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Of Hisbah, state Police and the trouble with “supermen” in power

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By Kabiru Muhammad Gwangwazo

On an email based platform of some very eminent Arewa elite, a post on some atrocity generated comments, top of which said, “it was horribly evil !”.

Contributing, one of the members announced he had passed the report and film clip to the Kano Hisbah Board for necessary action. Though he was quick to add, it wasn’t because the “evil” was perpetrated in Kano, because he had doubts that such evil would be perpetrated in my beloved state of Kano. He is from Zaria, even if he first went to university in the very late ’70s in Kano before returning to complete his university education and graduate back in Zaria, his home town.

It was pleasing to hear such good thoughts of Kano. Malam Mouftah Baba-Ahmed, the Bazazzagi under reference above, had more kind words for the Kano innovation of Hisbah. The Hisbah, generally referred to as the Muslim religious police, is more than a Police service. It is more a community based platform whose core mandate is morals managemant and alternative dispute resolution.

Because of its integral relationship with the beliefs and value systems of the Muslim community of Kano it commands more authority and respect than both the Police and conventional courts, including Sharia courts. As an institution it has been around for less than two decades, effectively only since the Shekarau Government of Kano in 2003.

Our kindly Zazzau person commenting on the Hisbah wrote: “The Kano Hisbah seems to be fairly competent in community policing***”

His passionate epistle went on thus: “ ***[This is NOT a vote for state police, at all. In fact, I am totally against state police, under our current circumstances]”.

And that was my cue. To key in, I wrote back on the same mailing list, arguing vehemently against such a tyrannical force that a state police is, was and will sure be on these shores. Troubling as is the conduct of our Federal Police, the Nigeria Police (Force), it is still a lot more universally acceptable than the crude state governor’s vigilantes a state police force would be.

My Comments: State police will be evil, no doubt. It was so, in the First Republic. Even in Kano where, at a time Ado Bayero (who was to ascend the throne of Emir of Kano and die a most reverred monarch in 2014 after more than 50 years as Sarkin Kano) was Chief of NA (Native Authority) Police (Wakilin Doka). Late Ado Bayero as Wakilin Doka of Kano NA was believed to be a NEPU (opposition Talakawa-based political party) sympathizer.

On the Kano Hisbah that Malam Mouftah wrote, the model is truly working and accepted by the community. It complements the Emirate traditional institution community/Islamic dispute resolution mechanism we have in place”.

Even while we run a federal police, our emperor state governors are known to use the Police against perceived opponents, especially in states that are on the same page with the Federal Government or where elements of the Federal security establishment are so disposed.

These past three weeks we have seen how the Police establishment is exhibiting the utmost contempt for the National Assembly. What is going on needs to be looked at beyond the faces of those occupying any institutional post. We should have a system that recognises procedure. The Executive Arm of Government which has direct control of the security agencies shouldn’t allow the face of a person at the head of an institution of state to dictate how that institution is related to. Such dealings undermine not only the particular institution but the whole of the system.

Isn’t it reasonable for us to ponder what could happen if tomorrow, the same Police IG or the Attorney-General ends up in the Senate? In fact, the Senate today is populated by many who may have misused their status in previous posts, sustaining a tradition of impunity they may have met.

Such misguided misuse of transient power reaffirms the foolishness of our elite, who have thus far failed to establish strong institutions. We are left to rely on strong men in government. We are left with our perpetual search for a Superman, the Superman Dream that dumped Obasanjo as President on us, an Obasanjo who is a consummate Machiavellian politician.

The same Superman Dream gave us General Buhari as elected President, who is today effectively cornered by smart power choreographers, making a mannequin of our Superman, a Superman whose integrity is not in doubt. Yet ironically a Superman with obvious age, health and political capacity issues, a Superman who is still pushing those who are not happy with him to look for another Superman rather than a SuperSystem.

What we need is a Superb System, a Super System, a strengthened set of institutions that can withstand any individual tyrant. Yes, our men of power, and women where we have them in power are all tyrants, and no more.

For some of us so used to our GMB Superman, warts and all, he is still our choice for now. Yet, we feel shortchanged and are indeed shortchanged by him and his (current crop of) close associates who deride the efforts of politicians and other elites deliberately cut off from the power loop. They deride and make light of the efforts such politicians and elites made to get him to power the 14 years, since he started gunning for the Presidency in 2002. Such a pattern of ill-advised behaviour is what has now brought APC, the President’s party to the verge of ruin despite the very many laudable initiatives he has started in these three troubled years as President.

Now, with elections literally, ominously, around the corner again we are running helter-skelter for another Superman to soon make a Supervillain of again, should he upstage our General and get to power. All the while our Superman, GMB is also seeking Supermen in states and regions to help him back to power.

He has tamely, sensibly returned to Asiwaju Tinubu, the rejected stone for the three years of the GMB APC Presidency to corral Yoruba votes. I wonder if he (GMB) recognizes that Asiwaju is but a product and chief manager of the Yoruba Political Machine. Asiwaju is but a key part an institution that works to deliver in the best interest of Yoruba land.

As I rounded off my comments reproduced here laced with a few expansions, I apologise to the email group for my veering off the main issue Mouftah raised. I mused that the prompt seemed such an opportuned peg for a wake-up call to all of us, before it is too late, especially those of us of Arewa, the North of Nigeria. Even if 2019 is too late for the Change we rooted for in 2003, 2007, 2011 & 2015, we need to work towards perfecting a set of workable processes to support our institutions, to make for predictable proactive Change of the kind that recognizes institutions, systems, superb systems, not assumed superb men and/or Supermen.


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