Tuesday, August 6, 2019

KANO CITY WALL




What is Kano without its city walls?
Built centuries ago with a sense of grace
It is our identity and cultural achievement
So imposing, intimidating, a grand monument
It is our pride and collective memory
Today, a gray shadow of its grandeur
Kano is naked, without its city wall
So are all of us.



August 6, 2019




Kano City Wall Restoration: Beyond Rhetoric: rejoinder to Fatima Surajo Yusuf (Mrs)


I read with keen interest a rejoinder on my article The Badala: Obsession ans a Moment in History written by one Mrs Fatima Surajo Yusuf and published in the Weekly Trust of September 11-17, 2004 page 31. The rejoinder seem to be concerned on the opinion expressed about Kano City wall restoration and how Kano people have mishandle this gigantic cultural signature.

Before responding to the outregeous, false, insunuative, unfocused and opologetic claims and unfounded statements made, I wish to state that I have a feeling that Mrs Fatima Surajo Yusuf is a shadow of someone trying to reap what he did not sow. But since he chooses to hide behind a woman, I wish to also assume that Mrs Yusuf is the originator of the article and treat it as such.  Her rejoinder is just as she dismissed mine as an  “ego trip ….a piece of self glorification”. Mrs Yusuf, you cannot eat your cake and have it.

When I wrote my article which was published on May19 and June 19th, I was only trying to express my gratitude to God for making it possible for me to see Kano city wall being restored in my life time. I did not say other people have not done anything on the preservation and restoration of the city wall, all I said was “The last six years have witness from me a period for the struggle of the restoration of the Kano city wall in particular. I have done everything in my capacity to see that the city wall is protected and conserved, to the extent that many people including friends, colleagues and associate see me as a crazy man obsessed with a relic. Many bluntly told me face to face that I am wasting my time; the city wall is gone forever. This article is purposely written to celebrate a personal victory against adversity, uncertainty, bureaucratic bottlenecks, neglect, irresponsibility and brutal disregard to our history. I intend, in this short article to review my and our struggles that was a dream, which has today become reality. The city wall is not after all gone forever”.

Further more, I did not claim in the write-up that I was responsible for the money or claimed credit for it even though I have every right to say so (Some staff of Gidan Makama museum call on me and told me that due to my internet crusade, the German Government has given them money…..) what I said on the grant was simply “So, I went to see the new Curator Dr. Lekan. I introduced myself to him and congratulated him for the restoration project. He informed me that they got a N 9.9m grant from the German Government to do the work and that a committee is being established for the work. We exchanged cards in anticipation of further collaboration”.

Mrs Yusuf is not happy that I did not mention Yusuf Abdallah, Zubairu Imam and Dr. Sule Bello as well as Mr. Mayo Adediran as having contributed, I am very sorry. But to keep records straight, I feel I must respond to the ‘window dressing pretending attitude’ of Mrs Yusuf. She started as to be expected of people like her by saying she was responding to me “because of the derision in the strong anti-Kano and Kanawa sentiment expressed in the concluding part of the article…which the writer apparently shares with person he met at the Gidan Makama Museum..” This statement is meant to show that someone is against Kano and Kanawa and give her the support of Kano people so that she can have some sympathy and appear to be (an armchair) champion of the Kano heritage.

I think Mrs Yusuf should first of all have a grasp of what Kano is and who Kanawa are (beyond the myopic and uninformed arrogant assumption of some self-claimed champions of the Kanawa heritage) so that she would appreciate what I am going to tell her. According to Yusufu Bala Usman “ The Kasar Kano When we turn to the available evidence of the history of Kano, before and during, the second millennium A.D, we find that the concepts of “the nation” “nationality” “tribe”, “ethnic group” and “the nation-state” as imposed on the rest of the world by European imperialism, since the nineteenth century, are not applicable and are misleading. The Kanawa, the citizens of the sovereign kingdom of the Kasar Kano, were not a racio-ethnic entity. In fact, the key historical process of their formation in the second millenium is the migration into, and within, the area that came to be known as the Kasar Kano of people of diverse origin, from all over Northern and Western Africa, who came to be absorbed assimilated and incorporated as the subjects of the Sarkin Kano and the citizens of the Kasar Kano”


Therefore, the Kano and Kanawa of Mrs Yusuf imagination remains pigments of her unguided imagination. Why should I be anti Kano or anti-Kanawa when I am part of them? If you do not have a reason to hang me for what you too accept is ‘gyara kayanka’ you shouldn’t simplify everything by calling us anti-kano or anti-kanawa, unless you want to suggest that anyone that tells Kano people when they go off the way is anti it. You should remember the story of one Sarkin Kano who during his time


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Kano and the Rise of Bridges: Matters Arising

Introduction

Kano is a struggling metropolis with an estimated population of over 4 million, occupying 499 square kilometers. It is the largest inland port south of the Sahara and one of the largest cities in Africa. A primary migrant Cosmopolis for hundreds of years, Kano remains a major magnet and destination to millions of people. The increasing population and expanding size of the metropolis   creates a lot of demands for facilities, infrastructure and services beyond the meagre resources of the government. Because the demand for services is much more than the available resources, governments have to prioritize what to do now, what to do later and even what not to do for a while.  If we prioritize, the shortfalls we have in all sectors such as education and health, agriculture and commerce, transportation and environment etcetera will have been better managed. From 1967 when the state was created to date, each government improves upon what it met and also try to address its contemporary challenges. From 1999 to date, (the fourth republic), we have governments we elected, we have five consecutive governments and each of them has its focus, from infrastructural development to human development and sometimes both.

All the democratic governments in Kano from 1999-date had to contend with serious distraction from politicians and other opinion leaders that often derailed them. Unfortunately, almost all the governors from 1999 to date were made to measure their success by showing that his predecessor has not done well. They get confused by political machinations to the extent that they ignore the real needs and wants of the State, wasting a lot of peoples’ resources trying to outshine their predecessors. Our governors are made to see government not as a continuous process but personalized and egocentric process. That, in Kano, has created unpleasant scenarios but also gave rise to the forces of retrogression who are today key decision makers in government or major opinion moulders in the polity. Most people who were once the vanguards of Kano have either become complacent or adopt the siddon-look attitude. It is apparent that no one speaks for Kano. We are left on our own and at the mercy of politicians.

Our resources are limited so, it makes little sense when you see governments using tax-payers money to do non-priority projects. In Kano you see many billboards showing such structures as tax-payers money at work. If State Governments are creative, there are sources such as Africa50 that can help them bridge infrastructure gap. By tapping those resources, state governments can utilize the little they have to improve education and health. States like Kano, Katsina and Zamfara can access funds from Qatar Fund and Saudi Fund to fill our infrastructure gap. The major challenge is that, most state governments lose interest when they realised that they will not receive the money in cash


The Age of Flyovers and Underpasses

Kano enters the flyover age from 2011. In March 2018 after the Kano State Commissioner for Information announced that the State Government will build a four billion naira flay over at the famous Dangi Round About along Zaria Road,  I wrote an article which was widely circulated in the social media and was published by the Daily Trust Newspaper. In that article I argued that we don’t need more flyovers because we have enough and there are more important areas that need to be linked up in the rural areas of Kano that are poorly connected. Connecting rural areas will unlock their potentials and facilitate economic development to neutralise rural-urban migration. Recently, the State government came up with another project that will engulf over 15 billion naira. The project is also a flyover. It was really shocking to hear that again. According to Salihu Tanko Yakasai “The N15bn Kofar Mata Flyover will start from Kofar Mata, pass through Kantin Kwari market, Ibrahim Taiwo Road, Singer Market and link up with Murtala Mohammed Flyover (Sabon Gari).” The table below gives a breakdown of the cost of each of the projects and its length in metres and kilometers.


Project/Location
Amount (Naira)
Length (km and M)
Length (Km)
Flyover-K/Nassarawa-State Road
(+ Radio Kano flyover)
5,933,520,068.34
540m
0.54
Flyover-Murtala Muhammed Way
10,180,245,223.03
1.76km
1.76
Underpass, Gadan Kaya
1,362,514,273.85
330m
0.33
Underpass, Kabuga
867,498,405.28
270m
0.27
Underpass, Panshekara/Madobi Junction
1,125,413,808.25
309m
0.309
Underpass, Kofar Ruwa Roundabout
2,391,542,371.69
860m
0.86
Underpass, Dangi Roundabout (Underpass-410m-0.41km-3,032,487,760.81),
Flyover-180m-0.18km-1,466,101,082.25)
4,498,584,843.06
410m of underpass+180m of flyover=590m
0.59
Flyover-K/Mata-Singer
15,280,639,566.25
1.9km
1.9
Total
41,639,958,559.75

6.559

This new development motivates me to research into the new bridges built by Kano State Government from 2011-date. This covers all the flyovers and underpasses completed by the Government of Kano State (2011-2015) and the ones that are started and proposed by the current Government of Kano State. I looked for the length of each structure and the amount spent or budgeted for it and I found a staggering amount of money invested in these structures. My study shows that, between, 2011-2015 Kano State Government constructed and completed Kofar Nasarawa-State road flyover, Gadon Kaya Underpass and Kabuga Underpass. It started the Murtala Muhammed Way Flyover but has not completed it. The current Government constructed the Kofar Ruwa Roundabout underpass and the Panshekara/Madobi underpass. It almost completed the Murtala Muhammed flyover and started the Dangi flyover and underpass and now announced the most ambitious flyover, the Kofar Mata-Singer Flyover. The flyovers and underpasses are constructed according to Kano state government through its Commissioner of Information, Youth and Culture was ‘aimed at reducing carbon emission, minimizing road accidents, beautification of the state capital among others’.And rightly so, the new bridges  so far completed have to some extent improved traffic flow and made Kano look ‘modern’, BUT at what cost? As we can see, the total cost is 41,639,958,559.75 naira and the total length is 6.559 kilometers. Is there economic sense spending N41.6bn for 6.6 kilometers by a state struggling to serve its teeming population who are largely poor? What is wrong with us? Let’s reflect on this.

The two underpasses at Katsina and Madobi roads have been completed. We thought we had seen enough but we later heard about another one at Dangi and we cautioned the state government. In my earlier article on Dangi, I suggested that rural roads would have been more economically sensible for Kano State rather than spending 4.4 billion to make Zaria road imposing. In that article I argued “There is no pride in capital cities whose rural areas are neglected. There is no beauty in cities whose rural areas are isolated. There is no gain in cities being opened when rural areas are left inaccessible. Spending 4 billion naira in Dangi underpass and flyover will not yield any economic benefit but boost the ego of some misguided politicians. If Kano State Government invests this huge sum in constructing rural roads in addition to whatever they have done or plan to do, Kano State will be better for it and development will come to Kano State. We can then manage our growing population. We have seen enough flyovers and underpasses in these years and what we need today is increase linkage of rural areas to boost economic development.”  Alas, all those who showed genuine concern were ignored as being politically motivated.

The new 15 billion naira monster at the heart of Kano Central Business District as Yakasai said will be “the biggest infrastructural development in Northern Nigeria by a state Government”. The question we should ask ourselves as citizens is whether this project is worth its salt. We should also ask whether a N15bn flyover is a priority looking at the immense challenges we are facing in other vital sectors such as education and health or even better urban roads. One will also like to ask what justification is there for all the bridges in a state that unfortunately lacks neither an operational urban development master plan nor Transport Master Plan to guide its conceived and pre-conceived projects in Metropolitan Kano. I am aware that a preliminary Strategic Transport Master Plan supported by development partners with the expectation of being developed into full Master Plan to guide the state on its vision and mission in the transport sector is still a work in progress. Are all these huge investments coming from someone who just wakes up in the morning and think we need to have a flyover or underpass in so and so place? As a citizen, I will like to know how such decisions are made.

Presently, what the state is in dire need, is a well regulated and coordinated public transportation system in place not flyovers and underpasses. The state should focus on the provision of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) infrastructure and invite investors through route licensing to provide buses rather than spending its meager resources on things the private sector can do if the right atmosphere is provided. Unfortunately, in addition to the unwise investment in flyovers, the State Government, we learnt is about to invest over 1 billion Naira for the purchase of buses from Egypt. These buses when brought will only add to our traffic woes because we are yet to have a functional transport infrastructure to support them. Are we going to address the chaotic tricycles or add buses on the routes already crowded?  If I am in a position to advise the State Government, I will insist that instead of Kano State investing another 15 billion Naira for the biggest infrastructural development at the heart of our CBD, that amount will have been best invested in transforming normal urban roads. There are many sections of this struggling metropolis including government layouts that are without tarred roads or even good drainage systems. Rainy season will make you hate yourself for flying urban roads in most quarters in Kano because of their terrible conditions. This is in addition to floods that makes the people miserable. The State Government could have invested this money to improve urban roads and drainages making an indelible mark in the hearts of the people. This will have affected millions of people and improve urban accessibility and interaction in addition securing them a strong political score.

What if we invest N15bn in Basic and Secondary Education?

There are always sectors that seriously need the intervention of Kano State Government and one of such is the basic and secondary education sector. The neglect of public schools started long ago and every government simply gives a lip service to it. Most of us as far back as the late 1990s, became concerned about public primary schools which we all attended and just last year, the old boys of my former primary school renovated the school in Nassarawa Local Government. Class rooms were rehabilitated, chairs and desks were provided to pupils and toilets were also rehabilitated. This made the school attractive like a private school and even attracted the representative of Nassarawa Local Government in the State Assembly to rebuild a burnt classroom and our school is today a model public primary school. During the handover ceremony, a government official, while thanking us made a revelation. He explained that the State Basic Education Board is aware of the challenges facing primary schools in the State. He, however, said that a huge amount of money is needed for every child to have a seat and ensure that no classroom takes more than 60 pupils. He gave an estimate of N9 billion or so as what was required.

Since our demand for services and infrastructure is more than the resources we have, the State Government could have done something better with our money. Now that the State Government has N15bn in its coppers, I wonder if that money can be invested in our basic and secondary education. This investment will have a lasting effect on the future of the state and its inhabitants, it will increase access to quality education to the children of the masses and give them almost equal opportunity to actualize their dreams of becoming responsible citizens. It will transform the fortunes of Kano in the next 20-30 years and become the biggest investment in basic and secondary education in Nigeria. The good thing about investing in basic education is that whatever amount the state government invests, the Federal Government through UBEB will invest same amount. So, if Kano State Government invests N9bn, the UBEB will also invest N9bn. That is a whooping N18bn. Just imagine what impact this money will make in basic and secondary education in Kano State.

It is worth reminding us that Kano State used to be a pacesetter in Nigeria even in the education sector. Being aware of its backwardness in modern education, Kano was the first to establish Agency for Mass Education, State Primary Schools Management Board, Science Secondary Schools and many more. Today, Kano is struggling to have a sound public school system. Our primary schools (despite the little that has been done), are in a truly very bad shape. Not only that they are congested and pupils are sitting on bare and dirty floors, the classrooms (where available) are characterized by broken doors and windows in addition to leaky ceilings. We still have thousands out of school children rooming the streets particularly almajirai. With this amount of money and will-power, even the Qur’anic school pupils can be rehabilitated and streamlined. Education is the most important investment in any society will do. It is an investment that doesn’t show in short time, but it ultimately change the fortunes of a people.  The picture below (which I sourced online) tells our story today in the age of flyovers. While we fly on flyovers, our children are sitting on the bare floor where classrooms are available or under the tree.



Conclusion

If Kano State government is really serious in improving the transport system, it should pay attention towards the provision of effective and regulated public transport system guided by an urban development master plan, transport master plan and a functional transport policy rather than building more flyovers and underpasses that are not really a priority. Finally, my advice to the citizens of Kano State at all levels is to do whatever possible and implore the State Government to abandon the N15bn K/Mata-Singer flyover and invest that money in the education of our children. All of us who are somebody today, attended a public school and the gift of good public education produced us. The future of our children, I assure us, is not guaranteed until the future of other children is guaranteed. As Fanon said “Every generation, must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it… every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor”. We need Kano people to please start speaking for Kano.

January 22, 2019

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Observations on the Proposed Dangi Underpass and Flyover in Kano, Nigeria



Transport infrastructure is a major factor in promoting sustainable development because it increases accessibility and creates opportunities for less developed or neglected areas. Urban expansion and growth requires increased accessibility and that is ensured by providing networks that will ease linkages in urban centres. In fact, when roads are provided in an area, development is attracted. Urban centres with more networks tend to develop faster than those with less connectivity. This being the issue, all urban centres of Nigeria try to improve their accessibility and connectivity, thus Lagos and Abuja remain envy to other States including Kano and Ibadan.
A little wonder therefore when Kano State Government initiate the construction of new flyovers and under passes from 2011to date. The current State Government ensures that the bridges that were unfinished by the last government, were completed or being completed. In addition, new ones were built at Kofar Ruwa and Panshekara. From 2011 to date, billions of naira were expended on these giant projects which have beautified the city but also addresses some teething traffic challenges. These bridges also fetch political marks to governors and become their campaign landmarks.
One of the roads that have a series of these bridges is Zaria road. The Gidan Murtala overhead is less than three kilometers to the popularly Gadar Lado (Ado Bayero Bridge) then the Bypass flyover. With the diversion of traffic at the Dangi junction for those going through Zoo road, Zaria road is among the most traffic-jam free roads in Kano metropolis. You hardly see long traffic along Zaria road, for this, we must commend the State and Federal Governments for their foresight because Zaria road could be the most important link road of Kano with many important parts of Nigeria.
Most recently, it was in the news that Kano State Government is building a new bridge at Dangi roundabout, a project that will gulp a whooping 4 billion naira. The new project will connect Zaria/Silver Jubilee and Zoo road in the metropolis. The statement issued by the State Commissioner of Information, Youth and Culture, Malam Muhammad Garba says “the project is also aimed at reducing carbon emission, minimizing road accidents, beautification of the state capital among others’. Although how the project will be funded is not clear, radio adverts seem suggests that IGR from taxes will be the source of funding.
When I heard about this new project, I found it intriguing. The first question one should ask is is there need for this project in Kano at this critical time when we are short of funds. Many critical sectors are facing challenges including education and health. Children still sit on the floor. Existing health facilities are in bad shape. To me, the Dangi project is preposterous. Any observer and student of transportation will tell you that there is no justification for that huge spending in that location. Zaria road is free of traffic and in the next ten years or even more there won’t be need for this kind of project. The reasons given by the Commissioner is absurd. First of all, reducing carbon emission argument is deceptive because, the same State Government has allocated green areas in the State that serve as carbon sink, for example, along BUK road, especially between Kofar Gadon Kaya and Kofar Famfo land has been allocated that will not only increase carbon emission because of the traffic hold up it will create but also destroy 500 year Kano people’s historical monument (remnant of the famous Kano city wall). Several public parks have also been converted to other uses. Cutting all those trees reduces the city’s capacity to reduce the effects of carbon emissions.  The issue of minimizing road accidents and beautification is also misleading. Zaria road has the least road accidents rates (get the records from the Federal Road Safety Commission). This cannot be a justification for spending tax payer’s money on it while there are other priorities even in the metropolis. The talk about beautification is also another misguided priority. We beautify cities with public parks and gardens (in Kano governments destroyed them) not by building flyovers or underpasses.
But this is not the main challenge of this great state of ours that we continue to ignore. Kano State has one of the largest concentrations of population in Nigeria, thus most part of the State is often considered as Closed Settled Zone. Yet, the state has among the least developed Local Governments and one of the reasons is that most of the development projects are concentrated in the centre even by governors who come from rural areas. Kano State has a terrible connectivity especially in rural areas. Rural areas are the engines of economic development because they do not only produce food but also raw materials for industrial development. Rural people remained poor and most of them have to migrate to urban centres adding pressure to already over-stretch infrastructure and services. 
Unlike neighbouring states such as Katsina that have made giant strides in increasing its rural intranets opening up new areas and creating opportunities, Local Governments in Kano State lack such linkages. It may come as a surprise to many to note that most local governments in Kano State are not interconnected or poorly so. For example Sumaila and Warawa LGAs are cul-de-sac, you can’t link up to anywhere from there. So many neigbouring LGAs are not linked until you get out and join another road extending travel time and preventing economic and social interactions. For instance neighbouring LGAs like Sumaila and Doguwa, Ajingi and Gabasawa, Gabasawa and Minjibir, Kunchi and Makoda, Albasu and Gaya, Bichi and Makoda, Rogo and Kiru, Kabo and Kiru and of course Shanono-Tsanyawa, I stand to be corrected. This inhibits development and subjugates the rural people into a permanent cycle of poverty. This long term neglect in favour of the capital makes Kano LGAs less developed for years. One wonders what the members of the Kano State Assembly who are representing these rural areas are doing. Kano LGAs need to be connected and that’s what visionary governments should do rather than spending tax payer’s money on beautifying the metropolis with white elephant projects.
In my opinion which may not matter, this proposed project will be a huge waste of scarce resources, ill-informed and not politically strategic. The ruling APC in Kano will have made more impact when it open up rural areas with this money they will waste beautifying the city. There is no pride in capital cities whose rural areas are neglected. There is no beauty in cities whose rural areas are isolated. There is no gain in cities being opened when rural areas are left inaccessible. Spending 4 billion naira in Dangi underpass and flyover will not yield any economic benefit but boost the ego of some misguided politicians. If Kano State Government invests this huge sum in constructing rural roads in addition to whatever they have done or plan to do, Kano State will be better for it and development will come to Kano State, we can then manage our growing population. We have seen enough flyovers and under passes in these years and what we need today is increase linkage of rural areas to boost economic development. Whether this article will make them change their mind or not I made my point and will henceforth continue to make it. If there are people in Kano, elders in particular, who really love this State and its people, they heard me and they know what to do. Our political leaders must be guided to doing things in the interest of public good. Politics is a dangerous game and politicians are selfish and short sighted.
March 29, 2018  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

ATM, Banks and Helpless Customers


 

Automated Teller Machines otherwise known as ATM were designed to reduce stress on customers of banks seeking to withdraw money. ATMs provide services to card holders wherever they may find themselves. Some of us who know the cheque era can remember the frustrations customers experience collecting money especially at the end of the month when salaries are paid. Customers have to be given a tally because the queue is so long and chaotic. In the Nigeria’s characteristic manner of impatience, people shun the queue, reserve and even physically fight.

Some readers may remember one popular advert, I can’t remember for which bank where customers come to banks with their sleeping mat and that popular phrase ‘’give me my tally number’’ is still fresh in my mind. To make things worse, you can only cash money from the bank whose cheques you have. For instance, you can’t use First banks cheque to collect cash at UBA. If you are given a Unity Bank cheque you can only cash it at a Unity bank. Transfers take longer time, one have to use bank drafts etc.

Today, many young people do not even know that people use cheques to cash money. Some months a go my ATM has experienced and I needed money, so I gave my son, a level three undergraduate student a cheque to cash and he was puzzled. What is this? I explained to him what a cheque is and he was surprised that one can use that paper and collect money. All he knows is the ATM card. It was an experience for him to cash money using a cheque.

During the pre-ATM era, people go to the bank once, twice or thrice in a month and manage their spending in such a way as to avoid going to the bank again until the coming month. That in some way helps customers to spend less and with some degree of discipline. It helps customers to ensure that they have cash at hand for every future transaction they may do because when the time comes the banks might be closed or the long queues may delay or stop the transactions. In that period, it is money on demand-like. The coming of the ATM changed all that.

When ATMs were introduced, many people hesitate to use them because they are scared of the technology and reliability of the cards. So it was started as a kind of a voluntary service. If you want, you apply and get one. As usual young people who see it as vogue started adapting the ATM before old people who are more used to the cheque system. But the Federal Government at the time was pushing for what it calls a cashless economy, even when many people including me feel it is too early to go fully cashless. Today, most bank customers have ATM cards, sometimes at request sometimes automatic. Even housewives have their ATMS and usually send someone to cash on their behalf, giving the cashier their pass word and all with no insurance.

With an ATM gave us more freedom to cash money at will. It gives us the opportunity to do transactions using our computers or even mobile handsets. It gives us the freedom to withdraw money from any available ATM anywhere in the world. ATM cards created many opportunity we never thought possible. But they also come with their unique problems. Every new technology brings its challenges to people’s way of life. Just like mobile phones changed our lifestyles leaving us wondering how life will be without them (forgetting that we lived without them safely and well), so have ATM cards.

Here we are holding beautiful well designed cards that we can always use anywhere anytime to withdraw cash and do transactions with the available monies in our account. So, with our ATM cards today, we have changed the way we spend money. We no longer have to cash money in advance and keep because we can always cash money from the ATM. We spend more money now and spend more at shops that operate Point of Sale (POS) where one can use his card to pay for transactions. One doesn’t feel as much pinch when he uses ATM card as when he uses cash, so one can spend more using card.

The major challenges customers faces using the ATM cards include annoying phrases like dispense error, temporarily unable to dispense cash, the issuer is none cooperative, out of service and the ATM queues which are different from the banking hall queues.  Let’s start with the quality of service provided. All the signboards of ATMs usually have 24/7 on them, meaning, available for 24 hours daily, 7 times a week. This shows that one can withdraw money any time we chose. But, is that so? Can we really get the money anytime anywhere? There are ATMs located in bank premises and some outside bank’s premises. It is understandable that you go to a non-bank premises ATM and fail to get money, but it is inconceivable that you fail to get money in a bank-premises ATM.

This is one aspect that bankers show most irresponsibility to customers. Bankers should know the frequency and quantum of withdrawals at different periods of the month and ensure that monies are made available at peak points-usually month end. What are their research units doing not to understand customers demand pattern? One can visit 10-20 ATMs and being annoyingly told temporarily unable to dispense cash. This attitude must stop, the Central Bank of Nigeria that is preaching and imposing this new innovation must come to the aid of customers. In some banks, the night watchmen at their own will or on instruction lock the gates of the ATMs at 10:00 pm while the signboard is still telling you that the ATM provides services 24/7.

There is also the problem of dispense error, I changed my bank because the could not get my monies back, I was debited a hundred thousand without dispensing and my bank could only get me 60,000 naira and for over four years today my 40,000 is still missing in action. In the new bank I transferred, it took me 43 days to reverse a dispense error of 20,000 naira. In fact, many people lose monies unnecessarily due to dispense error. I have no doubt that, if CBN is to commission a study on dispense error, it will find that Nigerians are loosing billions. Where are the monies going? No one is being punished.

Finally, I want to stop here with a call on the supervising agencies to come to the aid of customers. Customers pay for the services giving by banks and banks should be made more responsible to meeting customer’s needs. Severe punishments must be meted on erring banks that make customers suffer from their incompetence and neglect.
 
This article was pubished in DAILY TRUST, Sunday, September 20, 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015

OPEN LETTER TO SENATOR BASHEER GARBA LADO



March 14, 2015

Dear Senator Basheer Garba Lado,

I am a citizen of Kano and a resident of your constituency.  I am from Giginyu quarters not far away from your family home. For the last five months or so your campaigns for re-elections in the media are everywhere.

To tell you the truth, many people like me are even tired of listening to the same thing again and again. We always hear about your 108 projects that you executed in the 15 LGAS of your constituency and many programs about your assistance to religious schools and cash gifts to women and so on. You are really campaigning very well and if any politician will be voted because of his campaigns in Kano, you will be the one.

As an informed citizen and electorate, I am not convinced by all the hullabaloo of your campaign which targets ill-informed, ignorant and illiterate members of the electorates. As a senator representing me, I know your duties are more of legislation rather than projects which form the crux of your campaign strategy. I therefore write this open letter to you to ask the following questions.

I visited your website www.senatorbasheerlado.org to search for the answers for the questions I wanted to ask you, but did not find any. All I saw was that 108 list of your campaign projects and some pictures. Under your motions and bills link I found only one bill on the urgent need to discourage (not ban) Nigerian public officials from sending their children and wards to schools abroad which could not open. There was no other bill, no single motion and no list of motions you supported or opposed.

I also saw under your achievements link four giant projects namely the dualization of Kano-Katsina road, Tamburawa bridge, Kundila flyover bridge and Darmanawa-Hassan Gwarzo road which were presented as your constituency projects in your radio campaigns. For the dualization of Kano-Katsina, it is a speculated that it was initiated during late ‘YarAdua’s presidency, in any case, these are actually in fact not your projects. Rather they are projects you said you initiated and facilitated as is reported in your website.

In order to have clarity about your true achievements and for the benefit of other informed people like me to be fair to you, I decided to write you an open letter which I am sure your ferocious media team can help you answer. I will like you to publish your answers in the same medium I asked the questions so that we can read them and decide whether we can vote for you, get more support for you or just ignore you.
I want to beg you please not to send verbal mercenaries to reply or abuse me in the radio. The questions are as follows:

1.      Among the 108 projects you said you have done, how many are part of your constituency projects and how much were you given for the constituency projects? We have seen solid projects by other senators like Senator Gwarzo and Senator Gaya.

2.      How many of these projects (108) are from your salary and allowances and not funded by constituency funds?

3.      How many times did you engage other senators in any debate on motions and bills passed that will help or harm people from your constituency?

4.      How many motions have you presented and how many have been passed?

5.      How many times have you come to your constituency from May 29, 2011 to February 28, 2015 to consult with stakeholders (I don’t mean party visits or meetings with politicians) but the other members of your electorate whose voices matter on matters of national interest?

If you answer these questions to our satisfaction, we assure you of our support because what we really need in the senate is a worthy representative. As you rightly say in your radio programs, as a senator, you are not a governor or LGA chairman, for that, there is no basis for comparison with a governor or chairman. As a senator, your main duty is actually not these projects you are using to campaign with, but to make laws. Your success is measured based on your ability to ensure that we are not short-changed at the National Assembly in the Nigerian game.

While wishing you success in your campaign, we eagerly await your response.

Yours faithfully,
Yusuf Adamu PhD

 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Kwankwaso Factor and Chances of APC in Kano, NIGERIA


The political atmosphere in Kano is heated and all observers are waiting anxiously to see how the coming 2015 elections unfold. Two parties are competing for all the political positions. The APC and PDP are the two major parties that every observer takes seriously even though one cannot dismiss the chances of other smaller and little or unknown parties. This article examines how Kwankwaso factor will affect the outcome of the 2015 elections in Kano.

The APC is confident that it will win the elections with an overwhelming majority because of a number of factors which include the progress they brought to Kano is self evident to grant them people’s vote and of course the Buhari factor. The PDP is also confident that it will win because of a number of factors which include manipulation of people’s emotions and the belief that Shekarau is still that Saint-politician of 2003 with huge support from masses (and that will be their Buhari-factor.)

Kano people will vote for presidential, gubernatorial and national assembly elections. The campaign for all the positions is intense, but the campaign for Kano Central seems to be most amusing and controversial. For politicians therefore, the most important and crucial seat in 2015 elections in the State is that of Kano central. One wonders why every radio program on politics is centred on Kano central senatorial seat. So the battle is that of supremacy between those who are with Kwankwaso and those who are against him. This problem will have serious implication for the chances of APC in Kano.

No observer, participant or listener of radio programs in Kano can ignore the desperation of Senator Bashir Lado of the PDP. Perhaps, no senatorial candidate in the history of Kano politics has mounted a mammoth and ferocious media campaign as Bashir Lado. Whether one likes it or not, he must hear Lado campaigning using many unconventional strategies and methods like buying groceries and meat for people, dashing moneys to women and paying hospital bills and using the radio to amplify it. This guy goes to the extent of having many programs to remain visible and relevant. Whether this will help him get re-elected or not remains to be seen. But what surprises observers is why is the man to beat showing reluctance in fighting for election to the Kano central senatorial seat? Is he scared of Lado and have already giving off or what could be the reason? Some are of the view that Kwankwaso is actually not scared of Lado and that he must have a strategy which many do not understand. Some are of the opinion that looking at his profile, he is just sure of himself and he assumes Kano people know that he will be a better representative of Kano than Lado and has decided to allow Kano people to chose for themselves. Time will tell.

Kwankwaso’s credentials for the senate seat are excellent. No one can doubt that with Kwankwaso as a senator, Kano will be well represented. First of all, Kwankwaso is a seasoned and polished politician. He was a member of the University of Nottingham (United Kingdom) senate representing students; he was a deputy speaker in the national assembly of the third republic (derailed by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida). So he is conversant with the workings of the parliament. He is exposed, articulate, bold and fearless. So, if he wins the senate seat and APC wins at the Centre, he can be a great asset to the party, if APC didn’t at the centre, he will still be a major force in the opposition.

In addition, if Kwankwaso lost in the senate elections, and APC wins at the centre, the party will lose a competent senator in the parliament. But, it is very likely that the APC led government will certainly have to work with Kwankwaso in the executive or somewhere else. So, for him, if APC wins at the centre, it is a win, win situation for him.

Now, why is Kwankwaso’s candidature facing so much opposition from within the party and outside it? Why are politicians very bitter about this fine son of Kano? Even though many observers and citizens of Kano State believed that Kwankwaso’s Autocratic/task oriented leadership style is the best style for Kano of today, arguing that he has delivered, many politicians see Kwankwaso as arrogant and hot-headed man who doesn’t care about their interests and welfare.

For true politicians, politics is all about self interest whatever it may be. To, many politicians in Kano and many other people who benefit from politics of ‘abundance’ in the past, Kwankwaso’s style is too mean, miserly and inconsiderate. They have serious grudges against him because unlike his predecessor, he did not ‘build people’ and so is useless politically speaking. One may ask, what can such politicians say about all the solid and visionary projects that his government has done in Kano? Even if one is blind, he would know that Kano has changed and it will certainly benefit from his educational and youth capacity building programs. The answer is simple; politicians are not after projects rather what they directly benefit from a government.

From within the party too, the opposition against Kwankwaso from within is another important factor that will decide the outcome of 2015 elections in Kano. From available information in the public discourse sphere, when APC was being formed, members from ANPP, ACN and CPC party were in the merger before PDP members decamped to APC. However, the decision of the party to give leadership position to a serving governor where one is available polarises other important figures in the other parties.

People like the former governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau could not imagined being under the leadership of Kwankwaso, so in order to remain politically relevant he, to the shock of many, decamped to the PDP, making him a politician in the true sense of the word. In politics, self interest is always ahead of collective interests.

Others who remained in the Kano APC stayed because they belief in the party whatever happens or whosoever leads it. Some stayed because they love General Buhari while others yet have a hope of getting some positions to contest. When the primaries for governorship and national assembly were held, most of those APC members from the Legacy Party lost. Some, like General Lawal Jafaru Isa, (a strategic general as he is) accepted defeat and go on with his political life. He now gives all his attention to the National APC and to Buhari campaign in particular. You hardly hear him in any controversy or making unguarded utterances. This earned him more respect and admiration from many reasonable and respectful people in Kano and in the polity.

Others, who feel bitter and or betrayed, decided to form an internal open opposition without leaving the party. Their sole goal is that of ensuring that Kwankwaso as a person lose the election at any cost, including giving the PDP serious advantage. So, this time is about the politics of vengeance. Between them, there is a rising dust of dark cloud of internal opposition which is short of being called an anti-party team. Their goal as they always claim is to ensure that Kwankwaso fails and NOT to harm the party. The question is how can they do this and what is the implication of this action to the outcome of the 2015 elections in Kano?

This internal opposition with the invisible helping hand of the opposition are busy demonizing Kwankwaso and trying to convince the electorate not to vote for him but still vote APC for other positions. This team is of the belief that they can make Kwankwaso lose without affecting the party. They are of the opinion that local electorate in Kano can differentiate between different ballot papers and can vote for PDP or any other party in Kano central and APC in other positions. Although this is a risky experiment that many see as an ill-informed strategy for APC, the members of internal opposition feel it is a risk worth taking.

Therefore, the people of Kano central will have to decide whether to vote for APC as their idol General Buhari said (SAK-at all levels), or help internal opposition and bring down Kwankwaso. The greatest challenge and defining factor in the outcome of 2015 elections in Kano central at least is how well or not so well the Kwankwaso factor has played a role.

In the end, as a citizen of Kano, I will not lose sleep whosoever wins Kano central or Kano State for that matter even when I prefer one party over the other, since my vote will not make that difference. Whoever Kano people finally voted for, all of us will share the dividend or bear the consequences.

As for politicians, after the elections, they will re-align themselves again. Those that are fighting today will become allies tomorrow and those who are friend might be the enemies of tomorrow. They are like that, they will never change. It is therefore a big challenge before the well informed people of Kano to responsibly educate their people to vote wisely. The choice we make is the choice we will live with for the next four years and continue to bear its consequences for God knows when. May God help us.

 February 19, 2015

 NOTE
Shorter version was published on LEADERSHIP SUNDAY Newspaper of March 15, 2015 on page 67 

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
Kano, Kano, Nigeria
Dr. Yusuf M. Adamu is a Professor of Medical Geography at the Bayero University Kano. He is a bilingual novelist, a poet, and writes for children. He is interested in photography and run a photo blog (www.hausa.aminus3.com) All the blogs he run are largely for his hobbies and not his academic interests. Hope you enjoy the blogs.