Quick Facts

For day three, The Candidates hosted Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), and his running mate, Isaac Idahosa.

One of the important goals of the NNPP is to build an expansive security outfit for Nigeria. The party’s manifesto titled, “My Pledges To You”, has promised to recruit 750 thousand people into the armed forces and increase the police force to one million people.

At the two-hour session on Saturday, both of them were interviewed by Kadaria Ahmed. 

Here are the interesting bits of what they said, as promised.

What key areas did they focus on?

Kwankwaso started off by reeling out his achievements. He’s a two-term governor of Kano state, a former senator, and former Minister of Defense. He spoke about his record in education which saw him provide scholarships for thousands of Kano students. 

He also mentioned that his government provided free education for doctors. In one instance, he said his administration awarded 300 doctors a scholarship, noting that only 45 of them were male, highlighting his commitment to giving women more opportunities.

He said he was proud of having been in government for many years without a scandal to his name which he said others couldn’t boast of and claimed that he ran his government without accumulating debts or borrowing any money.

What interesting things did he say?

Kwankwaso spoke on his role in Nigerian politics, having aspired to the presidency under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC). “I was a founding father of the APC”, he said. He added, “When we started PDP, we wanted to bring many people on board”. 

On the NNPP’s ideology, his response was vague. He said,  “We want to see how to make Nigeria a better place for everybody”. He highlighted two issues he says are troubling the economy. How to make money into the treasury, and how to spend it.

On restructuring, he said that while he believes in it, he also believes that the reason people are clamouring for it is due to “system failures”. He hopes to address these once elected. If people still want things like state police after he assumes office, he says he’ll listen.

Kwankwaso said the number of police officers in Nigeria is too small and he wants to expand it to one million. The host, Kadaria responded that doing that would cost the government trillions of naira and asked how he planned to fund it. 

His response was that he would plug the gaps in Nigeria’s oil earnings and noted that Nigeria’s oil quota has dropped from 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd), to around one million. He plans to fix that and use the money to fund security.

He added that he also wants to ensure free education, mopping out the 20 million out-of-school children from the streets. 

Any controversy?

Kwankwaso was careful to stay off any controversial issues. For example, he didn’t touch on the farmer-herder clashes. He was asked about the right to self-determination and whether he would free Nnamdi Kanu. Kwankwaso said he won’t speak on it as the matter is in court.

He also wasn’t clear on whether he would remove the petrol subsidy. Kwankwaso has said in the past that he will “review” it.

Kwankwaso was pressed on allegations by current Kano governor, Abdullahi Ganduje that his scholarship scheme was fraudulent. He was also quizzed about leaving heavy debts for his successor. Kwankwaso denied those claims, saying he paid scholarships in advance and asked anyone with proof otherwise to come see him.

Kwankwaso was asked to comment on statements he made about Igbo people that were found belittling. He appeared to laugh them off as though he was misquoted. 

An important question of whether he was a spoiler in the 2023 race was raised. His response was that INEC already announced plans of a runoff (a second election when the first one provides no clear winner) which showed his party was a force. 

His words: “Give us till January next year then you will see the real party in the game. The so-called three big parties are losing ground and there’s absolutely nothing they can do to stop this trend.”

What were reactions like?

His supporters in the audience said Kwankwaso gave a good showing. One of them, Abubakar told me, “I hope you’re now convinced about Kwankwaso”. 

Pundits on the show had varied reactions. Professor Ladi Adamu said the strength of Kwankwaso’s candidacy was that he had no certificate issues — ouch — and that his choice of running mate was well balanced. 

Emeka Madunagu, a journalist, praised Kwankwaso’s experience in politics. He however, called his manifesto vague and unclear on issues like the exchange rate regime. 

For Gbolahan Olojede, a public affairs analyst, he liked that Kwankwaso’s manifesto had special focus on the environment, something he said other manifestos didn’t dwell much on. He however faulted Kwankwaso’s plan on education subsidy. He said, “Subsidy should be targeted at the right people. Free education will overburden the government. Let those who can afford to, pay for their education.”

This brings us to the end of day three of ‘The Candidates’. If you’d like to learn more about ‘The Candidates’, Citizen will be providing exclusive coverage for the duration of the town halls.

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