By Alhaji Prince Shuaibu Abubakar Audu
A colossus was born on this day, 64 years ago, born in the remote village of Kwakwanso in what is today part of Madobi Local Government of Kano. On that fateful day of October 21, 1956 no one would believe that he would grow up to become an enigma of sorts who would not only be a consummate administrator but also a political colossus and a bridge builder who would further turn out to be a unifier in a country as diverse as Nigeria.
Named Rabiu by his parents, Kwankwanso has continued to excel in all areas of human endeavours that providence and opportunity have conspired to thrust on him and he continued to prove his mettle, no wonder he has emerged in the nation’s political filament as a recurring decimal.
As with little kids destined for greatness, the young Rabiu was to combine the training that he received both in the Islamic and Orthodox (formal) education to impact his fellow human beings positively. But his foray into politics have come to signpost the quality of training that he received from great scholars and institutions of learning.
Having served in the civil service of his native state of Kano, he made a bold entry into politics in 1992 when joined the now defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) he was elected into the Federal House of Representatives representing Madobi Federal Constituency. Not only that, he got elected the deputy speaker, a feat that was to thrust him into national political limelight.
With the abortion of the stillbirth Third Republic, he staged a return when he was elected into the 1995 Constitutional Conference as a delegate from Kano. His loyalty and contributions soon earned him accolades hence his subsequent election as the Kano State governor on the banner of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Though he lost re-election bid to his main rival, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau of the now defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2003, Kwakwanso later staged a comeback to power four years later after having had to rejig his political structure, which he christened The Kwankwassiya Movement.
Like a man set against time, Kwakwanso during his second coming embarked on a massive and aggressive programme of modernisation of the state through provision of infrastructure such as roads, hospitals and schools. Unlike those before him, he embarked on a programme of training the youths for professional skills acquisition by sending them overseas to study abroad.
By the time he exited office in 2015, Kwakwanso had to his credit, the establishment of about 230 secondary schools out of which 47 are technical colleges, 44 School 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.
He awarded over 2,600 postgraduate and undergraduate foreign scholarships to about 14 countries across the world. This is in addition to the local private University scholarship in Nigeria.
In the area of infrastructure he constructed three flyover bridges in the Kano metropolis to ease vehicular movement. These edifices were further complemented by five kilometers of dual carriage lighted roads in each of the 44 local government areas of the state.
It is to his credit that he built many houses and estates in both his first and second tenure in office. In all, no fewer than 1500 houses have been constructed and donated free to the rural poor communities and victims of flood disaster.
He also placed his expertise at the disposal of the larger Nigerian public when he served at various times as minister in charge of various ministries just as he was also a special envoy of the country to Darfur, Sudan.
On the political front, Kwakwanso forged friendship and alliances across the country in his bid to further demonstrate his sense of statesmanship. One of those who formed dependable alliances with him was late Prince Abubakar Audu, the first executive governor of Kogi State. He was a liberal minded politician, he named one of the flyover after my father in Kano metropolis. Such was Kwankwaso.
I remember the role played by Kwakwanso during the burial of my late father as well as the buffer of support that he has continued to render to the family in the demise of its breadwinner in 2015′ We remember the warmth and succor that his presence provided for the family in those trying times.
He was not only around to bid his bosom friend a befitting good bye, he also saw to it that he did all he could to ensure that our father had the best funeral passage. It is even important to stress that Kwakwanso is a bridge builder who doesn’t abandon his own, a rare attribute that is not very common in this part of the world.
The Prince Abubakar Audu family of Ogbonicha joins other well meaning Nigerians in wishing this rare and exceptional Nigerian happy 64th birthday celebrations.
Alhaji Prince Shuaibu Abubakar Audu write this piece from Lagos