By Yakubu M. Rigasa
Since 1999 when Nigeria went back to democratic rule from over a decade of successive military dictatorships, the majority of Nigerians have not benefitted from the dividends of democracy proportional to the period the system has been in practice especially at state levels notwithstanding the hyped publicity. Many of the elected governors, particularly from the north, served either their personal interests or those of their political godfathers who in one way or the other made it possible for them to ascend the governorship seats of their states.
The very few exceptions were Kaduna state under Ahmed Makarfi, Katsina state under both UmaruYar’adua and ShehuShema, Bauchi State under Ahmed AdamuMu’azu, Sokoto State under both Bafarawa and Wamakko, Jigawa State under SuleLamido and Kano State under Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso. These are the states that deter one from making generalization on the entire northern states as failing to make judicious utilization of their allocations and internally generated revenues for the benefit of their people.Of all the merits of democracy, northerners can boast of enjoying only few.
One of such advantages is provision for changes in government without violence. An irrefutable fact here is that Nigerians generally cannot say to have a hitch-free transfer of governance nearly at all levels. Whenever election period approaches, heartbeats increase in quick paces, tensions rise to a very high degree, the polity gets heated, all these as a result of intimidating comments by opposing camps. Some of such threats do really actualize during elections. So, we’ve lost this merit as well. Democracy also allows people to gain a sense of participation in the process of choosing their own government. Yes we do enjoy this feature at the end of every election term which signifies the beginning of another even though our votes do not actually count at most times. Being conscious of the lifespan of his administration, a responsible governor intensifies in fulfilling his election promises without minding whether the current term is his last.
In Kaduna state, however, we are not so lucky to beat our chests in honest pride of enjoying infrastructural dividends of democracy since the end of Ahmed Makarfi’s tenure as the Executive Governor of the state. This makes many of us admire some other governors who perform in their states and envy their people. One of such performing governors is our immediate neighbour, Kwankwaso of Kano state. He has transformed his state into an enviable one and target of future investors despite the unprecedented level of insecurity bedevilling the north with its economic consequences. One wonders why some governors lose their sense of competition in redeeming enticing pledges made to the electorate and instead opt to remain perpetually visionless.
By whatever indices one attempts to juxtapose the two neighbours, Kaduna and Kano states, in terms of infrastructural developments, the results will always tilt favourably towards the latter. But why there exists this rather too wide developmental gap between the two states? In 2011, a year into Yakowa’s rule after Namadi’s uneventful three years, a list obtained from the Debt Management Office in Abuja then showed that Kaduna was second most indebted state in the federation after Lagos state. Its foreign liability was worth $143.45m (N21.52bn) with virtuallynothing to show for it for all the while the two personalities held sway at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House.
Furthermore, a national daily reported on 7th January, 2013: “Official documents from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) showed that the amount that accrued to Kaduna State from Federation Account was N530.1bn for the period (11 years): N268.6bn for its 23 LGs and N261.5bn for the state while Kano State with a population of 9.4 million had received N761.7bn; N333.1bn for its 44 LGs and N428.4bn for the state government”. What exactly has happened to all those funds? Kaduna is now aptly answering to the Hausa slogan of ‘Jin kiyafi ganinki’, literally meaning ‘Hearing about you is better than seeing you’. Apart from some select places that have been cosmetically touched for sight-seeing by guests and strangers, all other areas have been left out in terms of provision of social amenities. How I wish someone with half of Kwankwaso’s patriotic zeal, commitment and deep love for the people would get the chance to lead the state for two consecutive terms to correct the backwardness we have witnessed in the last seven years!
Yakubu Muhammad Rigasa via firstname.lastname@example.org