Taming Kano Demagogue
Before his election in 2003, Kano state governor Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau had not left anybody guessing about the style of governance he wanted to adopt. Tamu ba irin tasu ba ce, meaning: ours is different from theirs, was the popular slogan he used during his campaign those days. And trust Kano people, whose love for constant political change is somewhat obsessive, Shekarau was given a benefit of doubt. The hope was that he was going to make the difference as he promised.
Again in 2007, Shekararau got a second tenure on a platter of gold, partly because of the protracted internal wrangling that bedeviled the opposition People Democratic Party (PDP). Alas, majority of Kano people are now regretting this. Shekarau is exact different of everything he preaches. The recent local government elections in the state, which can set a new Guinness World record as per as rigging is concerned, is a case in point.
Reports, recently emanating from the state are indeed worrisome. It is, no doubt, disheartening to hear that officials of the state government could descend so low to the level of ordinary delinquent political thugs while responding to an independent assessment of the administration’s performance in the last one year.
One of the leading nation’s newspapers, This Day, had published a reports card of the entire thirty six state governors in the country based on their performances from May 29 last year to the time of the publication, after carrying out thorough investigations of their respective states. And Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, the state governor, was rightly put where he belonged: below average mark.
This, to me was even a generous mark for a governor who speaks louder than he acts. It was more than a fair assessment for a governor that has been running my state through effective manipulations of instruments of religious propaganda, demagoguery and hypocrisy that have never been witnessed in her political history.
No sooner the publication was out and reviewed in a popular local FM station, Freedom Radio, than the rattled state government’s officials,- who were still basking in the euphoria of second term in office- responded. But the officials’ reaction led by Alhaji Musa Iliyasu Kwankwaso, the state commissioner of Rural Development, was certainly unbecoming of key Shekarau’s cabinet members, whose claim of measure achievements is blazing the trail of ethical rebirth. We now know better. Instead of responding to the issue of acute water shortage and the general decay of the state’s infrastructures, the state government did what it knows best: manipulation of religious sentiment. They threw caution to wind and went to the level of describing the paper as anti-Islam, an attempt to pitch it against the teaming Muslim population in the state. Stirring up a fresh religious conflict in a state which is virtually prostrate prying to regain its socio-economic glory, is certainly not an option for the state government. They ignore that fact and hence chose the path of dishonour.
But this is even where another of Shekarau’s hypocrisies is laid bare.
It is on record that the same paper short listed him among others as a nominee for the best performing governor in the country in the first and second year of his administration. And he and his media managers were very proud of that achievement. They were highly elated because the paper was on the right path. Yes, This Day was pro-Islam then. Or isn’t Shekarau equated with Islam by him, his media managers and supporters?
Since, however, Shekarau and his spokespersons had avoided the nitty-gritty of This Day’s fair assessment and thus employed the use of cheap black mail, some of the patriotic Kano people like me will not allow this opportunity to slip away without reminding them the five years they have been on the saddle is the worst that we saw in her history.
Shekaru had, five years ago, vowed to tackle the perennial water scarcity in the state but the situation is now an albatross that the residents carry on their neck with no end in sight to it. Even the wells the 70 per cent of the ancient city’s wells have dried up. They have been over stretched as the governor failed woefully in delivering his campaign promise. Today, the latest joke in town is the chieftaincy title that the residents have given their governor: Bakan-Gizon Kano, Hakimin Tamburawa, meaning the Rainbow of Kano District Chief of Tamburawa.
In order to appreciate this joke properly, there’s a belief in Hausa land that rain bow is adverse to water or rain. Once rainbow appears in the cloud the people would give up about seeing the rain dropped. And Tanburawa is the location that the governor that sited his white elephant water treatment plant, which has gulped billions of naira from our treasury without any results. The project that was promoted as the best thing that happened to the state has, today, been completed but there is no water there to treat. Another clear case of the government’s poor planning.
The tragedies of Shekarau’s administration are not limited to his failed promise in provision of potable water to his people. The smooth-talking former school teacher is bereft of idea of how to lift the standard of education in the state from where he met it. His predecessor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso who ironically was not the darling of the people apparently because of his poor public relation record established a state university.
The institution called Kano Universty of Technology (KUT) is now a victim of Shekaru’s frivolous and vindictive politics.
The university has been deliberately neglected by the former school teacher, since doing so amounts to recognition of his predecessor’s achievement. Shekarau’s policy is to continue strangulating KUT, through non-funding of the institution just to satisfy his personal ego.
In the same vein, Shekarau had inherited a proposed Independent Power Project (IPP), from his predecessor with feasibility studied done already. What did he do? He killed it. But he has made sure that the state’s legislators enacted a law to build mansion for him and continue paying his salary for life as well as sponsoring his annual leave abroad. He has signed the bill into law.
The story is not different in the state ministry of health, where there’s only one consultant pediatrician and no single consultant physician apart from Professor Sadik Wali, former CMD of Mallam Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital who offered his service free to his people after retirement.
It is pity to know that while states like Borno, with less endowment in terms of human and physical resources could afford to put CT Scan machines in their hospitals Kano is still managing X-ray machines that were installed during the administration of late CP Audu Bako, over 30 years ago. I am not surprised. This is the same government that proposed an idea of using donkeys to evacuate the mountains of refuse that became an eyesore in the ancient city at this age. Ludicrous! The government only backed down from implementing the idea only after seeing that the criticism against the it was too much. In fact the opposition had to nick name the governor Iro mai jakai, which literally translates as Iro (Ibrahim) the cutodian of donkeys.
Any body that visited Kano in the last 5 years would find that the condition of our roads is deteriorating by the day and no body dares say anything against it since the governor had made it clear right from on set that road constructions and other infrastructural development were, and still are not part of his priorities. He was there to develop human beings as he always insists.
But who are the beneficiaries of this policy? The answer is simple: its group of hungry voltureous and greedy friends, relations clerics, who have been devouring on our meager resources. Who is the actual business tycoon behind the N 5 billion fertilizer scam that rocked the state government in its first few months in office? How can a governor that claims to be a moralist awarded a contract of that huge amount of money without a budget provision and approval of state executive council? Why there was a de ja vu of the same scandal two years after, which consumed one of his kitchen cabinet members, Alhaji Sani Rogo, the then commissioner of local government affairs? Why did Shekarau now returned Rogo to his cabinet as a special adviser?
One can go on and on to ask more pressing questions. The truth is that Shekarau is a monumental failure in every facets of governance. He is the tragedy that befell my people. And only God can save us from him.
While he is, however, getting away with every atrocity he is committing, we must not allow his intolerance to constructive criticism to plunge our state into any violent conflict. It was on record that the last violent crisis that was witnesses in the state (Yelwan Shendam repraisal) erupted minutes after Shekarau addressed thousands protesters in the state government house. His sense of reasoning was overwhelmed that time and the result was catastrophic for the state. We must not allow that again.
Indeed, this is the time that the nation’s press should beam their search lights on Kano with a view to taming this intolerance and demagoguery that are killing our state. Many journalists have been harassed by political thugs for daring to report the truth against the state government. Some like Mohammed Kabiru of the Champion Newspapers have been banned from entering the state government house since almost two years ago.
Even, a popular Hausa Film actor cum politician, Hamisu Iyantama, who is known for taking constant swipe at the state government’s failures, is a victim of Shekarau’s intolerance. He was recently arrested detained and charged to court over a phantom charge circulating unregistered film –while it was duly registered with national film censorship board- among other framed charges. The court had to order for his remand in prison. But every Kano citizen knows that Iyantama’s sin was far from film-related incidents. It was just a case of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it.
Thus Shekarau’s legendary intolerance is well documented. Even the likes of Gen. Mohammed Buhari, on whose back he (Shekarau) rode to power, are among the victims. The way he opens his mouths to humiliate the Daura born retired General is indeed unfortunate especially given the role he (Buhari) played in enthroning him as Kano state governor. It was on record the Shekarau was beaten hands down at ANPP primaries in 2003 by Alhaji Ibrahim Ali Amin a.k.a Little but Buhari seized the ticket and gave it to him. In a typical Machiavellian style, the governor has been a thorn in Buhari’s flesh since mounting the saddle. Alhaji Abubakar Rimi is another of Shekarau’s target for daring to speak out against his mismanagement of our resources.
While he is, however, getting away with every atrocity he is committing, we must not allow his intolerance to constructive criticism to plunge our state into any violent conflict. It was on record that the last violent crisis that was witnesses in the state erupted minutes after Shekarau addressed thousands protesters in the state government house. His sense of reasoning was overwhelmed at that time and the result was catastrophic for the state. We must not allow that again. We must not allow the descendents of Misheilias to lead to astray. We must tame this monstrous demagogue.