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Nigeria: Governor Ganduje and Uncompleted Projects

22 August 2015

By Ado Umar Muhammad

Harithah bin Wahb (RA) reported: I heard Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying, "Shall I not inform you about the people of Jannah? It is every person who is modest and humble (before Allah), a person who is accounted weak and is looked down upon but if he adjures Allah, Allah will certainly give him what he desires. Now shall I not inform you about the inmates of Hell? It is every violent, impertinent and proud man." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

May 29th, 2015, officially christened "Democracy Day," assumed historic significance as the day a new set of leaders, mostly belonging to the hitherto opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), were sworn-in as president and governors at the federal and state levels respectively. The new leaders were elected based on their party's pledge to cure some of Nigeria's ills, and the confidence people have in their ability to salvage a country that is steeped in economic and socio-political quagmire. Whether or not they will succeed in doing so is immaterial; posterity will certainly remember the incident and the intended purpose.

Among the new governors who took over the mantle of leadership of their respective states is Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano state. The occasion marked a watershed in the life of the new governor who had for years coveted the seat and is known to have found it necessary to condescend along the line in order to survive several political intrigues, including the one that almost prevented him from emerging as APC's gubernatorial candidate.

Governor Ganduje had been a member of Kano State Executive Council as commissioner for years under military governors before the advent of the current dispensation in 1999. He also served twice as deputy to the ex-governor; from 1999-2003, and 2011-2015. He is therefore not a novice in the art of the governance of a highly populated state such as Kano.

Nonetheless, this being a season for unsolicited advice for our new political leaders, and in view of the complexities of the situation in review, one is obliged to offer a few suggestions to the governor in the belief that if accepted they would help in dealing with some social and institutional problems that he may wish to solve during his tenure.

Starting with advice, I think it would be auspicious if he charts his own course and avoid copying or following the footsteps of any past leader. An imitation can never be as exact as the original; it always falls short when compared. Being original and unique in substance and style is therefore the best policy. Most importantly, he should not be egocentric and power-drunk, or attempt to rule with iron fist (or ‘iron boot'!); threatening subordinates and associates alike as if they are there merely to take orders from him.

The new governor should be humble and respect all those deserving same from him. He should govern with the fear of Allah and the Day of Judgment, and never trample on people's rights just because he can. He should always be conscious of the fact that political power is transient and confined to a time limit. And those you trample upon today because you have the power to do so may be the very ones whose favor you may be seeking in future.

It was gladdening however to hear the governor pledge to complete the projects left by the ex-governor, such as the flyover on Murtala Muhammed Way and some urban and rural roads. The resolve to finish a predecessor's uncompleted projects is an ideal expected of a noble man. Even though it is the right and expected course of action it eluded some governors who, due to political reasons, deliberately abandoned projects bequeathed to them by past governors, especially those of opposition parties.

However, doing that to me is sheer pettiness and therefore antithetical to standard democratic practice. It is in light of this that we urge Governor Ganduje to complete not only the projects left by his predecessor but also those of the penultimate governor. Having been abandoned for four years now, leaving them again for another four years means abandoning them for good.

The uncompleted projects left by the government of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau include the N1.48 billion ultra-modern specialist hospital located at Giginyu quarters in Nassarawa LGA (intended to handle special medical cases often requiring trips abroad), and the N2.85 billion New Hasiya Bayero Pediatric Hospital on Zoo Road. It goes without saying that majority of the outpatients going to our hospitals are children under five years old. The two projects have already attained over 80 per cent completion stage.

There is also the N18 billion ‘Kanawa International Market' located at Dangwauro on Zaria road, conceived as a partnership project based on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT). It was aimed at decongesting the markets in Kano metropolis. The partner, Messrs IDIS Limited, was to build and operate the market for 25 years before handing it over to the people of the state. The significance of this international market to a state that prides itself as "Center of Commerce" cannot therefore be overstressed. Yet, incessant appeals for its continuation by leaders of Kano Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KACCIMA) fell on deaf ears.

Similarly abandoned is the establishment of an ICT Park at the multi-storey ‘Gidan Ado Bayero.' An ICT Park is an e-marketing strategy that is now the vogue in many parts of the developed world. It is an intensely income-generating undertaking that was used to great advantage particularly by some "Asian Tigers" such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. To replicate the success recorded in these countries was why the then Kano governor established the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2009.

In fact, arrangements had reached advanced stage for hundreds of entrepreneurs (individuals and facility management companies), including international ones, to rent the place in order to exploit the vast opportunities to invest that Kano is endowed with as one of the most highly populated states in the federation. Potential investors attracted by the project included leading ICT companies like Microsoft, ICSL Consortium of South Africa, the Nigerian NICOMSAT, United States Embassy and a host of others.

Had it taken off successfully, the Kano project would have been the first of its kind in the whole of West Africa. Alas, shortly after takeover of government in 2011 its fate was evidently sealed as comments by government's spokesmen that the place was empty without furniture and installed computers exposed the ignorance in official circles of what an ICT Park is all about.

Also stalled is the construction of a standard conference centre located at the Audu Bako Secretariat. The ICT Park and this project were discarded either because of mischief or gross misunderstanding of their significance to a commercially-oriented state like Kano. In fact, the conference centre has recently been allocated to staff of the Secondary Schools Management Board and Science and Technical Schools Board, which signifies its total abandonment.

Without doubt, the notion that government is a continuous process is negated by this kind of crude politics of regarding everything left by a government belonging to the opposition party as good only for the dustbin. And to block the projects because of envy that they would serve as legacies to the initiator is indeed crude politics. The earlier our governors desist from this kind of untoward attitude the better for us all. Governor Ganduje would therefore do well to complete ALL abandoned projects because they are meant to serve the good people of Kano state, and that is what matters most.

Muhammad is former Permanent Secretary, Special Services & Council Affairs Directorate, Kano. aumo21@yahoo.com 


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