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Re-awakening of Kano, the North’s laboratory

By Kabiru Muhammed Gwangwazo
“From relative obscurity, each generation discovers its mission; and fulfills or betrays it”. I have since 1979 always had these, or words to that effect ascribed to Frantz Fannon or was it Amilcar Cabral?, as a powerful motivation for any political activism I have been involved with. This phrase was drummed into our ears in the first set of Political Science 101 tutorials, at the “8pm to infinity” sessions of Late Dr. Bala Muhammad in 1979 at the Bayero University (BUK) Kano.

This discovery with a view to fulfil, not betray the mission is what we are led into by Barrister Aisha Ibrahim Dankani, MFR, mni, a law graduate of BUK. She is President of Kano LEADS. She is also Deputy President of AANI, alumni of the national institute, Kuru. Kano LEADS Initiative, is an NGO into Leadership, Enlightenment and Advocacy for Development. It is an NGO with a difference that has proved yet again the fact of Kano being the Social Sciences Laboratory of the North.

It hosted a two-day summit, tagged Kano LEADS “DaRUWANA” Roundtable 2018 at the FABS Events Centre on Magajin Rumfa Road on Sunday 25th and Monday 26th of March. A galaxy of the who is who of Kano, from all sectors were in attendance. A team of intellectuals, professionals, experts in their chosen fields were corraled and kept indoors all day from 10am to 6pm to address issues of importance to Kano and Kanawa (Kano people). On the first day, Sarkin Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II at his erudite best delivered the keynote and opening address. He was obviously so pleased with the focus of the NGO that he rode into the venue with a bevy of his District Heads. Among Sarkin Kano’s Hakimai at the event are a former top bank CEO, an economist and former university lecturer who proved he’s still with it. This is in spite of the turban he’s been sporting for decades as symbol of his authority over Rimin Gado, the LG he administers for the Emir.

Kano Leadership Enlightenment and Advocacy for Development Initiative, known as Kano LEADS, with the #DaRUWANA slogan has been on for nearly two years in Kano. It has succesfully changed the narrative of notoriety of recent years that Kano is a state where no one cares about what happens at all save for government, political parties or politicians. A weekly program, DaRUWANA, Sunday on Freedom Radio since late 2016 has tackled issues of common and current concern to Kano, the state and its people. Resource persons are interviewed, including people on the streets on issues of the moment.

The NGO is populated by enlightened Kano elite, public servants, businessmen and women, scholars, and people from all walks of life. The old and young, some in their twenties, a few well over 60 and of course a huge swathe of the active, in-between, are all on the roll of Kano LEADS. As part of its activism, Kano LEADS was galvanized into taking an interest in projects and, more lack thereof, over the years in Kano and the North. The deplorable deterioration in the economic status and social well-being of Kanawa with a population of about 20 million led to convocation of the summit to brainstorm and outline possible options for reclaiming and ‘owning’ the State of Kano and properly realigning it onto the essential development trajectory to return to its status of pacesetter in all noble and progressive facets of life. That was the core of the First Kano LEADS ROUNDTABLE 2018 communique outlined at the end of the two-day event.

There have been numerous efforts in the past to rejig Kano back to what is always referred to as its past glory as nostalgically envisioned in our embedded communal memory. We have had Kano Foundation and Kano Forum. We still have many groups working in special sectors. Some on drugs, some on Almajirci, the itinerant Qur’anic school education. The Almajirci here has so far not transformed from its staid form of centuries even when other Muslim parts of the world have since transcended the outmoded and conservative form we still operate with all its attendant ills and drawbacks. A major difference between the Kano LEADS effort to reset the clock for the State of Kano, that we at Kano LEADS call K’asar Kano, is that whereas most previous efforts are led by government, this one is driven by the people. Whereas most others by the people were driven by a given politician for subjective partisan ends this one encompasses all interests. This is evident in the vast input and buy-in from all political interests.

Many who’d not otherwise sit on the same table are now on the Kano LEADS platform. Yet again, unlike many previous efforts to get Kano, the Laboratory that has spawned many novel experiments adopted in the North, nationally and internationally, the Kano LEADS DaRUWANA move is not a closed shop. It is not only for us, the organizers or about us alone. It is about all Kano people. As such a new model is presented where a SECTORED Cluster Concept was articulated. Nineteen Sectors were proposed and presented at the end of the two-day programme including specialized clusters. Those who attended, in their hundreds, from the list of carefully selected Kano stakeholders were asked to choose clusters of choice and competence. And they did.

They clustered and began the outline of subsequent engagements after talks and lectures by experts on Education, Governance, Leadership, Traditional Institutions, MaiUnguwa, Health, Agriculture, Commerce, SMES, Industry, Poverty, Almajiri, Rape, Drugs, Infrastructure, Power, Solid Minerals, Women and Law and Security among others.

The most engaging aspect of the two-day event for one who has been on the planning committee for nearly six months is the apparent buy-in and unanimity for an elite consensus if Kano is to return to those days when Kano was a commercial and industrial hub. Days when Kano led the nation, setting up the State Primary Education Board adopted by other states and the FG. Those were days when Kano led in integration and accommodation as a melting pot of cultures. At a time, Director of Research, Government House, Kano was Dr. Asikpo Essien Ibok of Calabar while Political Adviser was Dr. Bala Muhammad from Bauchi and Press Secretary Mr. Sully Abu was said to be from Edo. All in the Government of Late Rimi, who’ll, Wednesday, April 4th be eight years dead. He first celebrated workers May Day and abolished the practise of “Daily Paid” labour in government, in addition to raising the minimum wage to an unprecedented N105 (one hundred and five naira). All these were copied by other states and the Federal Government.

Kano needs the reawakening this NGO envisages if it is not to be consigned to the dustbin of history, and it shouldn’t be. With the clusters handing over their destiny to them, and the concept of Kano TOPS, a list of the Good and the Great corralled for their ability, pedigree, competence, status and whatnot, the initial 100 plus, envisaged is a step towards the “Elite Consensus” repeatedly advocated by many Speakers and Discussants at the colloquium.

The captains of industry, the military top brass, including generals, top policemen, including an IGP, paramilitary top guns and professors, doctors, plus the cross-cutting profile of lower level citizens of Kano keen on taking it out of the depth of despair and moving it to the next level have said it all — that there is hope yet for the North and Nigeria too, as Kano, the Giant Laboratory reawakens.


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