I left Kano a fulfilled man – Kwankwaso
How do you feel celebrating your birthday with the anniversary of the Kwankwasiyya ideology?
I would like to thank the good people of Kano State who over the years decided to support us and elect us into various positions, and to also thank Nigerians for voting our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), which clinched power at the centre during the last elections and in various states across the country. I also want to use the opportunity of my birthday to thank all our friends in Kano and Nigeria in general, people who over the years decided to take it upon themselves to organize certain activities on October 21 of every year to commemorate the birth of our Movement through visits to orphanages and the prisons to support the needy; the lectures and symposium as well as other innovations. I want to say that this young men and women are organizing it on their own even when I’m not in government; I’m happy that they’ve kept the tradition of ensuring that the Kwankwasiyya day is celebrated. And it is just by coincidence that they decided to use my birthday to celebrate Kwankwasiyya. They have done it many times in Kano and today even when I’m hardly in Kano; they still feel they should celebrate what has been achieved so far. We will continue to pray for our state and country so that things will continue to move in positive directions for the benefit of all of us.
In the last years, we decided to come together in Kano with people of like minds to see if we can have an ideology and, of course, an identity so that we can check ourselves to ensure that whether in government or out of it our members across the state and in the country do the right thing. That was exactly what we started.
If you look at our first term, we did so much in terms of infrastructure, human development, among others. And even after I left office for eight years, the good people of Kano decided to vote for me again in the same party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) through which I lost in 2003. Of course in 2003, we had a lot of challenges, especially sentiments. I remember in the election of that year, it was the only time the presidential and governorship elections were fixed for the same day; and it was the era of Sharia in the Northern part of the country when people whip up a lot of sentiments. Our presidential candidate was a Christian from the South and that of the opposition was somebody from our backyard of Kano. That was used effectively against us but we stood by our candidate and party. That is all history now; we reorganized again and re-contested on the same platform of the PDP in 2011 and despite all the challenges at the national level against us from the leadership our party, and of course the sitting government at that particular time, we won the election due to the support we got from young men and women and people with good intentions.
From 2003 to 2011, I was opportune to be the minister of defense; I was also opportune to be member of NNDC representing the North-West, and I was able to do so many other things within the period. But above all, I was able to reflect on what we did wrong and right when we were in government and tried to avoid areas of weaknesses of our first term. I’m very delighted that so much has been achieved. So far, in four years, we were able to do over 6,000 projects and programmes and if you divide that number by four years, you will know the arithmetic on what was done on the average on daily basis. We thank God for the opportunity to go back to Kano and above all at the end, people appreciated it to the extent that we now have 484 councilors, which is 100 percent. We have 100 percent in the state assembly; we have 44 local government chairmen; all 24 House of Representatives seats; we have governor and deputy and of course, a president elected on the platform of our party.
During the 2015 elections, what came from Kano was so significant in terms of support for President Muhammadu Buhari being in power today. So we did a lot for the people of Kano State and they appreciated by voting us again, because I was one of the three senators that were not only elected but got the highest number of votes - 760,000. So I will continue to be grateful to the people of Kano and we will continue to support them and the entire people of our great country so that we can have lasting peace.
What precisely did you do which you think the people of Kano cherish?
We have touched lives in all sectors in Kano State but we are particularly proud of what we did in the area of education. Within the period of four years, we have built more than 230 secondary schools and we are delighted to say that of this number, 44 are schools for Islamic studies, all boarding. There are 47 boarding technical schools. I’m opportune also to attend two out of the four technical schools we inherited in 2011 and none is any bigger than the 47. Fortyfour are brand new ones and we converted some buildings into technical schools. This is done to ensure that our children did not only go to school but those that are very relevant to today’s demands; we have sent so many to primary schools. I remember that we give primary school pupils lunch during the working days and even uniforms. We inherited about one million pupils but we left behind over three million. We built two boarding primary schools in Bunkure local government and I’m very delighted that we have done this. We built two special schools in Niger Republic one in Niamey and Damagaram in collaboration with that government on 50 - 50 basis of contribution of students and resources. I cannot also forget the special school we built for the children of the internally displaced persons in Borno State, where we enrolled 100 of them in Kano and there are doing well as we speak. I’m sure more would be brought in by our successor to save the children the consequences of the insurgency.
Also, so much has been achieved in the tertiary schools. During my first tenure, we established the state university of science and technology and by the time we left, there was students’ population of over 10,000. During our second term in 2012, we established North West University, one of the best government-owned institutions in the country; and I’m happy that we are able to establish those schools. By the time we were leaving, North West University has about 5,000 students and so much has been achieved by the institution. We also established 26 institutes which are functioning. Many of those who graduated from these institutes were sent to Uganda for further top up courses. We are happy to say the first set have graduated from the International University of Uganda with first class degrees. You could go on and on but what is even important to us is to be able to mobilize people and get them to send their children to schools under our circumstances. In addition to that, we sent about 3,000 young men and women of Kano State origin to 14 countries across the world. Many of them have since returned. We gave scholarships in universities that are ready to give us discount and for those who are unable to complete their programmes before we left office, our government is continuous; I am sure the present administration would continue to meet its obligation.
Even locally, we have done a lot by sending our young people to different universities across the country. We sent 400 to a private university in Katsina - AlKalam University; we sent 300 students to Bells University in Otta; 300 to Crescent University in Abeokuta; 250 to Igbinedion University in Edo State and 25 to America University in Yola.
These are all private universities that we thought children of the poor should benefit from. In addition to that, we supported some federal universities. We built 300-bed capacity hostel in the Usumanu Danfodio University, Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello University and University of Maiduguri. All these were done to support them so that they could admit our students. I’m happy to say that at the end of my tenure anybody who had the requisite qualification had a place in state, private or federal universities in Nigeria and of course abroad. We had to go through the radio and television to appeal to anybody who has the qualification to come forward to be admitted into any university of their choice.
How did you come up with this Kwankwasiyya ideology?
I’m happy that we came up with this Kwankwasiyya ideology where we can have identity -the red cap on white gown or jumper and of course the black shoe. It was the colour and identity of the defunct Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) which the late Aminu Kano was noted for and we were his students politically. We learnt so much from him and we believed in his ideology. Not only that we believed it was the ideology that would help not only Kano but our society to move forward, the ideology is simple. We call it democratic humanism; an ideology that gives priority to the needy, the very young, the very old, the poor and sick who cannot help themselves and that was our topmost priority.
Ours was an ideology aimed at supporting them; supporting their children to go to school; creating employment for them; providing them with basic amenities, and giving them a sense of belonging and capacity to participate in the modern economy. And you know the poor are in the majority; and politics is a game of number which is why the ideology is good for all. So, we were able to convince the masses of our state, get their trust and support based on our integrity. That was why we were always wining at any given time irrespective of the platform we chose to use.
I remember I contested 14 elections; I lost two -the 2003 governorship election and presidential primary that I contested with President Buhari in Lagos. Yes, I didn’t get the ticket but I believe if you look at the figures, it was a big victory for myself. Nobody expected that I will come second under our circumstances but from the result, you can see that our support cuts across the country. This shows that we had people who believed in us.
Engr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso