Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
Who Did This To Kano?
Jaafar S. Jaafar
March 18, 2006
Once upon a time, there lived a very rich woman. She had a spoilt son who was only 20. He was her first son. The parents loved and mollycoddled him. In Hausa society, it is believed that a first child is often dull, stupid or moron. To display the peak of the love to the gaping villagers, she engaged him two fine damsels. The marriages of convenience were scheduled to take place on the same day and time. After the gorgeous ceremony and unique solemnities, the two elegant wives settled on the same day and time. The dull boy was perplexed. He did not know where to start sleeping. He went back to his mother and asked “where on earth do I start sleeping?” inquired the young man. “I mean they came the same day,” he stressed. “The one that starts cooking,” the mother answered rather scornfully. “But you cooked today…!” The moron retorted empathically.
The fact that my octogenarian grandmother is a fountain of adages, anecdotes, sallies and humour is no exaggeration. Whenever the heart-rending politics of my state (that even makes me apathetic to national issues) bores me, I normally take solace in visiting her to get a dose or two of humour to please my otherwise worried psyche.
That evening, she was her usual jovial self. On entering, her favourite perfume, Dan Duala, murdered my 212 MEN and assaults my nose. Her clapped-out radio wedged askew on a large copper Kumbo she uses as ornament. No sooner had I bent in obeisance than an announcement came on air: One man was to marry two wives on the same day. On hearing that she chuckled, revealing the remaining 4 red canine teeth in the mouth and began to search the nooks and crannies of her somewhat Eidetic memory to churn out what turns out to be the above story. Sounds funny? May be yes. But the story goes beyond the narrow façade of laughter – there lies a way or two I will like to draw analogy between the young man and governor of my state.
Unlike the dull boy, Mallam’s pedigree was quite impressive: He was an astute educationist, a shrewd civil servant, a devout Muslim, a man of wit and wisdom, a loyal disciple and at last, a dogged politician. He rose from a classroom teacher to permsec. He was once an aide to billionaire philanthropist before he ventured into politics. Succinctly put, Mallam was a phenomenon. His being the Executive Governor of Kano State was not by fluke. He was a kind of person one would look into his testimonial and turn green with envy. The culmination of such feat may have endeared him to ANPP apparatchiks and Kano people. So no one would expect poor leadership or power drunkenness from a man of Shekarau’s calibre. But that was, however, not to be. If the boy’s remark could be called faux pas, Mallam’s could be pertinently termed as blunder, if not euphoria coupled with incredulous dilemma.
On ascension to power, perhaps overwhelmed by its enormity and the attendant intoxicants, Mallam allegedly asked his erstwhile employer, “where do I start?” Thus, between Kano people and the godfathers. “One that starts cooking [the idea of your candidature]” replied the bourgeois boss. “But you cooked [the idea]…,” Mallam (some may say moron) retorted.
The highest blunder started by the alleged award of N4 billion fertilizer contract to the ever-needy but philanthropist billionaire (who first cooked the idea) through a proxy. N4 billion, experts say, would have built a large fertilizer plant that could employ and turn many otherwise unproductive Hisbah boys into productive youths. Had this idea been mooted, experts opine, the millions being spent on them (Hisbah) concurrently (that make little or no output religiously or socially), and over a billion spent on both Hisbah and Adai dai ta sahu, were diverted to healthcare, the sorry state of our public hospitals would have changed for the better.
Unlike the spoilt boy who had sought his mother’s approval, in this case Mallam failed to copy from the boy: it was surprising that the whole Mallam did not know he had to request the approval of the State Assembly (even though briefcased) before spending (on whatever means) the famous N1.5 billion. If the former permsec pretends not to know this, then such ignorance is really lamentable.
When Mallam reached hundred days in office, many governors were at that time playing ducks and drakes with public funds to buy pages in the newspapers, billboards, posters, etc. Our once revered Mallam could but only say, “Mu gwamnatin mu bata ado bace.” (Our government is not ostentatious) He added, “we don’t need to display, for people to judge us.” Completely, Mallam condemned the ritual. But today, Mallam is adherent to the memorable dictum of late K.O. Mbadiwe: If you must be great, you must prepare to finance greatness. So in what may be termed as a sudden volte-face, Mallam ‘finances greatness.’ He is frequently featured in the press (sometimes colour supplement), on radio and billboards adorn the streets of Kano just like the beggars litter the streets. He is now master of profligacy – junkets, a galaxy of unnecessary advisers (too many cooks spoil the broth), flashy cars, misappropriation of resources, name it. So now, you’ll ask, what has changed? A lot. A kind of moral waltz, I suppose.
Another fault line of Shekarau administration is the stillborn ‘Shariah’ project which was specifically conceived to becloud his incompetence and ward off critics from opposing the government. Barring few among the cynics endowed with the third eye to read between the lines, many people wouldn’t have known it was not for God. And Allah will punish those who smear the image of Islam and toy with the issue of Shariah at the alter of polical gains. Why did he give people a runaround? Why is he mealy-mouthed about Shariah? Tell people point blank: unless the constitution is amended to empower Shariah court appeal as final arbiter of Shariah cases, period! But they can’t because they want reelection.
More disturbing, however, is using public money to sponsor political associates to pilgrimage while we have about 1.27 million beggars (minus hundreds of thousand handicaps) besieging petrol stations, rich residences, streets, restaurants, shopping centres and indeed private schools (where leaders take their children to) jostling to get a morsel or two. Pity. Sadness, anger, etches my face that our leaders have a heart of stone. My heart sinks when they say they have tackled the menace of Almajiranci. Shekarau’s role model (as he once boasted), Chaliph Umar (RTA), who ruled Islamic world (not Islamic state) from 634 to 644 AD did not eat food till everyone is satisfied.
The idea of sponsoring Kano indigenes for postgraduate studies would have been a good omen if due process is strictly observed. It would have helped if the scholarships are awarded meritoriously. It is amazing that none of the indigenes with low background had any access to one. Forget your hard earned 2:2, 2:1 or even 1:1 if you are ‘accidentally’ sired by a common man – you are destined to be an onlooker of a good life. Pity. Those who wallow in extreme abundance still need more, even at the expense of the poor folks who wallow in abject poverty. So these rich parents who have access to power or hold it, employ every brand of subterfuge to finagle the awards for their loved but often pass-degree-holding children – despite the fact that they can even sponsor them from their fat pockets. Since this hitherto abolished policy is reversed exclusively for their children, I hereby condemn the policy in its entirety and urge the government to abolish it.
Where these neo-Shariah leaders want to see us is by the roadside when they pass in their expensive jeeps. They bask in our cheers when we shout our selves hoarse: “Kano sai Mallam,” or “Ala mai mai ta mana.” (You will do it again) The unemployed youths now acquire ‘license’ of selling Marijuana, Roche and making other illicit deals by hoisting the flag of the party they belong. This earns them immunity to police harassment – the boys sale their wares with impunity. Clear examples of these areas are former PDP secretariat at Zoo Road (when PDP was in power). We expected Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau to abhor this ugly political game, but did not – we were dejected. And now they migrated to ANPP secretariat at Maiduguri Road, a place called Garden, otherwise known as Kuwait at Tarauni Quarters, various areas in the city, etc. As long as their children would not mingle with the ‘outcasts’ and they (the ‘dealers’) remain loyal, hence the ceaseless cheers, fine, the champion of Shariah loves it. Dash it! Makes one wish to wring somebody’s scrawny neck!
With the slightly close to N150 billion received as subvention from the Federal Government in barely 3 years (forget the internally generated revenue), one would expect well-marked, paved and illuminated streets; one would not expect to see our wretched brothers (Almajirai) roaming the streets; one would expect a quality education; one would not expect to see the youths by the roadside waiting to cheer the politicians; One would expect to turn his pump and see water gushed out (though they are undergoing one fine project); one would expect to see Independent Power Plant (though the matter is in theory). What they say they do with these princely billions is ‘human development project.’ Good! So lets take a look at the said project, so that a little analysis might help put us on track. Kano has about 70,000 workforce. It has an estimated population of 10 million. Quite all right, public servants and pensioners get their emoluments on time as well as some fringe benefits when the occasion so demands. Relatively speaking, Mallam deserves to be hailed. But before you start singing ‘Sai Mallam,’ something is indeed amiss… What did he do to better the lives of other millions, I mean the poor starving millions for whom affordable healthcare, access to good education, 3 square meals are still mirage? Are the masses not humans? If they are humans, then where lies the logic of Mallam’s ‘human development project? Come pals think!
I will quit asking: Who did this to kano? And I will rest my case when the said populists-orientated social welfare and husbandry of public resources are ensured. This is the time we, the poor folks (whose welfare is the reason you struggle so hard to be in government) will believe that you did not pay lip service to pre-election promises and blandishment. Indeed, it’s a clear index of good leadership, and I will doff my Damanga for him and join the chorus: “Kano Sai Mallam.”
Jaafar, a public affairs commentator, lives in Kawaji Quaters, Kano.
© 1999 - 2006 Segun Toyin Dawodu. All rights reserved. All unauthorized copying or adaptation of any content of this site will be liable to legal recourse.
Segun Toyin Dawodu, P. O. BOX 710080, HERNDON, VA 20171-0080, USA.
This page was last updated on 10/27/07.