How I Joined The Kwankwasiyya Red Cap Revolution By Collins Uma
First of all, a piece of (unsolicited) advice:
If you ever have to fly into Kano, please schedule your flight to arrive the city at night and endeavour to book a window seat. The view of Kano’s skyline is simply breathtaking. Miles and miles of utterly astonishing streetlights beautifully arranged to form an amazing kaleidoscope that would make you wish you could pause the plane midair to fully take in the awesome spectacle.
I’d just concluded a week-long governance assessment tour of Abia state on November 15 and was in Kano a day later for the same purpose.
As the airport taxi followed the windy way through the serene and well-lit streets of the ancient city to Grand Central Hotel, I somehow knew I’d made the right decision coming here even 24 hours after a bomb blast that had ripped through a petrol station in the city, killing several people. But how do I know the car in front of me, or the one behind, wasn’t loaded with bombs? And I made a mental note to ask Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso what he was doing about insecurity in the state, if I got the chance. Kwankwaso is a former Minister of Defence. He, more than any other governor, should be privy to the roots of, and panacea for, insecurity. Not every time Goodluck. Sometimes governor.
At the dinner with the governor later that evening, I met a Kwankwaso that was totally different from what I’d read and seen in the media. The man was abreast with all the facts, figures, and minutest details of everything that had anything to do with his state.
Kwankwaso spoke about how he inherited a debt of over N77bn from the previous administration and how he has been able to settle over N50bn of it in three years while building a modern Kano and ensuring salaries are paid as and when due. To achieve this, he was able to raise the state’s internally generated revenue from N400m to over N2bn per month in just three years.
There are over 80 generator sets that power the streetlights but he is already building two plants, one to generate 25 megawatts and the other to generate 10 megawatts of electricity at the cost of N14.2bn. These will ensure steady power supply in the state and help boost industrialization.
Kano has 44 LGAs and there are at least 5kilometres of roads constructed in each of these LGAs by the Kwankwaso administration. All the roads in the city have also been dualised to provide for free flow of traffic.
It is interesting to note that Kano does not have the ‘Office of the First Lady’ like other states. Money that would have been wasted there in the usual Nigerian fashion is being put to better use. As our tour guide told us, if Kwankwaso gives you ten naira, he expects to see ten naira worth of work done.
The government in Kano has given maximum priority to education. In 2011, when Kwankwaso took over, enrolment in schools stood at 1million. Today it is over 3million. All the street beggars (almajiris) who sometimes formed a recruitment pool for evil minds have all been taken off the streets and forced to go to school. There is even an Almajiri Law that enforces this
There are two state universities in Kano, both built by Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. He has also built over 3000 brand new primary school classroom blocks with 1500 toilet facilities and 1500 offices for school teachers. The students are fed daily and given two sets of uniforms each per session free of charge. Little wonder there is greater enrolment.
In December 2013, Governor Kwankwaso instituted free education from primary to tertiary level. He also introduced foreign scholarships for graduates who made First Class or Second Class Upper degrees. The scholarship is not only for Kano state indigenes, however. All Kano residents qualify irrespective of state of origin or religion. Also, at the moment, there are over 100 pilots being trained by the state in Jordan as well as over 200 medical doctors, out of which 145 are female, being trained by the state in various institutions of higher learning.
Governor Kwankwaso is also looking beyond Kano doing business with the West so he is building an institute for the training of Chinese language instructors who would teach others the language as he looks to open up more trade routes with China.
In terms of water supply, the administration has spent over N10bn in the past three years to lay over 200kilometres of pipe for water supply throughout the state. In housing, he has built three cities within the Kano metropolis, comprising of thousands of units of housing for low and middle income earners, complete with schools and recreational facilities. To underscore his popular acceptance, Kwankwaso has acquired a unit in one of the cities where he would live among his people.
After the dinner, I was called to close the evening with Christian prayers. And here I was, thinking I was in a Shari’a state where this wasn’t allowed. And then we proceeded to commence our tour. By midnight we were still being driven round the metropolis looking at project upon project. We saw a new Kano springing forth from the base of an ancient city.
We got back to our rooms past 1am and the tour continued at dawn after which we had an audience with the Secretary to the State Government Sunday evening. Like his principal, this man also had his facts on his fingertips. I got to ask him what the government was doing about insecurity in the state and he told us how the government’s request for more police presence in the state had been turned down. They were even ready to pay the wages of the policemen but the requests were not granted. At a point, his and the governor’s security details were even withdrawn for reasons unclear to them.
Consequently, neighbouring states like Jigawa and Niger had more police presence than Kano, Nigeria’s most populous state according to National Population Commission figures. It is instructive to note that Jigawa and Niger are PDP states while Kano is APC-controlled.
To take care of the security situation, the government has empowered local vigilantes and ordinary citizens to do the jobs the police would have done. Every Kano resident is now a security official.
In the course of our tour, someone asked Ismail Ahmed (@SLIMPROFILE), an official of the state, for the iconic Kwankwasiyya red caps. Ahmed, with the ever-present smile on his face, said getting us the caps would not be a problem but he would prefer we wore the Kwankwasiyya Red Cap Revolution on our hearts. This is where I wear mine right now. And Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso has my support for the presidency if he gets the APC ticket.
Collins Uma is Features Editor for Ekekeee.com, one of Nigeria’s foremost news and political websites.
Follow @CollinsUma on Twitter
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