THE NEW FACE OF KANO AND CHALLENGES OF CONTINUITY

By

Zaharaddeen Ibrahim Kallah

zikallah@gmail.com

Twitter @ Zaharaddeenik

 

Kano state is one of the famous and great cities in the world that has been blessed with abundant human and natural resources. The city started long ago with arrival of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa, who worked very hard to make it great. Kano is now the commercial nerve center in the whole West Africa. According to the 2006 census, Kano is the most populous state in Nigeria, with about 9,383,682 million people.

The first phase of development in Kano could be traced back to the era of its traditional leadership. Traditional rulers were the people who strategised everything for Kano based on its needs at the particular time. They accommodated migrants that came along with their own skills in other areas of craftsmanship to offer for the economic development of Kano. Their foresight and large heart had led to a significant role in establishment of new industries and enhancement of others that have been in existence. As a result of that Kano have exceled in professions such as blacksmithing, weaving, dying, tanning and farming among others. It was on record that even as early as 6th to 7th century, the Dala basement provided Kano with its first urban cluster.

With advent of colonialism in Nigeria, colonial masters in collaboration with the traditional rulers brought another phase of development in Kano. New cities within and outside Kano were created, while others were expanded and moved outside the walled city. The colonial masters had begun with a plan for mini water and power plan, roads network, hospitals, housing estates and schools to cater for the need at that particular time. Rail line was linked up with the sea to facilitate the movement of cash crops and other mineral resources needed by the western world.

After the Nigerian’s independence in 1960, series of development has been taking place in Kano even before 1967, when Kano was given its autonomy as a new state. Its first Governor under military regime, late Audu Bako has done a great job to the state. At his time, major roads were dualised, he had laid down modern landmark structures to give the state a new look, and also undertook reforms of the local government.

His other legacies included the creation state government secretariat, Audu Bako School of Agriculture, creation of dams to support irrigation farming, housing estates, establishment of primary and secondary teachers training colleges for women. His first plan for developing and promoting tourism in the state gave room for building of the Rock Castle Hotel on top of rock to host her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, creation of the Kano state zoological garden and many more.

Kano state has witnessed a number of politicians who had played in the game of power, the legitimate game to select number one citizen of the state. Today history would never forget the contributions of children of Kano, who had been in power or had influenced decisions and elections. People like Mal. Aminu Kano, Abba Mai Kwaru, Magaji Dambatta, Mudi Spikin, Dr. Abubakar Rimi, Sabo Bakin Zuwo, Abdu Dawakin Tofa, Kabiru Gaya, Eng. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Ibrahim Shekarau and many more up to the present era of Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

With the returns of democracy in Nigeria from 1999 to date, Kano has reshaped its self to maintain its leading role in the Nigerian democracy. Its unique style of politics with population of highly motivated politicians cannot be overemphasised. These endowments have always made Kano to influence elections and lead the nation’s democracy. The new shape of Kano in terms of facilities, influence and population would continue to pave way for the state if properly harnessed.

In the second tenure of Kwankwaso’s administration, no one will take away the credit of new face of Kano from him. His defeat in 2003 election, by former Governor, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau has taught him a lesson to leave legacies that would be remembered for. Now, Kwankwaso has written his name with an ink of gold. I am sure the bitter taste of defeat he experienced had made him to implement his leadership’s manifesto, no matter what it will cause him or the state when he was voted for the second term.

Today, Kano witnessed massive dualisation of its roads, constructions of overhead and underpass bridges, creation of more streets light, creation of new cities, scholarship for citizens of the state to study both at home and abroad, creation of two state universities, creation of Governor’s college, First lady’s college, Nursing and midwifery, additional higher institutions and so on.

Education as the best ingredient of development cannot be achieved when state ignores its responsibility. I salute Kano state government for taking a giant stride in the development of education, at least in the next decade or so the state will benefit from its investment. When over three thousand undergraduate and postgraduate students are through with their scholarship, Kano would start enjoying the fruits it sowed.

In particular, I want to commend the provision of streets light as a means of enhancing security in the state. Today some roads that have been known as a danger zone are no longer problem. The development has equally boosted the economy of the settlers along the road. Some days back I came out for strolling along BUK/Gwarzo road in the night. What I observed really impressed me, apart from shops that have been running; I saw other businesses that are hardly run in the night. For example, vulcanizers are everywhere along the road. Similarly, students are also utilising the light, beside the Qur’anic school along the road that doesn’t need to power their generator anymore.

Two years ago when late Emir of Kano, Alhaji Dr Ado Bayero was alive, he paid a homage visit to the then Governor of Kano, during Hawan Nassarawa festival. In his speech, the late Emir commended the state for the provision of streets light. According to the late Emir, he left Paris to Kano and arrived in the night. Upon looking down at the city of Kano from his flight, the glittering of lights in brilliant flashes made him to assume he was still in Paris. May the soul of our beloved Emir rest in perfect peace. This is an example of how Kano is genuinely changing to meet the world’s standard.

The foundation for development in Kano has been laid for years, but it faces serious challenges. Those in the steering seat lack the culture of continuity, simply because of differences in political party and ideology. This problem has seriously affected the growth and the development of Kano, leading to waste of resources. Today many projects were either neglected or failed to meet the objectives of its creation. For example, the dams created by late Audu Bako were abandoned. Similarly, Abubakar Rimi ultra-modern market was also abandoned after spending huge state’s resources.

Though, the blame has to be shared between the military regimes and the democratic governments. But, our politicians are largely to be blamed, because they have been brought to power through democracy. For instance, Kwakwaso administration inherited the constructions of two hospitals at Giginyu and Zoo road by Shekarau administration, but the projects were ignored. And at the end of the day, it’s the people of Kano that have been affected by the decision.

With the declined of oil revenue in Nigeria, it is challenging for Kano state to maintain the status of its development without reviewing its sources of income and expenditure. In particular, the educational sector as the most important and the focus of the state is not free from these challenges. Apart from students that are on state’s scholarship home and abroad, Kano is running two state universities, colleges of education, polytechnics, schools of nursing and other higher institutions of learning.

The state under Kwankwaso administration established additional schools of nursing, and many more institutes in various field. Even if one isolated the primary and secondary schools in the state, the demand from these institutions are enormously high. The Executive Governor of Kano, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje was reported by the media to have said that the state owes its students about three billion for scholarship and payment of their registration fees. This is a serious challenge that needs to be addressed.

Similarly, looking at the status of the uncompleted projects that need urgent attention of the state in this current situation of decline on federal government grant is something to give pressure. The Murtala Muhammad way overhead bridge of about 1.7 km that has been said to be the longest in West Africa is waiting for money to be completed, the power plant projects at Tiga and Chalawa dams that have been planned to provide power to the streets light and other government agencies, five kilometre roads in each local government areas are still in the pipeline.

On 2nd June, 2015 a 10-man Committee on Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) was set up by the Kano State Government, to critically examine all aspects of internal revenue generation in the state. The creation of this committee was as a result of dwindling revenue accruing in the whole nation, which has affected the whole tiers of government. The committee has submitted its report, and I am sure it has looked at the other sources of funds that have been ignored for a long time. But the truth of the matter at this time, Kano state must as a matter of emergency cut off unnecessary spending that can give room for corruption.

I commended the Governor of Kano, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje for cutting down the number of ministries in the state by merging others with related ministries. The process has to go beyond that, its pertinent to block all the loopholes where government revenue and fund are sinking. This is a government for change, a government that has too much expectation from its citizens. The same measure that has been taken by the Buhari administration at the federal level is paying off. Today many people are afraid to take or give corruption, simply because of fear of being caught.

These measures when strictly followed would help the state to continue implementing its outstanding projects and other new projects that are crucial to the state. At the 5th Kano State Executive Council Meeting, a Chinese construction firm, CCECC Nigeria Limited had presented a proposal for Kano Rail Mass Transit Project. I can’t wait to see this project going on in my state, because of its economic value in providing convenient and affordable transport. This is a welcome development that would make Kano to reach a greater height of advancement. In the developed world, rail mass transit is the commonest transportation that can be found in London, Paris, Moscow, and Berlin. For this dream to be achieved, we have to be realistic by stopping all types of corruption and mismanagement of resources.

In conclusion, I am advising the administration of Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje to consider implementing all the outstanding projects inherited from his predecessor. Though, it may consume huge amount of resources, but it will benefit the state and he will definitely take its credit.

He also needs to be serious on anti-corruption and be ready to penalise defaulters. We need change of attitudes; we need to raise the hope of our dear state by boosting the spirit of its citizens. If we can do away with corruption in all level of administration it would no doubt solved more than half of our problems.

Lastly, he needs to appoint only people who are worth running the office he might appointed them. These are the only people that can help him to deliver and achieve his vision and missions. As someone who has worked in various sectors, he knew very well where to found these people. By doing that, he should ignore all the hearsay and gossip of those that never see things right.

Zaharaddeen I. Kallah works with the Bayero University, Kano. He was former Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Kano State Branch.

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