cap.

Na symbol of im ambition and im achievements – e be former defence minister, former senator and serve two-terms as govnor of Kano, one of Nigeria most populous states.

Im supporters for Kano wey be part of im Kwankwasiyya movement, wey mean di “Red Cap Revolution” for Hausa, dey also wear di cap.

Dis loyal political fan club don even follow am as e switch parties – in particular im move for 2013 from di den-governing Peoples Democratic Party to di All Progressives Congress, di current ruling party.

Ova im career, e don dey with five parties, and now e be presidential candidate for di New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), wey pipo no too sabi for di kontri until e join last year.

Analysts say e get little chance to win di election, dis na sake of say im power base strong for north, but e fit cause serious political worries by taking northern votes from Bola Tinubu of APC and Atiku Abubakar, di PDP contender.

To win presidential election, di candidate must show say dem get national support by gaining 25% of votes for two-thirds of di 36 states wey dey Nigeria, plus get di most votes.

Political analyst Chisom Ugbari tell BBC say Kwankwaso go need to make inroads for di south to achieve dis.

At one stage, dem don suggest merger with anoda leading candidate, Peter Obi of Labour Party, wey come from south-east.

Some pipo tok say dis kain alliance go give di chance to wrestling power from di APC.

But for one BBC interview, Kwankwaso say dat no go happun, and tok say di Labour Party candidate no get im political record: “You no fit compare am to me wey don dey in politics for many years.”

Achievement for education

However, Ibrahim Sharada, wey be Kwankasiyya and member of NNPP, tink say im candidate fame and influence “stretch beyond northern Nigeria”.

And e no get any doubt dat e be one of di four leading candidates and if e enta second round, e fit become king-maker base of im loyal followers for Kano, wia e first become govnor for 1999.

Dis na di year wey mark di end of military rule – and e no dey wear di famous red cap den.

Dis come more dan 10 years later. In fact, e lost im gubernatorial re-election bid for 2003, dat na wen den-President Olusegun Obasanjo make am im defence minister.

Supporters of Rabiu Kwankwaso, wear red caps, ontop cattle campaign cart for Kano state, Nigeria

Supporters of Rabiu Kwankwaso wear red cap

E serve for dis role until 2007 for time wey relative peace dey for Nigeria.

One of im main manifesto pledge na to fight di current state of insecurity di kontri dey face – dat na di Islamist militancy for di north, kidnappings, cattle-farmer conflicts and separatist rebellion for di south-east – to boost di army head count to one million by recruiting 750,000 extra personnel.

Afta im time for goment, e return to state politics, wey be wen e form di Kwankwasiyya movement, taking inspiration from di late well-known anti-colonial freedom agitator Malam Aminu Kano, wey become ogbonge politician and social reformer for northern Nigeria afta independence.

Dressed in red cap and flowing white kaftan, e bin dey famous for pointing out di inequalities of wetin be fairly feudal society for di region – fighting for more equality, including di rights of women.

Kwankwasiyya, oga Kwankwaso tok, dey made up of those ideals – and di movement attract young following wey like to dress like dia mentor.

Moving to a second term as govnor, Kwankwaso tok say e deliver on dis ideals in particular through im educational reforms, making education free for all levels to dis day.

However, e dey only available to those wey come from Kano and students need “indigene certificate” to qualify.

Goment school students for Kano, Nigeria - 2019

Mr Kwankwaso introduce free primary, secondary and tertiary education for Kano

“E declare free education as e enta office and na one of di first govnors across Nigeria to introduce di school feeding programme for indigent pupils,” Kano journalist Yinusa Ahmad tell BBC.

“Hundreds of students also get foreign scholarships and now most of dem form di most loyal base of im Kwankwasiyya movement.”

During im time as govnor, e say Kano build many schools and invest for teachers, though di UN say di state still get one of di highest numbers of out-of-school children for Nigeria.

Education clearly dey important to Kwankwaso, wey dey soft spoken but dey show plenti confidence and charisma.

E dey successful for school and go on to university, qualifying as a water engineer – get degrees for UK and India.

E return to work for dat sector, mainly for Kano water and engineering agency, before e enta di political side.

Pension allegations

Like many Nigerian politicians, Kwankwaso don face corruption allegations.

For 2021, two years afta e complete one term as senator, di Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) question am ova di alleged diversion of pension funds wen e be govnor.

E deny di allegations, and tok say e dey politically motivated, and di case no go any further.

A roof with Kwankwasiyya emblazoned on it in Kano

Khaleel Nasir
Buildings built during Mr Kwankwaso’s second term as governor are emblazoned with the name of his Kwankwasiyya movement

Kwankwaso, wey dey married with six children, display political confidence.

E show dis most recently wen e dismiss need for alliance to win di presidency. E be man wey like to make im own mark – and na sometin wey pipo still fit see all ova Kano city.

All di buildings dem construct during im time as govnor get di “Kwankwasiyya” mark for big capital letters across di roof. E want make nobody forget am.

Nigeria election graphic

Nigeria election graphic