Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso: Whining Of A Rural Aristocrat
RIGHT from the moment Jonathan-bashing became a meeting point for some radical politicians and false progressives, immediate past Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, emerged as a prominent subset. Even in recent times, the new senator representing Kano Central in the Senate retains national attention as a pestilential busybody. Kwankwaso’s road to national limelight has been dotted with effusive diatribes and egregious haughtiness.
By October 21, 2015, Kwankwaso would turn 59 years of age. He became governor of Kano State in 1999 and lost his second term bid to Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, due mainly to political arrogance, high handedness and for paying more attention to mischief making than development. Having returned to the Kano Government House in 2011, many people believed that he had learnt his lesson and come of age politically. But his utterances and public conduct put a lie to that belief. When Kwankwaso gets into his tantrums, in visage and verb, he simulates a cross between a musk rat and a bat. Most people in Kano believe that it was partly due to his arrogance that the charismatic former Governor of Kano, late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, had some reservations in supporting Kwankwaso’s ambition to be governor in 1999. Yet true to type, the next four years of his sojourn as governor brought about much pain and trouble to the ancient city. While sowing the seed of distrust around some eminent Kano personalities in Abuja, Governor Kwankwaso also descended on the civilian population, especially the civil servants some of whom he retired prematurely. As cruel fate would have it, it was one of those that came under the governor’s precipitate actions that defeated him in the 2003 governorship despite his unbridled backing from then President Obasanjo.
Inspired by the general apathy towards Kwankwaso’s style of leadership, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who was later to become the Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank, wrote a scathing article about Kano’s number one citizen. In that 2001 essay Sanusi lamented: “The good people of Kano State are (currently) under the sway of an unprecedented phenomenon called Rabi’u Kwankwaso, the rural aristocrat who is at present the state’s Chief Executive. Having been elected into office based on a liberal constitution: and having launched a total subversion of personal liberty and freedom, particularly the freedom to criticize his government.” Sanusi explained that Kwankwaso did all that so that “he can enjoy the privileges due an Executive Governor under our constitution and an Imam or Caliph in Islam, without being held accountable to the people (or) being answerable to any one for his policies. The result is the paradox of our times. We got rid of the military by electing dictators.”
It is upsetting that more than ten years after such damning remarks were made about a young and promising politician; no remorse or remit graces his public conduct and utterances. He succeeded in ensuring that former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’Abba did not make it back to the National Assembly. Other prominent Kano citizens that received sour grapes from Kwankwaso included Alhaji Zubairu Danbatta, who was removed from Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), as Executive Director and Alhaji Musa Gwadabe, who was sacked from office as the Minister of Labour and Productivity. He was also said to have instigated the stoning of former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in Kano. For siding and fighting President Obasanjo’s narrow political battles in Kano, Kwankwaso was made Minister of Defense by the then president.
In Kano, there is a place called ‘kwankwaci’. There, a little rivulet where all manner of garbage are thrown could be seen. Nearby some auto mechanics find space to mend vehicles. The place serves as a dividing line between Sabon Gari and Kurna Asabe. Those who must cross that rivulet had to endure the stench and rot that oozes out constantly. A little farther in, there are farms for Onions and Carrot. Kwankwaci is an abode of good and bad. Like kwankaci, Senator Kwankwaso knows how to foul the air with his acerbic vitriol.
Though in his second term in office as governor, Rabiu the plumber achieved some giant infrastructure gains for the state, he continued the verbal taunts of his first term. His politics retained the bitterness and unflappable disposition that have come to define him. For instance, not long after his political godfather, Obasanjo fell out with immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan; Kwankwaso took over the assignment of traducing the nation’s number one citizen. The scorn and utter disdain with which the former Kano governor treated Jonathan was legendary. So discourteous was the governor that an Islamic organization known as Northern Ulama Forum for Peace and Development, decided to issue a public statement warning him to cease the insults on the person or office of the President of the country. The group’s leader, Ustaz Sabiu, was reacting to the statement credited to Kwankwaso during his remarks at an APC Governors’ Forum Public lecture in Owerri. “It (is) very insulting to see those who have failed in their primary assignments insulting us on NTA and other televisions, wearing uniform, comparing themselves, pretending to be first class leaders like Barack Obama, like Mandela and other leaders who have protected their people,” Kwankwaso was quoted as saying in allusion to President Jonathan. On other occasions the rural aristocrat had come out to deny that he ever called President Jonathan or referred to former Vice President Namadi Sambo and Senator Anyim Pius Anyim as vultures.
Yet in his effort to stand out as an ethnic jingoist and public defender, Rabi’u continued to display insouciance to even the embarrassment of his people. At the point of entry into the APC, he boasted that the five governors from the nPDP would ultimately overshadow other entrenched forces within the party. While dismissing the concerns raised by his predecessor, Malam Shekarau, on the dangers of handing over APC structures to the defecting governors, Kwankwaso told a BBC Hausa Service anchor that with the possibility of more governors from PDP joining APC, they would emerge with the largest number of members in the party. He stated to the pain of those who labored to broker the APC merger that since nobody had an APC membership card nobody should raise the issue of takeover, as according to him, the party belongs to everybody. Assured that APC chieftains would live to regret their action of taking in the petulant vender from Kano, Malam Shekarau shifted base to PDP.
As if Malam Shekarau saw tomorrow, Kwankwaso’s outrage at the emergence of Dr. Bukola Saraki as the President of 8th Senate proves true to type. Like a man who swallowed a bee, the Senator representing Kano central has been running to every corner in Abuja sulking and denigrating Saraki. Senator Kwankwaso forgot how he predicted that APC joiners from nPDP would overwhelm APC and take control of the levers of the party. His only beef seems to be that with the ascendancy of Saraki, supported by former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who was at the receiving end of some stone-throwing scallywags from Fagge Takudu in Kano; the table has turned for his political ambition. Piqued by the surprising outcome at the NASS where his favourite candidates were roundly defeated, not that he is a believer in orderliness, but the fact that it distorts his future plans in the APC, the Water Engineer feels bitter that he has been left the short end of the spanner. And like Kwankwaci in Kano, anyone who dares cross his path must hold his nostril and his breath. The only evidence of civility left with the verbal insurgent from Kano is his babanriga, is that he is yet to engage anyone in a brawl. This is one Senator to watch, for if tantrums fail him on the floor of the Upper Chambers, he could surrender to fisticuffs to force a point. Very soon, when debates open on core issues of returning the polity to its original foundations of proper federalism, Kwankwaso will bare his fangs as the agitator for northern interests. He would forget that the Senate is a place for sedate and patriotic reflection.
He does not see anything other than how this process that threw up Saraki has robbed him of a future plan. He said he could have been Senate president, but that he only backed out because, president Buhari is from his Northwest zone and having a president and Senate president from the same zone cause raise some eyebrow. So, he keeps whining and bemoaning how Saraki and the deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu have ‘robbed’ him.
And like the erudite Sanusi declared, that is what happens when “villagers govern metropoles; Excellences (are) without excellence; Honorable (are) without honor….”