The National Leader of the New Nigeria Peoples Party

Mohammed Rabi'u Musa Kwankwaso, FNSE FNIQS

Mohammed Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, FNSE FNIQS is a Nigerian politician who was the Governor of Kano state from 1999 to 2003 and 2011 to 2015. After he lost his re-election in 2003, he was appointed the first Minister of Defence of the Fourth Republic with no prior military background from 2003 to 2007, under the administration of former president Olusegun Obasanjo. He was later elected to the Senate in 2015, serving one term under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) representing Kano Central Senatorial District.

He is currently the national leader of the New Nigeria Peoples Party. Kwankwaso enjoys widespread support in Kano and north-western Nigeria; he has been viewed as a charismatic populist. In 2011, he was re-elected governor of the state and went on to join the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014. In 2015, Kwankwaso unsuccessfully contested the presidential primaries nomination under the opposition All Progressive Congress, but lost to Muhammad Buhari. In 2018, he returned to People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and contested the presidential primaries, losing to Atiku Abubakar. In 2023, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso unsuccessfully ran for President of Nigeria, receiving 6.23% of the vote.


Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso was born on 21 October 1956 in Kano, to a Sunni Fulani Family of the Genawa Fulani Clan. His father held the position of the village head of Kwankwaso with the title of Sarkin Fulani Dagacin Kwankwaso before being elevated to the position of the District Head of Madobi with the title of Majidadin Kano, Hakimin Madobi by the Kano Emirate Council under the leadership of the 13th Fulani Emir of Kano Alhaji Ado Bayero CFR, LLD, JP.

He attended Kwankwaso Primary School, Gwarzo Boarding Senior Primary School, Wudil Craft School and Kano Technical College before proceeding to Kaduna Polytechnic where he did both his National Diploma, and Higher National Diploma. Kwankwaso was an active student leader during his school days and was an elected official of the Kano State Students Association.[9] He also attended postgraduate studies in the United Kingdom from 1982 to 1983 at the Middlesex Polytechnic; and Loughborough University of Technology where he received a master’s degree in water engineering in 1985. He also bagged a PhD in water engineering at Sharda University India, in 2022.

Kwankwaso joined the Kano State Water Resources and Engineering Construction Agency of the Government of Kano State in 1975. He served there for seventeen years in various capacities and rose through the ranks to become the principal water engineer.

In 1992, Kwankwaso made his entry into politics on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He was a member of the People’s Front faction of the SDP led by General Shehu Yar’adua and other popular politicians such as his former boss Senator Magaji Abdullahi, Babagana Kingibe, Atiku Abubakar, Bola Tinubu, Tony Anenih, Chuba Okadigbo, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila, Abubakar Koko and Lamidi Adedibu amongst others.

In 1992, Kwankwaso was elected as a member of the House of Representatives representing Madobi Federal Constituency. His subsequent election as deputy speaker in the House brought him to the limelight of national politics. During the 1995 Constitutional Conference. Kwankwaso was elected as one of the delegates from Kano, as a member of the People’s Democratic Movement led by Yar’adua. He later joined the Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) in the political transition program of General Sani Abacha.

Kwankwaso joined the PDP in 1998 under the platform of People’s Democratic Movement in Kano led by Mallam Musa Gwadabe, Senator Hamisu Musa and Alhaji Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila. In 1999, he contested the PDP primaries alongside Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Mukthari Zimit, Alhaji Kabiru Rabiu. The Santsi/P.S.P. were behind the candidature of Abdullahi Umar Ganduje but they lost to Kwankwaso in the primaries.

Kwankwaso was elected for his first term as the governor of Kano State from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2003. His first tenure as the governor of Kano State was very eventful because of several other groups who were opposed to his high-handed governorship and his attempt at supporting Yoruba President Olusegun Obasanjo. In 2003, he lost re-election to his rival Malam Ibrahim Shekarau.

Kwankwaso was re-elected for a second term in office as governor of Kano State from 29 May 2011 to 29 May 2015. During this time, he set out to rejig the political structure of Kwankwassiya: building roads, hospitals and schools and sending residents to study abroad. In August 2013, Kwankwaso was amongst seven serving governors who formed the G-7 faction within the Peoples Democratic Party. In November 2013, Kwankwaso, alongside five members of the G-7, defected to the new opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In June 2014, Kwankwaso was at loggerheads with long-time Emir of Kano Ado Bayero over his appointment of Waziri (Vizier) of the Kano Emirate Council. On 6 June 2014, Ado Bayero died and a succession crisis loomed amongst the royals. On 8 June 2014, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi suspended Central Bank governor and Dan Majen Kano (Son of Emir-Maje)] emerged as the new Emir of Kano. His accession led to widespread protests from supporters of Sanusi Ado Bayero son of the late Emir and Chiroman Kano (Crown Prince), and allegations that Kwankwaso supported Sanusi because of the 2015 presidential election.

In October 2014, Kwankwaso used his large political following in Kano to contest the APC presidential primaries. The presidential primaries results held in Lagos were: Muhammadu Buhari with 3,430 votes, Kwankwaso with 974 votes, Atiku Abubakar with 954 votes, Rochas Okorocha with 400 votes and Sam Nda-Isiah with 10 votes. Coming in second, Kwankwaso endorsed the winner Muhammadu Buhari.

From 2003 to 2007, Kwankwaso was appointed as Minister of Defence by President Olusegun Obasanjo’s second cabinet, replacing Theophilus Danjuma.

In 2007, Kwankwaso resigned his ministerial position to contest the Kano State governorship election but he lost because he had been indicted by a Government White Paper. Alhaji Ahmed Garba Bichi later replaced him as the governorship candidate of the party. After losing the bid from his party to contest the 2007 elections, he was appointed as the Special Envoy to Somalia and Darfur by President Olusegun Obasanjo; and was later appointed by President Umaru Yar’Adua as a Board Member of the Niger Delta Development Commission, a position he resigned from in 2010.

Kwankwaso represented Kano Central Senatorial District at the Senate of Nigeria from May 2015 to May 2019.

In July 2018, Kwankwaso alongside fourteen serving senators of the APC defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In October 2018, Kwankwaso contested the PDP presidential primaries. At the presidential primaries held in Rivers, amongst twelve presidential aspirants Kwankwaso came in fourth behind Atiku Abubakar with 1,532 votes, Aminu Tambuwal with 693 votes, Bukola Saraki with 317 votes and Kwankwaso with 158 votes. Kwankwaso later endorsed the winner Atiku Abubakar and refused to seek re-election into the senate, with Ibrahim Shekarau replacing him. Kwankwaso campaigned heavily for his son-in-law Abba Kabir Yusuf to emerge as the governor in Kano State. The election was later declared inconclusive in favour of incumbent Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

On 22 February 2022, Kwankwaso set up the National Movement as a political movement against the staying power of the two major political parties the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party. He co-opted the New Nigeria Peoples Party as the political wing of the movement and became the national leader of the party on 30 March 2022.

Kwankwaso’s social stances have been described as far-right, while his economic stances are considered to be more left-wing. This stance is often referred to as the Third Position.

Kwankwaso’s time in office was characterized by a number of notable achievements. During his first tenure in office as governor (1999 to 2003), he established the Kano University of Science and Technology in Wudil, the first and only state university in Kano at the time. During his second tenure (2011 to 2015), Kwankwaso established the North West University, Kano, the second state University in Kano. He also established 26 academic and manpower development training institutes and through these institutes over 360,000 youth and women were trained and empowered. He is the first governor in Nigeria to introduce free school feeding and uniforms for primary school pupils. This exponentially increased the school enrolment figures from 1 million in 2011 to over 3 million in 2015 when he left office.

His passion for education saw to the introduction of free education at all levels in the state and saw to the adequate provision of teaching and learning materials. He established 230 secondary schools of which there are 47 technical colleges, 44 schools of Islamic studies, a Chinese college, a French college, and the first boarding girls’ college as well as a boys’ college in Damagaran and Niamey jointly with the Government of Niger Republic. In his four years as the governor of Kano State, he has awarded over 2,600 postgraduate and undergraduate foreign scholarships in 14 countries across the world. This is in addition to the local private university scholarship in Nigeria.

In the area of infrastructure for the first time in the history of Northern Nigeria, three flyover bridges were constructed, 5 km dual-carriage lighted roads were being constructed in each of the 44 Local Government Areas of Kano, and two underpass bridges were constructed. Kwankwaso also initiated the covering of drainages with interlocking tiles in the state, including the covering of the Jakara River which cuts across the city of Kano with a dualised road, which greatly improved the environmental and sanitary condition of the entire city of Kano. Kwankwaso has also built many houses and estates in both his first and second tenure in office. Three modern cities, Kwankwasiyya, Amana and Bandirawo were built with about 3000 housing units of various capacities put up for sale to the general public. About 1500 houses have been constructed and donated free to rural poor communities and victims of flood disasters.

After leaving office as governor, Engr Kwankwaso launched the Kwankwasiyya Development Foundation (KDF), an initiative designed to help the people of Kano state and across Nigeria. Through the foundation, Kwankwaso supported many young people to further their education with continued financial assistance. The first batch of 370 beneficiaries of the foundation’s overseas scholarship returned to Nigeria in 2021 after successfully completing their degrees. Upon completion of their studies, many of the scholars secured jobs with various national and international organisations such as Dangote and Bua, which was facilitated through the Kwankwasiyya Development Foundation.

When asked why he launched the foundation, Kwankwaso stated that the reason was simply to promote literacy and alleviate extreme poverty in Kano state and Nigeria at large. To support the foundation, Kwankwaso sold his property and donated the money to the foundation.

Through the KDF, Kwankwaso also secured the release of 170 inmates in various prisons across Nigeria by paying their fines and providing transport to enable them to get to their destinations and reunite with their families. Kwankwaso has also donated sports kits and cash worth over 150 million naira to amateur football clubs across states in Nigeria. This is part of his effort to support the growth and development of local sports in Nigeria, an area that provides young people with opportunities across the globe. The foundation also donated cash and food items to the poor and needy, including widows, people with disabilities, and orphans, in an effort to alleviate poverty especially among women in Nigeria.

On his 64th birthday in 2020, Kwankwaso inaugurated a 300-pupil capacity school which he built in Rano local government, Kano. The school is solar-powered and has a block housing six classrooms. The school was built through KDF in line with Kwankwaso’s vision and mission to support education.

In 2014, Kwankwaso announced his intention to run for the position of President of Nigeria under the newly established opposition party, the APC party. He participated in the party’s primary election in Lagos, where he came in second place after Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who went on to win the 2015 general election and become the President of Nigeria.

Following a disagreement with his former Deputy Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, Kwankwaso left the APC and joined the PDP. In 2018, he contested in the PDP presidential primary election held in Port Harcourt and came in fourth place, while former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, emerged as the winner. However, Atiku later lost in the 2019 general election.

In 2022, Kwankwaso abandoned the PDP and joined the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). He contested and won the presidential primary held in Abuja later that year. During the 2023 Nigeria presidential election, Kwankwaso and his running mate, Bishop Isaac Idahosa, secured fourth place with nearly 1.5 million votes. Prior to the general election, Kwankwaso was one of the candidates invited to the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, UK, to discuss his vision for Nigeria.

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