By Emmanuel Onwubiko
Kano is no doubt a big province in Nigeria due to large land mass and huge populations.
In the earliest interactions with Western civilization, it used to be West African trading post especially in the area of textiles and agricultural products in such a way that a huge number of continental traders thronged Kano for commercial transactions.
Kano was once admired as the center of excellent farming activities and at a point there were some of these Groundnuts pyramids that obviously made Kano a nice place for tourists from all around the World. It is a thing of wonder why all of a sudden when crude oil explorations started in commercial quantities in the Niger delta region, Kano’s agricultural prowess disappeared because due to skewed political structures erected by soldiers, revenues derivable from crude oil are shared to all parts of Nigeria and sometimes the formula used in redistributing these incomes favours Kano state which is where most of the past Generals who hijacked political administrations through the barrels of the guns made sure that certain unverified statistical data such as landmass and population are used to share revenues from resources that are found in Niger delta region.
Kano state still holds high attractions for traders but it has also witnessed some unfortunate violent conflicts in the past in which some Nigerians from outside of the North were targeted and their businesses destroyed. Those who killed other innocent Nigerians from other parts of Nigeria are not prosecuted as they are given state covers.
I am not aware that there was any palliative measures implemented by the successive state administrations to ameliorate the economic loses of the victims of these social conflicts that took on Ethno-religious colorations in the past. A 78 year old woman from Imo state who had lived in Kano with her family all her life was slaughtered by Islamic zealots who accused her of denigrating their religion. The Kano state governor did nothing to bring the killers to justice. However the government said it has effected some measures never to experience such a dastardly criminal act.
The current administration in Kano is credited with adopting some reconciliatory steps that the government touted was capable of mending the broken down social fences.
These same scenarios highlighted above are not the centerpiece of this reflection which basically is stimulated and motivated by the ongoing moves by the Kano state government to stop the practice of street begging especially by Children known mostly as Almajiris.
Good as these intentions are, but the ways and manners the Kano and a few other Northern States have gone about ending the scourge of street begging in the North of Nigeria appear simplistic and bereft of strategic thinking.
This is because fundamentally, the best form of resolving such social catastrophic situation of begging is not to drive away these beggars and issue out threats to deal with their Parents but the same government will either not adopt any palliative measures that are in the long term and are SUSTAINABLE nor with the administrators of such states block the avenues for CORRUPTION amongst the officials of such state administrations. These States must deliberate implement palliative measures good enough to economically empower these beggars that may be displaced. Again, why is begging rife in these states and why is it that the EFCC have failed to prosecute past governors of these states who actually stole their states in the North blind like their Southern counterparts some of whom are in prisons? This interrogatory must be resolved before embarking on the revolutionary move to stamp out the social menace of begging which dehumanizes these beggars. It is not out of place to ask why Kano is one place corruption has remained defiant.
Kano for over 4 years has been in the news for the notorious reason that one official or the other has been fingered for alleged large scale corrupt practices including the video that trended that appeared to be showing the current governor Abdullahi Ganduje allegedly pocketing huge wads of dollars into his Babanriga dress.
The Kano state government under GOVERNOR Ganduje and the blogger who circulated the damaging video are at each other’s throats regarding the authenticity or otherwise of the video evidence of alleged large size bribery by a contractor.
Again, many former and current Kano State officials have been picked up at one time or the other by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations bordering on corruptions but these cases will inevitable be swept under the carpets since their godfathers are controlling the top echelons of political power.
Unless the crime of corruption is combated any move to stop public destitution will remain cosmetic since the impoverished populations will rather insists on begging and be locked up in prisons whereby they are certain of some square meals than stay back in their ramshackle shelters and die of starvations. Why drive a beggar out of the streets when you are not prepared to teach him how to create wealth and you have not shown them alternative means of surviving? Do you wish them deaths?
A look at the high profile arrests of state officials will tell you that the first challenge to resolve is official corruption after which government needs to increase the enabling environment for aggressive skills acquisitions by the populace who in turn can be empowered economically to become wealth and job creators. Every decent person know that begging is absolutely evil but again, should they be left to die in their huts?
Looking at the recent trend of anti-graft wind blowing in Kano reveals that a current commissioner and a former Speaker have both been picked up. What will come out of the dramas is anyone’s guess.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said that it’s Kano Zonal Office arrested a serving Kano State Commissioner in the Ministry for Special Duties, Mukhtar Ishaq, for allegedly diverting monies meant for Kano Municipal Local Council, while he was Chairman.
EFCC acting Spokesperson, Tony Orilade, disclosed that Mukhtar’s trouble followed a petition, which states that, while he was Chairman, he allegedly diverted N76,000,000 (Seventy Six Million Naira) only, which was meant for projects, development and empowerment of the people.
According to Orilade, the petitioner further alleged that the suspect ordered the deduction of N30,000 (Thirty Thousand Naira) only from the account of each council member without justification.
The Spokesperson maintained that the Commissioner was also alleged to have converted property of Kofar Nasarawa Primary School, Kano, into shops and sold same at the rate of N10,000,000 (Ten Million Naira) only per shop and diverted the money to personal use.
Also, the Kano State Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arrested former Speaker of the Kano state House of Assembly, Isiyaku Ali Danja for alleged abuse of office and misappropriation of fund meant for constituency projects.
Danja got into trouble following a
petition that funds meant for payment of tax liabilities to Federal Inland
Revenue Service (FIRS) by Kano State Government were allegedly diverted and
misappropriated to the tune of over N1, 500,000,000 (One Billion, Five Hundred
Thousand Naira) from the sub-treasury account of the state government.
Several suspicious payments were allegedly traced to some beneficiaries, including some made to Allad Drilling Limited, a company in which the suspect is the Investigation by the EFCC further revealed that the funds were on several occasions, personally withdrawn in cash by the suspect, while he was the only one who could officially state whether jobs were done before any payments could be made, it would be recalled that the EFCC had earlier arrested the commissioner for Special Duties in state, Mukhtar Ishaq, for allegedly diverting funds meant for Kano Municipal Local Government while he was chairman of the said local government.
Mukhtar was arrested by EFCC following a petition that alleged that while he was chairman of Kano Municipal, he diverted funds meant for projects, development and empowerment of the people.
The petitioner further alleged that Mukhtar ordered the deduction of N30, 000 (Thirty Thousand Naira), from the account of each council member without justification.
Mukhtar was also alleged to have converted property of Kofar Nasarawa Primary School, Kano, into shops and sold same at the rate of N10,000,000 (Ten Million Naira), per shop and diverted the money to personal use.
Both suspects would be charged to court on completion of investigations.
Everyone knows that these officials may never be charged to court. Infact Kano has one miniature state wide EFCC they stylishly called Kano’s anti-graft agency which is used for political witch-hunt. My honest counsel is that Kano and any other states must find beggars good alternative if we want them to quit begging and constituting social nuisances.