By Muhammad Gwangwazo
Last Friday, RIPPLES on these pages was on the 8th Anniversary of the death of Late Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi, the first civilian Governor of Kano. A Governor like no other. There were many events to mark that great loss to Kano and Nigerian Democracy. There were many stories of the glorious days of Rimi and the Rimi Generation, we were regaled with on the Rimi anniversary a week last Wednesday (April 4th). The Giant Footprints Rimi left on Kano and indeed the national political landscape have so far been left untended. He is no doubt, the Last Great Leader in these parts.
Rimi acolytes, held a sober prayer session at Umar bn Khattab Jumaa mosque on the morning of April, the 4th. They followed it up with a visit to pray for him yet again at his humble grave at Farm Center. The state government, not to be left out, organised a lecture at Coronation Hall. The SSG then led another prayer visit to the Rimi Grave. Abubakar Rimi Television (ARTV) has since that day been running special programmes marking the Rimi Anniversary and the 35th year of his setup of the State TV, that used to be known as City Television, (CTV67).
Many of the basic infrastructure we now enjoy in Kano were planted either by First Military Governor, CP Abdu Bako or First Cvilian Governor M.A. Rimi. The City Center, despite the bastardisation of its original plan established by Rimi, the designer and architect of modern Kano is still the heart of the business district of Kano Metropolis as he envisaged. The Ado Bayero House at Kofar Nassarawa, which now houses Maitama Sule (NorthWest) University set up by Kwankwaso in his second term was built from the ground, up to the very last floor, by the Rimi Government.
What baffles one, is with a Rimi as part of our collective heritage, how on earth did we end up with the kind of political contraptions we suffer today? And Rimi has been away for only eight years. So sad what politics has degenerated to. It is now the exact opposite of what we were bred on by Late Rimi and the PRP. The hero of Nigerian Democracy from Kano, that Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi is, he was both a nationalist and a true Kano person. He was conscious of what Kano had to do to grow and as conscious of the religious preference of Kanawa. He was one of the top vanguards of the battle to ensure Shariah was enthroned in the 1979 constitution when he participated in the 1977 Constituent Assembly.
Top Northern politicians, Malam Aminu Kano and his colleague, “Mr. Shariah” Late Senator AD Rufa’i Misau led Northern delegates at the Constituent Asembly to insist on Shariah for Muslims and Muslims alone. This was long before Ahmad Sani Yarima of Zamfara and his enthroning of the Shariah for Muslims. Late Rimi alongside his friend, Late Shehu Umar Abdullahi were the foot soldiers of that Shariah debate. May Allah in His mercy continue to shower Rimi with all His mercies and blessings.
A host of foreign trained doctors and engineers including ex-Governor (now Senator) Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Kano’s current Head of Service, Auwalu Na’iya, former Chief of Staff to Rimi, Dr. Yunusa Adamu Dangwani, all trained abroad, under a Rimi programme. Rimi inspired a generation of youngmen, most of whom are now in their late fifties with the consciouness of the radical propensity for service as the reason for politics and governance.
He was so successful that it was from these set that we participated in the mobilisation for one million Free Rimi signatures campaign in 1986. The campaign was so succesful that the military government of IBB detained most of the core organisers led by Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim for daring to question the politically jaundiced excuses for jailing Rimi after the coup of December 1983. Bashir, a prominent political activist was at the heart of the formation of the Obasanjo PDP Government of 1999. He is now chairman of PDM, a political party that was first set up by Atiku Abubakar.
People from all parts of Nigeria were in the Rimi government. Dr. Asikpo Essien Ibok, was Director of Research. He was editor of “Three Faces of Silent Revolution in Kano State”, published in 1983 for the Research Department of the Government, by Gaskiya Corporation, Zaria. The publication distributed by Triumph Publishing Company details the “public accountability of the progressive (Rimi) government of Kano State during the past 42 months in office”.
In those 42 months Rimi did the unexpected. With Rimi and PRP, the masses expected a miracle, and he delivered. Probably a lot more than we all bargained for.
He met only three towns connected to the national electricity grid of old Kano. By the time he left, six months short of his four year term, he had connected 13 more to the grid. He was into every sector of life of Kanawa. He did the unexpected miracle of mass education, giving all staff who hadn’t been to formal classes, a chance for adult literacy training in work hours. Thus more than 500,000 acquired literacy.
In water supply, Rimi surpassed the projected 100 boreholes for 1981 in the five year development plan he inherited. He drilled 126 boreholes by end of the year. Under the sector, the RWS unit was geared to supply water for populations of 5,000. It was for 1,450 major villages and over 9,000 hamlets. With 67 per cent progress achieved by 1982, nearly 500 open wells were rehabilitated and 54 completed in the 29 Local Governments of old Kano. Many top flight doctors and academics of Kano and Jigawa were beneficiaries of his special push to train qualified Kano youth.
So sad we have lost Rimi and have no match yet. No one close enough. Not even Sule Lamido or Kwankwaso both of whom have done the best they can as Govenors of Jigawa and Kano. Not that there aren’t flashes of the PRP Rimi in them. But a distinguishing feature with us today is the failure to match theory with practise. We are left to caricature the Rimis, and other Great men of ideas and principle of yesteryears. We are left with hollow association with men who have excelled.
As believers and followers we are left with a faint recast of the past. We do nothing to truly key into what the past was about save for hero worship and sentimental attachment to the Great Names, whose hard work, commitment and focus were legendary.
To make any headway, to the Change we expect we must look to what made the Rimis of the world, our world, tick. The hangover of hero worship with no substance, fraudulent hero worship for electoral victory must be jettisoned. Like Obama alerted us all, it is indeed time for Great Institutions rather than Great Men. As the Great Men have come and gone. It is time we took our destiny in our hands, with a prayer to God as insurance. Once again, May Allah grant Rimi, the Great repose and peace.