A Rejoinder: Thisday’s Inside Kano’s Neglected Community, By Salihu Tanko Yakassai
When one writes an article, the only thing at stake is one’s personal reputation and credibility (if he has any). And whether it is fact-based or selfish interests, the readers can easily pick that out for themselves. But when it is a news outlet, a newspaper, TV station, radio station, online platform or any other means of dissemination of information to the general public, a level of professionalism is certainly expected of it.
I read an article in Thisday newspaper titled: Inside Kano’s Neglected Community: http://t.co/ob4SvrhbGD published on the 4th of August, 2014. In it, they portrayed a deliberate attempt by Kwankwaso administration to neglect the entire Sabon Gari Community, in terms of developmental projects as well as security.
I was very furious while reading it. I had to take a break to calm down before finally finishing it. This is simply because I see it as a deliberate attempt to stir emotions that can breed enmity between the community in question and the government and people of Kano State. The article is not only distorting the reality on ground, but utterly baseless. In this very divisive and polarised time in the history of this country, a little objectivity development journalism model is what our journalists should stick to.
In the article, they started with the issue of insecurity, citing few examples of a series of bomb blasts that happened and how they are being under reported by the news media. This is the 1st lie of the article. All the attacks that happened in Sabon Gari get full coverage from both the Northern and Southern-controled media. Even stories of survivors and relatives of the victims get published days after an attack. There isn’t a single bomb blast that was swept under the carpet, if the news media covered it (which they have never), definitely the people living in Sabon Gari won’t. The issue of reducing the number of casualties is not the responsibility of the State Governor but that of the JTF or the police. I personally do not like this idea because I feel it is dishonor to the dead. It happens in all attacks in Nigeria not only those in Sabon Gari, where the security agents become economical with the figure in order not to aggravate the already tensed situation in the country. I for one knew that the number of people that died after the School of Hygiene bomb blast in Kano is way higher than the official figure released by the police. So also that of School of Legal Studies. Why should the writer of this article single Sabon Gari out if not to cause mischief? Moreover, Sabon Gari is one of the most secure areas in Kano. While ordinary police and mobile police patrol most part of the city, Sabon Gari is being protected by soldiers. They even have an outpost along (airport road) and more than 5 checkpoints at different entry points into the area, and they patrol the streets in the evening. On Sundays, almost all the Churches in Sabon Gari have Soldiers and Police protecting them, with roads being blocked to ensure their safety, if this isn’t enough security, then what should we the rest of the citizens say? If there is any under reporting on Sabon Gari it was the reprisal attacks that almost happened after the bombing of a Church on Sunday July 27th. The residents of Sabon Gari predominantly Southerners took to the streets immediately after the bombing, intimidating any Hausa man they see on the streets, it took the immediate intervention of several soldiers to calm the situation. Imagine the chaos and crises that will engulf Kano State if one Hausa man has been killed as a result of this recklessness? And if Kano burns because of that, be rest assured that it might certainly lead to another civil war with the current tensed situation in the country. Besides, how many attacks happened in Kano, has any Southerner been target for reprisal attacks? Is every Hausa man now Boko Haram? Who should the people of Maiduguri, Yobe and Adamawa carry reprisal attacks on? If there should be reprisal attacks, shouldn’t it be targeted at Sambisa forest?
On infrastructure, this is the one that annoys me the most. How can the writer say that “there is no government presence” in Sabon Gari when there are major road constructions going on. The reconstruction, expansion and dualization of Zungeru. Road (with covered drainages, tiled walkways and street light), the dualization of Galadima road, Dualization of New Road, a 2km bridge infront of Sabon Gari Market that will seriously reduce traffic and decongest the area. All these are projects within Sabon Gari, while there are others like the 1st Multipurpose road in Northern Nigeria with drainage beneath it, then there is also Ashton Road and other roads sorrounding the area, all of which are worth over N20Billion of projects in just three years. if truly the writer had been to Sabon Gari and did not cook this article in a hotel room somewhoere in Nigeria, then he most surely have seen these projects. If you are in Kano and haven’t visited Sabon Gari, I urge you to please visit these areas that I listed and see for yourself. This is much more than the previous government of Shekarau had done in its entire 8yrs in office. the only road Shekarau’s government did is France Road. I do agree that he gave 2 people appointment as Special Advisers, but that’s it. Kwankwaso has about five non-indigenes in his government. These are facts that people can actually ask anyone on ground to verify. Tell me how many States in the East appointed Northerners into their governments? If this was an objective article, then before publishing It, the writer should have reached out to the State Government with these allegations at least, to get a response so that the article will be balanced and not one sided. Sure there are more things to be done in kano and Sabon Gari but at least i know kwankwaso has done more than most for Kano, in the past 30years.
On the repulsive issue of Igbos in Sabon Gari fleeing back to the East during elections due to fear of election violence, this is something that is NOT only peculier to Kano State alone but has always happened whenever an election approaches in this country in both sides of the divide. As the Southerners leave the North, so also the Northerners leave the South. To limit it to Kano alone is obliviously aimed at portraying Kano as a potential slaughter house ahead of the 2015 elections. It is a nationwide problem. I personally know of many of my friends that are planning to come back home from the South, particular eastern part of Nigeria before election time. Even schools adjust their calender so as to be closed during elections in order not to have students trapped in case violence breaks out.
To set the record sraight, for the benefit of those that do not reside in Kano or are unaware of the happenings in the State, the bone of contention between Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and few people residing in Sabon Gari (particularly Igbos) is his battle to end the menace of drug abuse. He has been fighting drug pushers, most of whom are in Sabon Gari market, selling substandard drugs as well as drugs that people abuse which become a major epidemic in the state. The major drug dealers are in Sabon Gari who bring into the State these drugs and sell them to local dealers in open market. It’s a universal convention that drugs should not be sold in open market like Garri. Kwankwaso had to close down an illegal drug manufacturing plant here in Kano owned by an Igbo man. Putting them on their toes which has really pitched them against him and as such they do not see eye to eye in any way. Nobody will fold his arms and watch as youths become wasted on drugs and not take action. We the people of Kano State wholeheartedly support Kwankwaso on this crusade.
This is the TRUE situation of Sabon Gari, though I tried to be elaborate, but limited space couldn’t accord me the opportunity to thoroughly rebuff this malicious article that is clearly set out to cause disharmony and further divide our already polarized nation deeper into crises. The media should be the fourth arm of government, and its cardinal rule should be; to always be balanced and objective in discharging of its duties. The media should look at the greater stability of the larger citizens, stop propagating false information that will further endanger the already volatile situation into a quagmire that will consume us all.
We should be sensitive and responsible enough not to add fuel to a raging fire that is already brewing in this country.
Salihu Tanko Yakasai
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