Abba Kabir @58: Triple heritage of loyalty, the strength of character, and competence


By Ibrahim Musa

This day is worth getting the attention and celebration of all progressives and even those who wish Kano the best. It is the birthday of one of the most effective, resourceful, and loyal disciples of the Kwankwasiya movement cum ideology. Despite his reserved nature, Abba Kabir is now a household name as an heir-apparent to the Kano’s most accomplished democratic leader, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. Kwankwaso himself could not have been more proud of a mentee than Abba Kabir- a person he spent a significant part of life tutoring about all the necessary arts of statecrafts and enviable habits of effective leadership.

I have had the cause to discuss with some intellectuals about what is the most fulfilling thing for a great leader? Their answers appear to be similar because greatness comes together with a lasting legacy like a twinning effect. Therefore, it is natural that all great leaders crave immortality directly or indirectly, which they achieve indirectly through their legacies. For most Nigerian politicians, this concept has remained an elusive quest, except for a few such as Malam Aminu Kano, Chief Awolowo, and now our own Malam Kwankwaso. This trio selflessly approached governance as both servant leadership and mentoring, which left behind an enduring legacy. One thing unique to all these leaders is that they have passed the gene of greatness to many generations yet unborn and did not leave a vacuum in their leadership succession and sustainability plans. They also did not build their movements on crumbs and undeserved patronages but complete discipline and self-reliance.

To me, Kwankwaso is Abba, and Abba is Kwankwaso. This philosophical point can be difficult to digest by novices. When Kano people thronged polling booths and elected Abba as a governor (in an election robbed by APC with the federal might’s active connivance) against the incumbent Ganduje, they were voting for the legacy of Kwankwasiya. Abba is an integral part of that Kwankwasiya everlasting legacy. As the most efficient commissioner of works, Abba was singularly entrusted (by his mentor Kwankwaso) with supervising one of the most ambitious developmental efforts to transform Kano into a megacity since the time of Gov. Audu Bako. His fingerprints are now everywhere you would come across evidence of modernity and progressivism in Kano.

Abba is loyal (loyalty pays), efficient (efficiency is critical), competent (no doubt competency is irresistible), and of sound moral character (we know that character makes a difference). He is visionary, effective, firm (often ruthlessly firm in delivering good governance), and colorful yet unostentatious. He is eloquent yet reserved. But when he speaks, he reminds you of leaders like our golden voice Talafawa Balewa, Winston Churchill, and Barrack Obama. He has an undiluted royal blueblood, but his conduct can humble even the unfair critics. He won me over with his rigid simplicity and vision. For obvious reasons, he is allergic to corruption, nepotism, laziness, incompetence, and disloyalty.  He is traditional with a broad modern outlook like Al-Maktoum of Dubai. Kids, women, young, and elderly- as evidenced by his famous name “Abba Gida Gida,” all love him. And I asked myself, how did he achieve to represent all these sterling qualities and even more? The answer is not far-fetched. You only need always to remember that he represents the larger image of a great leader Kwankwaso.

At this juncture, let me join millions of admirers to wish you happy 58 glorious years and pray for more years of accomplishment. Our prayer is that you continue to lift the banner of Kwankwasiya to a greater height; perhaps Kano will get its desirable leadership comes 2023. May we live long to see the prophecy of Abba Gida Gida come to fruition.

Ibrahim Musa is a public commentator from Kano. He can be reached at or @docmuazzam on Twitter.

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