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Kano: Losing its Past Glory

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By Hassan Sani Indabawa

Until recently, precisely from 1999 when the current 4th Republic commenced, Kano State has been at the forefront in spearheading masterpiece policies that inspired other states and the federal government to emulate and replicate.

Before the misfortune of having third-rate politicians, as leaders, with the set-in of the current Republic, we have had selfless and visionary leaders whose legacies (projects) are still reference points in the developmental sphere of the country.

The late charismatic politician and first civilian governor of Kano State, Alhaji Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi, for instance, died without a “penny” in his name. Neither did he build a “palace” nor a mansion as presently done by his latter-day successors, heralding the prevailing descent and decay of public service.

We have had many policies and projects spearheaded by successive Kano State governments, at various times, which are now adopted by the federal and other state governments.

Starting from the Audu Bako administration from 1967 to1975, we have had the Kano Irrigation Project, the first of its kind in Nigeria conceived and developed by the Audu Bako-led government through direct labor, and later adopted by the federal government, transmuting into Hadejia River Basin Development Authority (HJRBDA). The project is now made up of 12 River Basins Development Authorities in the country established by Decree 25 of 1976.

The Hadejia River Basins Development Authority covers an area of 45,000 square km, covering the whole of Kano and Jigawa States, and about two-thirds of Bauchi State. Presently, the authority has the largest functional irrigation schemes (21,000 hectares) among the twelve River Basins Development Authorities in the country.

Colonel Sani Bello’s administration in the late 1970s introduced the development of specialized science secondary schools to nurture and produce young talented scientists from Kano State. This led to the development of the two foremost science colleges: Government Science Secondary School, D/Kudu, and Government Science Secondary School D/Tofa. This has led to the emergence of scientists of global ranking in Kano State. The story of Prof. Sarki Abba and several other world-renowned scientists suffices here, as an illustration of the novel educational aspirations of Kano State.

In 1983, Kano State won the UNESCO Award for Literacy. The International body recognized the Rimi administration for attempting to eradicate illiteracy amongst the adult population of Kano State.

The Mass Literacy campaign program by the PRP- led government in Kano State, in 1980, promoted the Adult Education Unit of the Ministry of Education to an independent board called, Agency for Mass Education. This was a historic landmark, for it was the first post-independence government to go out of its way to set up an autonomous parastatal, responsible for adult and non-formal education.

The Agency was established to ultimately wipe out illiteracy in the State, in order to raise the level of consciousness of the people on the much-desired upliftment of their social, economic, and political condition.

In 1986, the National Adult Education Centre was established in Kano, under the Federal Ministry of Education, with a view to developing adult education materials, and the training of adult education personnel throughout the country. Significantly, this center was taken over by the newly established National Commission for Mass Education (NMEC) in 1991.

Apart from the May Day celebration introduced by the same Rimi administration in Kano State, we have had the 1st Muharram celebration introduced by the Shekarau administration, to celebrate the Islamic Hijra Calendar. The federal government has similarly adopted the initiative and made it a national day for celebration.

The Primary Schools Management Board is another Kano State policy adopted by the federal government in basic education management; replicated in all the states of the federation.

In 1987, the military administration of Group Captain Muhammad Ndatsu Umaru came up with a comprehensive development plan to propel Kano in the scheme of things. The wide spectrum of the society was mobilized, aggregating and developing a workable policy framework for Kano’s development goals. The all-inclusive framework came up with a novel plan to develop basic education, by conceiving the establishment of the Kano State Basic Education Management Board with the late Malam Datti Ahmad, a foremost educationist, as its pioneer Chairman.

The Ndatsu initiative published a comprehensive development plan for Kano State, known as the Kano Social Policy document to serve as a compass for the state’s development program. It was the first initiative to set up a Kano-owned state University, named Bagauda University of Science and Technology.

The Kabiru Gaya administration dusted the document and attempted to revive the state university but the military coup of November 1993 scuttled the move until 2001 when the Kwankwaso administration built up on the work earlier done by past administrations, culminating in the establishment of Kano State University of Science and Technology (KUST), Wudil.

In 2006, I had cause to publish an article celebrating Kano State for developing a template later adopted by the federal government following the steps of some southern states like Lagos, Ogun, Edo, and Imo in understudying the Kano State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) in developing Education Management Information Systems (EMIS), an enviable landmark achievement in education information management systems.

In the said article, titled “EMIS: How Kano Is Blazing the Trail” and published by several dailies, the leader of the three-member team of educationists, sent by the Lagos State Government, Mrs A. O. Adelaja was deeply impressed by what she and her colleagues observed in Kano. Mrs. Adelaja was specifically excited by what she described as the “masterpiece” developed by the resourcefulness of Kano State that could “soon put the state on the same educational pedestal with the south, in terms of developments in the educational sector”.

And it was not just some southern states that were impressed with Kano’s ingenuity. United States Agency for International Development (USAID), COMPASS, UNDP, an international development organization; British Council, Abuja; and ENHANCE Project were all impressed, leading to more significant adoption of the EMIS project by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The feat was achieved by SUBEB under the management of one of the most accomplished educationists Kano has ever produced, an honest and complete gentleman — Malam Abdullahi Dutse.

Those were glorious days of Kano State before primitive and bad politics crept in, and brought in retrogression and decadence. It is now very sad to observe that Kano remains distant in all spheres of development; especially in the field of education, agriculture, health, and even in politics.

Due to the misfortune of having a bunch of rapacious and egocentric charlatans garbed as leaders, Kano is currently paying a heavy price for misgovernance and maladministration. But for the bad and vindictive politics, Kano would have by now become a global center for Information Communication Technology (ICT). The only initiative in that aspect, the multi-million dollar Ado Bayero ICT Park, has been killed at birth, by vindictive politics.

Had the successive government allowed its continuity, the ICT Park would have paved the way for E-Commerce, e-agriculture, and e-education e-technology and served as a take-up stage for the further economic development of Kano State. The Kano ICT Park was developed by a Malaysian partner, Multimedia Super Corridor Technology Center (MTC).

Kano has now been reduced to a pitiable cycle of intense power grabs, defined by unhealthy competition and rivalry between extremely few politicians. The dividing line between these wicked political jobbers is but a nonexistent egotistical line.

The selfish act of these enemies of the people has led Kano state to descend so low, in all spheres of socioeconomic and political development. The state now posts sickening statistics, portraying scary aggregate data on poverty, hunger, drug abuse, unemployment, illiteracy, and crime.

Unless and until we do away with these pretenders, Kano will be the worst case for human dignity in no distant future.

Indabawa can be reached via indabawa20022000@gmail.com

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