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Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Crab Mentality and Other Stories – By Mideno Bayagbon

By Mideno Bayagbon

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Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is a big man. A two-term former Kano State Governor, (1999 to 2003, and 2011 to 2015); a former Minister of Defence; a former Senator of the Federal Republic, (2015 to 2019); a former Board member, NDDC; an Engineer. He is a good description of who a typical Nigerian big man is. A former civil servant turned politician, he has sure done very well for himself.

Add to that, he is a popular figure, a miniature Buhari in some segments of the Northwestern Nigeria. He has a movement, a red cap movement of mainly Islamic followers. It is called Kwankwasiya.  Kwankwaso defines Kwankwasiyya (his leadership philosophy and convictions): as “…Amana. That Hausa word which means trust is paramount to us because you can’t be a Kwankwasiyya while stealing public trust; you can’t be a Kwankwasiyya and you are destroying your state and country. You have to be honest. You have to be hard working and you must ensure that whatever you are doing is not just beneficial to you and your family, but more importantly to the society at large. That is the meaning of Kwankwasiyya.”

He has been in the news, in lovers’ adoring, and haters’ agitated tones, in the past few weeks. In the social and traditional media, he is now a frequent mention. And target. Suddenly, he is enjoying a massive name mention, gaining more recognition, more adulation; and also acerbic insults. It is easy to bask in this type of media frenzy to even a delusional level. This is more so that it is free, mostly positive publicity. He is now strutting the media with the confidence of a Pastor Tunde Bakare. Pastor Bakare, it was, who informed Nigerians sometime ago, and at the APC  presidential primaries last month, that God has ordained him to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, to be Nigeria’s next president. Kwankwaso has not, however, gone to that audacious level. At least, not yet!

So why the sudden interest in him? Well, the answer is Peter Obi. But don’t forget he is the self-coronated Presidential candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP. This is a party he formed to actualise his hope of becoming President of Nigeria after the 2023 elections. What has, however, made him cling to the limelight in the last one month has been the hope the followers of Mr Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate, who call themselves ObIdients, vested on a Obi-Kwankwaso alliance. At first, it was considered mere rumours. Then it turned out that, indeed, Obi and Kwankwaso were working on merging their ambitions and presenting a joint ticket for the presidency, in 2023.

This spurred a lot of permutations, a case of rising hope for their followers and observers. Perhaps, the reasoning goes, this combination could galvanise a large swat of Nigerians to confront the dominance of the no good, two frontline parties: the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the All Progressives Congress, APC, whose misrule of the country, in the last 23 years, has brought it down on its knees with an economy almost keeling over the edge. The reasoning and permutations are easy to understand. Yes, there is an Obi phenomenal near-revolutionary-movement sweeping across the country. But it is still just emerging from its embryo. It is still mostly a Southern Nigerian movement, a youth and elite thing. Yes, it is spreading fast. Abuja is in; Some part of the middlebelt too. Even the conservative North is gradually, but very slowly, opening its eyes to, and tasting, the ObIdient message. But without a more concrete, more scalable attempt to take it to the grassroots, 2023, it is feared, could still be a dream deferred.

Therein the hope hinged on the LP/NNPP romance. It is generally known that Kwankwaso has a huge grassroots following in Kano and some parts of the North through his Kwankwasiyya movement. So a combination of the efforts of Obi in the South, Abuja and North Central and Kwankwaso’s effort in North West and maybe even spreading to North East could garner a formidable force to confront the two monster parties which are presenting two geriatrics : Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. The thought is, perhaps the long longed-for Third Force, dreamed of by some Nigerians, to rescue the nation from the shackles of the same sided, two dragons parties, has come to be!

But the bubble burst so early. Hope dimmed and dashed. Ego. Delusion of grandeur. Emi Lokan mentality have visited the alliance and the momentous hope is gone. Obi-Kwankwaso or Kwankwaso-Obi ticket is a still birth. This is more so as Senator Kwankwaso has been very effusive and candid about how such an alliance will see the light of day: Obi must bury his pride and subsume his ambition of becoming President in 2023 and become his vice presidential candidate. He advises him that the hopes which Obi is currently engendering among the population can only be actualised through his becoming Kwakwanso’s vice presidential candidate. Kwankwaso’s arguments are seemingly, on  the face value, sound. He has more experience, politically, than Peter Obi. He is even older than him by a presidential term. If he is foolish, he says, and succumbs to becoming a vice presidential candidate to an Obi or any other candidate for that matter, that will mark the end of his newly formed party, NNPP. That he vows will never happen.

So like the crab, even though only an alliance can possibly give his party a semblance of national spread, or an appreciable showing in the elections, Kwankwaso is content being a big fish in NNPP’s small pond than be vice president to a Peter Obi. He is not desperate to be president or vice. He is ready to tear down any alliance that doesn’t present him as the flag bearer.

His traducers have read this to mean that he is feeling entitled to the office of president; that he is displaying what they describe as “born to rule” mentality. They ask what he possesses that the current American President, Joe Biden, did not, when he agreed to be vice president to the neophyte, one-term Senator Barack Obama who eventually became president? They caution that it is national and not personal interest, like his Kwankwasiyya philosophy says, which should guide ambitions and not the other way round. The nation needs rescue and they believe Obi has the right message and background to be the one to effect it.

So many of these arguments assumed that it should have been a walk in the park for both parties to agree on an alliance. Yet, any astute politician knows It is unfortunately not so easy. They know it is foolhardy to assume that with his pedigree, and known character traits, Kwankwaso will jump up and accept to be vice president to Obi. They know it will take more than social media campaigns and even abuses. It will involve a lot of strenuous roundtable discussions, trade-offs and agreements. Though Obi himself is yet to speak on this, the options open to him are either to accept the Kwankwaso offer, reject it and explain why it should be the other way round. Or he should cast his net further abroad. There are many significant political fishes that can be wooed.

We know his supporters are not in the mood of him accepting to be a vice presidential candidate to anyone among the old guards, Kwankwaso inclusive. We know, on both sides, OBIdient and Kwankwasiyya, egos are high, riding on a high voltage delusion of grandeur. But the simple truth remains none of them can smell victory going it alone. So if you ask me, the mood of the nation, among the youths and elites, is wrapped round the OBIdient  and not the Kwankwasiyya philosophy. Nevertheless, Obi and Kwankwaso can perhaps still find a way to reach an amicable working relationship. Like Kwankwaso nominating his ally as VP candidate to Obi. They can then work an arrangement which will see the two parties fusing into one before the elections.


Rumours have it, as we were about going to press, that a 46 year-old senator from the North has been penciled to replace Kwankwaso in an arrangement that is still in the works.

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