Hundred days in office has over the years emerged as both a concept and a yardstick of gauging the performance of political administrations. Achievements recorded in the first 100 days provide pundits with metrics to assess the policy direction of a government and mirror what the future foretells about the government.
I am not a pundit but rather have interest in what is happening in my locality, Kano, and nationality, Nigeria. My intention is to put bits and pieces and connect the dots to make an intelligent guess about the main actors in charge of Nigeria and Kano state. This I plan to do in series, with part 1 focused only on Kano.
Hausa people have an adage that goes as, “Juma’ar da za ta yi kyau tun daga Laraba ake gane ta,” roughly translated as “The signs of an exciting Friday begin to manifest on Wednesday”. For Abba, we can see the good and exciting signs as well as the challenges. In 100 days, sanity has been restored in the state. The high incidence of phone snatching at knifepoint, crimes, and violent clashes between street urchins have dramatically dropped. When there is a will there is a power.
Unlike Ganduje’s political expediency of granting clemency to thugs that would beef up his support base, Abba’s policy direction is clearly against political thuggery. Political thuggery is an albatross around the neck – a phenomenon that spills over to create insecurity within communities. It is an ill wind that blows no one any good. This success of curtailing insecurity, for me, is a major shift worth my vote for Abba in 2027. Kano is a commercial hub. And the opportunity cost of insecurity on such a vibrating economy can only be imagined.
I give credit to Abba for restoring scholarship (foreign and local), offsetting the unexpected catastrophic spending of the fresh and returning university students caught in the web of unprecedented school fees increase, slashing 50% of registration fees across state-owned tertiary institutions, reopening tens of boarding public secondary schools, offsetting the accrued debt owed contractors that provide meals to students and pupils in public schools, reinvigorating the integrated Islamic schools across the state to minimize child begging (almajiranci), and restoring the reformatory institute to manage cases of drug dependence and addictions. The list is quite long and cuts across social and humanitarian sectors.
It is now visible to every discerning mind that the governor has keen interest in health, education, growth and development, and critical infrastructure. His 100 days revolved almost entirely on these areas. He has probably visited more hospitals than any other place. His reopening of the closed down and abandoned Hasiya Bayero within a short time is unprecedented. It has increased his connection with the masses and justified the popularity he enjoys. In terms of infrastructure, we have seen KARMA back in action and breathing life into our dilapidated roads. The flag off of the long abandoned Wuju-Wuju road along the historic River Jakara has the potential of transforming the economy of the metropolis by linking major markets (Kasuwar Kurmi, Sheik Nasir Kabara market, Abubakar Rimi market and Nomansland), apart from its huge impact on mitigating real and potential ecological disaster in the ancient city. I drove at night across the state and found about 70% of streetlights and traffic lights now working perfectly. We had forgotten when last they were working under the previous administration. Kudos to the governor, whose singular commitment to people drives these transformations in just 100 days.
Interestingly, some people told me that their taps have started running after almost a decade. No city will survive the competition of 21st century without regular supply of pipe borne water, electricity and good roads. I was literally on cloud nine when Abdulkadir, the efficient State Accountant General, told me that Abba is working towards putting to use the state independent hydro-powered electricity in the first 100 days. We keenly look forward to seeing this epoch that was started since Kwankwaso’s second landmark coming. As a critic, I must confess that Abba has achieved a pass mark in 100 days. He is probably the only governor who had done so much in these golden days among his peers. But the take off period was not entirely smooth.
To say that there was no mistake and everything is perfect is to fall short of natural laws. There were turbulences. The demolishing exercise, though in good faith, was rushed and generated so much unnecessary tension. The poor control of the narrative led to several bad editorials against the government. This could be due to inexperience or lack of strategy for public engagement. It is something that the government should work hard on restoring. He who demolishes must build is a maxim I believe should not escape our attention. But beyond all rhetoric, Kano needs a new master plan. We can’t grow just as a slum and expect to compete favorably. There is so much pressure around the land administration in Kano, especially with influx from the Northeast and Northwest due to insecurity bedeviling some states in the aforementioned geopolitical zones. A pragmatic policy on development control will be paramount. We need sustainable housing policy without jeopardizing the remnant of land we have for agriculture. For emphasis, as an agrarian economy we must not lose sight of our strength. There is a report already commissioned by Ganduje’s administration that mapped out all the water bodies (more than 20) and how they can be fully exploited to generate employment and put the state ahead of its peers. Ganduje did not implement a word in that report because his interest was only on what brings him crumbs and the state development. I want to suggest that Abba should adopt the report and see to it that it is fully implemented during his time. We are at the receiving end of climate change and we must invest in programs that would ensure food security and employment. The days of a government being obsessed with high-fashioned designer flyovers and underpasses with little economic potential should be over. But certainly we need good roads in both urban and rural areas as enablers of economy. Our thoughts and actions should align with the economic vision of the state not mere monuments.
Refuse and waste management is another area that becomes a big challenge to the government. If you walk the streets you would come across heaps of refuse greeting you. It is understandable that the previous administration had sold all heavy-duty equipment belonging to REMASAB and even scrapped the agency. Yet, this should no longer be an excuse at the tail end of the 100 days. A good leader demonstrates his capacity not in the state of comfort but during seemingly insurmountable challenges. I don’t have an answer to how this problem should be solved but I know there are modern approaches to it. As a policy, the management of major markets should take care of their wastes. Every shop or a combination of shops should have a waste bin to be evacuated regularly by private companies at a fee. The end of open refuse dumping is now, not later. Private cleaning companies should regularly sweep the market streets and even our roads. Government cannot do it alone. It is overwhelming! More so, a clean Kano is in keeping with “operation nazafa” promised by Abba in his inaugural speech. I am quite surprised when I see illegal motor parks returning around Ado Bayero flyover. This is where the governor should hold his appointees responsible. Whoever is in charge of KAROTA should sit up. He should not fail where the previous administration of the same agency had succeeded. When Baffa Babba was in charge of KAROTA the illegal parks disappeared and motorists enjoyed free access around Zaria road. Now the place is looking filthy and poses security risk.
I will hit a pause and conclude with my boring piece with these pieces of advice. There are rumors that Abba is not accessible by his appointees, leaving them entirely at the mercy of one or two top government echelons. This is a mistake if it is true. Robert Greene in his classic 48 Laws of Power had warned against leaders putting fortresses around them. Isolation is dangerous! By constantly engaging your appointees you will always serve as inspiration to them. You gain more by inspiration than by instilling fear mystery. Even Al-Maghili in his must read treatise for Kano rulers titled “Crown of Religion Concerning the Obligations of Kings”, has asserted that, “Ignorance of public affairs can bring about the demise of kingship. The source of every ill is the seclusion and alienation of the ruler from his subjects”. He further suggested that, “Ruler should also hold public audiences daily so that women and children can approach him with their petitions”.
As John Maxwell argues, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less”. You influence people by creating a connection with them and inspiring them. One should always remember the ten commandments of servant leadership (listening, empathy, persuasion, vision, healing, commitment to growth, etc). And one should get accustomed with the qualities of a good leader (integrity, innovative, emotional intelligence/social skills, decisiveness, fairness, self discipline/confidence, passion/resilience, tech savvy, etc). In this 21st century, every leader and his assembled team should be conversant with Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Leaders are made not born. Thus, one must see this as an opportunity to make leaders out of one’s team. You know all these things as a leader, perhaps more than us. But as Allah instructed the Holy Prophet in Qur’an, “Wazakkir fa innazzikra tanfa’ul muminin (And remind, for indeed the reminder benefits the belivers).
Congratulations, Sir, on your eventful 100 days! I wish you more success and enduring legacies in your tenure. Indeed, one good turn deserves another.
Mr Musa, a medical doctor, wrote from Kano