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Opinion

What Double Ministers should do for Kano

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Hisham Habib

When PMB sent the names of his ministerial nominees to the senate for confirmation in July many were surprised and probably taken aback when the names of retired General Bashir Magashi and Alhaji Sabo Nanono were mentioned.

The unexpectedness in the nomination of the duo was coupled with issues in Kano about the major happenings in 2019 elections and its aftermath.

Most of the speculative Kano polity did not expect that, despite President Buhari’s resolve to appoint those he knew well.

Nevertheless the polity continued getting heated over what the two septuagenarians could for their constituency after getting hold of two strategic ministries of Defence and Agriculture respectively.

Nanono warns Agric workers against indiscipline

Magashi assumes office as Defence Minister

Ministerial Inauguration: Buhari assigns Defence, Agric to Kano

Challenges before Magashi

Gen Magashi’s antecedents qualified him for the Defence ministry even before the announcement. Being the only retired army general among the nominees, most Kano residents saw it coming.

Having been in the background after an unsuccessful attempt to govern his own state in the past, the lawyer who once served as legal adviser should be able to learn from the missteps of the former minister from Kano also a retired General Abdurrahman Dambazau who could not return to the next level, partly from his inability to relate with the people and spread the much coveted dividends of democracy to his immediate constituency.

The former General Officer commanding (GOC) who served during the military era of General Sani Abacha should be able to harmonize his task as overseer of the Defense mechanism in the country and his political career that has vividly come to its climax. His efforts must be doubled for him to earn the prestige of being a recognized elder even after his stint in the last lap of the administration.

Nanono must address youths restiveness

For Muhammad Sabo Nanono, the challenge is much higher owing to the fact that Kano is renowned for agricultural potentials yet untapped.

This is an opportunity for the experienced banker to address the issue of youth restiveness through agriculture.

As the most populous state in the country the rate of unemployment has consistently been high and the most ready way of curbing the issue is through agriculture.

Being in the system the new minister is expected as in the words of a Kano based analyst Bashir Gentile “to use his best of ability in delivering the fruits to the society”.

Nanono’s task among others is to bring to the northern parts and Kano its own share of rural development through his office and to ensure that stakeholders are carried along while monitoring with extra concern the work of all representatives in the various sectors.

Immediate intervention

These ministers must know that the people of Kano are watchful as ever for the expected remedies; the voters who came out en masse and consistently voted for President Buhari have their eyes open for a collective transformation of the society not selective adventurism.

Areas needing immediate intervention must be on their priority and as influential office holders the need to work with the state government in fielding out tangible developmental work in areas of human resource utilization is paramount.

It is pertinent to note being themselves Buhari’s personal choice and not directly products of state godfatherism, they  must bear in mind that unnecessary political distractions should be minimized to  allow for the desirable intervention that will check the unabated hardship the Kano people are into especially in the rural areas where  the basic amenities are scarce.

Kano governorship tribunal orders arrest of INEC witness attackers

They must be able to have a collective platform where they can harmonize all efforts to uplift Kano and restore as well as strengthen its dignity as the northern capital of commerce and leadership.

They should also avoid the hosting of sycophants who will block them from realizing the challenges before them until it is too late to cry over spilt milk.

The desired collective platform should not be maneuvered by self-centered opportunists who will undermine all positive efforts to make the society a  better place.

Hisham Habib, journalist and public commentator writes from Kano.

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Opinion

More Catholic than the Pope: Demystifying Nasiru El-Rufa’i’s obsession with power

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Nasir El Rufai

Murtala Uba Mohammed

The famous nineteenth century German Philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche was quoted to have said: “arrogance on the part of meritorious is even more offensive to us than the arrogance of those without merit: for merit itself is offensive”.

This statement is very relevant to a giant-voiced, small physique governor of Kaduna State Malam Nasiru El-Rufa’i.

No doubt, the Katsina born graduate of the famous Ahmadu Bello University and later University of Harvard and Georgetown University, has achieved much in his life.

In his memoir, The Accidental Public Servant, El-Rufa’i stated that he was very lucky to be among few Nigerians to become millionaires in their twenties.

Indeed, this is a rare blessing in a country where the economy is in the hand of a few, largely aged fellows. Nasiru’s achievement is not only in material sense as he was fortunate to hold some big political offices in the country.

A rare achiever, Governor El-Rufa’i governed some of the most important capitals of the country, Abuja the present administrative capital of  Nigeria and Kaduna the capital of the defunct Northern Region.

No license for contempt

However achievement is not a licence to treat people with contempt and disrespect the sensibilities of the general public.

After all, El-Rufa’i should thank Nigeria (of course Nigerians) for the chances he is given continuously.

It is important for him to remember that a country of over two hundred million people is very much blessed with many seasoned administrators and technocrats.

I want him to put at the back of his mind that he is not the only and will never be the most intelligent person ever produced in this country.

Let him be humble and not as arrogant as he presents himself.

El-Rufa’i needs to be reminded that if it was physical strength or might, he would not in any way get closer to the power he is too proud of.

In fact it is very unlikely for a person of his stand to inhale its fragrance or odour as the case may be.

If it is hard-work, many work harder but are not destined to attain for one reason or another.

For someone who grew in a centre of learning like Zaria City, it is easy to be reminded that intelligence is no one’s monopoly.

He should equally be reminded that power is transient and should be treated as such.

Mai Rusau

Although, this is not the first time El-Rufa’i displayed his extremism and to some extent conceited attitude to the service he was entrusted to render, it is only now that it becomes glaring how overzealous he is and how arrogant and indifferent he is to the people of Kaduna.

As the Minister of Abuja, he was nicknamed Mai-Rusau (the demolisher).

 In his attempt to restore the Master Plan of Abuja, he demolished many structures worth billions of naira.

Many casual and superficial observers applauded him and perceived the wanton destruction of property as a laudable achievement.

But the ever overzealous governor had done more than what planners of the city expected him to do.

Planning is not, by any stretch of the imagination, as rigid as he thought, because it is always people’s oriented, it allows for restructuring, amendment and accommodation.

A liveable city should have place for the poor and working class, but not for only capitalist-oriented minds.

Dealing with COVID-19

Anyone following the news today can easily understand how passionate the Kaduna State Governor had become in his fight against the Covid-19 pandemic that found its way into Nigeria since early February.

Governor Rufa’i cannot be matched by any governor in his zeal to do all that can be regarded as proactive measure in containing the pandemic.

He is one of the first governors to impose and enforce lockdown as a means of mitigating the transmission of the virus to the barest level.

This is certainly a good measure especially when one considers the strategic location of Kaduna State as the main entry to core northern states via the most important capitals of the country—Lagos, the commercial capital and Abuja the administrative capital—and indeed the two major entries for the spread of pandemic.

This is sound and proactive tactic, and El-Rufa’i should be commended for that.

However, what one may find strange about the governor is the way he cares not about the fate and plight of the poor and the common people.

A good shepherd should be more concerned about his herd. In a state where most of the residents are poor and live through daily earning, it is very insensitive and unwise to lock people for more than one month as he did.

I do not want to talk about whether the palliatives given were sufficient enough to keep the poor or not because no sensible Nigerian will believe our leaders in this kind of situation—glaringly confidence has been eroded.

One will continue to wonder and ask rhetorically:  who are his advisers?

It seems he has too much confidence in himself and this has given him a proclivity of the 21st century dictators.

He feels that his view is the only view and his way is the only right path.

It is apparent that the governor remains insensitive and adamant to many calls and advice given by good and concerned citizen of Kaduna State.

Dangerous utterances

Some of the governor’s utterances were dangerous and quietly implied his general feeling towards people’s cause. The governor always wants to say things that are controversial and that will make him perpetually the point of discussion in the public arena.

El-Rufa’i’s attitude to his principals is very undemocratic as he continues to remain adamant to the people’s fate.

It is crystal clear how draconian he sounds especially when it comes to religion.

There is nothing wrong in banning religious gathering to safeguard the life of people and to ensure that the spread of lethal Covid 19 is within government’s control, but that should be done with decorum and respect to religious authority.

When he was canvassing for their support and votes, he treated them with all the respect they deserved.

Among his most annoying action was his press release of May 19th laced with statements that are quite unfortunate for a public office holder of his status.

It is very unprofessional for a governor of one state to engage in direct attack on other state’s decision especially in a matter of national question and jurisdiction.

In his press release, governor El-Rufa’i unnecessarily dedicated three of points to Kano State.

He also appointed himself as a prosecutor and a judge by concluding that the strange deaths of people in Kano State during the height of the pandemic were caused by the Coronavirus and nothing more.

Intellectual arrogance

This statement revealed how intellectually arrogant and naive he is to report what a medical team and the Presidential Task Force on the Coronavirus Pandemic were investigating and yet to compile their reports at the time. Not only that the governor accused his counterpart (the governor of Kano State) of complacency and being economical with truth by concluding that the cause was known by the Kano state government and the medical team but they were manipulating the truth.

The new self-styled Pax-Nigeriana extended his jurisdiction beyond the assigned territory by saying that he would stay at the border to prevent people from Kano and other states from entering the ‘Holy’ Kaduna State.

These and his other utterances, including that of saying the evacuated Almajirai from Kano constitute a larger portion of cases recorded in his state had generated mixed reactions on social media.

The Kano State government also responded to that and youth from the two states engaged in bitter and offensive exchanges.

The divisive and controversial utterances of El-Rufa’i were the causes of the heated exchanges which polarized the youth of the two states at a time they needed to work together in harmony.

In attempt to settle the exchange between the two giant governors, the Daily-Trust newspaper dedicated its editorial of 1st June to this issue.

In the editorial, the newspaper reminded the two executives about their duties which exclude not engaging in unnecessary dispute and altercations over what is considered of critical importance to people’s life.

Health is one of the primary needs of human and it should not be handled with onionskin.

Still pointing fingers

However, it is obvious that El-Rufa’i has not refrained from his usual way of portraying himself as the holiest of the holy.

In a response to a tweet made by one @jibrilibrahim17 on 5th June, El-Rufa’i through his twitter handle, @elrufai opined that some states are deliberately under reporting their Covid-19 positive cases by submitting few sample to test laboratories.

However, he exonerated his state by saying: “FCT, Kaduna and Lagos at least are actively tracing contacts because we want RIGHT numbers of those infected – to test, trace contact and treat them. We want to save lives not have unexplained death.”

Although the governor was not so specific as to what state he was referring in his statement, it is as clear that he was referring to Kano and no more.

Of all states in the country none had the case of unexplained death as Kano. Also, the state (Kano) is reporting few cases since last week which the statement was pointing at.

The foregoing had clearly shown that the El-Rufa’i has neither physical nor social boundary in his dealings.

His way is clearly confrontational and dictatorial.

He considers himself too important and arrogates wisdom to himself.

This has to stop for the respect of constitution and other people’s thoughts, rights and opinions.

It is my humble hope that the governor will adjust and concentrate on his duties while allowing others to discharge theirs.

I will end with a popular saying that respect is reciprocal.

Murtala Uba Mohammed, PhD writes from Department of Geography, Bayero University Kano

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Opinion

History, the historian and intellectual honesty: A tribute to Prof Haruna Wakili

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Prof Haruna Wakili

Kabiru Haruna Isa, PhD

“Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it”~Haruki Murakami

It was in January, 2020 when ASUU-Chairman, Bayero University, Kano (BUK) branch informed me of the ailing condition of Professor Haruna Wakili.

As a good tradition of the branch, whenever any of its members is sick, members of the executive council (EXCO) will pay them a visit to show empathy.

I was part of the ASUU team that visited Wakili just before he embarked on his medical trip to India.

While in India, I, and of course my colleagues, would occasionally send him goodwill messages which, to our delight, he replied giving us hope that he was responding to treatment.

BUK DVC dies at 60

I was away in Katsina last week Monday when I received a call from my HOD, Prof Dalha Waziri, informing me of the return of Wakili to Nigeria.

He also told me that there was a plan to visit him on Wednesday, at the National Hospital, Abuja.

I could not resist such an opportunity, stressed as I was.

We therefore left Kano on Wednesday 17 June and arrived Abuja on the same day, braving the dilapidated condition of the Kano-Abuja road and the general insecurity now associated with travel within Nigeria.

When we entered his hospital room, my hope to see him in an improved condition dissipated immediately.

I saw him covered on the sickbed that was to be his deathbed and he couldn’t know we were there as he had gone far in the journey that turned out to be his last.

Three days later, it was on a ‘dark and unforgettable Saturday’, the 20th of June, I received a traumatizing call from his niece confirming my worst fear that he had died.

It wasn’t unexpected, though.

An inspiring teacher

Prof Wakili was my teacher and a colleague at the Department of History, BUK.

My first contact with him was when I was admitted through direct entry into BUK to study BA History.

He was the then Acting Director, before he was subsequently confirmed as the substantive Director, of the Centre for Democratic Research and Training, Mambayya House (later rechristened the Mambayya House, Center for Democratic Studies).

The undergraduate students in our Department, especially those who were in level III, were narrating different stories about his personality, the courses he taught and his teaching methods.

I registered with his course, HIS3308 Comparative Historical Methodology, which was a core course that all students majoring in History must take.

He introduced us to advanced historical methodology and the new trends of inter-disciplinarity, multi-disciplinarity and cross-disciplinarity.

More importantly, he made us to appreciate, grasp, love and value scholarly pursuits, the practice of history and the historical enterprise.

He made sure that his students worked assiduously and diligently to understand their subject matter and the role and relevance of history to individual, family unit, society, state formation, nation building and human development.

He used history class to instill self-respect and self-pride in his students and always encouraged them to never settle for less or accept the position of inferiority in the face of parasitic commercialization and commodification of university education.

I remember his intellectual and historical pontification whenever he was on the podium.

He always tried to justify that history was the queen of all disciplines on the account of its centrality to all fields of study.

No discipline can do without history; and any society that ignores history does so at its own peril; it is the be-all and end-all of human existence, functional operation of university education and knowledge production.

On intellectual honesty

In addition to the above, and at a closer level, Professor Wakili was my BA dissertation advisor when I was in level IV.

I vividly remember my first meeting with him.

He appeared serious, as was characteristic of him, and briefed me about his personal principles and work/research ethics.

One of the important issues raised that I will never forget was the need for any student of history, aspiring to become a historian, to suppress primordial sentiment and at the same time to always imbibe/symbolize intellectual honesty.

There was arguably, nothing within the four walls of university that gave him pleasure like intellectual discourse, scholarly disputation, research, identification and nurturing of talents.

He had the patience of sparing his precious time to respond to vexed questions of his supervisees.

In one of my subsequent encounters with him as my supervisor I asked him to shed light on what he meant by intellectual honesty. He responded in a most exquisite and philosophical way.

He explained that it was all about being truthful and sincere about the past, reporting what actually happened and acknowledging your sources as accurately as possible.

He was fond of quoting Samuel Eliot Morrison thus: “no person without an inherent loyalty to truth, a high degree of intellectual honesty, and a sense of balance, can be a great or even a good historian”.

A passion for administration

Professor Wakili was adamant and uncompromising when it came to academic standard and excellence.

He always gave the best and expected nothing less in return.

He persistently emphasized that his students had to conduct original research and at the same time drew their attention to the gravity of the crime of plagiarism.

He was generous with his collections and lent his rare books to his students.

He engaged his students and prodded them to think rationally and critically.

He had passion for administration and recorded huge success as a Director of Mambayya House.

This success catapulted him to the position of the commissioner for education in home state, Jigawa State, where he midwifed the establishment of the state owned Sule Lamido University, Kafin Hausa.

After serving as a commissioner, he was subsequently appointed as the Deputy Vice Chancellor (administration) in BUK, the position he held up to the time of his death on 20th June, 2020, at the age of sixty.

I will conclude with the words of American philosopher and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, “it is not the length of life, but the depth of life”.

The impact he made on the university system, education sector in Jigawa state and young academics in Nigeria will ever serve as memorials and ‘depth of his life’.

May Allah have mercy on his soul.

Kabiru Haruna Isa, PhD teaches at the Department of History, Bayero University Kano.

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Opinion

Pantami, Danbatta and consolidating Telecom sector growth

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Pantami and Danbatta

Yakubu Musa

A cornucopia of glad tidings has recently thronged the doors of Nigeria’s telecoms industry.

It all started with various state governments across the country signing executive orders to either waive or harmonize the Right of Way fees, the perennial industry’s bone of contention, following  the  successful intervention of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.

There were also the heart-warming stories of burgeoning contribution to the GDP and other spectacular industry statistics.

Then came the cheering presidential directives, reassuring the industry of the security of telecom infrastructure in the country, just before the cherry on the cake, the renewal of its Chief Regulator’s appointment, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, by President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR–also on Dr Pantami’s strong recommendation.

“The decision to recommend you for reappointment was to ensure stability in the telecommunications industry and consolidate on the gains and successes already recorded in the industry in the last five years,” said the Minister while hosting  NCC’s management staff, shortly after announcing five more years for Danbatta as the chief executive officer.

Stakeholders approve

Dr Pantami is however not alone in making this profound observation, as his view quickly struck industry’s cord— with virtually every major stakeholder corroborating it.

For instance, while congratulating the EVC for earning the second term in office, the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, described the reappointment as a testimony of Danbatta’s good leadership.

According to him, the industry has made momentous progress under the watch of the professor of telecommunications engineering and thus the second term will bring about consistency and stability–something that legacy conscious Dr Pantami was looking out for.

NCC: Digitally boosting President Buhari’s Next Level Agenda

“We are very pleased about his appointment for a second tenure and we congratulate Prof. Danbatta as this is a testimony of his good leadership under which the industry has made significant progress and positive impact on our economy,” he observed.

Likewise, his counterpart, the President, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) Mr. Olusola Teniola that lauded the reappointment, a testimony to Danbatta’s stakeholder management success story.

“We know that his recommendation is predicated on him being a technocrat, a professional and a promoter of human relations and human capacity who has over the years initiated and implemented successful policies that have positive impact on businesses and Nigerians and we are very confident that he is equal to the task ahead,” he stressed.

Expressing a similar sentiment yet, the Chairman of the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA), Mr. Chike Onwuegbuchi, said Danbatta’s first tenure has yielded so many notable achievements which have brought succor to consumers and sanity to the industry as well as increased revenue to the government’s coffers.

“Your reappointment has come at a time when the industry needs consolidation and tidying up of your noble initiatives.

“It also comes at a time when the nation, and Africa as a continent, needs to see the success of the National Broadband Plan (NBP), the total digitization of the economy and the acceleration of the InfraCo model, among other developmental efforts to grow the Nigerian economy through ICT.”

Successes recorded

Truly, many analysts in the sector have welcomed the news of Danbatta’s reappointment with high expectations.

And, their optimism is not far-fetched.

The statistics in the industry from August 2015 when he was appointed the EVC of the NCC to date are firmly on the side of their argument.

Under Danbatta’s watch, the industry defied the odds of economic recession two years ago and emerged as the surprising package of the tumultuous times.

NCC partners FIRS to verify telecommunications VAT

The industry is currently showing a similar remarkable resilience against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indeed, the sector’s quarterly contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has kept increasing–from 8.50% in August 2015 to as much as 11%.

But at a time when the Federal Government unveiled its digital economy policy as well as the new National Broad Band policy, it’s worth noting that the painstaking implementation of the Danbatta 8-Point Agenda, helped Nigeria reach and surpass its broadband penetration target of 30%.

Since then, there’s no going back, with penetration approaching 40% now (39.58% April 2020).

Nigeria now boasts of 190,806,067 subscribers against 151,018,624 in August 2015 while teledensity increased, after its rebasing to 91% in February 2019 to 99.96% currently.

Despite the yearning of consumers for further bargain in the cost of data, it should be acknowledged that between 2015 and now, the cost of gigabyte of data has come down by 75%.

This has been confirmed in a study by Research ICT Africa’s (RIA’s), a policy and regulation think-tank.

Among Danbatta’s initiatives making impact in the industry is the regime of efficient management of spectrum resource, which is boosting service availability, accessibility and affordability.

It could also be recalled that during one of the industry’s trying moments, Danbatta-led NCC, in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), took a very proactive decision to rescue 9Mobile, one of the major mobile network operators, thereby saving jobs and billions of Naira worth of investment.

Pantami tasks Danbatta, NCC on digital economy

Danbatta’s regulatory finesse was also behind the listing of telcos such as MTN and Airtel on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, needless to say their listing has improved the performance of the country’s capital market outlook.

Nigerians had almost given up on witnessing a harmonised emergency communication line in the fashion of 911.

It is therefore another major feat by Danbatta that 18 emergency communications centres have now been commissioned, and the nation’s 112 emergency line is  functional in 17 states and Federal Capital territory (FCT), Abuja,

But Danbatta’s leadership of the industry also witnessed an increased attention to innovation, research and development– through providing substantial grants to academics and emerging young ICT entrepreneurs, and innovators.

Perhaps nothing underlines approval of Danbatta’s leadership like the platinum rating the NCC received from the Bureau of Public Service Reform (BPSR) in 2017, the year he dedicated to the consumers of the industry.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in its “ICT Regulatory Tracker’ in 2019, also rated the Commission’s leadership in similar vein, for responsiveness, and dynamism in regulating the vibrant sector.

Musa, is the Special Assistant (Media) to the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC

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