When I read a piece pen down by the sacked chairman of the All People’s Congress (APC), Umar Haruna Doguwa titled:’’ Kano: Empty Leadership, huge liability,’’ I realized that the man, out of desperation, is carelessly ridiculing himself unnecessarily and exposing his candor and witlessness through misrepresentation of facts in the media.
Nobody is envying the embattled former party chieftain from aiming for any office, but definitely not through blackmail and spreading of lies.
One cannot overlook the deliberate distortion of facts on the state of affairs in Kano but to put out a response, because it could also help in dissuading desperate politicians like Doguwa using every opportunity to ensure that the people are deceived, just to achieve a selfish interest.
For those who are closer to Kwankwaso know that he always impose his whims on all and exploit them for his personal benefits against collective interest.
Even as pioneer APC chairman, you never run the affairs of the party independently talk less of bragging to have organize and coordinate an election.
You were just but a rubber stamp, while your master dictates how things were organized and executed.
Gaduje inherited Kwankwaso’s liabilities
While I absolutely agree with you that Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje did promise to continue with the legacies of the immediate-past administration of Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, when he assumed the mantle of leadership on May 29, 2015, the governor has kept to his promise in all spheres of governance.
This, he did, by fine-tuning most of the policies and, as well, bringing into bear, innovations that have today crowned Kano as a reference point of good governance in Nigeria and beyond.
As I read the article, I wonder how on earth Doguwa did not mention the huge liabilities Ganduje inherited from the Kwankwaso administration which were discovered by the Transition Committee. Since you were part of the government, you ought to have mention how Kwankwaso, who served his last tenure in office between 2011 and 2015, also introduced unworkable policies and programmes as well as execution of projects without financial backing, which allegedly used them to siphon public funds or to make the state ungovernable for the incoming governor.
At the expiration of his tenure, Kwankwaso left a liability of N313 billion for the incoming government.
With these debts hanging on his neck, Ganduje also assumed office when there was recession, which resulted in reduced federal allocation, dwindling level of Internally Generated Revenue and the slim nature of the state’s treasury which, however, had not deterred him from deploying his wealth of experience to effectively administer the state.
Ganduje’s building projects
Some of these projects include Murala Muhammad Way Bridge, the longest in the country named after the Kano Business mogul, Alhaji Aminu Alhassan Dantata, which was inherited at 15 per cent state of execution which has now been completed, commissioned and put to use; the state Independent Power Project at Tiga and Challawa Dams which was inherited at 35 per cent and now at 95 per cent stage of execution; dualisation of Yahaya Gusau Road left at 10per cent and construction of underpass which was left at 15 percent stages of completion.
In fact, the contract sum of the project has to be revised because of absence of transparency in the project.
Other projects either uncompleted or abandoned but completed by the Ganduje administration include dualisation of ‘Yantaya Kofar Dawanau and rehabilitation of Ahmadiyya Road awarded in 2013; construction of Dorawa Road; construction of Rijiyar Gwangwan Road; Rehabilitation of Yusuf Road.
Ganduje also inherited 665 projects valued at N72 billion from Senator Ibrahim Shekarau’s administration out of which N40 billion was paid leaving an outstanding payment of N33.2 billion.
Two of such projects include the construction of Giginyu Specialist Hospital (now Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital) and Paediatric Hospital Zoo Road (now Khalifa Sheikh Isyaka Rabi’u Paediatric Hospital).
The two hospitals which contracts were awarded in 2007, were abandoned at 35 per cent completion stage respectively.
The Ganduje administration completed the construction, furnishing and equipping of the facilities.
In fact, the two hospitals are one of the best in the country in terms of standard and state-of-art equipment.
Part of the promise made by Governor Ganduje in his inaugural address, which Doguwa failed to complete is that of the initiation of more people oriented policies and programs for the overall development of Kano state.
The noble and modest achievements of the Ganduje administration have, indeed, dismantled the length and breadth of the so-called Kwankwassiyya Movement which has since gone into oblivion.
This is so because the article itself depicted the emptiness of the Kwankwassiyya and its foot soldiers, since they have no genuine criticism against the APC administration in Kano, having been intimidated by the uncommon achievements of the present ruling party in the state.
These projects include construction of an underpass at Sharada/Panshekara Junction completed and commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari; construction of underpasses along Katsina Road by Muhammadu Buhari Way; nearly completed underpass and flyover along Zaria Road by Dangi Roundabout; ongoing construction of Cancer Centre at Muhammdu Buhari Specialist Hospital; rehabilitation and ashphalt overlay of Burum Burum-Saya Saya-Kibiya-Rano- Bunkure-Karfi Road; Tiga-Rurum-Rano and Rano-Sumaila Roads; construction/dualisation of Court Road (now Rochas Okorocha Road); Abdullahi Bayero Road; dualisation of Maiduguri Road (Opp Mobile Police Qtrs)-CBN Qtrs-Zaria Road; construction of asphaltic concrete surfacing from Gidan Maza-S/Gandu-Western Bypass-Kumbotso town and dualised Panshekara-Madobi Junction-Panshekara town Road among others.
Kwankwaso “killed” education
I am also gladdened that Umar Haruna Doguwa, has offered me a window to also refresh the memory of discernable good people of Kano and Nigerians on how the Kwankwaso administration killed the education sector in Kano.
Kwankwaso abandoned the basic education and that was why Ganduje inherited a dilapidated infrastructure in the sector, with the quality of basic education degenerating, leading to unacceptably low academic performance.
In virtually all public educational institutions, primary secondary or tertiary, classes were overcrowded.
Basic amenities are either lacking or obsolete.
And just as he was about to leave office, Kwankwaso made a mere declaration for ‘free’ education in the state, deviously with the sole intent to leave the encumbrance on the incoming administration of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
If Doguwa cares to find out, as at May 29, 2015, there were only 25,000 habitable classrooms out of the 30,000 available, whereas the total requirement in our 3,000 public primary schools is 45, 000 classrooms.
Similarly, there were only 18, 000 toilets as against the total requirement of 35, 000, while 3-seater pupils’ desks were only 198, 832 as against the need of 914, 000.
In addition to all these, instructional materials were inadequate while staff morale was at its lowest ebb and as a matter of fact, about 50 per cent of the teachers.
This same thing applies to tertiary institutions in the state that included the two state owned universities.
The Ganduje administration inherited only the Senate building at the permanent site of North West University now Yusuf Maitama Sule University with no academic activities.
The university now operates two campuses.
This is continuity.
Many infrastructure projects were also executed at Kano state University of Science and Technology, Wudil by the present administration, while hundreds of courses were accredited with the National Universities Commission (NUC), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) as well as the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE).
With this development, Sa’adatu Rimi College of Education has already commenced the award of degree.
Funny enough, Doguwa also brought up the issue of the ill-conceived foreign scholarship scheme on which the present administration was left with a huge liability amounting to N8 billion.
While as part of his continuity agenda, Ganduje has settled over N5 billion of the liability and still working towards offsetting it, facts are available on how the scheme was used to allegedly swindle the good people of Kano and Kano state government.
Far reaching measures have also to been introduced to reverse the ugly trend by accessing the Universal basic Education Commission (UBEC’s) counterpart funding of about N2 billion which enabled the rehabilitation of classroom blocks, building of libraries, sinking of boreholes, provision of over 15,000 pupils’ furniture, instructional materials, etc.
Governor Ganduje also came up with idea of the Education Promotion Committee (EPC) both at the state level and in all the 44 local government areas which has been able to rehabilitate thousands of blocks of classrooms, provision of seats and as well as various instructional materials.
And with the introduction of Free Basic and Secondary Education in the state, which Doguwa overlooked deliberately brushed aside, payment of school fees has been abolished in all the primary and secondary schools.
The Ganduje administration has commenced direct funding of primary and secondary schools numbering 1,180 with a total students population of 834, 366 at a total cost of about N200 million per month or N2.4 billion per annum.
Furthermore, N357 million has been budgeted to take care of free-feeding for pupils in primary four to six classes in all primary schools across the state.
Similarly, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ganduje’s government had provided school uniforms to 779, 522 newly enrolled pupils (boys and girls) at the total cost of N381 million which distribution and other instructional materials was flagged off at Mariri Special Primary School in Kumbotso Local Government Area last year.
The state government has also sponsored the funding component of the Free and Compulsory Basic and Secondary Education in the state which was launched at the Sani Abacha Stadium Indoor Sports Hall.
During that event, Ganduje distributed cash to over 110,000 schools across the state designed to enable them build capacity and human resource development.
He also distributed 790 Digital Classroom All Inclusive Empowerment Solution and tablets to 728 teachers, 39 master teachers, nine senior secondly school officers and 14 principal officers.
The programme was aimed at capacity building towards free and compulsory education on School Development Plan (SDP) and ICT appreciation for directors and zonal education directors.
Ganduje’s plan for Almajiris
With turn of events, which led to the formal abolishing of the traditional Almajiri system of education in the state, the Ganduje administration is completing arrangements to enroll all 1, 800 repatriated indigenous almajirai to Kano from other states of the northern region into conventional educational system.
Kano, which is the only state that has in place, a functional Qur’anic and Islamiyya Schools Management Board had earlier, established 12 integrated Tsangaya Model Schools across the state, 10 of which are boarding.
Each of the facility has dormitory, hostels, cafeteria, toilets and staff quarters among others, while 8, 000 volunteer teachers have been engaged to teach in the various public and Quranic schools across the state in a bid to reduce teaching deficiency in the sector.
Indeed, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje’s launching of free, compulsory basic and secondary education policy has made serious impact with the reduction of the data of out-of-school children in Kano from 1,306,106 to 410,873, from 2015 to 2019. (Refer to the National Education Data Survey (NEDS) Report of 2015 which shows that, Kano had (then) the highest number of out-of-school children with 1,306,106.)
The terrifying report then prompted Governor Ganduje to take the issue with all seriousness, with measures aimed at addressing the situation squarely.
However, with the free, compulsory basic and secondary education policy, as contained in the report submitted to the Governor Ganduje by the sub-committee on out-of-school children survey 2019, it was noted that as a result of various intervention programs the serious drop becomes inevitable.
The survey by the sub-committee was conducted across all the 44 local government areas in the state on house-to-house basis, using village/ward heads under the district heads of each local government area with a view to generating a comprehensive and reliable data that will enable government to effectively implement the laudable free education policy According to the report, from the total number of 410,873 out-of-school children in the state, 275,917 are boys, that represents 67% and 134,956 are girls, representing 33%.
Unlike the Kwankwasiyya and their foot soldiers who play politics with everything, the Ganduje’s administration believes that with the right education, the issue of insecurity and unemployment would become things of the past.
Education is a right to every citizen.
This explains why in Kano today, there is a law that whoever fails to send his children to school is committing an offence.
Muhammad Garba is the Commissioner for Information, Kano State
2020 US election: What defeated the incumbent, Any take for Nigeria
By Abdulmumin Jibrin Kofa
We cannot just watch the US crisis and laugh. We must learn from it and act to avert such from happening in our country that is far more vulnerable to such dangerous anti-democratic manipulations that can throw a country into anarchy.
We are not immune to having any president in the future that may react like the incumbent president of the US.
So what measures can we put as a matter of urgency in our laws to tighten the screw, strengthen our institutions and system against such if at all it ever happens?
I disagree with the opinion that the US has lost its leading role globally in advancing democratic culture because of the 2020 election saga and specifically the unusual refusal to accept defeat by the incumbent.
The principal actors in the crisis did all they could to subvert the will of the people, but it was the strong INSTITUTIONS and SYSTEM that defeated them.
The US democratic institutions and system has proven to be stronger than any individual or group and in this case, rose above even the incumbent President.
That, in my opinion, supersedes other considerations. Beyond the razzmatazz of negative individual behavior in the 2020 election, the strong US democratic institutions will continue to be a lead point globally.
In contrast, in many countries around the world including Africa and Nigeria, individuals are still stronger than the institutions and system.
That has always been the foundation of our problem. So long as our institutions and system are not strong enough to overpower individual interest or ambition, we will continue the endless search for answers to many of our problems that can be solved easily.
Knowing when to let go is one of the fundamental pillars of democracy.
A leader must be smart enough to know that letting go and at the right time may compensate for whatever loss he suffers. He can also ride on that to salvage his career, or at least retain some respect.
Now, the major problem of the defeated incumbent in the US election is no longer how to stop the winner from being sworn in, it is how to get out of the present dilemma of violence and insurrection he is being accused of having instigated and which had led to the desecration of the pre-eminent symbol of democracy, the Capitol, and the death of 4 people.
Many Americans are demanding that the president must be held accountable.
Who knows where it will end, with investigations, panels e.t.c, that are like to follow?
Narrowing it down to power transition, I remember during one of our think-thank meetings of the speakership campaign in 2019, the then candidate and now Speaker, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, raised serious concern about lack of proper and detailed transition laws from incumbent to incumbent and from incumbent to a non-incumbent whether of the same party or not.
He wanted a bill to that effect as part of the 9th assembly agenda.
We didn’t consider his foresight necessary at the time. I am guilty of that as well.
Now, I can see why we need a law with clear details and timelines of activities specifically for power transition and severe consequences for whoever breaches the law.
Some of the issues include announcing the winner, accepting victory, conceding defeat and timelines for constituting transition committees from both the incumbent and the president-elect.
Details of the kind of briefings from the outgoing and the president-elect, including timelines for announcement of cabinet members and many other details that can ensure power transition or transfer is done peacefully and continuity of governance is not halted in anyway.
This is the time for the National Assembly to look at this matter and act with urgency.
Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin Kofa, former member house of representatives writes from Kano
Leadership question and the issue of Nigeria’s national unity
Tanko Yakasai OFR
In December 2016, a lecture was organised in Kano to celebrate my 90th birthday. By then, it was a practice to celebrate the annual events of my birthday with public lectures. But since 2016, due to the cumbersome nature of organising such events, the annual celebration was suspended.
Instructively, however, at the celebration of my 90th birthday, my namesake Salihu, whom I mentioned in my autobiography, pointed out a mistake regarding the year we were born. Salihu is older than me by 40 days. He said we were born during the reign of Emir of Kano, Usman Dan Majekarofi in 1925 and not during the reign of Emir Abdullahi Bayero. He revealed that not only his parents told him so but also his school record in Shahuchi elementary school, confirmed that. This revelation encouraged me to investigate further in order to find out how the mistake regarding my date of birth came about.
To this end, the year of my first marriage served as the starting point. As I recorded in my autobiography, I first got married in 1945 which was the year the Second World War ended. I know for a fact that I had my first marriage at the age of 20. Furthermore, I also know that l married on the same day with Sabo Dan Galadiman Tanagar. He was blessed with a child in early 1946 and his personal records corroborated my account regarding the day of our marriage. These facts confirmed to me that the year of my birth was 1925 and not 1926. With this confirmation, my birthday records have been corrected accordingly.
I am very thankful to Almighty Allah for giving me a rare opportunity to once again witness another circle of celebrating my birthday anniversary. Previously, guest speakers were invited to speak at the anniversary. This year, it is very difficult to organize such gatherings mainly due to the global pandemic of Covid-19, and the laid down protocols of social distancing. Therefore, I decided to use this year’s occasion to address burning national issues. Accordingly, I picked what I consider important national issues that kept eluding the country for decades. These issues have over the years generated endless and often misleading debates; two of which are constitutional amendments and national population census.
Yoruba’s claim of inadequacy of 1999 constitution is inaccurate
It may be recalled that on the 11th of September, 2020, the Yoruba Summit Group held a meeting in Lagos and undertook an in-depth review of the State of Nigeria in relation to the interests and aspirations of the Yoruba Nation. At the end of that meeting, they issued a communique in which they stated their positions on some national issues, such as Constitutional Amendment, Census, and the National Waterways Bill (the latter being currently debated at the National Assembly), among others. It is in the light of this that I wish to use this occasion to highlight several key facts which could shed some light on the issues raised in the communique, starting with the constitutional review, which is also currently ongoing at the National Assembly.
The Yoruba Summit Group called for the jettisoning of the 1999 Constitution which they called “fatally flawed” on the excuse that the Constitution was a product of a military decree with imbalances that can stunt the aspirations of many ethnic groups, especially the Southwest zone.
To address this issue, let’s delve briefly into our recent history, especially how the General Abdulsalam Abubakar’s regime came up with the 1999 constitution. We can recall that on coming to power, he set up a Constitutional Review Committee headed by late Honorable Justice Niki Tobi of the Supreme Court, who hailed from the South-South. The Committee, after touring the country stated in its report that based on the memorandums received, the majority of people in Nigeria were not in support of a full scale constitutional conference.The Committee, therefore, decided to limit its recommendation to matters relating to updating the 1979 Constitution in the following key areas:
a. Additional number of states which were 19 in 1979 to 36 in 1999;
b. The Federal Character, including the creation of Federal Character Commission; and
c. Matters related to increase in population, among other issues
However, after concluding its work, nothing major was amended, removed or added to the 1979 Constitution by the committee. After the promulgation of the amended constitution, Thisday Newspaper commissioned its 3 senior editorial staff to undertake a comparison between the two constitutions. At the end of the exercise, Simon Kolawale who was among the 3 editors, published a report which he tagged “This Thing Called 1999 Constitution.” He observed that his team conducted a page by page analysis of the two constitutions and concluded that, except for the items updated above, the 1979 and 1999 Constitutions are the same, almost line by line.
The main take home is that the current 1999 Constitution was an updated version of the 1979 constitution, which was drafted with the full participation of elected and nominated individuals representing different segments of the country. It also benefitted from the endorsement of our known national leaders of the major ethnic groups, regions and political opinions of the country, including:
a. Dr Nnamdi Azikwe of the NCNC in the First Republic and NPP leader in 1979;
b. Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Action Group (AG) in the First Republic and UPN during Second Republic;
c. Malam Aminu Kano of the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) during the First Republic and PRP in 1979;
d. Comrade Waziri Ibrahim of NPC and Great Nigerian People Party (GNPP) in 1979.
e. Chief Joseph Tarka of UMBC of First Republic and NPN in 1979.
f. Chief Harold Dappa Bitiye and Chief Milford Okilo of Nigeria Delta Congress (NDC) of First Republic and NPN in 1979.
It is also interesting to note that these leaders who represented different geopolitical zones of the country endorsed the Constitution and virtually all of them contested elections under the 1979 Constitutions which was a product of military decree. Among our founding political fathers only Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Sir Ahmadu Bello the Sardauna of Sokoto who were not alive in 1979. Therefore, it is inaccurate for the Yoruba Summit Group to claim that the 1999 Constitution is “fatally flawed” on the ground that the Constitution was the product of military decree.
The second important issue of concern is the national population census. The Yoruba Summit Group and other people mainly from Southern Nigeria have disputed Nigeria’s national census figures. They obtrusively argued that the North was unduly favoured by the British in the conduct of national population census. On this too, let’s go down the memory lane, beginning with the first population census that was conducted in 1911, which predated the 1914 amalgamation. The first census conducted in Nigeria was in 1911. In that exercise, the British could not carry out the exercise across the two protectorates simultaneously due to lack of funds and logistical challenges. Therefore, they used the number of tax payers to determine the populations of the protectorates. The same method was applied in the 1921, and 1931 census exercises. In 1941 the census was not conducted due to the Second World War until 1952 and 1953. All these censuses conducted before the Independence, on the average, showed the North had 54% and the South had 46% of the total population.
For example, the total estimated population in 1911 was 18.72 million where the northern and Southern Provinces having 10 million and 8.16 million respectively. Futhermore, the 1921 census indicated a total of 10.26m for the North, which is 55.10%, while 8.37m for the South which represent 44.90% with a total figure of 18.63m. Similarly, in 1931 the total figure was 19.9 million; the North had 11.43 million and the South had 8.4 Million. In 1952 and 1953 when the first actual enumeration across the country was conducted, the total population was 31.1million. The North had 16.8million (54%) and the South 14.3million (46%) of the total population. It is important to note that the pre-independence censuses during the colonial era were initially for reasons of tax collection. The issues of revenue allocation and representation based on population was only introduced after independence. As such, the North had no basis or influence to tilt the percentage of their population in its favour. The colonial powers did not equally have any basis to favour the North in the census because in 1911 there was no entity called Nigeria.
After Independence, censuses were carried out in 1963, 1973, 1991 and then 2006. It is worth noting that the 1963 was eventually cancelled because of the dispute between the Eastern region and the Western regions, largely due to claim of irregularities made by the government of the eastern region in the discovery of some villages in the east which were not counted. This was objected to by the government of the western region. Eventually, the matter was resolved and another headcount was conducted in 1963 which was generally accepted and adopted.
Table 1: Summary of Population Census in Nigeria: 1911-2006
YEAR NORTH SOUTH
1911 55.00% 45.00%
1921 55.10% 44.90%
1931. 57.40 % 42.60%
1952 54.55% 45.45%
1962 56.77% 43.23%
1963 53.51% 46.49%
1973 64.99% 35.01%
1991 51.85% 48.15%
2006 53.59% 46.41%
Source: National Population Commission
Worthy of emphasis here is that during the pre-independence period, women in the North were not counted in the census exercises. This was because the headcount, at that time, was based on taxation, and northern women were not eligible tax payers, unlike their counterpart in the South who paid taxes and were therefore enumerated accordingly. Women taxation from the South led to the Onitsha women riot during 1953 census who felt that their numbers were unjustly increased as an excuse to pay more tax. It is therefore logical that the population of North, which consistently remain over 50% of the population prior to independence, would naturally increase when women were included in the post-independence censuses.
From the 1951 general election up to 1959, representation in government was introduced. The appointment of ministers were based on regional representation. At that period, the entire North had only 4 ministers, whereas the South had a total of 9; 4 from the west, 4 from the east and 1 from Southern Cameroons. It could therefore be argued that due to the non-inclusion of women in the census, the North was shortchanged on the appointment of ministers at the national level throughout the period of colonial administration.
Based on the above reality, it is clear that any claim by any group or individual that the North was being unduly favoured by the British on the issue of population is not supported by facts or history.
The third issue raised by the Yoruba Summit Group and others is the claim that Lagos and Kano have almost the same population but Lagos has 20 local governments while Kano has 44. Therefore they insisted that Kano was unduly favoured in the creation of local governments. In this regard, it is important to appreciate that local government creation was not based on population alone but it is also based on landmass as well. This is the reason why Kano with a landmass of 20,131 square kilometers has more local governments than Lagos which has just 3,345 square kilometers.
Arising from the above issues which continued to generate heated debates and ill-feeling, I’m very much concerned as an elder. What I found very disturbing is that such utterances are directed against the unity of our country. Such narratives resembled that of some political leaders way back in 1953 when a member of the defunct Action Group Party introduced a motion in the House of Representatives, asking Britain to grant independence to Nigeria by 1956. Another Northern member of the House proposed an amendment to the motion by changing 1956 to as soon as practicable. This was because as at 1953, the entire Northern Region, which had 75% of Nigeria’s landmass and about 55% of the country’s population, had only one graduate, Dr R.A.B Dikko. At the same time, the South had thousands of graduates from different fields of expertise including law, engineering, medicine, administration, social sciences, etc. with about 90% of the public services manpower in the North were made up of expatriates or Nigerians from the southern part of the country. Action Group leaders rejected the compromise proposed by the northern legislator in order to enable the north prepare itself for independence. This is because if Nigeria was granted independence by 1956, the North would be under the control of the civil servants from the South, a situation that will put the North under perpetual domination of the South, particularly people from the Western Region, which had the preponderance of the public servants at the time. Such a scenario would have been a perpetual source of tension which would not auger well for the future stability of the nation. That seems to be the origin of the hostility of some Action Group supporters against the North till date. It is my humble submission that the remnant of such predispositions should discouraged.
Recently, I read an online post of the number of billionaires in Nigeria with about 80% of them from the southern part of the country. Similarly, it is on record that the level of poverty index and unemployment are negligible in the South compared to the North which has over 65% of the Nigerian poor people. This has clearly demonstrated that our compatriots from the South benefited more from the Nigerian State than the north. Yet, the north never complains against this disparity even though many of the national endowments are located in the north.
Perhaps, the reason why northerners do not bother about the skewness in the national prosperity is their awareness that human resources and land are key important factors that make a nation great. So, with better education, social re-orientation, effective leadership and good governance, it is only a matter of time before they will catch up with their compatriots from the South. I recall that sixty years ago, when I visited the People’s Republic of China, the country was almost at the same level of development as Nigeria today. However, today China is next to the United States of America in terms of economic development and other areas of human endeavours.
Therefore, there is no gainsaying that Nigeria is endowed with human and material resources that can effectively be harnessed to bring faster growth and development for the benefit of all. Limited opportunity for growth and shrinking opportunities naturally fuel tension and decent. What we need are committed, competence and effective leaders to take the country to the Promised Land. To this end, only a strong political party equipped with vision, agenda for national development and effective process can provide the required leadership. It is therefore necessary to have credible and focused political parties that will be guided by their manifestos and will be willing to implement people’s oriented developmental programmes.
The Action Group was one of the parties that could have provided such a platform if it were able to convince Nigerians that it was for the welfare of every segment of the country. Unfortunately, the leaders of both Action Group and its successor, UPN mainly committed themselves to the interest of the Yoruba people, to the exclusion of the rest of the country. Prominent Northerners who joined the Action Group and UPN were given senior positions in the leadership of those parties but were shabbily treated and eventually they silently abandoned the parties. Such prominent northerners with such experiences include, Abba Maikwaru, Malam Ibrahim Imam, Hon. Muhammadu Basharu, Malam Jamo Funtua, J. S. Tarka, Chia Surma, Patrick Dokotri, Sen. Ibrahim Dimis, Jonah Assadugu, Malam Yabagi Bidda, Alh Maito of Ilorin, Sen Abaagu from Benue, Malam Maiyaqi from Southern Zaria, Malam Haruna Wakilin Doka from Sokoto, Mr Philip Maken from Ganye, Peter Gawon, senior brother of our former head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon and Malama Ladi ‘Yartakarda.
It is gladdening to note that today the remnant of Action Group and UPN leadership from Yoruba land are now part of our endangered species. There were many south westerners with total commitment to unity and progress of Nigeria in other political grouping such as the NCNC, NPN, and alike. Today, such southerners with national orientation are gradually evolving and must be encouraged.
While thanking Almighty God for his gift of life to us, it is incumbent on leaders and opinion holders to avoid engaging in divisive tendencies and explore avenues to ensure a peaceful, united and prosperous country. The North can and should encourage movement towards creating a better united Nigeria by reaching out to other regions and also demonstrating good governance and better capacity for managing the multiplicity and often conflicting national and regional interests. Indeed, the North must continue to search for people with the right vision, capacity and predisposition to represent the region in the national space while making concerted efforts to reduce the self-inflicted poverty and unemployment currently ravaging the region. By so doing, the South would clearly appreciate the strategic contribution of the North to national growth, stability and prosperity.
Thank you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Tanko Yakasai OFR, is Nigeria’s elder statesman based in Kano.
Stop the Axe: Kano Zoological and Botanical Garden next on line of destruction
Prof. Yusuf M. Adamu PhD, MNAL
Kano city, now metropolis is an important chapter in the history of world urbanization and if we describe Kano as the queen of Hausaland and the princess of western Sudan, we wouldn’t be mistaken. History makes a place and it is not just the passage of time that makes history but the different layers of cultural attributes that creates the landscape which people are associated with. What makes Kano tick like all great cities, is its ability to absorb its residents into its citizenship thereby getting their loyalty and trust.
History of Kano Zoological Garden
In July 1971, the military governor of Kano State, Audu Bako laid the foundation stone for the Kano Zoo and by November 1972, it was completed. The late visionary Governor in his opening speech on November 14 said to the gathering “I am surprised to hear from a lot of people, including those who call themselves elites criticizing my idea of establishing a zoo or game reserve and not only that but also making it an item of mockery. I am openly condemning such people as people without foresight and wisdom. I am glad to say that there are not many of them in Nigeria for otherwise, general progress would have been retarded.” In concluding his speech, he said “In the name of God, I declare the Kano Zoological Garden open for the general public of Nigeria and anybody from outside the country, and I pray that it will serve mankind forever. To the people of Kano State, I hand to you this zoo as an object of pride. Please hold it as an egg. May God help us?”
When Police Commissioner Audu Bako the Governor of Kano State commissioned the zoological garden he informed the gathering that the Zoo was the only one of its kind in West Africa and it was the intention of his government ‘to develop this zoo into one of the best in Africa’ The late Audu Bako made the statement above not knowing what we will be discussing 48 years after. This is an historical preamble to contextualize the issue at hand. I am talking about the perhaps largest protected ecosystem in one of the largest indigenous cities of Africa: the Audu Bako Zoological and Botanical garden located in Kano, Nigeria. The satellite image shows the current status of the area. Note the contrast between the green area and the settled area. The proposed relocation will make the green zone bare too.
Like other important landmarks of this great city, the Kano Zoo is next on the destruction list by Kano State Government. In the last 21 years, we have witnessed the systematic erasure of Kano’s historical and cultural signatures that gave the city its identity. Its planning system have been debased, the reserved low-density areas are downgraded to high density areas, the lands of public institutions like the Kano State Polytechnic Daula Hotel and Triumph Publishing Company, have been sold, all the open spaces and green spaces have been converted to largely commercial land uses. All the parks and gardens in the metropolis have been sold. . So much mismanagement of land resources is taking place in Kano all in the name of development. One question we wish the State Government will answer is who the buyers of the sold public lands are. It will be great to have a list.
Kano is a dual city where two cities (Indigenous and township) living side by side. With an estimated population of 4-5 million, the city is in utmost need of more green areas.The zoo is perhaps the largest existing green area in the metropolis with a 53 hactre land devoted to plants and animals. It is amazing that other large city of the word such as New York which is the world’s commercial centre with a population roughly twice as that of Kano metropolis sees the need to maintain a green area despite the need for business premises and the billions they will generate as tax. The Central park which is the largest and most important public park in Manhattan occupies a whooping 340 hectares of land (6.4 times the size of Kano Zoo) covering about 4km. It was established in 1857 and opened in 1876, it is still there standing and serving mankind. The green spaces in London occupy over 142 hectares. Take some parks for example Central park is 3.41km2, English garden is 3.75km2, Regent’s park occupies 166 hectares, in fact London is 40% public green space including 3000 parks. These two cities are commercial centres, yet they understand the importance of vegetation to their survival.
Kano state Government plans to relocate the Garden
Three weeks ago, the Kano State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism Ibrahim Ahmed announced that the Governor of Kano State has ordered the relocation of Kano Zoological gardens from its current location to Tiga town, Bebeji Local Government because, according to the Governor the present location is inconvenient due to the high population density of the area This, according to him disturbs the animals. On a soft note, Malam Musa Tanko of Geography Department BUK has asked ‘Who did the animals at Kano Zoo told they’re not comfortable there? What about the Trees? Did they also complain?’ He further explained that ‘There is no place in the whole of Kano city that has high density of vegetation as the Kano Zoological garden. One of the numerous beauties the nature has blessed us with is vegetal cover, comprising of trees, shrubs and grasses which are very much important and necessary for life. Vegetation, especially trees are important to man and his environment in a variety of ways’.
Perhaps that is why the news was received with bad feelings. Some important points worthy of noting include the following:
The proposed area is far away from the metropolis and this will reduce the level of patronage especially by primary schools pupils.
With the increasing insecurity, it might be difficult for pupils to visit it.
The government did not give concrete reason other than the street-like reason that zoo animals do not like human noise.
No timetable was given.
Most importantly the public were not told what will happen to place when the animals are transferred.
Noting the antecedents of the Government of selling public parks and gardens, prayer grounds, parking spaces, historical sites and other open and green spaces, every environmentally aware person in Kano will be alarmed. Not only the citizens of Kano, even professional bodies like the Nigerian Association of Zoological Gardens and Wildlife Park were quick to write to the governor alerting him of the dangers of the proposed relocation. Many individuals have written essays trying to persuade the state Government from the project, people have spoken in the radio and other outlets all in an attempt to draw the attention of the State Government to let the Zoo be. Forestry Association also pleaded with the Government. As at now, we have not heard anything from government other than its hawks who attack responsible citizens who spoke against the proposed relocation.
The Destruction of Zoo Garden is one of the greatest planticide of the century
At this point it is good to ask the State Government what it intends to do with the Kano Zoo after relocating it. The most likely thing that will happen is that they will clear the place and create a commercial layout. In doing that, the government will claim that it is doing so to make Kano more commercially viable by building modern malls and creating jobs. As expected, I had the opportunity to hear a government officer saying that the zoo will be converted to a residential-cum commercial area and that not all the trees will be cut off. That the company that will take over the zoo will build the new one at Tiga and will decide what it will do with the old zoo. Anyway, whatever it is, it is destruction. The world will witness one of the greatest planticide (ecocide) of the century. The implications of this to Nigeria will be enormous. Many environmental groups around the world will mark Kano State red and we will lose good will that will last long and probably face sanctions.
It is sad that whenever you talk about ecology and environment or even cultural heritage, the government and its official and unofficial spoke persons will say they are bringing development to Kano thinking that building flyovers or structures is what development is all about as argued by Dr. Mahmud Abba of Geography Department, Bayero University Kano ‘Part of the genesis of this problem is our narrow perception of the concept of physical development. The authorities believe that to achieve physical development every available open space must be converted to building. Do they forget that every city in the world is made up of three major physical components namely; structures, networks and open spaces? Are they turning a blind eye on the numerous social and ecological services being provided by the zoo?’ In addition, the fallacy that building shops is development: Kano used to be the second major centre of industries and manufacturing in Nigeria, not any more. Without manufacturing Kano has become a dumping ground for manufactured goods from elsewhere. Building shops and malls will not develop the economy rather gradually weakens it. The emergence of malls, so-called plazas and super markets is in reality killing the local businessmen. Kwari market will in some years come become history. All the thousands of people employed there will lose their jobs. The malls owned by multi-nationals, politicians and big businessmen will takeover. As it has always been to the best of my knowledge, the State Government has no business with Kano business men except to collect taxes. So there will be no plan for the thousands that will lose their jobs.
The implications of relocation
The relocation of the Kano Zoo and Botanical Gardens is uncalled for as many people have argued because if we measure the costs and the benefits we will rather let it be. There are serious implications for the relocation. The implications include among others:
Reduced access: moving the zoo to about 75 kilometres away from Kano to Tiga, Bebeji Local Government, many prospective visitors will miss out. Majority of the visitors are school children and taking pupils to a 75 kilometres journey will not only be expensive to parents but also put the lives of our children in danger. This will deny millions of people the opportunity created by Audu Bako to see, learn and enjoy nature. No matter how much money the government will generate from the sale of the land, it can’t be compared to the damage it will cause and the lives of children that will be exposed to risk. The school children are the future of Kano not the new shops that will be constructed.
Loss of Biodiversity: hundred thousands of plants and animals species living in the area will be lost forever. Come to think of the thousands of trees, shrubs, grasses and insects that will be displaced just because someone wants to get money. Kano Zoo according to Dr. Mahmud Abba said is ‘a biodiversity hot spot, a repository of endangered plants and animals; the last biological sanctuary in the desert of humans and buildings.
Stress relief destruction: Many people used the park to release themselves from the daily stress they are experiencing as Dr Mahmud captures ‘The garden provides an avenue for relaxation to thousands of residents of the city. It is also a centre of social interaction amongst the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society thereby promoting cultural integration and social inclusion in the city’
Exposing people to new diseases: the destruction of the zoo may expose us to new zoonotic diseases that are thriving in the zoo. One way humans are exposed to new disease causing microbes is through the destruction natural habitats Diseases such as COVID-19 might have originated from the destruction of natural habitats.
Loss of clean air: the thousands of trees in the zoo cleans the air, consume all the industrial air emissions from Sharada Industrial Estate and gives a healthy atmosphere in that high density area thus reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections among the residents around the zoo area. Once the trees are gone, we will see rise in respiratory tract infections and other pollution-induced conditions. This will not only make the people sick but also add the cost of health care on the people and the government.
Flood control: the area also provides storm-water ecological service at the interface of the surrounding residential area for many years. Converting the area to other land uses will trigger incessant flood events which may lead to loss of lives and property in the surrounding area.
Exposing Kano to the dangers of Climate Change: A Biogeographer from Bayero University Kano, Dr. Muhammad Nuraddeen Danjuma has captured this implication aptly when he said ‘The Zoological Garden has been a major carbon sink in the Kano Metropolis. Interestingly, this characteristic green space constitutes about 24 genera and 14 families of various plants which primarily sink the terrestrial carbon generated by human activity free of charge. In absolute carbon terms, the protection of green space and specifically the avoidance of deforestation deliver the highest carbon saving tasks. Therefore rather than spending huge billions on carbon sequestration and addressing climate change, it is imperative to keep the protected area intact. In the era of ‘donor fatigue, dwindling revenues and nature fighting back, I am sure the Governor will think twice and save Kano from everlasting implications and risks associated with defamation of this iconic landscape. According to the 2018 World Air Quality Report, air quality in Kano contains an average mean PM 2.5 concentration of 53.4μg/m3 which is more than 5 times above the maximum limits recommended by the World Health Organization. I am sure should there be the likes of the Garden in the metropolis to play vital role is air purification; the widespread apparent rates of respiratory tract diseases might be decimated.’ This is a long term effect that will cost the people long after the incumbent government has gone.
Displacement of local traders: As earlier noted, the new shops that will be built there will displace other local shops that have thrived for years. This means, the new structures will be detrimental to the people living in the area.
Now, when you advise a government not to do one thing, it is only fair to give it options. For this reason, we wish to provide options to the State Government if indeed; it is after developing Kano State.
Let the Kano Zoo remain where it is, upgrade it to international standard since there is already plans for that.
If you must move the zoo, please let the place remain Kano Central Park, make another history by giving Kano what it deserves.
Leave the zoo in Kano emirate and let other emirates have its world class zoos, the proposed zoo at Tiga can serve Rano Emirate. We can have one each in Kano, Bichi and Gaya emirates.
I am calling on the head of the government in Kano to please let the zoo remain. I will refer to the prayers made by Dr. Danjuma who in his article wrote ‘Kano State is lucky to have such a religious man as their Governor. Sir, for being outstanding in success stories of Abuja City and most importantly an embodiment of Islam, this destruction to the ecosystem must not take place under your watch. Such misapplication of force to isolate and devastate the garden will only lead to large-scale environmental perturbations and crises’ This is on behalf of the 15 million inhabitants of Kano metropolis and the citizens of Kano yet unborn..
This write up is one of the many that have been published and one of the many concerns expressed privately and in public. Many feel that we are just wasting our precious time as the government will not listen. We have written a strong petition to the Kano State Government when they allocated the land near the city wall along BUK road, we have over 100 signatures (over 10 Professors) from the Universities in Kano but the government ignored us and continued. But this will not discourage us from admonishing the government. What we want to tell every citizen of Kano is that we as scholars have done our part. History will not be unfair to us and lump us with the onlookers. Allah will not hold us accountable for being silent. As for those who because of the meagre amount they will receive and those who are intoxicated with power, their legacy will haunt them and their lines for eternity and Allah will judge them. Finally, I want to draw the attention of all those in the helm of Kano affairs that in the end they will account to Allah for their actions.
Prof. Adamu PhD, teaches at Department of Geography, Bayero University, Kano.
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