Abdullahi Umar Ganduje OFR (born 25 December 1949) is a Nigerian politician who is currently serving as the Governor of Kano State. He took over office in 2015. He previously served as Rabiu Kwankwaso‘s deputy governor twice, between 1999 to 2003 and 2011 to 2015.
Ganduje was born in Ganduje village of Dawakin Tofa Local Government Area of Kano State in 1949.He started his early education in Qur’anic and Islamiyya school at his village, Ganduje, where he was trained in Islamic knowledge. He later moved to headquarters of his local government where he attended Dawakin Tofa Primary School from 1956 to 1963. Ganduje attended the prestigious Government College, Birnin Kudu from 1964 to 1968.
Ganduje attended Advanced Teachers’ College, Kano between 1969 and 1972. He then attended Ahmadu Bello University, located in Zaria, Kaduna State, where he graduated with a Bachelors in Science Education in 1975. In 1979 he obtained master’s degree in applied educational psychology from Bayero University Kano and later returned to Ahmadu Bello University from 1984 to 1985 for a Master of Public Administration degree. He received his doctorate in Public Administration from University of Ibadan in 1993.
Ganduje joined the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) during the Second Nigerian Republic and served as Kano State Assistant Secretary from 1979 to 1980. He contested the House of Representatives election in 1979 under the NPN but lost the election. Between 1984 and 1994, he held various government positions in the Federal Capital Development Authority, and in 1994 he became the Kano State Commissioner of Ministry of Works, Housing, and Transport.
In 1998, he joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and aspired to be the party’s gubernatorial candidate, in the primaries supervised by Tony Momoh, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila and Senator Bala Tafidan Yauri amongst others; he lost to Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
Ganduje was later picked as the deputy to Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso between 1999 and 2003. In addition to the deputy governorship, he was also appointed as the Commissioner for Local Government. From 2003 to 2007 he served as the Special Adviser (Political) to the Minister of Defence. Ganduje also served as executive secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission in Ndjamena.
In 2014, he was selected as the All Progressives Congress (APC) consensus candidate for the Governor of Kano State. He went on to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Malam Salihu Takai, with 1,546,434 votes against Takai’s 509,726 votes in the 2015 governorship election. On 29 May 2015, he was inaugurated as the Governor of Kano State, replacing his political mentor Rabiu Kwankwaso. During his first term, Ganduje fell out with Kwankwaso, who he accused of godfatherism. His tenure was also characterized by a series of clashes with Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II, who he investigated for financial recklessness. In 2019, he won re-election for a second term, defeating Kwankwaso’s son-in-law Abba Kabir Yusuf, in a controversial election marred with electoral malpractices.
In 2019, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje signed into law the creation of four new emirates. This unprecedented move saw the reduction of Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II’s traditional domain as emir. According to the law, the Kano emir will only preside over 10 local government areas out of the 44 in the state. In March 2020, the state legislature launched a new investigation on Sanusi for violation of traditional practices, this coming after a high court ruling restraining the corruption investigation against Sanusi. On March 9, 2020, Ganduje deposed and exiled Emir Sanusi, on the basis of alleged “insubordination and disrespect to lawful instructions from the office of the Governor”.