Unmasking the Kano Masquerades


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Unmasking The Kano Masquerades




Jaafar Jaafar




September 9, 2006


The greatest mistake, the brunt of which the good people of Kano had to bear was, no doubt, the voting of the present corrupt and duplicitous government, aka Shekarau Administration. I say so not because Kano people are incurably impossible lot, but because of the administration’s brazen clumsiness in handling our affairs and the masking of their incompetence with religion. We, therefore, will never forget the governor’s tenure of nothingness, the years of embezzlement, the reign of misplacement of priorities, the rule of ineptitude, the term of enthronement of cronyism, the period of crass nepotism, the era of corruption. A government without plans or focus. A government that flirts with the welfarist and egalitarian nature of the real Shariah but palmed “political Shariah” off on credulous Muslim masses in exchange for their votes. A government that is busy buffeting on our treasury with the elite and cronies just the way Warren Buffet’s wealth is buffeted by the needy. Like it or not, Kano made an embarrassing swing from a State that hitherto prides itself on its Groundnut Pyramids to a State that now prides itself on its signposts and tricycles as they are the only visible “achievements” the present government so far achieved in more than three years in the saddle. Shame!


Any visitor to Kano nowadays will be struck by about four culture shocks. The first culture shock is these “achievements” – some countless signposts and equally countless yellow tricycles. I write not about the governor’s signposts/billboards today but rather about other “achievements” like these yellow tricycles bearing some silly inscriptions “A DAI DAI TA SAHU” that littered and choked the metropolitan roads with their ugly bodyworks. The second culture shock is when the visitor is shown the price of each of the refurbished tricycles (even though I am acquainted with their financial recklessness, my heart sinks when I set my eyes on the figures). Each was bought at a cost of N630,000.00! The third culture shock is to tell the visitor the price of the brand new Keke NAPEP (bought by the “corrupt FG”), which is sturdier, spacious, and can be retrofitted with 1.8-litre car engine but, to our surprise, relatively cheap – it cost N180,000. Dear reader, can you use your money (I mean not the useless suya wrappings called public funds) to buy that old yellow tricycle at the cost of say N100,000? The fourth culture shock is when this patient visitor is given a guided tour of a big garage opposite Orion Cinema, Kofar Wambai, to see the wreckage of the tricycles that collapsed like a pack of cards.


Of course, as things seem to unfold, every right-thinking indigene of Kano should be worried sick about the way the government runs its affairs. In a way, one gets stunned by the way the government embraces propaganda and deception as if articles of faith. Moreso, when one watches a silly circus where by a governor lured some avaricious religious teachers to leave the grace of the preaching ground for the grass of the Hisbah parade ground. Not in their usual flowing gowns but in a hilarious Hisbah uniforms with no books in their hands to preach, but rather with stun guns in their hands to torture their erstwhile students. A total of N 226,936,760.00 was spent on this institution in only one year (2004), as I managed to glean. And recently one of the governor’s propagandists completes my quest for the data with an affront on our intellect as he avowed that they spend about one hundred million naira on Hisbah monthly. Hear the insult: “…Is this not achievement?” He rhetorically asked as if nothing was amiss. So going by his disclosure, it means that more than N3 billion is spent on them recurrently (forget their huge capital grants) in 3 years! Pray, what benefit (religious or whatever) is Hisbah bringing to the generality of Kano people? The institution is only beneficial to the governor who created them as a stratagem for winning election. I’m sure no any governor (sane that is) will call this colossal wastage achievement. Some may say I am critical of Shariah. I’m not, but rather of some corrupt vested interests that play politics with Shariah. I say so because I am sure the chief promoter of the “Shariah” would not make the supreme sacrifice to save his “Shariah” project from bashing. Can he put us to shame, stand to reason, remove the ‘mask’ and solemnly say: As a sacrifice to show the cynics that Shariah is not for votes but for Allah, I hereby forsake my ambition to contest for re-election. He can’t. So I think the cynics capture the moral high ground.


Beside the Hisbah discomfiture, and to further gain the support of the ulamas given the role they played in the previous elections as campaign managers, and to tighten his political grip and earn their blessings, the governor gave them, through “Shariah” commission, contracts for the supply of Dala’ilu and other Islamic books amounting to N127,429,930.30 in 2004, while twice this amount was also used on a similar venture in the subsequent years. I asked some Islamiyya teachers in my neighborhood (Kawaji Quarters) if they ever stumbled on these books, they answered in the negative. Take Zakkat commission as another example, about N108,175,348.99 was spent on the commission (not the Muslim masses, take note) in 2004 alone. But the commission only realized, as their records show, N11,323,347.46 in the whole “Centre of Commerce.” Therefore the government had to make some face-saving addendum of N25,318,000.00. But what I learned on good authority was that the commission realized not more than N1,000,000!  A source close to one of the top members of the commission said that it is this embarrassment that made one principled member (an izala chieftain) to resign from the commission.


Since you cannot force the rich to give Zakkat to the needy as Islam stipulates because you are aware that such action is contrary to the Constitution, then I see no reason for spending public funds on the commission. My argument is that if ever the overheads of say Education Tax Fund (ETF) surpassed the tax it collects, then it wouldn’t have been in existence because it was similar motive that gave birth to the Customs Service whose overheads is nothing more than a chicken feed compared with their net income. 


Not that alone, just last year the governor went far away Nigerian Military School, Zaria (NMS), with no iota of respect for public funds as usual, to build them a parking lot (because all our problems are solved). The project cost N15,943,151.47. The bottom line for this “interstate achievement” is the fact that his pampered son was at that time a student of the school, and wanted the parking lot built. The pity of it is that many, if not all, of the public schools in the State have no enough chairs. The students mainly sit on a badly-damaged floor. And that amount, I’m told, would have at least made thousands of the less privileged pupils laugh their ways to school, for it can fill the bare potholed floor on which they sit.


Kano, no doubt, is under the sway of a prodigal governor who embezzles the public funds as if he wins a jackpot. It didn’t, perhaps, occur to masquerades that the “oil boom” is not permanent; nor did they care that Kano tops the poverty index of the country and is scored low in almost all the local and international indexes; nor did it matter to the ostrich that he did not solve our major problems because he buries his head in the splendor of the Government House leaving the masses in the squalor of the slums. Such are the genre of the neo-shariah leader (masquerading as a saint) who still had the effrontery to tell the people that he wants tazarce in a different mask he calls Allah mai mai ta mana. This is what we are witnessing today in Kano – all their atrocities are cleverly code-named and re-christened, and their reports are jumbled together to conceal a lot fact, or rather, on many occasions, cut corners to hoodwink the gullible masses.


By design or by default, the mask was, during the last Easter recess, removed when the governor got married to a society lady. The alleged shotgun wedding cost the taxpayers a whopping N46,552,352.66 to build two-bedroom extension in the Government House for the bride. Many more millions were also squandered on some secret pageantry, lavish honeymoon and a take-all-you-want shopping spree with the sobriquet “trip to woo investors.” This, I reliably gathered, gulped more than twice that amount. As if that not enough, the governor felt emasculated enough to demolish a whole house (GP 572) and its Boys Quarters at Borno Avenue (don’t ask me the fate of the occupant, a seniour civil servant) because the new bride allegedly asked our governor to give her a house in the GRA. The GP that was hitherto in that highbrow area was shamelessly “relocated” to far away Hotoro slum (with the new name GP810). This mechanical decision to “relocate” the house also gulped several millions. Many people were dismayed and felt for the masses who had to bear the full cost of these jamborees just because their governor has no husbandry of the public funds he flaunts at his behest. Having however come of age, the governor wants to mai mai ta (repeat the corruption).


Experts, considering the underdevelopment and monumental wastages (for that is what it is) recorded in the last three years, have argued several times that the government put on itself the burden that it cannot carry, and its level of achievement is not commensurate with its earnings as Dr Shamsuddeen Usman of the CBN remarked trenchantly in this regard. It is quite appalling to hear that instead of embracing the views of this celebrated banking guru of our soil, the government got irritated and threatened to bungle the recommendations of the recently held Kano Economic Summit he chaired. With the about N200 billion the government received, you could imagine the infrastructural development these super billions could have put in place; you would expect well-marked illuminated streets, modern hospitals, functioning industries, quality education, etc. But alas, that was, however, not to be. The only remarkable thing you could not miss is the well-marked beaming face of the governor; smiling and basking in the cheers of those he willfully kept unemployed – and uneducated. I am worried to remember that Kano is blessed with arable land that could enhance youth employment and bring economic prosperity to the state when explored. But the painful paradox is that such exalted gift is taken for granted. All you could unfortunately hear in this regard is multi-billion-naira fertilizer scams that occur perennially because where there’s muck there is always brass! Our dreams of a multi-billion-naira groundnut project, irrigation project or independent power project (that will wake up our industries) during this unprecedented abundance have gone, like the billions, down the drain.


In conclusion, I will like to draw the attention of Kanawa to know that Shekarau is not responsive to the masses but to some venal aristocrats who will today give Kano a phantom gift of some millions and be awarded tomorrow with multi-billion-naira contracts to tricyclly fertilize their pockets. Farmer without a single bag of fertilizer while a billionaire contractor gleefully holds his bag of billions. Pity. They (aristocrats) it was who recently stopped the patriotic move of the State Assembly to unmask the masquerades and rescue Kano from this financial catastrophe. They halted the move purely for their own interests. EFCC should hurriedly unmask the masquerades and their cohorts who torment our progress under the guise of their vote-spinner project (political Shariah) before more damages are done.


The wisdoms of these unprecedented wastages, plunder, rip-off, duplicity, masquerading and deception could have been unimpeachable if our taps (like those that are meant for flowers in the Government House) are running, quality education (the like of which they use public funds to give their children) is given to the less privileged, our roads are tarred and affordable healthcare is available to the poor. The fact is that almost all the governors we have today are corrupt but nonetheless, some still contrive to lace their corrupt acts with some meaningful projects that often belie their crooked deals without recourse to wearing politico-religious mask to disguise their incompetence. My burning indignation is that other governors, typically mine, have, to quote Leonardo Da Vinci, “… made a trade of delusions and false miracles, deceiving the stupid multitude” without doing anything meaningful. So if the jihad they launch on public funds continues, corruption persists, collecting ‘Euroed’ kickbacks goes on, and indeed the masks still remain without significant improvement in the social welfare of the masses, we should also launch jihad on them as Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said in a hadith reported by Ibn Majah in his Sunan, that the best form of jihad is to tell the words of truth to an oppressive leader. Of this, the truth should be put rather bluntly – a looter must not continua.



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