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Ganduje’s RUGA Overpass, And The Almajiri Underpass

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A dark ominous cloud looms over Nigeria, carrying a flock of birds with molten stones of poverty and hardship, as a $9billion judgement which was unfairly given – racially driven perhaps, is set to reset and upset the country’s dwindling fortunes, having just recovered from a recession barely two years ago. If the Federal Government is able to reverse this arbitral award as explained by the CBN governor recently, then we would have been saved from eternal poverty and mayhem by the whiskers. No thanks to agents of government that entered into a contract with foreigners which was designed to fail, loot our treasury, and plunge us into irredeemable financial chaos – without the attorney general of the federation at the time having even a glimpse of the said contract. This is one of the numerous reasons why we must wake up from the slumber of free money, etched into our DNA from the years of pilfering of our common wealth for the common good of a few. And that is why the system old approach of governance has to change – for a new, viable and self-subsistent regime that will make our states economically hardwired to cater for its citizenry.

The states in the North can no longer keep at bay, the menace of the Almajiri system of education for the poor, which has surreptitiously contributed to the educational deficiency in the north. For every primary school pupil you put in school, there is an equivalent Almajiri or two in the Almajiri school, hence the sustained multiplier effect of the out of school children. Back in the 80s, late General Hassan Usman Katsina publicly decried the spate of begging and Almajiri-type schooling of young boys, distinguishing them from their southern counterparts, as well as other tribes in the north. He lamented to late Sheikh Gumi about the beggarly predisposition of the Almajiri boys, rummaging the north.

Kano is the economic nerve-centre of the north, the political compass of the north, and perhaps the state with the most westernly educated citizens. What Kano does is symbolically what the north does or is into, which has an infectious effect on adjoining northern states, and eventually the entire northern hemisphere of the country. Kano state government’s pronouncement of free and compulsory primary and secondary education has tickled my excitement, as Ganduje seeks to integrate qur’anic schools with mainstream government controlled schools. The new system would among other things, stop students from begging and roaming the streets all in the name of attending qur’anic schools. Measures are being taken to promote the dignity and resourcefulness of the pupils for the overall development of the state. The almajiri system of education will be integrated into the modern academic curriculum to improve the quality of learning. This system of education is being made compulsory to ensure its sustainability.

Aside the Almajiri, the farmers/ herders clashes have also been a challenge that has mitigated the efforts of our security systems in curbing the mortality rate of modern day Nigeria, escalated by clashes and inter-ethnic wars. The RUGA or the Livestock Transformation plan floated by government was perceived negatively, as a plan to enrich fulanis or give land to fulanis. A well thought out plan to settle the cattle rearers in a single location, abating the clashes between them and farmers, was perhaps not sold out well, but was bought by rather gullible Nigerians, as an ethnically discriminatory project. The likes of Kano state have gone ahead to start the RUGA initiative in their domain, as the Ganduje-led Kano state government has earmarked thousands of hectares from the Kano forests, as grazing reserves and settlements, to not only herders, but all manner of cattle breeders to run their businesses of the cattle industry. It takes away the forest enclaves of bandits and kidnappers that have found homes and getaways in the thick forests of northern Nigeria, and at the same time provides a ready location for herders that stations them in one location; ending the spate of killings and ethnic clashes between herders and farmers. This is a double edged masterstroke that numbs the insecurity challenges, and at the same time develops the cattle rearing and other related industries that will provide among other things milk; another foreign exchange cesspit. It will also provide employment opportunities for the youths in the state. Over 100 youths are being trained in Istanbul, Turkey, to learn artificial insemination methods and other modern rearing techniques. They will in turn train hundreds of youths that will be gainfully employed in the Industry. Restricting the herders and cattle from wandering all over farmlands in the country is the modern way to go, as avails in more industrialised cattle rearing techniques.

Kano state has had the most remarkable infrastructural development strides in the north, in the last four years, Ganduje doing eloquently well in completing the very many projects he inherited. He also embarked massively on new projects and unarguably, Kano has blazed the trail for infrastructure. I have seen so many beautiful underpasses and the overlying roads over them, enhancing traffic flow and removing the menace of touts and the like around rather rowdy junctions within the Kano metropolis. The most beautiful is the new underpass at Gyadi-Gyadi which has an overhead bridge over from the Zoo road area, towards the State road area, which magnificently stands over the overlying road with a roundabout that runs over the underpass! Huh! (3 roads, 1 over the other all at once). But the things that have really caught my attention are the RUGA and the fusion of the Almajiri schools to the regular academic schools.

The RUGA initiative as a hydra headed solution to banditry, ethnic clashes and unemployment, is akin to that magnificent overpass, underpass, and overhead bridge structure. The underpasses are in need of bigger and wider drainages though, to empty out the water from torrential rainfall, judging from this year’s especial rainy season. The Almajiri system being collapsed into the modern academic curriculum will surely drain the streets of Kano of beggars and school age kids roaming the streets, heeling away their future, wandering all over, and not wondering in class, what their future will be like. When the RUGA initiatives and the Almajiri new educational systems have been completed by Ganduje, he would have surely created an underpass to rid Kano and the north of the Almajiri crises, and an overpass for the herders, to quell the herders clashes round the country, as they ride over to settle in one place, in one piece.

Now I understand when my friend Salihu aka Dawisu tweets; Aiki dai aiki dai Uban Abba.

– Tahir is Talban Bauchi.

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