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Kwankwaso’s Superhuman Restraint During Arise TV Interview

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Rabiu Kwankwaso

By Farooq Kperogi

A few days ago on Twitter, I happened upon an interview that Arise TV’s Dr. Reuben Abati had with Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso that caused me to both laugh hysterically and stand in awe of Kwankwaso’s surprisingly out-of-this-world emotional self-control.

Unfortunately, I can’t find the video again. Essentially, Abati said something to the effect that some well-known names in the country (he meant in the North but didn’t say so explicitly) trace immediate ancestral and familial roots to countries outside Nigeria. He was probably talking about the Baba-Ahmed family whose father migrated to Zaria from Mauritania. Abati asked if Kwankwaso was one of such people.

You could see, almost touch even, the fury that welled up in Kwankwaso. But he self-consciously restrained himself and curtly said he is a Nigerian and his parents were also Nigerian. Then Abati pivoted to a long-standing, if ridiculous, whispering campaign in Kano that alleges that Kwankwaso is actually an Igbo man, that his last name is a corruption of “Okonkwo and Sons,” the putative name of a company an Igbo man established in colonial Kano.

Abati asked Kwankwaso if he there was any truth to this speculation. His visage and body language betrayed the sight of a man who was bottling a sensation of raw rage and disgust. But his response was admirably measured and restrained. He said he had no problem with, and in fact welcomed, being mistaken for any ethnic group in Nigeria.

He used the opportunity of the question to sound commendably broadminded and pan-Nigerian. It was a golden opportunity for a presidential candidate struggling to gain traction outside Kano. It was also a great segue to his forceful but curt denial about being descended from a non-Nigerian parentage.

Most politicians in Kwankwaso’s shoes would have lost it. Here’s why.

The notion that Kwankwaso town was founded by an Igbo man called Felix Okonkwo in 1927 started as a joke. Political jokes like that used to be—still are—common in Kano. For example, when Alhaji Abubakar Rimi campaigned for Olu Falae in Kano in the early 1990s, he invented a harmless, humorous fib to recommend and legitimize him to Kano voters.

He said Olu Falae was a Kano man who was originally known as Auwalu Falalu but that when his parents migrated to Yoruba land, Yoruba people couldn’t pronounce his name correctly and corrupted it to Olu Falae.

Most people got a kick out of the fib and understood it in the tradition of campaign jokes in Kano. I don’t remember the campaign fib that was told about Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999, but it had Baban Sirajo (father of Sirajo) in, and it was approbatory.

Kwankwaso had the misfortune of being at the receiving end of a negative campaign fib, which somehow took on a life of its own outside Kano. Now a lot of people actually believe that Rabiu Kwankwaso is an Igbo man!

The truth is that Kwankwaso town has existed— and known by its current name— before Nigeria was formally constituted and so couldn’t possibly have been founded by a Felix Okonkwo in 1927. The town’s first traditional ruler, according to historical records, was known as Mamman Danhawa, and he ruled from 1808 until 1842. The formal colonization of northern Nigeria started on January 1, 1897.

Rabiu Kwankwaso is descended from the Kwankwaso royal family. In fact, his father, Alhaji Musa Sale Kwankwaso, who died in 2020 at the age of 93, was the village head of Kwankwaso. The formal title of the royal head of the town is “Sarkin Fulanin Kwankwaso,” which is Hausa for the king of the Fulani of Kwankwaso.

 That tells you that Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is ethnically Fulani, not the Igbo son of an Okonkwo. Of course, like most Fulani people in the Northwest, he is culturally, linguistically and, for all intents and purposes, Hausa.

But I think the historical facts that lent some credibility to the idea that Kwankwaso was founded by an Igbo man is that it became a railway town between 1910 and 1916. Like most railway towns, it’s more ethnically diverse than most towns of its size in the North.

Finally, what Abati did was good journalism. Our job as journalists is to rupture the composure of politicians, to so rile them up that they trip up and say things that are unscripted and therefore newsworthy. Had Kwankwaso taken the bait and exploded in anger at being called a non-Nigerian or an Igbo man, that would have dominated the news cycle and got Arise TV millions of eyeballs. Because that didn’t happen, most people are not aware of the interview.

Femi Fani-Kayode who had a hissy fit when a reporter by the name of Eyo Charles asked him who was “bankrolling” his tour of PDP states in 2020 would do well to consult Kwankwaso about emotional self-control in the heat of intentional, headline-seeking, eyeball-scouting journalistic provocation.

As I pointed out in my August 26, 2020, article titled “Fani-Kayode: All Great Journalists Are ‘Rude’,” a good interviewer causes politicians to have a meltdown so they can lose the guard and involuntarily let out the truth. “Smart politicians know this. Instead of allowing themselves to be immobilized by impotent anger, they respond to high-pressure, ‘embarrassing’ questions with poise, and disarm adversarial reporters with humility, grace, and gentleness,” I wrote.

This post was first published on Kperogi’s Facebook page 

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Opinion

Hajiya Rakiya: The Predicament of ICT Guru at CBN

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By Yushau A. Shuaib

Upon completing the routine security check, we ascended to the impressive Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) complex in Abuja. Led to a spacious yet modest hall where an event was unfolding, we found seats beside a woman modestly dressed in a Muslim Hijab. She greeted us warmly and invited us to sit beside her. Her humility and warmth immediately put us at ease.

We initially assumed she was a guest or another participant at the briefing. However, as we discussed the media industry, she listened intently, nodding in agreement. When she finally spoke, her insightful comments on disruptive technologies and their impact on the communication industry left us in awe. Her deep knowledge spanned online streaming services, virtual events, and redefining audience engagement through innovation, leaving us with a profound respect for her expertise.

She elaborated on how blockchain, 5G networks, and artificial intelligence facilitate secure, faster connectivity and interactive experiences with enhanced royalty management. Beyond aiding in content generation and personalisation, she noted media production is becoming increasingly democratised. Moreover, she ‘schooled’ us on the latest technological tools for fact-checking, cybersecurity, and digital journalism—all without a trace of arrogance or pomposity.

As the event concluded, we offered our printed business cards. In response, she shared her digital business card. Scanning the QR code revealed her identity: Hajia Rakiya Shuaibu Mohammed, the Director of Information Technology at the Central Bank of Nigeria. This position speaks volumes about her expertise and influence in the field.

Curiosity drove me to search for her profile upon leaving. What I uncovered was astounding. Despite not being a celebrity tech expert paraded on social media or television, she is an extraordinary IT specialist. Former CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele described her as such, having promoted her from Head of Information Security Management after a rigorous selection process.

In his remarks at the eNaira Hackathon Grand Finale in Abuja in 2022, Emefiele, the then CBN Governor, credited the success of Africa’s first central bank digital currency partly to Hajiya Rakiya. He admitted to underestimating her suitability for the Director of Information Technology position, initially preferring a male candidate. He said, “I must single her out. When she was considered for the director role, I initially doubted. I was thinking.. I’m Sorry, ladies, please forgive me. I said a lady IT Director. I went back and began to read her CV. She is a First-Class computer science graduate, a brilliant erudite lady from Northern Nigeria, and a chartered accountant. I said you could not have a better person as head of IT for Central Bank of Nigeria.”

Her academic and professional accolades are extensive. Rakiya was the Head Girl of the Federal Government Girl College, Bakori, and the Best Graduating Student in 1982. She obtained a First-Class degree in Computer Science from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in 1987, followed by a Master’s degree in Information Systems Engineering from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in 1994. She has also attended executive education programs at Harvard University and Oxford University.

Rakiya’s professional journey spans over 25 years across the financial, telecommunications, and technology sectors. Before her promotion to IT Director at the CBN, where she spearheaded and implemented the Industry Security Operation Centre (NFICERT) and Africa’s first Digital Currency, Rakiya had headed the System Services and Information Security Management (CISO) Division of the bank, where she modernised the IT infrastructure and introduced innovative solutions like video conferencing. She had developed and implemented robust information security strategies, maintaining ISO 27001 certification and ensuring zero major security incidents.
Previously, she was Head of Strategy and IT at Galaxy Backbone Plc (2009-2011), CIO at Premium Pension Limited (2005-2008), Deputy General Manager (IT) and CIO of NITEL (2003-2005), and Head of Branch Banking Systems in the Northern Region of Continental Merchant Bank (1988-1995).

She holds numerous certifications, including Lean Process Practitioner, Certified IT Business Manager, Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO), Certified Enterprise and Solution Architect, Certified IT Governance Professional (COBIT, CGEIT), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Chartered Accountant (ICAN) and Honorary member of the Certified Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

On May 16, 2024, she made an outstanding presentation to the CBN board on maximising the utility of current IT facilities. However, a week later, despite her impressive background, certifications, and contributions to the bank, Rakiya has become one of the victims of an inexplicable spate of officers retrenched by the current CBN Governor, Yemi Cardoso.

Here is a woman who has contributed immensely by ensuring increased revenue, reduced costs, and improved security in various organisations she had worked for and could just be retired due to political exigency.

It is perplexing to understand the rationale behind retrenching such highly qualified and integral personnel among several others in that bank, especially considering the ongoing appointments of external consultants. If retaining and promoting the best within the service is not prioritised, what justifies these replacements with outsiders?

Yushau A. Shuaib is the author of “Award Winning Crisis Communication Strategies.” yashuaib@yashuaib.com

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Opinion

Prioritizing skills acquisition and entrepreneurship: Why Nigerians must shift from white collar jobs

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Yusha’u Hamza Kafinchiri

 

As Nigeria continues to grapple with the challenges of unemployment, poverty and economic stagnation, it is imperative that citizens shift their focus towards a proven model of success – skills acquisition and entrepreneurship.
China’s remarkable economic transformation serves as a shining example of what can be achieved through a concerted effort to develop vocational skills and encourage entrepreneurial spirit. With a population of over 200 million Nigeria is a thriving market to accommodate it’s talent’s productivity.

For too long, Nigeria has been plagued by a culture of white-collar job seekers, relying on government employment and certificates rather than skills and innovation. This mindset has perpetuated laziness, mediocrity and a lack of innovation. It is time for an active paradigm shift. Governments at all levels must work truthfully on this model leveraging on the power of education and training in producing producers of good and services.

By prioritizing skills acquisition and entrepreneurship, Nigerians can:

-Develop practical skills in various trades, such as technology, manufacturing, and services to remain independent
-Create jobs and stimulate economic growth through innovation and entrepreneurship
-Reduce reliance on government employment and break free from the shackles of white-collar mentality currently wrecking havoc on government efforts to hold to it’s services.
-Increase productivity and competitiveness, driving economic progress at all levels of learning.

Let Nigerians learn from China’s example and strive to build on skills acquisition and entrepreneurship, as the drivers of their own destiny and the architects of a prosperous Nigeria.
Let the mindset of Nigerians change for good.

 

Kafinchiri,  is a Director monitoring and evaluation, Ministry of Education, Kano State. 

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Opinion

Emirs are not Kings!

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Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II

Sunusi Umar Sadiq

 

The drama surrounding the restoration of a single Kano Emirate, which has hitherto been balkanised, and the reinstatement of Muhammadu Sanusi II as its emir is still unfolding. Yet, as always, there are many issues of interest that may need to be discussed even before the events fold up completely. One such issue is the question of chronology, that is whether the reinstated emir will now be referred to as the 14th, 16th or even 59th emir of Kano, the last mentioned counting from Bagauda, the first of the kings of the Kano Kingdom.

I have little or no problem with MSII being referred to as the 14th or even the 16th emir. It will just be an additional confusion upon the existing one. It is, nonetheless, a matter for historians to decide though the semantics is clear that reinstatement is a carry-over from the past, not a fresh beginning. In other words, when a person is reinstated to the position he once occupied but for whatever reason got removed therefrom, the interregnum is considered as an aberration. Moreover, it is the individual ruler that counted, not the period he occupied as it is the ruler that defines the era not vice-versa. This is perhaps encapsulated in the well-known Hausa saying of Sarki goma, zamani goma. And the extant sources we have, as far as I know, never assign a new chronology to a reinstated ruler obviously due to the contradiction that will cause when a headcount is taken.

There is a problem, however, to reckon the reinstated emir as the 59th King of Kano for the simple reason that the Kano Kingdom ceased to exist in 1807 when the last King of Kano, Muhammadu Alwali, was overthrown by the Fulani. A kingdom is independent and the king is sovereign. An emir, however, is subordinate to a higher authority to which he owes allegiance and must remain loyal for him to retain his post. He is no more than a Military Administrator under a military junta.

The Fulani turned Kano into an emirate, as they did to other Hausa States, thereby making it an appendage of Sokoto with the emir being in his post at the pleasure of the Supreme Ruler in Sokoto. Late Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman did well in bringing out these distinctions between emirates and kingdoms in his seminal doctoral research published as The Transformation of Katsina (1400 – 1883): The Emergence and Overthrow of the Sarauta System and the Establishment of Emirate.

Late Bala identified at least five distinct epochs in the case of Katsina, which is very much the same as the rest of the Hausa States. The epochs as identified are the period of the autonomous garuruwa and birane, with no overall head, only the occupational heads or guild chiefs with the Sarkin Noma as the primus inter pares. The second period saw the emergence of the Sarauta System. Then the third period, which he called the Jama’a Period, by which he meant the period immediately after the Fulani Uprising. The fourth period is the emirate period in which the authority is centred around the emir as a lieutenant of the Caliph in Sokoto. The fifth is the Native Authority System ushered in by the British Colonialists.

The impropriety of adding a Fulani emir to the list of the Hausa Kings becomes more manifest when we call to mind that the successor Hausa States of Gobir in Tsibiri, of Katsina in Maradi and of Zazzau in Zuba/Abuja (now Suleja) continue with their king-lists as it is not seat of a kingdom that defines that kingdom but the historicity and historical consciousness of the people involved. Duk inda Shehu ya ke nan ne Borno.

If we take Zazzau Suleja as an example, the current king is the 68th on the list, a list in which all the Fulani Emirs of Zazzau from Mallam Musa to Amb. Ahmad Bamalli cannot justifiably be placed. The Fulani are therefore free to make up their own “emirlist” so as to ensure historical coherence.

The problem with Kano is that unlike its sister states or kingdoms, the overthrown Hausa ma su sarauta did not establish a successor state anywhere. Why that happened is borne out by a number of factors which will be a topic for another day. Nonetheless, the sanctity of history has to safeguarded and respected. The Sarakunan Hausa were absolute monarchs. They did not have to curry the favour of some other ruler for them to remain on the throne or to secure the position for their offspring in the event of their passing. Moreover, the Hausa Kings were the fountain of the law and justice. They did not need a court order to maintain them on the throne or ward off their contenders.

Sadiq writes from Kano. He is the President of the Hausa Historical Society. He can be reached via hausahistoricalsociety@gmail.com

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