Northern interest: Like Ganduje like Sardauna
By Mohammed Isa Bilal
Sir, Ahmadu Bello, the first and last premier of Northern Nigerian, (May the blessing and mercy of Allah continued to be with him in his tomb) would not have been happy with the present generation of most so called northern leaders.
For their selfishness, indifference, greed, and more importantly for their lack of patriotism to the plight of the region’s socio-economic advancement.
It is glaringly conspicuous that the present generation of Northern leaders (most of them) have betrayed the foundation and legacies left behind by the Sardauna of blessed memory.
During his lifetime, in both his private and official capacity, he did not leave anyone in doubt that he is the crusader and the unrepentant champion of the Northern Nigerian Cause. From the 1950s through post independence era, at a time when most of our Northern elites were at Barewa College, Toro Teachers College, Katsina Government College, Kano School of Hygiene, Sokoto middle school etc.
while others were not yet born to this planet, at that time sir, Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna Sokoto who was worried about the plight of the people down north had became a clear figure in the Nigerian government.
In his quest and insatiable vision to accelerate development in northern Nigeria, out of patriotism he conceptualized and initiated what was then known as “Northernization Policy” despite the opposition against the Northernization Policy coming from the Southerners and their Northern collaborators, the Sardauna Sokoto formally inaugurated the “Northernization implementation committee” the committee was mandated to basically search for means and avenues on how to accelerate the general development of the entire Northern region to a level of what was obtainable in the South and within its intelligensia the Sardauna’s action was understandable, because even as at the time of the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern protectorate in 1914 to formed Nigeria, being what the late Sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the former première of Western Nigeria described as a mere “geographical expression”, there were already a good number of Southerners who had already acquired western education.
History had also, shown that almost at the advent of the colonialists, Southerners became avid and aware of the advantage of Western education and embraced it. Here in the North from Kaaba in the present Kogi State down to Sokoto, Western education was viewed with contempt and embraced very late, even at that, future prospect were also very slim.
It was in the midst of such scenario Nigeria attained independence; it then became glaring and imminent that the eventual departure of the colonial government would mean a change of baton of administrative power from the white man’s denomination and oppression to the overwhelmingly educated South.
To checkmate such eventual nasty situation the Northern intellengensia headed by non other than Sir Ahmadu Bello, in 1956 disassociated themselves from the mostly southern agitation for independence, subsequently against all odds Nigeria was liberated to become an independent entity in October 1960.
However, the Sardauna’s Northernization policy of the regional government had served its purpose, this was because despite the advantage of the South against the North in education and other spheres of development; through the Northernization implementation committee, the regional government of Northern Nigeria introduced crash educational programmes, a visible shortcut methodology aimed to catch up with the more educated south; young Northerners were selected from local high schools and sent for advance training in Europe, also, other young minds of Northern origin were giving automatic scholarships, offered by the Northern Region Scholarship Board to study various courses in specialized department of the university college Ibadan and others trained at the then newly established institute of administration Zaria.
The hope of the Sardauna was at graduation from their various courses are expected to boost the manpower needed to steer the Northern public service and to bridge the gap of the North educational disadvantage.
That was how the late Sir Ahmadu Bello used his “Northernization Policy” to accelerate and preserved recruitment into the Northern Public service solely for Northerners, Southerners could only be employed on contract basis into administrative positions where it had been clearly proved that no Northerners were available to occupy such positions.
The Sardauna was ever ready to sacrifice merit or standard than to mortgage the future of his beloved Northerners. Remarkably, the Northernization policy of Sir Ahmadu Bello was responsible for the rapid rise and promotion of most Northern elites of the first and second generation to their exalted positions. It is unfortunate; the present crop of most Northern elites who were beneficiaries of the Sardauna’s patriotic Northernization policy have betrayed the vision and legacy, instead of building upon it.
The entire story of Northern Nigeria of present is of conspiracy of silence, in action and greed while their region have remained under-develop, malnourished and in flames regrettably very few Northern elite care to show concernabout the unpalatable and precarious state of the region.
That the Northern elite embraced and continued with the vision of the Sardauna, the Northern region would not have found itself in this sorry state of insecurity, under development, poverty and dearth of educational standard.
It is also unfortunate that the present set of Northern elites did not only betrayed the developmental vision of the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, they added salt to injury by dismantling the indivisibility of the heterogeneous former Northern region with prejudice and primordial cleavages as against the Sardauna’s one united North irrespective of religious or ethnic affinity, I don’t know if we still have the kind of Northern region which the Sardauna envisioned and nurtured, No! What we have at present is a fractured and devastated Northern Nigeria with the core North paying dearly and bearing the brunt.
Regrettably too, most of our Northern elites both who made it in the civil service as ministers or seniors technocrats and those who rose to enviable heights in the military were mostly of little orientation to formal education, they all rose to the highest echelon of their careers as benefactors of the Sardauna’s Northernrization policy, the question is, have they paid back to the society that made them who they are? Almost sixty years of Nigerian independence 1960-2020, the North is still battling with the challenges of basic rudiments of development, to worsen the situation, the region has degenerated to what can be described as a killing field without any solution insight.
At this juncture permit me to state that the emerging young educated Northern elites have disappointedly too shown little or no concern about the prevailing frightening insecurity, educational and social challenges that seems to overwhelmed the region.
I must however, commend the effort of His Excellency Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State, for his resilience, determination and show of patriotism and concern about the negative image of not only Kano State but that of the core North in general.
Without prejudice to the sensibilities of other present crop of Northern leaders, out of whom Governor Ganduje have proved to be different, going by his populist and egalitarian disposition to the cause of the Hausa people and the beleaguered Northern region.
For instance, like the late Sardauna, Sir Ahmadu Bello, who introduced the Northernization policy to rapidly change the negative educational and developmental perception of the entire Northern Nigeria; Governor Ganduje out of concern and patriotism introduced free and compulsory basic primary and secondary education atleast in his state, for other states in the region to emulate.
It was also to his credit, being at the forefront of campaigning against the primitive culture of the Almajiri system of Islamic education, he remains the first Northern Governor to outlawed the Almajiri system as well as integrating it with modern curriculum of education, all in an effort to change the negative perception of the North in that direction.
Equally important to the dignity of Northern Nigeria, at the peak of the herdsmen and farmers violent conflict across the country, like the late Sir Ahmadu Bello Governor Ganduje out of concern, was the first Northern Governor to speak out against the mass-movement of herdsmen from one region to another to mitigate the constant clashes between farmers and herdsmen, if only to save the image of the Fulani herdsmen from ridicule.
To match words with action Governor Ganduje who was visibly disturbed about the plight of the Fulani man’s image, was the first Northern Governor to established Ruga settlement in Dansoshiya forest of Kiru Local Government Area and at the famous Falgore forest, Governor Ganduje sought the consent of president Muhammadu Buhari for him to erect military facilities it the forest, which Mr. President consented to owing to the strategic security significance it entailed.
Ganduje went ahead to construct not only a military base which today serve as a training ground for the military but also, established a functional settlement with all basic amenities embedded within for the herdsmen to settle.
Governor Ganduje had also, extend invitation to accommodate other herdsmen of Nigerian origin to relocate to the forest. Similarly, Governor Ganduje was the first Northern Governor to admonished and advised the Federal Government to Strictly check the influx of foreign herdsmen into the country obviously to checkmate the rising case of banditry and armed conflict that is rightly or wrongly associated with herdsmen activities. It was interesting to note that few days after Governor Ganduje made that call, the Federal House of Representatives also gave the same advised to the Federal Government.
Governor Ganduje’s nationalistic inclination did not stop here; for example: when some disgruntled elements of Northern Nigeria purportedly issued a quit notice to Southerners, asking them to relocate to their states of origin. Governor Ganduje was the first Northern Governor to rise against such divisive tendency, saying “we are not with them, every Nigerian have the right to reside and do business in any part of Nigeria as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution” for his statesmanship and penchant for peace and unity of Nigeria, the South East Council of Traditional Rulers bestowed on him the title of the defender and protector of the Igbo people.
Also, like the Sardauna, Sir, Ahmadu Bello of blessed memory, when most Northern Governors were retrenching unqualified Teachers without the basic NCE requirement in their thousands, Governor Ganduje said No! How can we retrench 25,000 teachers at a go, what would be the plight of their families? Governor Ganduje in his usual magnanimity enrolled and sponsored all of them to obtain the required qualification, today they are all qualified and maintaining their duty post.
Time and space would not permit the elongation of most of the Ganduje’s nationalistic and developmental strides, however, at this point, it is pertinent to highlight briefly some of the proactive and palliative measures taking by Khadimul – Islam, during the advent of the global pestilence code named coronavirus or covid-19 pandemic.
Worthy of mention was the fact that even before the emerging index case of covid-19 patient in Kano state, Governor Ganduje in his wisdom, to avoid being caught unprepared he mapped out three-point agenda towards fighting the pestilence pandemic of Covid-19, these were: preventive, curative and palliative mechanism, consequently a state task force on covid-19 was set up headed by the state Deputy Governor as well as the setting up of a fund raising committee chaired by Professor Mohammed Yahuza Bello who is the V.C of Bayero University Kano.
Prior to the discovery of the index case in Kano state, Governor Ganduje was seen all over the conventional media platforms leading a team of security personnel conducting stop and search operation at the borders of the state, the Governor had personally intercepted and arrested some trucks with unidentified passengers who were making frantic illegal effort to sneak into the state without being medically certified to be negative of the dreaded corona-virus.
As at today, Kano State under the present administration had established isolation centres, such as the Kwanar Dawaki isolation centre, for patients with critical condition obviously for those in need of ventilators, there is also the Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital Giginyu, there is also the Abubakar Imam Urology centre set up in collaboration with the Dangote foundation, there is also the Daula Hotel Isolation centre. We also have the 231 Sani Abacha Isolation Centre, the 200-bed capacity isolation centre at Karfi sports Institute and the Tofa Cottage Hospital Isolation Centre all set up by the Ganduje administration to effectively manage potential cases.
On palliative measures to cushion the effect of the pandemic, 300,000 House hold belonging to the poorest of the poor have benefited across the 484 electoral wards in the state, the items distributed to the targeted vulnerable class are grains, rice, vegetable oil and millet and over one million face masks were distributed in the first phase.
It is interesting to note that during his briefing to president Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, the minister of health had on the 26th of April 2020 informed Mr. President that Governor Ganduje deserve commendation while applauding the effort of Ganduje for his resilience and doggedness in curbing the spread of the Pandemic in Kano State.
At the risk of time and space, I rest my case.
Mohammed Isa Bilal, Publisher M.D. Royal Publishing Company, No. 10 Shendam Street, Jos Plateau State, 08167989085