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About a fortnight ago, I received a text message inviting me to visit Kano. It was sent by Alhaji Halilu Baba Dantiye, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Kano State, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
Dantiye, a former President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors is a professional colleague and acquaintance of 23 years standing. I first met him on the night of August 27, 1991 at the offices of Triumph Newspapers, Kano. Dantiye was a line editor while Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s media chief, Alhaji Garba Shehu, was the paper’s editor.
I had come in from Jos, Plateau State, and my mission was to be one of the first journalists to visit Jigawa State, one of the new states created by General Ibrahim Babangida on that day in a national broadcast. It was Dantiye and Shehu who gave me the information lowdown that I needed to make sense out of Dutse, the capital of the new state; a withered, desolate village with only tarred road running through it towards Potiskum and Maiduguri.
One of the attractions of this trip, for me, was to see up close what Gov Kwankwaso, one of the people warming up to contest for the office of president of Nigeria, was all about. After initially denying he had presidential ambition when he the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) rebel governors to pull out and join the All Progressives Congress (APC), Kwankwaso is poised to tussle for the APC ticket, along with other aspirants such as Gen Muhammadu Buhari, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and (who knows?) Hon Tambuwal.This was the village which, by the grace and fiat of a military ruler, was now a state capital! Looking at what Governor Sule Lamido has made of Dutse, you will not fail to marvel at what visionary leadership can do in developing human society. It will also tell you what dumb leaders, like the regimes before Lamido’s, could do in under-developing society; which is why people are always clamouring for competent and God-fearing leaders.
On arrival in Kano on Saturday along with Steve Osuji, a member of the Editorial Board and Columnist of The Nation Newspapers, I was surprised to find myself in a 28-seater Coaster bus full of other top journalists mainly from Abuja, such as Ali Mohammed Ali, former Political editor of Thisday, Abuja university don, Dr Kabir Mato, Ademola Adegbamigbe of The News Magazine, Alhaji Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, who writes for Vanguard and other papers, among a host of others. A Special Assistant of Gov Kwankwaso was in the bus to narrate our visitation as we went along. Dantiye was with his principal in Abuja. They were to attend the turbaning of the Speaker of the House of Reps, Hon Aminu Tambuwal, by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, before joining us in Kano later that night.
We visited many project sites around Kano, the nation’s second most populous city, including the Sports Institute, housing estates and the many road projects. One thing that Kano is now famous for is the existence of well-constructed wide roads, usually dual carriage express roads, complete with drainage and street lights. Another noticeable attribute of Kano is the springing up of flyover bridges, all of them started by Kwankwaso. One of the flyovers is said to be two kilometres long and still very much under construction.
It is amazing that Kano, which is one of the oldest cities in the country with a genuine ancient history, can afford such wide roads. It is obvious that Kwankwaso wants to open the city for rapid movement of goods and human traffic; a city with a great past and prospects for aneven greater future. Kano will never, in the foreseeable future, be tied down by slow traffic if the structures being put up are taken to full actualisation.
As a journalist, whenever you go on a guided tour of a government project, they usually show you the good side for you to go away with a positive impression. During the night of Friday before the tour, I needed to buy some red wine to relax with colleagues. I went to the Ado Bayero Mall and patronised Shoprite. I knew that Kano was a Sharia city, where alcohol is not allowed to be openly displayed. But I felt that Shoprite, being what it is, should stock red wine. When I got there and asked for red wine, a lanky young male attendant asked me to follow him. He took me to a shelf full of red wines, but when I got closer, I found all of them were non-alcoholic!
“We are not allowed to sell alcoholic drinks here”, the attendant told me, “they say it is against their religion”.
I was directed to Sabon Gari, the settlement for non-indigenes, where my colleagues and I were able to get what we were looking for. There is night life there, but the infrastructure is a total eyesore. Sabon Gari does not look like a part of Kano city. The roads are decrepit and there is trash everywhere. The drains are broken down. People living in Sabon Gari are marginalised in the distribution of amenities in Kano. When I asked the governor why he and preceding political leaders chose to sideline the quarter populated by non-indigenes, he denied the area is being neglected. He told me that the longest, two-kilometre flyover bridge project cuts through Sabon Gari and mentioned some of the roads he said he was doing there. These explanations did not obviate the fact on ground viz: that Sabon Gari in Kano is just like places chiefly populated in Lagos by non-locals, such as Ajegunle, Amuwo Odofin, Ojo and others.
I have always been of the strong view that when it comes to the choice people have make in electing a leader, competence is very important. Kwankwaso is a very competent leader. He is also a very strong personality, intellectually solid, with a wealth of experience as former Minister and governor, among other things. But in his own Kano city, the part populated by non-indigenes is not put on the same developmental stride as the rest of the city. This man wants to be my president. If he gets to be president, he will bring his competence, intelligence and vision to the job. But to whose benefit?
Competence and intelligence
General Muhammadu Buhari also demonstrated, through his Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) odyssey, that he is competent. But he favoured the North with PTF’s projects while giving only a token to other parts in the South, especially South East. Buhari gave most of the PTF contracts to Fulani young professionals and businessmen and enriched them. He practised favouritism. When there is favouritism, one side gains at the expense of others.
So, competence apart, what is the person willing to do? Will he treat everybody equally? Will he be fair? President Shehu Shagari was fair, especially to the Igbos who came out of the civil war with the rest of the country just nine years before he was elected president. The late President Umaru Yar’ Adua was fair, even to the Igbos. The taste of the pudding is in the eating. Kwankwaso’s outing in Kano city shows him as a capable leader, but not a fair one, as far as the situation in the non-indigenes’ quarters – Sabon Gari Kano – is concerned
Article written by Ocheoroeme Nnanna and culled from The Vanguard
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