An Encounter With Two Extremes – Kano and Katsina State on a Scale
By Senator Ahmed Babba Kaita
Recently I was opportuned to view first hand numerous achievements of the dedicated and hard working governor of Kano state, Engr. (Dr) Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso. I was part of a Federal Government team to kick-start this season’s fertiliser sales led by the Hon. Minister of Agriculture. I was mesmerised.
I had a reasonable background of the atmosphere of change ushered in by Governor Kwankwaso in his second coming. But still, what I saw was nowhere near my imagination of the successes of Governor Kwankwaso’s effort. Governor Kwankwaso may be the only person in the world who arrived at the right place, in the right time but in a wrong vehicle. He truly don’t belong to the PDP train, especially if the serial failure of PDP is anything to go by.
On arrival in Kano, we were ‘entertained’ by seemingly endless life touching projects which impacts could be seen, touched and verified. In one set up, we were taken around a very well designed poverty alleviation programme for women. Now, this is a programme with a difference. It is truly a sincere poverty alleviation effort conceptualised with all the ‘by products’ of poverty in mind. Scattered across Kano state, different centres train women on animal husbandry, fish and poultry farming as well as numerous skills acquisitions programmes.
It was a simple functional initiative of training women who, upon graduation will be provided the necessary capital to set up their own businesses while training fresh ‘recruits’ under professional and conducive environment. Not even ‘Argungun’ could boast of bigger fishes than those produced by these women in one of these centres. The result, a very impressive economic atmosphere supported by a beehive economic activity. One could see the happiness on the faces of these women as they load their products on trucks destined for different parts of the country.
On the other side of the training camps were well equipped ‘A’ rated nursery/primary school for the children of the participants of the programme. In the camps, there are no ideal hands or minds. All hands are geared towards restoring Kano back to its commercial glory. I didn’t know so much could be achieved in so short a time.
No doubt, even the most incurable pessimist will give Governor Kwankwaso a well deserved ‘distinction’ for being a leader worthy of respect and emulation. He has proved that leadership is about meticulous planning and strict adherence to the rules of engagement. From day one, probity, prudence and accountability were his guiding compass. It was therefore not surprising when I saw how open and welcoming the Nasarawa Government House was, yet free from the presence of ‘Yan’ banga.’
Entering the governor’s office, I have to admit I was shocked when I saw his table free of ‘pending’ files. The ‘poverty’ of files waiting for attention from the governor may give a misleading impression of a governor about to hand over the next morning. Upon enquiry from one of his aides, I learnt that files are treated with alarming speed that so many are left perplexed as to where the physical and mental energy with which governor Kwankwaso operates comes from. His agility and exceptional regard for speed, action and result are unmatched.
We were treated to a tour around Kano to inspect more ‘people oriented’ projects which decisions, cost and impacts were debated in weekly Council meetings which were published weekly for the public to peruse and verify against periodically updated government revenue profile. Public funds in Kano state are really PUBLIC FUNDS. All kanawa stand equal chances with state funds and projects based on equitable formula that operates strictly on the principles of ‘scale of preferences.’ Contracts are decided entirely based on reasonably convincing foreseeable impacts to the society, and contractors are selected strictly on merit rather than selfish interests mostly guided by personal pecuniary benefits. Truly, this visit re-enforced my belief that leadership is simply a matter of selflessness, ability and willingness to do the right thing with the fear of Allah SWT and the love of people as one’s first, second and last guiding principles. It is nowhere near the
complexity that requires a surgeon’s brain to comprehend which many want to have the public believe. Truly, Governor Kwankwaso made my day and made me proud as a Northerner. Garin dadi na nesa! We launched the fertiliser sales in a free and fair atmosphere. People were sold the product strictly on laid down rules. A PDP member was not given undue advantage over a non PDP member.
From Kano state, our next port of call was Katsina, my home state. I have to confess, I was jittery about the unavoidable embarrassment our team is bound to encounter, especially after reviewing the faultless style and result we witnessed in Kano during our short flight to Katsina. I was not disappointed. Right from the airport, I could guess the frenzy of efforts to disguise the failure of the state with creative innovations. On arrival to the government house we were treated to an ‘E-Tour’ of the state via a glossy ‘entertainment book’ that contains the usual ‘achievements’, New Government House that add no value to the people, roads that only God knows how much we paid for, hospitals that runs without drugs and without competent medical staff and schools that looked quite good on the glossy pictures but were collapsing and killing innocent children. As recently reported.
The governor even rebuked me when I refused to carry the ‘bulky album’ meant to represent the 6 years of Governor Shema’s (mis)adventure. in his words, I should use it to verify my unending criticism of his regime. I politely told him that being a home based politician and an active representative of my people, I am reasonably exposed to developments (or lack of them) in Katsina state to defend on ‘book of tales’ for my opinion. I’m criss crossing across the state fortnightly and always in constant touch with Katsinawa from Dankama to Damari to be able to form a reliable opinion on the regime in place.
My amazement was the insistence by the government to always attempt selling a dummy to the public. Why for instance should the government assume that glossy pictures of projects without the necessary details to verify these ‘trojan horses’ were enough to convince people like me and change our opinion about the insincerity of the government in handling our affairs. Perhaps, the Katsina government have never heard of the word ‘reconciliation’ otherwise they would have included their revenue profile covering the same period for us to reconcile the two and grade the regime properly. But when you keep dishing out your ‘spending’ without dishing out your ‘earnings’, you may as well be talking to yourself for all the effect you intend to have on me and my position. That was my opinion when we headed for Dutsin-ma to launch the fertiliser sales.
The chaos we met was my saddest experience in recent times. PDP thugs were the majority beneficiaries of the programme while the real farmers were left high and dry. This prompt me to personally improvise and secure additional 4 trucks to be shared among the rural folks in my constituency since they have been denied their rightful share of the Federal Government subsidised fertiliser that we came to launch.
Incidentally, the next day, as if to prove my point about the ineffectiveness of government in the state, LEADERSHIP Newspapers published a damning confession by no less a person than the Katsina state Head of Service who confessed that of the 380,000 students who wrote their final year examination last year, ‘less’ than 5000 (about 1.5%) had five credits; a situation he blamed on lack of ‘qualified teachers.’ We can easily agree that such a confession from the horse’s mouth could only come when the situation is really bad and no could no longer be hidden from the public by magical attempts to edit or re-create history.
There is no way a state could become a serial failure in SSCE/NECO when adequate investment has been made to the education sector. The dismal performance of the state in the last two years is in complete agreement with the position of the Head of Service and further proved the veracity of the allegations of the Katsina State House of Assembly Minority leader, who proved the careless abuses of budgetary provisions made to enhance the productivity of the education sector.
In the absence of any superior argument sir, I still hold my views of poor and destructive governance in Katsina state.
Ahmed B. Kaita (MHR)