As President Muhammadu Buhari embarks on a two-day visit to Kano, his strongest political base this week, a simple question the Kano man or woman should answer for himself/herself is: How well did you fare in two years, six months after Muhammadu Buhari took power?
When Kano gave Muhammadu Buhari about two million votes, the highest by any state that swept him into office in 2015, one issue had dominated election-time discourse, and still remained: Security.
A few morons who did not in any way represent Islam, a religion of peace had launched a series of horrendous gun and bomb attacks on the city as they did on a number of northern towns and villages.
No where was safe in Kano. A place that was safe today, can be the site of a deadly attack tomorrow. The police, the other security agencies and the general civilian population bore the brunt of a large-scale insurgents’ offensive. The security situation was intensely volatile.
Men and women left home to fetch food for the children and later in the day, their dead bodies were brought back.
The casualties mounted to dramatic levels. On a particular Friday in February 2012, Boko Haram launched a deadly attack on police and other security establishments leaving in its trail, hundreds of deaths and thousands with various degrees of injury. In December 2014, suicide bombers and gunmen launched yet another deadly attack on the city Juma’at mosque killing 300, leaving hundreds of others injured.
Kano residents, as did nearly everyone across the country had by 2015 lost confidence in the incompetent, corrupt Jonathan administration which they said was not doing enough to protect them against Boko Haram.
Nigerian soldiers with centuries old reputation for courage, valor and accomplishment were starved of needed arms and ammunition. They recorded their first-ever failure to bring peace and stability.
It is instructive to remind ourselves that the people didn’t just fold their arms doing nothing about their plight. Given that they had a government that failed to govern, in the circumstance, they did the most they could to overcome the life of fear and anxiety clamped upon them. They imposed security rules on themselves and listened to their own instincts.
They erected high blast protection walls and barbed wire around homes, institutions and public places.
After years of murderous campaign by the terrorists, what everyone wanted from Candidate Muhammadu Buhari was security first, security second, security third, then economy and jobs and the fight against corruption which only a man with his credentials of impeccable personal integrity could wage. Group after group of voters promised him that if only you show us a plan for ending the dislocation and disruption of our lives, we will give the kind of support that no others will give.
On the day he assumed power, there and then on the inaugural Dias, President Buhari began the war against terrorism and insecurity.
After billions of Naira sunk and thousands of the lives of our servicemen and women lost, he has put the terrorists out of business, albeit a part of the mopping up remains. Boko Haram’s designs for Kano and as many other cities has come to naught.
Peace is back and the people are enjoying freedom all over again. This freedom and democracy is what people are expressing when they go on radio and social media to say nothing has changed in their lives; that nothing has been achieved.
Peace is back and people are no longer preoccupied with the fear of when the next bomb attacks will happen.
They are fighting over their favorite football teams. Our men and women are squabbling over who is the best player.
In the two-and-a-half years in office, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is putting Kano State through a revolution in the way projects are being assigned and executed.
Kano, long one of the fastest growing economies in the country , had begun to lag in the years preceding Buhari due to problems occasioned mainly by the acute shortage of power. Neighborhoods spent weeks without electricity; factories sent workers home and shut down because they had no money to sustain production using diesel generators.
Now, things are getting better. The numerous projects put in place to enhance power generation and transmission in particular are being brought to fruition. Records indicate that Kano today enjoys a daily cumulative power supply of about 18 hours.
To bring a permanent solution to the problem of power epilepsy, the Buhari administration has been discussing the idea of a contract for the laying of gas pipelines from Ajaokuta through Abuja and Kaduna to Kano. This should meet the needs of manufacturing industries as it has been for the coastal areas including Lagos and Ogun states’ industrial zones.
Road projects that are ongoing include the following:
· Dualisation of Kano- Maiduguri Road Section IV (Potiskum – Damaturu) with over 58% now completed;
· Dualisation of Kano – Katsina Road ( From Dawanau – Katsina)
· Kano – Western Bye Pass
· Rehabilitation of Saminaka – Doguwa Road; and Doguwa – Tiga Road
The Abuja-Kaduna-Kano dual-carriage way which has attracted so much public criticism is now receiving attention.
But the President, it has reliably been gathered, has a different plan for the road. It is expected that in the course of this visit, he might be making a significant pronouncement on the future of this road.
The Aviation sector has also given Kano a good deal. Presently, Construction is ongoing of a new international terminal building at the Kano International Airport, as well as rehabilitation of car parks and service roads
President Buhari just approved the construction of rail tracks connecting Kano to Maiduguri.
A brand new standard gauge rail line will connect Kano and Lagos. This railway development, funded through partnership between Nigeria and China, has delivered Kaduna-Abuja and the Lagos-Ibadan sector is under construction, to be delivered by the end of the year 2018.
Actually, Kano-Kaduna contract would have been signed months ago, but was postponed following Chinese, the funder’s, insistence that they wanted to take Kano-Ibadan in one stretch.
Kano, as to be expected, is one of the major beneficiaries of the administration’s Social Investment Programs. Following successful awareness creation among the state’s large population of the unemployed and the downward revision of the entry requirements to accommodate NCE and Diploma certificates holders, Kano entered more than 80,000 applications for the current wave of N-Power recruits.
On the Conditional Cash Transfers, Cash Transfer Facilitators have been giving orientation and training; State Cash Transfer Offices have already been set up in the state and enrollments have commenced from the 23rd of November. The payment of beneficiaries is expected to start this week, that is the first week of December.
The Implementation of the Home Grown School Feeding Program is commencing soon. The month of December has been set as the target month.
The Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program, GEEP loans through the Bank of Industry are currently being received by traders, artisans and small scale business men and women in the State. The special intervention fund for textile manufacturers is already making possible the return of the industry in Kano and other states.
Before I end this discourse, let me address an issue of frequent interest in radio talk shows in the city’s vibrant broadcast industry. Hardly do you have a day without one hearing such claims as, “we gave Buhari two million votes. That is the highest by anyone. What special consideration is he giving us?”
Although Kano appears to be well served from the litany of projects illustrated here, and truly deserves even more, it is evident that government’s effort in developing the state, and indeed all parts of the country is driven by the party, APC’s philosophy of integrated development. Kano remains President Buhari’s strongest political base. The President will however be the first to say he does not consider any community or state a vote bank. He will not treat any section or community as a vote bank because he is bent on pursuing a policy of inclusiveness. If one part develops and the other lags, then the country cannot be said to be truly on the path to sustainable development.
Instead of treating parts of the country in any preferential way, President Buhari has stuck to his themes of development and uplifting the poor and the marginalized, saying over and again that he belonged to everyone and he belonged to no one. To that extent, the man at the bottom of society would continue to be at the centre of development.
The people of Kano should themselves grow out of the feeling that they are tools or items of vote bank but a people who are just and fair to themselves and to others forming a part of the mainstream of development; a people who want to be treated as equals and who do not expect or demand anything special, over and above what is due to them.
Although this essentially is an official visit, millions of Kano people will turn up to see and listen to the President with decorum. And given the high level of political consciousness in the state, expect our people to sport Buhari masks, T-Shirts, banners and buntings saying “we love Buhari.” Don’t even rule out a shouting match between splinter groups. It is a way to show true love for the President.
GARBA SHEHU, SSAP(Media and Publicity)