Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso is running for president in 2019. We just can’t keep this secret to ourselves any longer.

Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso 61st Birthday Cocktail Party (Pulse)
When Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso stepped into the Oriental Hotel in Lagos on Saturday, October 21, 2017, the entire place sprang into life.
He was making an appearance exactly how he had wanted to. This was all part of the script.

He had a handful of senators and House of Rep members behind him. He was making a statement without saying very much.

He was late for his own 61st birthday party but it was okay. In Nigeria, politicians and public officials often turn up late at ceremonies because it’s written somewhere in the ‘big man’ manual to show up way behind schedule for an event.

Kwankwaso answered a question or two from the media and made sure to personally greet and shake everyone who had lined up on the way to his seat. The event had been labelled as a ‘non-political gathering’ for the non-discerning.

As events unfolded, it soon became clear that the former Kano State Governor is beginning to set out his stall for another presidential run in 2019.

“Of course he’s running again”, one of the organisers of this red cap birthday party whispered to Pulse. “It’s why we put this together, but of course it’s not time to declare yet”.

The event itself was well attended but poorly publicized on purpose.

Kwankwaso made the red cap Kwankwasiyya movement popular in Kano during his second stint as Governor. From all indications, the Kwankwasiyya movement is beginning to seize the Southwest as well for obvious reasons. Almost everyone had a white agbada and red cap on—totems of the Kwankwasiyya movement.

“We’ve been given a target of one person converting 1,000 persons into Kwankwaso devotees ahead of the 2019 campaigns”, one banker told Pulse over juice and Kolanuts. “He’s still young by Nigerian standards. He’s just 61 this year and he’ll make a good president”.

As the event panned out, speaker after speaker stopped short of endorsing Kwankwaso for president. No one mentioned the words ‘president’ or ‘2019 campaigns’—not even Kwankwaso himself—but when the senators and Reps neared the end of their speeches, you could tell that’s why they all flew from Abuja to make their colleague’s cocktail birthday party.

A man of few words, Kwankwaso spoke for less than five minutes and then the cake cutting followed. It was a giant cake as well. More wine, more small chops and plenty of music from a live band.

Kwankwaso contested the APC presidential primary and polled second behind candidate Buhari in Lagos in 2014. The APC has just announced that anyone can contest the presidency on its platform and that President Muhammadu Buhari won’t be handed an automatic ticket should he consider a re-election.

Like you already know, the 2019 presidency has been zoned to the north of Nigeria by the two biggest political parties in the land. Meaning that Kwankwaso is in with a fighting chance.