March 24, 2023

New Governors Series: Abba Yusuf, man who upset Ganduje’s structure in Kano

Abba Yusuf

Abba Yusuf

The Kano state governor-elect, Abba Yusuf of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, who won the March 18 governorship election with 1,019,602 votes to defeat Yusuf Gawuna of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who scored 890,705 votes, has upset the incumbent Governor Abdullahi Ganduje’s structure in Kano.

Yusuf’s victory comes four years after contesting against Ganduje in 2019 in a fiercely fought and controversial election, which similarly culminated in supplementary polls.

Recall that Ganduje had steered the politics of Kano for the past eight years, with intense skirmishes, one of which saw the end of the reigns of former Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and creation of more emirates in the state.

The NNPP, in addition to the victory at the governorship poll, also won 23 state assembly seats, as well as two Senate and 17 House of Representatives seats.

Yusuf is the preferred candidate of Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former governor of Kano and presidential candidate of the NNPP in the 2023 presidential election.


An accomplished politician, Yusuf was born to the family of Malam Kabiru Yusuf and Malama Khadijatul-Naja’atu in Gaya Local Government Area of Kano State on 5th January 1963. Abubakar (nicknamed Abba, which became his official name) started his Islamic education at an early age under the guidance of his late grandfather, Danmakwayon Kano, Alhaji Yusuf Bashari, who was the then District Head of Gaya.

He attended Sumaila Primary School between 1968 and 1975. He then proceeded to Government Secondary School Dawakin Tofa and later moved to Government Secondary School Lautai in Gumel, where he completed his secondary education in 1980.

Young Yusuf gained admission into the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, in the defunct Gongola State, where he bagged his National Diploma (ND) in Civil Engineering in 1985 and later obtained a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Civil Engineering with a specialization in Water Resources/Environmental Engineering in 1989 at the famous Kaduna Polytechnic. He served the mandatory one-year National Youth Service, NYSC, at Kaduna Environmental Protection Agency (KEPA) from 1989 to 1990.

His quest for knowledge pushed him to pursue higher certificates. Yusuf obtained a postgraduate diploma in management and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the prestigious Bayero University, Kano.

Abba, a lover of nature and books, is married with two wives, children and grandchildren.

An experience public servant, Yusuf began his career with the Kano State Water Resources Engineering and Construction Agency (WRECA), Kano State Water Board and later the Ministry of Water Resources, where he held various positions of leadership.

He also held some political appointments: Assistant Secretary, Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Employees, Kano State, 1996–1998.

In 2003, he was appointed as the Deputy Director of Mobilisation for Youths, Women and Students Movement by the PDP Presidential Campaign.

He was appointed as Personal Assistant to the then Kano State Governor, Dr. Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso and later Special Assistant (Administration) between 1999 and 2003.

When Kwankwaso was appointed as the Minister of Defence, Yusuf was appointed his Personal Assistant from 2003 to 2006.

He became Publicity Secretary of the Forum of Personal Assistants to Honourable Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 2004 to 2006.

Yusuf later became the Special Assistant to the Special Adviser to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Darfur/Somalia until 2007. He was the Ex-Officio I of the Kano State PDP Executive Council in 2009.

Yusuf was appointed by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as Chairman, Governing Board of the National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), Ondo state, from 2009 to 2011.

In 2011, when Kwankwaso won the election as the governor of Kano state for the second time, Yusuf was appointed as the First Principal Private Secretary (PPS) to the governor, and subsequently appointed as the Commissioner for Works, Housing and Transport.
At 60, Abba is one of the new kids on the block when it comes to governorship in Nigeria. With his experience in public service and the backing of a political gladiator, political and performance paradigms should be interesting to watch in Kano