By Mukhtar Yahya Usman
Rural communities in Nigeria are the most vulnerable societies whereby getting access to infrastructural amenities such as: good road networks, hospitals, clean water, schools and electricity has become an insurmountable challenge.
In Kano state, the level of government presence in rural areas is very negligible, making rural dwellers feel that they are second class citizens who do not deserve modern amenities that make life more comfortable.
Despite billions of naira allocated to the 44 local government areas of the state monthly from federation account, if you go to rural areas you will hardly find tangible projects that merit the amount received.
Due to the policy of keeping joint accounts where state governments take over local government allocation, the money meant for rural communities is being diverted to Kano metropolis, which is dotted by flyovers and underpasses.
Moreover, epileptic electricity supply which is a general problem in Nigeria is worse in many villages across Kano state.
In some villages, electricity may be available only for a cumulative 24 hours monthly for those who have access, a situation that makes life in the rural areas difficult and unattractive to youths.
Poor project execution
Critics assert that various governments, right from Kwankwaso in 1999, to Ganduje in 2018, have introduced various programs for rural people which have not see the light of the day as a result of corruption, favoritism and carelessness.
Nowadays, most rural dwellers in Kano cannot afford three square meals or clean water to drink, making many to troop to Kano city to beg while some little girls who are supposed to be in schools roam the streets hawking.
During the second term of former Kano state governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso 2011 – 2015, he initiated some massive infrastructural development in some rural areas, which include construction of five-kilometer roads in each of the 44 local government areas of the state.
The initiative failed to materialize as most of the projects had been abandoned despite spending billions of naira from the coppers of the state.
As 2019 general election is approaching, the current administration has returned to some of the project site in what is seen as a cynical attempt to attract the votes of villagers who have been complaining of lack of motorable roads and portable water supply for many years without getting proper attention.
When you listen to Radio stations in Kano, the rural dwellers always complain of inadequate road network, which according to them, makes it difficult for farmers to convey their farm produce to markets.
During the outgoing year 2018 some rural communities in Kano witnessed several challenges which include: Cholera outbreak in Dawakin Tofa, Getso in Gwarzo, Bebeji and Dawakin Kudu local Governments areas. Others also affected by the epidemic, include Minjibir, Gezawa, Ajingi, Ungoggo, Gabasawa, Tofa and Wudil local governments areas who also decry lack of portable drinking water, poor healthcare system, and bad roads.
Government doing its best
When asked about the gory tale of the rural communities, Kano state commissioner for rural development Musa Ilyasu Kwankwaso said the state government is doing its best to tackle issues militating against rural development.
The commissioner also highlighted some of the achievements recorded by Kano state government in the year 2018 which include: providing one hundred transformers to rural communities as well as construction feeder roads.
He also debunked the insinuation that government is not doing enough and said the opposition and naysayers are exaggerating the matter in order to tarnish the image of the Abdullahi Umar Ganduje administration.
He added that the state government in collaboration with World Bank will construct 500-kilometer roads in rural areas in 2019.
However, analysts aver that virtually all government initiatives targeted at improving the lives of rural dwellers have failed due to poor planning, corruption and avarice by government officials and their collaborators.
They add that it is unfortunate that, many villagers still fetch water from streams for their domestic use, which led to the water-borne diseases.
And it is not surprising that most of the rural communities in the state have remained rustic and undeveloped all these years in spite of rural development programs launched with fanfare by different administrations.
They therefore advise the present administration to change the narrative by allowing the local government areas to utilize their monthly allocation for the betterment of all.
Five factors that increase divorce rate in Kano
A sociologist at Bayero University Kano (BUK) Aminu Sabo Dambazau has identified five factors that increase the rate of divorce in Kano state.
Mr Dambazau told Kano Focus on Thursday that the factors including mismatched characters, rivalry, forced marriage, suspicion, and dissatisfaction.
Mr Dambazau said intending couples rush into marriage without understanding each other.
“Some people misuse the courtship period in solely expressing their feelings without exploring the characters and expectations of their partners.
“They neither understand the obligations and responsibilities of marriage nor do they have the chance to find out the characters, habits, and life views of each other.
“Therefore after marriage when their true characters appear they would start to have problem in their marriages.” Mr Dambazau said.
The scholar said about 45% of divorce cases in Kano state are caused by co-wife rivalry.
He said a lot of marriages come to an end the moment the husband starts wooing a second wife.
“Most women do not accept a co-wife and prefer to end the marriage than share their husbands with another woman.
“This habit leads to the breakup of many marriages,” he stated.
Mr Dambazau said another major factor that causes divorce in Kano state is forced marriage.
He said women are still forced into marrying a man they do not love due to financial or social pressure on the parents.
“Whenever a wife doesn’t like her husband she will do anything possible to get a divorce.
“Frankly speaking, forced marriage will never last as no one can stay with a person he hates,” he stated.
The BUK sociologist said suspicion among couples contributes immensely to the high rate of divorce in Kano state.
“No couple will live in peace as long as they are suspicious of one another.
“Unfortunately this is a growing problem as some women always check their husband’s phones in order to find incriminating evidence.” Mr Dambazau said.
He added that some husbands fail to gratify the needs of their wives such as feeding, clothing, and sexual desire.
“Whenever a husband fails to feed his wife he will not get respect from her.
“How will you marry a woman when you cannot cater for her needs?
“This is what is happening in our society.” The lecturer said.
The road to divorce
Some divorcees in Kano corroborated the scholar’s findings.
Maryam Abdullahi, mother of a one year old child said she left her husband after a year because he refused to allow her continue with her studies.
“I was married off to him immediately after completing secondary school even though I told my parents that I want to continue to a higher institution.
“Before the marriage, he promised to allow me continue with my education but he broke the promise after our wedding.” She said.
Ms Abdullahi said she does not regret her decision to end the marriage.
“By God’s will I’ll fulfill my ambition and I’m optimistic to have my desired husband,” Maryam said.
Another divorcee Surayya Abubakar whose marriage ended after eight months said her husband was giving priority to her co-wife.
“He favored her over me and used to buy things for her that he was not buying for me.
“When I complained, he divorced me.
“Our parents met several times but the mediation was in vain as he did not change.
“I also asked him if I was offending him but he said I wasn’t.” Ms Abubakar said.
I’ll never marry again
But Ramla Yusuf whose marriage lasted five months explained that her husband was a fraud who posed as a rich business man before the marriage.
“I realized that he was a liar during the wedding dinner when he couldn’t provide the bridal gown.
“He lied that he owned a big house but I was taken to an old rental house.
“It turned out that he was jobless and penniless.
“I really suffered in his hand and after only five months I asked him to divorce me.” She said.
Ms Yusuf added that she does not plan to marry again as she didn’t know that marriage could be so painful.
On his part, a male divorcee, Usman Shehu said he divorced his wife after a year of marriage because she was dirty and did not know how to cook delicious meals.
“I cautioned her to change her habit but she refused and I also complained to her parents but still nothing changed.
“I swear she can spend two days without taking a bath – she was not a wife anybody will bear to live with,” Mr Shehu said.
Another person Umar Ibrahim said he divorced his wife because she did not respect him and his family.
“We married for love but I did not know she was bad until she came to my house.
“She cheated me severely and also inflicted tension between my family and I,” he lamented.
Mr Ibrahim said has been sleeping well since he divorced her two months ago.
How to reduce divorce in Kano
Mr Dambazau, who has a PhD in Sociology, said the best means of reducing the rate of divorce in Kano state is to revive the defunct Zauren Sulhu community forum established by the Ibrahim Shekarau administration.
“Zauren Sulhu was one of the ways to discuss community issues such as marital problems.
“The forum will listen to both sides and counsel them without leading to divorce. He said.
Mr Dambazau said the families of the couples can mediate and save the marriages from divorce.
An Islamic cleric Nuhu Muhammad said there are things that couples should observe before getting married.
“Every woman or man should make sure their partner has Islamic knowledge and good character.
“Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said you should marry whoever you agree with his religiosity,” he said.
Mr Muhammad advised couples to avoid telling lies before marriage because most marriages breakdown due to false expectations.
“They don’t display who they are because they blindly want to possess each other so after the marriage when the truth is revealed they divorce.” The Islamic scholar said.
He therefore advised couples to build their marriages based on the teachings of Islam and exercise patience with one another.
Barren women, male soldiers most eligible marriage partners in Kano – Matchmakers
Barren women and male soldiers are the most eligible marriage partners in Kano state according to matchmakers.
Kano Focus reports that women who own houses and rich businessmen are the next most eligible category.
A matchmaker, Amina Ahmad of Sani Mainagge Kano city said barren women are most eligible because men fear the burden of catering for children.
Ms Ahmad who has been a matchmaker for 43 years said her female clients prefer soldiers and other paramilitary personnel.
“Most men now demand for barren women to marry.
“Apart from barren women, the male clients also look for women who own houses.
“The female clients look for men in uniform such as customs and immigration officers but they prefer soldiers.” Ms Ahmad said
The matchmaker said due to so much demand, she had to invite soldiers from Bukavu Barracks, Kano.
“They were very excited and came to my house to meet the women.
“However most of them were old and my clients prefer young soldiers.” She said.
Another matchmaker, Shu’aibu Rabi’u confirms to Kano Focus that male suitors prefer barren women.
Mr Rabiu, who is the chairman Kano state association of matchmakers, said barren women are most eligible for two reasons.
“Some men have a strong libido but the fear of conception prevents them from frequent intercourse.
“And some don’t want to have children because they already have enough from other women.” Mr Rabiu said.
He said matchmakers determine a barren woman based on her marital history.
“A divorced woman whose former co-wives had children with her ex-husband is deemed to be barren.” Mr Rabiu said.
How the process works
Some matchmakers collect a fixed amount from their clients while others vary the price.
Ms Ahmad says she charges both male and female clients N1,000 only.
“And if they get married I also collect anything the couple gives me as a gift.” Ms Ahmad said.
However Mr Rabiu charges male clients N2,000 while female clients pay N3,000 only.
“But those men seeking women that own houses pay N5,000 fees.” He said.
Mr Rabiu adds that after the marriage he collects one piece of African Print, soap, cream, and a percentage of the bridal price.
He however said there are matchmakers that collect up to N50,000 from clients before they connect them with their desired spouse.
We are not pimps
Mr Rabiu said the major challenge of the matchmaking business is insincere suitors.
“Sometimes we get clients who want to use us as pimps.
“When we connect them with marriage partners they end up propositioning them.
“So I always advise my female clients to report such men to me.
“I have a way of dealing with them.” Mr Rabiu said.
Covid-19: How private school teachers are suffering in Kano
Private school teachers in Kano are suffering from loss of income due to six months of schools closure caused by Covid-19 restrictions.
Kano Focus reports that unlike their public schools counterparts, private school teachers do not receive salaries during school vacations.
A private primary school headmaster at Kwarin Barka area of Kano metropolis, Hussain Abdulhamid said the school closure means he cannot afford to feed his family.
“I approached the school proprietor for assistance but he said he cannot help me because he is not generating income from the school.
“I have to resort to clearing gutters in my area to get some token amount for the upkeep of my family.” He said.
Mr Abdulhamid lamented that school proprietors employ teachers with the offer of monthly salaries but end up paying only during term time.
Another private school teacher at Rijiyar Zaki area of Kano metropolis, Asma’u Farouk Sa’ad corroborated the statement.
“Proprietors collect a huge amount of money from parents but the salary is too low and they do not pay us during holidays.” She said.
Ms Sa’ad said she gives private lessons to pupils during the Covid-19 shutdown to sustain herself.
Why schools don’t pay teachers
Reacting to the issue, deputy president National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) Maryam Magaji said the association is aware of the challenges being faced by teachers due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Magaji however said private schools cannot pay teachers during holidays.
“The school fees are not enough for us to pay salary during breaks and also manage school activities.
“Also, some parents do not pay school fees at the right time making it difficult to pay our staff even during the term.
“But we are going to have a meeting with proprietors on the ways of assisting the vulnerable at least with half of their salary”, she said.
Government cannot compel payment
The Kano state Private and Voluntary Schools Management Board has the responsibility of regulating private schools.
However Executive Secretary of the Board, Musa Abba Dankawu said the agency has no right to compel proprietors to pay their staff when schools are on vacation.
“We only give guidelines of establishment but we can’t tell a proprietor how to manage his school.
“Every school has terms and conditions and so each pays its teachers according to its income. Mr Dankawu.
The executive secretary however urged any private school teacher that has a problem with his school to report to the Board.
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