Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is a well-known Nigerian politician who has held positions in the country’s various political spheres. From 1999 to 2003, he was the Governor of Kano State. He lost the election in 2003, preventing him from running again, but he was appointed Minister of Defence by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. From 2011 to 2015, he was re-elected Governor of Kano State. He has also served as a Senator for Kano Central. Kwankwaso declared his intention to run for president in 2023 as a member of the New Nigeria Peoples Party in 2022.
Early Life & Education
Rabiu Kwankwaso was born in Kwankwaso village, Madobi, on October 21, 1956. His father held the title of Sarkin Fulani, Dagacin Kwankwaso, or chief of Kwankwaso village. His father was later appointed as Majidadin Kano, Madobi’s District Head. Kwankwaso received the majority of his education in Kano State. He received his primary and secondary education at Kwankwaso Primary School, Gwarzo Boarding Senior Primary School, Wudil Craft School, and Kano Technical College.
Kwankwaso continued his education at Kaduna Polytechnic, where he earned his National Diploma (ND) and Higher National Diploma (HND). Kwankwaso was a prominent student leader and a Kano State Students Association representative during his time in school. He also studied postgraduate engineering at Middlesex Polytechnic in the United Kingdom from 1982 to 1983, as well as at Loughborough University of Technology, where he earned a master’s degree in water engineering in 1985. He received his Ph.D. in water engineering from Sharda University in India in 2022.
In 1975, before Kwankwaso joined politics, he worked at the Kano State Water Resources and Engineering Construction Agency of the Government of Kano State. After his seventeen years of working experience, he became the principal water engineer.
Rabiu Kwankwaso began his political career as a member of the Social Democratic Party in 1992. (SDP). In the same year, he was elected as an honorable representative for Kano State’s Madobi Federal Constituency. He rose to national prominence after being appointed deputy speaker of the House of Assembly. Kwankwaso was chosen as one of Kano’s delegates to the 1995 Constitutional Conference as a representative of the People’s Democratic Movement, led by Yar’adua. He later joined the Democratic Party of Nigeria as part of General Sani Abacha’s political transition plan.
In 1998, Kwankwaso joined the People’s Democratic Movement in Kano, which was led by Mallam Musa Gwadabe, Senator Hamisu Musa, and Alhaji Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila. In 1999, he ran in the PDP primaries alongside Alhaji Kabiru Rabiu, Mukthari Zimit, and Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. He defeated them in the primaries.
Kwankwaso served as Minister of Defense in President Olusegun Obasanjo’s second administration from 2003 to 2007. In 2007, he resigned from his ministerial position to run for Governor of Kano State, but he was defeated. Later, the party’s governorship candidate, Alhaji Ahmed Garba Bichi, took his place.
After his party’s failed bid to run in the 2007 gubernatorial elections, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Kwasnkwaso as Special Envoy to Somalia and Darfur. President Umaru Yar’Adua later appointed him to the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, a position he held until his resignation in 2010. Kwankwaso served in the Nigerian Senate as the senator for Kano Central Senatorial District from 2015 to 2019.
Kwankwaso defected to the PDP in July 2018, along with fourteen other APC senators who were still in office. The PDP presidential primaries were held in October 2018, and Kwankwaso finished fourth with 158 votes, trailing Atiku Abubakar (1,532), Aminu Tambuwal (693), Bukola Saraki (317), and others (158). Later, Kwankwaso declared Atiku Abubakar the winner and announced his intention not to run for re-election to the Senate, allowing Ibrahim Shekarau to fill his seat. His son-in-law, Abba Kabir Yusuf, was heavily backed by Kwankwaso in his bid to become governor of Kano State. The incumbent, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, won the election.
In 2022, Rabiu Kwankwaso was declared the presidential candidate under the New Nigeria Peoples Party(NNPP), which would be contesting against other parties in the 2023 presidential election.
Governor of Kano State
Kwankwaso was the Governor of Kano State from 1999 to 2003. His first term as governor of Kano State was particularly dramatic due to opposition from a number of other parties who opposed his tyrannical leadership and attempt to promote Yoruba President Olusegun Obasanjo. Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau defeated him in his reelection bid in 2003.
Kwankwaso was also the governor of Kano State from 2011 to 2015 after being re-elected. He began reorganizing his political system at this time by building roads, hospitals, and schools, as well as funding residents’ international education. Kwankwaso was one of seven active governors who founded the People’s Democratic Party’s G-7 branch in August 2013. In November 2013, five G-7 members and Kwankwaso joined the new opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Rabiu Kwankwaso is happily married. In 1999, he divorced his first wife and got married to another woman. He has eight children from both his first and his new wife.
Influence & Impact
After leaving office as governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso established the Kwankwasiyya Development Foundation (KDF) to help the people of Kano and Nigeria as a whole. Kwankwaso provided ongoing financial support to numerous young people through the organization so that they could complete their education. The first group of 370 recipients of the foundation’s foreign scholarship returned to Nigeria in 2021 after successfully completing their degrees. After finishing their studies, many of the scholars were able to find work with a variety of national and international companies, including Dangote and Bua.
According to a petition submitted to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in 2015, Kwankwaso allegedly violated the Kano State Pension and Gratuity Law of 2007 just before he left office earlier that year. According to the group, Kwankwaso directed that pension transfers be used for housing development, but instead interfered with a housing project to assign homes to his colleagues.
The EFCC’s investigation into Kwankwaso’s alleged theft of N10 billion in pension funds while serving as governor of Kano State was halted on July 2, 2015, by Kano High Court Justice Mohammed Yahaya. However, on July 16, 2015, the same judge in the Kano High Court reversed his earlier decision and granted the EFCC permission to investigate Kwankwaso’s case, arrest him, and charge him. Justice Muhammed Yahaya also cited Kwankwaso and fined him N50,000 for “time-wasting.”
Later in 2016, the EFCC denied and dismissed allegations that Kwankwaso was the subject of any ongoing corruption investigations and prosecutions. Kwankwaso has categorically refuted and rejected any allegations of corruption leveled against him, describing them as political blackmail, malicious, and inaccurate, and backed by his adversaries and political rivals in an effort to tarnish his reputation. Kwankwaso filed a claim in court for monetary damages for sullying his reputation through his attorney.
Rabiu Kwankwaso is rated among the richest politicians in Nigeria. His net worth is estimated to be around $10 million.