In the second republic, a man shook the heart of northern Nigerian politics, giving conservative politicians a good run for their money. He had massive following and was widely respected especially by the poor. That man was Aminu Kano and his politics stood out in the electioneering years of 1978/79.
Over four decades after, history seems to be repeating itself.
Like Aminu Kano, Rabiu Musa Kwankwanso, former governor of Kano State, remains a major force that must not be ignored in permutations for the 2023 general elections. Kwakwanso, who has had his days as member of both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), has now left both parties to operate from outside, charting a new cause for his followers through the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP).
On Friday, Kwakwanso, now presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), visited the Governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike in Port Harcourt. Although the agenda has not been made public, it is not unconnected to the 2023 general elections. He was there in the company of the former Governor of Ekiti state, Ayodele Fayose.
Kwakwanso’s visit comes a day after the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, visited Wike too. Interestingly, both Obi and Kwakwanso are in talks for a possible merger, but neither of both men appears willing to play second fiddle.
Rabiu Kwakwanso emerged as a charismatic politician and governor of the commercial city of Kano in 1999. In the governorship election of that year, Kwankwaso of PDP polled 587,619 to edge out Magaji Abdullahi of APP, who polled 311,218.
However, the complexity of Kano politics saw Kwakwanso losing out in the state in 2003. In that election, the incumbent governor lost to Ibrahim Shekarau of the ANPP who polled 1,082,457 to emerge winner of the guber contest.
Rabiu Kwankwaso polled 888,494 and was booted out of the Kano Government House.
In the following election in 2007, Kwakwanso stayed out of the contest and Shekarau managed to secure a narrow victory. The governor polled 671,184 votes to edge out Ahmed Bichi of the PDP, who polled 629,868.
The Kwankwasiyyah Wind
Eight years after he was booted out of the government house, the Rabiu Kwankwaso Kwakwansiyyah wind began to blow effectively in 2011 when he returned into the governorship contest.
In the election for that year, Kwakwanso as governorship candidate of the PDP polled 1,108,345 to beat Salihu Sagir Takai of the ANPP who polled 1,048,317.
Since then, the Kwakwansiyyah movement has continued to blow across Kano, with massive support from the grassroots. Between then and now, the man Kwakwanso himself has criss crossed from the PDP into APC and back to the PDP.
In 2019, he contested the PDP primaries and came a distant fifth, garnering just 158 votes representing 5% of the votes cast in the election held in Port Harcourt. That way, he lost to Atiku Abubakar who polled 1,532 votes to garner 48.6% of the votes and emerge the party’s flagbearer.
In March, Kwankwaso resigned his membership of the PDP and joined the NNPP, taking along with him a huge crowd of followers and supporters, especially in Kano.
With 17 out of the 40-member Kano State House of Assembly joining the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), and numerous others waiting in line, the politician has changed the dynamics of electioneering in the city. From 29 lawmakers that it had at the beginning of the ninth Assembly, the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) was left with 24, while the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was pushed to a distant third place with only one lawmaker in the state legislature.
Again, Kano is one of Nigeria’s most important cities when it comes to electioneering. In 2019, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said that Lagos and Kano states had the highest number of registered voters. Of the over 84 million voters, Lagos State had 6, 570,291 million while Kano recorded 5, 457,747 million would-be voters. In 2015, Lagos and Kano states recorded 5.8 million and 5.0 million, representing 11.30 per cent and 8.51 per cent, respectively.
All of these are expected to boost Kwakwanso’s presidential ambition but the big question remains: how far can this take him to Aso Rock?
A peep into history could show us what the data says.
For Kwakwanso, History Beckons
In the second republic, a Muslim radical politician shook the heart Kano politics. His name was Mallam Aminu Kano (9 August 1920 — 17 April 1983), a charismatic politician with huge followership born at Sudawa, Gwale Local Government of the state. Earlier in the 1940s, Aminu Kano led a socialist movement in the northern part of the country in opposition to British rule.
In September 1978, when the military government lifted its proscription of political parties, Aminu Kano teamed up with other politicians like Michael Imoudu, S.G. Ikoku, and Edward Ikem Okeke to form the Peoples’ Redemption Party (PRP). Other members of the party were Abubakar Rimi, Sabo Bakin Zuwo, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila, Umaru Musa Yar’adua , Sule Lamido and Ghali Umar Na’Abba.
With its populist ideology and policies, PRP enjoyed the support of labour leaders and the mass of the people. In 1979, the party presented Aminu Kano as its presidential candidate and won two gubernatorial seats in Kano and Kaduna.
But Mallam Kano could not win significant votes in the presidential election.
Data sourced from open-source website Wikipedia showed that, despite his populist stance and massive following in Kano, Aminu Kano’s People’s Redemption Party polled just 1,732,113 of the entire votes cast, representing 10.28% of the votes. In the same election, Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria polled 5,688,857 to sweep 33.77% of the entire votes and emerge president.
Shagari edged out Obafemi Awolowo of the Unity Party of Nigeria who polled 4,916,551 votes, representing 29.18% and Nnamdi Azikiwe of the Nigerian People’s Party who polled 2,822,523, representing 16.75%. Both Awo and Zik took second and third positions, respectively.
Interestingly, Mallam Aminu Kano was only able to edge out Waziri Ibrahim of the Great Nigeria People’s Party who polled 1,686,489, representing 10% of the entire votes cast.
Mallam Aminu Kano’s ordeals, which saw the iconic politician lose out in the presidential race despite shaking the heart of Kano, Kaduna and environs, must have prompted Kwakwanso to reach out and strike alliance deals across the country, especially in the South.
Meanwhile, as Obi’s Labour Party and his supporters grow by the day, with the perception that they are the bigger party in a possible LP-NNPP alliance, Kwakwanso’s ordeals remains. For, his supporters back home would not agree to play the second fiddle yet, like Aminu Kano, it’s near-impossible to win the presidency without outside support.
And therein lies Kwakwanso’s major headache.
On June 8, cerebral policy expert and former governor of CBN, Kingsley Moghalu lost the Presidential ticket of the African Democratic Congress, ADC, to Dumebi Kachikwu at the party’s convention in Abeokuta.
Kachikwu polled a total of 977 votes against Moghalu who came second with 589 votes while Monye who came third had 339 votes. But Kachikwu’s victory was immediately criticized by his opponents, who alleged that he “dollarised” the process by bribing delegates.
In 2019, when Kingsley Moghalu and his running mate, Abdullahi Umma Getso, contested under the banner of the Young Progressives Party, he polled just 21,886 and garnered a miserably low 0.08% of the entire votes cast. His resignation from the party somewhat gave his supporters some sort of hope that he would join a bigger party with structures.
After promising Nigerians to “expect unexpected disruption in 2023,” it does appear that the ambition of one of the most cerebral minds on the ballot in 2019 may have witnessed “unexpected” collapse.
Ekiti Vote Buying Heist
A major highlight of the last election in Ekiti state is that vote-buying was observed across the 16 local government areas of the state with political parties bidding for the votes of electorates. Reports alleged that electorates were bribed between N5,000 and N10,000 to vote for certain parties in the elections.
Civic rights groups like TMG and other observers have expressed great worries about the development, describing it as a gross violation of extant laws.
The challenge is that with the skyrocketed cost of living and economic pressure on the average Nigerian, it might be unrealistic to rule out such incidences of vote-buying. And, to be sure, the answer lies in the data.
The National Bureau of Statistics in its food inflation report in March said that on a month-on-month basis, March 2022 food inflation was HIGHEST in Ekiti, with 4.03%!
The state was followed by Taraba (3.68%), and Osun (3.04%), while Anambra (0.66%), Kogi (1.01%) and Bauchi (1.08%) recorded the slowest rise on month-on-month inflation.
In effect, deepening democratic cultures like electioneering MUST come with delivery of good governance that improves the peoples’ socio-economic condition and makes them immune from the temptation of election heist.