By Dele Sobowale
Before moving forward, let me declare that I have never met Governor Ganduje. He has also not influenced what you are about to read.
These are my sincere opinions about the Governor. Fault the idea if you want; but, don’t read any motives into it. This is the season of political speculations.
Indeed, if I ever have the opportunity to interview Ganduje, the first question will be “How have you been able to keep your head and state while others around you are losing theirs?”
Everybody commenting on the 2023 elections is focused on the presidential candidates. Nobody seems to pay attention to the likely vice presidential possibilities. But, if the All Progressives Congress, APC, succeeds in its reconciliatory efforts, then the most valuable VP for any southern presidential candidate is the Governor of Kano State. To be quite candid, it is a mystery to me why he is not a presidential candidate himself. He possesses at least three of the requirements for a successful race. Let me briefly list them.
MASTERY OF SECURITY
Get a map of Nigeria and take a look at the position of Kano State. It shares borders with Kaduna and Katsina States – two of the worst states in Nigeria based on daily reports of banditry, kidnapping, arson and random violence. Farmers in the two other states are reluctant to go farming; and no highway in Kaduna is safe anymore. Governor Masari recently announced that his people should defend themselves against the criminals Buhari cannot control.
But, take another look. All the mayhem and atrocities seem to end at the borders of those states with Kano State – which has emerged as an oasis of relative peace and security in former Northern Region. The North has now been taken over by armed men sharing power with Governors and the President. Why is Kano State different?
“For every folly of their [Governors] [Nigerians] feel the lash” – Horace, 65-8 BC, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 61.
Nigerians, especially the media, readily and correctly, blame Governors when things go wrong in their states. Frequently, we fail to give honor when and where it is due when things are done well. Relative peace in Kano State did not come by accident – given information reaching me from old friends living and working in places like Rano, Wudil, Kofar Kabuga, Durumi, Dambata, Tamburawa, Bichi, Gezawa and other parts of the state which is my second home in Nigeria.
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The first and most obvious reason is the leadership in Kano State. Unlike other state Governors – North and South – who have made a ritual of complaining that the President controls all the security agencies, Ganduje had taken that situation as one of the challenges to face as Governor. He can also cite instances when he wishes he had greater control over the army, the Police and the DSS. Instead of succumbing to helplessness, as others have obviously done, he had taken charge as reports reaching me indicate.
One of my most regular readers teaches in the Federal Government Girls College in Katsina State. He has spent nearly ten years there. Three years ago, he moved his entire family to a town in Kano State. The family has been living in relative peace ever since. He is the only one endangered; and he is planning to move to Kano soon.
Another fan works for Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria. His family has also relocated to Kano; he intends to join them as soon as he can secure appointment – even if it means a drop in pay. “Dead men don’t enjoy fat salaries”. That was the reason he gave for choosing Kano. I teased him and asked: “Why not Abuja?” His reply was revealing. “Abuja is only a little better than Kaduna State. Kano is the safest place in the North.” Absolutely remarkable.
It was my informer from Gezawa who explained how the feat was achieved. According to him, “Ganduje had foresight; he realised that neither the army nor the Police can provide good security without the people themselves. So he organised the traditional rulers and made them the first line of defence. It has worked well.”
You don’t have to believe me; just go and find out from Police records how much safer Kano is compared to other states.
MANAGING HERDSMEN MENACE NICELY
“Don’t oppose forces; use them” -Buckminster Fuller, VBQ p 63.
Certainly, every Governor has some good intentions about managing the herdsmen menacing his state. But, for most of them, it amounts to fighting the Federal Government. Ganduje is, in my opinion, the only Governor who understands that he was not elected to fight Buhari; but to get as much as he can from Abuja for his people. He was the first to offer land for ranching – while others are still citing the Land Use Decree of 1978 which gave absolute power to State Governors as reason not to do anything positive.
Today, Kano enjoys more transfers from Abuja for RUGA than any other state. Furthermore, with that single gesture, the Governor totally pacified the herdsmen terrorising other states. Kano is the only state farmers and herdsmen live amicably. You can easily determine an exceptional person by the results he achieves when faced with the same challenges as others.
Politics remains a game of numbers – whether rigged or not. A useful VP candidate must be able to deliver a huge chunk of votes. Kano still has the largest number of registered voters, at least according to INEC. Ganduje has demonstrated that he can deliver the votes – if he puts his mind to it and given the opportunity. As VP candidate, he will have all the opportunities he needs to clobber the opposition and move to Aso Rock.
There are other reasons why I think he would be the first choice as VP candidate for any southern aspirant, but let me keep those until somebody is sensible enough to go for him. From reliable information reaching me, he is already the top choice of two southerners. It will be a wise decision.
By contrast, follow me to Kaduna State.
KADUNA NIGERIA’S HELL ON EARTH
“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those, who in times of great moral [and security] crisis, maintain their neutrality” – Dante, 1265-1321, VBQ p 89.
“Bandits kidnap over 70 Kano -bound traders, others in Kaduna” – News Report, December 23, 2021.
What made the headline more chilling was the information provided by an eyewitness, Malam Umani, who said that “the traders were travelling in a convoy of over 20 vehicles with police escort”. Obviously, the person who said there is safety in numbers has never heard of Kaduna 2021. Here, any number is imperiled if enough bandits gather together. A week before, passengers on the ever busy Kaduna-Zaria Road, along which is the Military Training College, Jaji, were abducted and taken into a forest – which could not be too far from Jaji. During the same week, travelers on the Kaduna-Abuja expressway were again seized and herded into another forest – on a road which only those on suicide mission will drive on.
There was hardly any month, during my ten years living and working in the North, when I did not visit Kaduna. It was the most congenial and most cosmopolitan of all northern states. Non-indigenes wanted to invest in real estate there – even when they didn’t live or work there. I lived and worked there; and, for a while had landed property for further development. It was a relatively peaceful state.
Suddenly, the place changed. My friends, still living there, have horrible tales to tell about the hell Kaduna State became in just a matter of six and a half years. When historians of the future write about the descent of Kaduna State to Armageddon, they must start from May 29, 2015.
To be continued…