Kano, a city known for its relative peace, recently had this shattered because of the activities of terrorists. Patience Ivie Obhafuoso takes a look at the policies and developmental factors through which the present government intends to restore peace and stability in the city.
Born and bred in the beautiful city of Kano, Emeka, 38 years of age inherited a business from his father.
Having lived in Kano almost all his life, he knows no other city except Kano. Even though there is a saying that there is no place like home, for Emeka, Kano is a home.
However, this Igbo trader of South East origin could no longer find peace as he seeks daily with apprehension, for his source of livelihood in the busy Sabon Gari market environment in Kano.
Just like Emeka, many other Nigerians living in Kano are grappling with the struggle for lasting peace in one of Nigeria’s busiest cities, known as the centre of commerce.
Kano, an ancient city with a rich cultural heritage and strong traditional and religious history, is one of Nigeria‘s commercial and most populated cities.
A city that attracts visitors from all over Nigeria and north of the Sahara region, witnessed a flight of peaceful atmosphere, no thanks to terrorism attack on the cities by suspected Boko Haram set.
This historical city, on 20th January, was awoken with sounds and trauma of bombs that shook its foundation, sending many innocent residents to their early graves. The unfortunate incident created fear in the minds of many, especially relatives of non-indigenes who reside in the city.
This has paved way for media propaganda leaving those in other parts of the country with the wrong perception that there was mass exodus of people in Kano.
In an attempt to combat this threat to the relative peace and restore the confidence of indigenes and non-indigenes alike, the state government came up with strong security and development step aimed at accelerating social-economic status of the state to a world class.
In a recent media parley, the secretary to the Kano State Government, Dr. Rabi’u Sulieman Bichi said from onset, the present administration made security its priority, purchasing 106 hilux vehicles for the police and Army personnel across the state equipped with fully fitted communication techniques.
He said the state government took it upon itself to provide the security agents with all the necessary support so as to avoid the reoccurrence of the ugly situation that recently posed a threat to the lives and property of the people in Kano.
“With the security measure on ground, whenever there is a security threat, within 10 minutes, the information would have gone round the city with the help of these techniques. We have identified several other ways through which we can check security and we are happy that the efforts of the government and the security agents are not in vain as Kano is gradually returning back to normal,”
Expressing government’s willingness to ensure that Kano remains a city to be reckoned with, the SSG said the present administration inherited a debt of N77billion and yet, its capital expenditure is 67 per cent of its budget with a lot of infrastructure, some of which have commenced with the construction of roads in all the LGAs as well other infrastructure like street lights in some parts of the city. According to him, the governor has also made provision for 1000 cars and 500 buses as part of its efforts to put smiles on the faces of commercial motorcycle riders in the state aimed at giving them a better source of livelihood.
Restating the government’s commitment towards empowering youths in the state, the SSG said: “We train youths in various skills and after the training, we give them with N150, 000 each Every week, we train 100 people in each local government making 4,200 youths per week in all the LGAs.and when Dangote came and saw the programme, he appreciated it and supported us with N600million. Also, we are building a new university; the Northwest University in addition to the already existing university which is the Kano State University of Technology so as to accommodate more students who have succeeded in their JAMB and WAEC.”
Dr. Bichi, who blamed the current terrorism on the economic trend in the world, called on all those who have left Kano out of fear to come back, stressing that the prevalence of crisis, is a challenge that is currently confronting the whole world. “It is the manifestation of economic trend that is operating in different folds,” he said.
He said in an attempt to discourage officials of the state government from seeking medical treatment abroad and use the money instead for development, the state governor has not travelled out of the country since he came into power, including his cabinet members.
On the issue of dirt disposal and maintenance in the state, the Permanent Secretary, Admin and General Services Directorate, Abdul Bello Hassan told newsmen that the present administration has identified the system that would work best in the state.
He said: “Currently, a company is proposing a system whereby waste in the state will be turned into manure. Another company is bringing a proposal to generate power from waste. So the government is working very hard in all aspects to make Kano comfortable to its inhabitants.”
The Managing Director of the Kano State Housing Corporation, Arch. Ali Mukhtar, in his contribution said the state government has given his agency the mandate to bring in new ideas and method to meet the housing needs of the people of the state.
“The Kwankwasiya city, which is a very big layout, is currently undergoing infrastructural development and construction. While the corporation is carrying out its construction of houses, the government is putting infrastructure in place so that by the time the entire phases in the city are constructed, the city would have been fully developed. However, the corporation does not get its funding from the state allocation, we raise funds on our own and even pay our salaries,” He said
Also, speaking with the acting executive Chairman, Kano State Universal Basic Education, Wada Zakari, said the state government has taken a giant step towards improving and making basic education affordable and accessible to the generality of the people and the children of the state.
“One of the means through which the government intends to achieve this is through the provision of accessible facilities; providing facilities that will accommodate children in the school and this is done through the rehabilitation of the dilapidated ones and provision of new classrooms.
“Through that effort, the state government has provided 768 new classrooms and they are all furnished so that the children do not have to sit on the ground. The state government has been able to achieve this through the assessment of the intervention fund of the Universal Basic Education Commission in Abuja. The previous administration did not access the 2008, 2009 and 2010 intervention funds. But because the present government is serious and it has made it its priority, it has succeeded in paying its own counterpart fund which has made it possible to access UBEB money for 2008, 2009 and 2010. It also went further to access the 2011 fund before the end of 2011, so we are only waiting for 2012 now and the state government paid over N4billion for that,” he said.
He said the state government has also introduced school feeding programme to encourage the children to go to school. “It is only in Kano State that you have school feeding programme which was introduced by the state government. We feed pupils in the primary school and give them free school uniforms as a way of encouraging parents who ordinarily would not send their children to school because of the money involved in procuring school uniforms for their children.
“The government is also looking at the issue of teachers. It has started addressing the issue through the quality of teachers by training them and giving them the opportunity to improve themselves and also provide living quarters for them in each LGA as most of them don’t like staying whenever they are posted to the rural areas because of accommodation."
The project Manager at the North West University, Engr. John Cox of the Sarb and Glenman Construction, confirmed that the project commenced on February 29, 2012 and it is expected to be completed in 48 weeks. He said since the project commenced, they work in the site both day and night and they have never had any security challenge.
The Acting Director, Physical Planning Department of the Kano State University of Technology, Muhammed Wudil, confirmed that the first phase of the school library was near completion and that 500 capacity hostel was also ongoing.
Against popular belief that there was an exodus of people in Kano, the city is still as busy as ever, especially the popular Sabon Gari where most of the non-indigenes reside.
Speaking, the special adviser to the Kano State governor on community relations (Ibo), Hon. Chief Dr. Chukwu Ogbu, who is also the president general, United Ethnic Democratic Forum for the 44 local government areas in the state, said that in the past, during crises, they (none indigene) were often left to their fate but this time around, governor Kwankwanso has made adequate security arrangement for the area.
He said: “The governor has taken a very strong measure to address the security issues in the state. The issue of Boko Haram is a national issue; it is a national security challenge aimed at causing division in the country because if the Ibos and other tribes had left the north, that would have resulted in the disintegration in the country but, we thank God and we believe that He will perfect the peace which he has begun in Kano and in the entire country.
Also, the Eze (Sarki) Ndigbo Kano, His Highness, Igwe (Dr.) Boniface Ibekwe, said it was not the first time the state faced security challenges. According to him: “I have been in Kano for over 20 years and there has never been a time that the people of Kano want to drive us out of Kano. So the issue of security is a collective responsibility; it requires collective efforts to end all the killings.
“When the recent crisis erupted, the governor promised us maximum protection and he stood by his words. Even those that fled the city are gradually returning and as you can see, the Sabon Gari is still as busy as ever, everything is returning to normal gradually and with the present government, we are comfortable.”