Diary Of A Disgruntled Arewanist, By AbdulYassar AbdulHamid

“Pardon me, Abdul, but it is through what should be termed as the triumphant moment in the history of our

“Pardon me, Abdul, but it is through what should be termed as the triumphant moment in the history of our democracy, when an opposition party’s presidential candidate unseated a sitting president through ballot papers, that Buhari came into power.

Now the Buhari-led administration has clocked three years. We have been with him through thick and thin moments, we have moved from slippery dales to steep hills and from debilitating recession to economic growth – first in Africa today with $47.37 billion net foreign reserves as at Match surpassing that of South Africa which has $43.15billion. It is great.

It is true that our prayers have been answered; and now the year 2019 general elections are fast approaching. What the future has in store for us? Only God knows.”

“Abdul,” Dan Kano called.

“Yes, I can hear you, Dan Kano,” I answered.

“I am not trying to refute what you have said about the ubiquitous security upheavals in the country particularly in the northern states of Zamfara, Bunue , Kaduna State and the north east where there are calamitous security challenges, the total number of 149,669 Nigerians graduate receiving their N30,000 monthly stipends through Npower scheme or the recent N9 billion Hadejia Irrigation Valley Scheme (HVIS) rehabilitation project the president launched in Auyo Local Government Area of Jigawa State.

Look, I say a big  thank for that. The credit goes to him.  Of course, I have read of how more than 5,870 illegal arms and ammunitions have been destroyed by security agents this month in Zamfara State and many arrests made in Bunue State, Taraba State and Birnin Gwari. I am in the know of Aminu Tashaku’s arrest.

“I have a question – just a question. This question is rooted in the belief that President Buhari has come into power purposely to fix the serious damage done to this country. I have invested all my hope – so also my kins – in this government from the very moment the president flagged off his campaign to date. I don’t have to tell you of the swarms of supporters I joined on Zangeru Road, Kano, to welcome Muhammad Buhari’s campaign team to the state. So was with almost all the northern States. You can ask why. It is because the people have so much entrusted in him, knowing how in his short-lived administration he had fought indiscipline and corruption with the last ounce of his power that led to the overthrow of his government and earned him imprisonment. This is a clear sign of corruption fighting back. War between the forces of evil and that of good is as old as the world itself. Excuse me for a moment.

“Two years later malam, we are still waiting for the clouds to gather – clouds that will even the score of our investment in this government for it has rained in other regions, with the South West witnessing the highest number of downpours in the form of infrastructural projects, followed by the South East.

“Remember South West has gotten its recompense from its investment in bringing APC into power in 2015. Just take even a cursory glance at Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta N56.701 billion road project, the ongoing Oyo-Ogbomoso dual carriage way, and Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail.

These projects once completed, no doubt, will transform south west political zone into a gigantic economic hub in recent future. This is perhaps because they have clear-cut agendas for their region, someone told me after listening to my unending complaints. Should this be the reason I should have written one for the north.

“Hold on. Albeit all this, on 6th December, 2017 – still waiting for the rain – I arrived at the two-carriage, mighty Hadejia Road, Kano, at 8:30am. I met sea of heads there patiently waiting for the president’s arrival. To me, to them too, no amount of campaign of calumny will eclipse the president’s star in my heart and theirs too. As his motorcade poked its nose, people made hedges of themselves. Some were pushing through the hedges and the security agents were restraining them. The gathering was on a mission. The people wanted to say something – an idea. They could not let go of the urge. In unison they said, “Sai Baba“, raising their fists. Why? Because they so much believe he can do it – some have been nourishing this strong belief in him since 1985.

One year later – still waiting for the rain – the federal government is investing N16.6 billion out of N100 billion Sukuk proceeds in road rehabilitation in the south east. Perhaps you have not heard of Port Harcourt-Aba Road, Abriba-Arockuwu-Ohafia Road, Orji-Achi-Obeagu-Mbaku-Awgu-Ndeabor-Mpu-Okpanku Road, the Ikot Ekpene Border-Aba-Owerri Road or Second Niger Bridge projects.

I hate that debate of their being anti-Buharists or they had voted against him. I do not care whether they have cast their votes for him or not. As long as they are Nigerians they deserve much more than this; and remember his saying, “I belong to everybody, and I belong to nobody”. He is right as true leader should feel duty-bound to serve everyone. All I care is I canvassed 1,903,999 votes for him in Kano, 885,988 in Jigawa State, 1,345,441 in Katsina State and 1,127,760 in Kaduna for instance. I think I deserve something in return.

“With all that Jane B. Singer would call “agenda-setting mischief of both the mainstream and online media”, the on-going slandering against the president aimed at giving his government a bad name in order to hang it, and mistrust of our security forces created by media-hype, I have seen how my kiths and kins in Jigawa State – on May 7, 2018 –  came out in droves, during the president’s two-day working visit to the state, to welcome him and pay their allegiance. They were all smiling. They would not be cowed.

“Thousands of them left their businesses, farms whatnot, to entrust him once more with the resources and the future of this country.  I could see ants of supporters – young and old, men and women – drawing nearer. They were mumbling something by the movements of their lips. You could see their upper and lower lips coming together and parting. As they came nearer in accord they uttered resonantly, “Sai Baba“. Why? Because they too believe he can do it.

“Back to my question; as Professor Abdussalam Umar Jibia would say ‘it is true the love Buhari enjoys amongst his people is still there’.. They have that unwavering loyalty for him. All I need – everyone too – is some explanation on why things are not going the way I expect them to be.

Why other geo-political zones are benefitting much more than I do despite the incomparable number of votes I cast for him? For God’s sake when will the hour hand of the clock of national resources distribution point at the North? Answer me,” Dan Kano asked this impossible question at last.

“It is a pity, Dan Kano. I have listened to your clamouring; it is far better to be blunt than mealy-mouthed. No amount of words will aptly placate your saddened heart, but my fear is rash actions. Had you listened to the president’s speech during his working visit to Jigawa State you would have taken the same stand as I. After repositioning the economy, I envisage an entirely new system. I picture a secured and poverty-free north, network of roads dotting its expansive landscape, sustaining agricultural activities at their peak, the flag of jobs creation waving and educational opportunities flowing like water,” I replied.

Abdulyassar Abdulhamid wrote this piece from Kano and he can be reached at abdullahiyassar2013@gmail.com

 

 

Social Change, Youth And Political Leadership, By AbdulYassar AbdulHamid

A month ago I, alongside a friend with whom I share almost everything in common, had about an hour-long, educative

A month ago I, alongside a friend with whom I share almost everything in common, had about an hour-long, educative discussion with a Kano-born, Hausa musician Aminu Ala in his office on the rise and sudden decline of many Hausa musicians.

He raised this argument citing many examples with live and dead musicians who could not cope with the turbulent waves of social change and at last lost their voices. He argued that many of those musicians could not fashion out some ways, either by changing their theme or adopting foreign musical instruments, in order to adapt to changing circumstances.

“For example”, he said, “many of those artists had held tight to the past forgetting innovation and the merciless sword of radically unstable time had to cut them off the pages of stardom. A month ago I had to blend Indian musical tune and Hausa’s kalangu to produce a song. I used this as a boat to float safely on the tides of social change.”

We unanimously agreed on this point and a friend of mine cited an example of Craig David and Steven Wonder, who after releasing some captivating best-selling albums withdrew to the gutter of forgetfulness, to support Ala’s claim

At once I referred them to a philosophical assertion Ibn Khaldun set forth in his masterpiece, Muqaddama (Prolegomena), a timeless book that analyses the social organizations, their rise, growth and sudden decline; and in the words of Albert Guarani, a book “Full of reminders of the fragility of human effort”.

Sometime thereafter I often ask myself many philosophical questions on social change, the way civilizations are “Visited by a destructive plague which devastated nations and caused populations to vanish…when they had reached the limit of their duration. It lessened their power and curtailed their influence”, in the words of that great historian. Should this give both our youth and political leadership a clue about the reality of life?

Must people chance in accordance with convulsive movement of time, weather and the universe? How will Kano, Nigeria, perhaps the world at large look like in the next one hundred years when we are long gone?

Although many anthropologists have argued that change is natural and inevitably ever-present in every aspect of life, why do we look at alteration in individuals rather than social structures, institutions and social relationships that are the leading agents of such changes?

By applying the theories of social change to the Nigerian context, one can argue that we are somehow caught in the stagnant webs of the past.

In more than sixteen years of democracy only two agendas have pathetically materialized out of tens of others: lazy unproductive youth struggling with cargo of negative mentality and irresponsible leaders that have built structures upon structures on quicksand.

Changes in our population both in number and composition have far reaching effects on our social co-existence. It affects our economic well-being especially when the authorities fail to invest in its population to make them an asset rather than a liability to themselves, their immediate family members and the larger society.

This is, perhaps, because subsequent governments have failed to chart some sustainable ways to resuscitate the economy. An increase in the population, since political leadership has failed us, results in an increase in unemployment, crime rate, poverty and inadequate facilities.

“The establishment of systems where democratic principles abound and are upheld”, argued Strashbourg, “requires a civil society where the youths are predominantly the catalyst of a socio- political and economic culture attuned to democracy, liberty and freedom”. This reminds me of the Not Too Young to Run bill passed recently by the National Assembly.

Indulge me to say the future of this country, though bleak, pardon my calling it bleak,  lies in the hands of our youth; but because of their quality of their education, unpreparedness and cargo-mentality, they lack the prerequisite skills to run a political office effectively. Until our youth wake up from their daydreaming, shake off that extravagant, wishful thinking and take up responsibilities with changing circumstances, the country will continue to languish. Not my hope!

There is a clear indication that an increase in population, if not empowered by a committed leadership, results in high rate of unemployment, poverty and crimes to mention just a few. All this is because, perhaps, subsequent governments have no plan for the future which is fast approaching with its sharp projectiles.

Political leadership is a “permission to govern according to declared policies, regarded as officially granted by an electorate…upon the decisive outcome of an election” (Chambers dictionary, 1993). But unfortunately, the law that should have been an effective instrument of socio-economic and political changes and protector of the interest of the weaker section of the society has ended up a subject of mockery. Take for example the recent happenings in the parliament. A serving senator flanked by some hoodlums, so they called them – perhaps taking it after the former Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, who used it as a weapon against his perceived enemies in 2013 – allegedly invaded the parliament and carted away the mace, which is the symbol of authority. Wonders, it is not about the structure which is made of mahogany, rather what it symbolizes, the context and the people involved.

“A leader”, argued John C Maxwell, “is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”. Gosh! Most of our leaders have undying contempt of the law. They, many analysts have suspected, arrogate all the powers to themselves, forgetting that the masses are the real power. How on earth an occupant of an established political position called a leader that should have imbibed moral principles and set up a good model for the followers to copy from exemplifies the opposite?  But when a responsibility-laden character chooses to misbehave one has nothing to say but as Thomas Carly claimed that, “Modern democracy has produced many fools who vote leaders into the parliament to palaver”.

Political behaviour as a theory has never made any attempts at admitting such misdemeanors into its fold. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Be with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, but, leave him when he is wrong,” as an individual affected directly by the misdeeds of such leadership I will flag them down by giving them a very  low mark.

Perhaps this is what makes Bigger Thomas to say, when tired of mulling over his feelings, “God, I wish I had a flag and country of my own”; but at least here as there the mood will soon vanish, too, and everyone goes his own way.

Abdulyassar abdulhamid wrote in from Kano and can be reached at abdullahiyassar2013@gmail.com

 

Nigeria’s Falling Standard Of Education And The Way Forward, By Abdulyassar Abdulhamid

The standard of education, which is arguably the bedrock of every country’s development and which is measured by the knowledge

The standard of education, which is arguably the bedrock of every country’s development and which is measured by the knowledge and the skills students acquired at a particular period of time mostly at primary and secondary levels from which other levels develop, is gradually experiencing slow death in Nigeria.

I wonder if education will today recognize itself in “the magic mirror”(from Stories to Grow). This may not be unrelated to the lack of commitment by the entire stakeholders toward this power house.

There are many arguments of who is responsible for this dwindling standard of education that is threatening almost every sector in the country. I have the opportunity of interviewing many educationists, teachers and government officials respectively.

While some educationists are accusing the government of being insincere towards the educational sector considering the sickly unreasonable amount government injects into the sector every year and inadequate qualified teachers it employed to man the schools, some government officials claim that the government has taken great strides in educational development over the past few years and blame teachers’ lack of commitment in the discharge of their duties. To them teachers lack the right attitude to work and for this most of them cannot work with love.

Many teachers have argued that in most cases their ambitions of discharging their duties sufficiently is hampered by poor working condition, low salary and insufficient teaching as well as learning materials that always greet them. Others talk of students’ minds being carried away by games and social media.

However, many people from the lower rug of the social ladder have been pointing accusing fingers at the crude capitalist system that has created yawning gap between the rich and the poor as the main reason behind the demise of the standard of education in the country. To them when the sons and daughters of the affluent have access to education, their children have but limited educational opportunity because they cannot afford the exorbitant fees private schools demand and the government has refused to adequately fun the sector.

I was so surprised when I first read about an unusual comparison between Grade II and B.A in Achebe’s second novel, Man of the People. What is the basis? Although the book was written some fifty-eight years back. Since my first reading I had been searching for an answer to this so bizarre a likening whose answer should be found much later: why should B.A which I am so much proud of be compared with grade II? Has failure of standard of education reached up to this level? Is it true that a grade ll holder of those days can give a graduate of B.A bloody nose in educational arena? Have mercy on us, Oh Lord!

Sometime last year during my NYSC days, I met an elderly woman in glasses hurrying back home perhaps from work. Then I was sitting on a boulder some inches from the ground and I was reading Peter Abraham’s Tell Freedom as part of an NCE syllabus, being a course tutor. Seeing what was in my hand, the woman flashed her captivating smile and I smiled back. She drew nearer and asked from where I got the copy. I told her that was my third reading and I was teaching NCE students. She later told me of how their teachers would prevent anyone who failed to read a prescribed text from getting into class in 1973. I looked at her with awe. We later discussed many literary works. Although I was bewildered at how secondary school students would read what I struggled with in my undergraduate days, I later concluded that Achebe was absolutely right.

This was proved right much later when I came to mark NCE one students’ scripts.  Although I had pre-knowledge of their inability to read let alone understand or excavate the text, the sight was extremely filthy. This failure of the standard of education comes with the students and/or teachers’ refusal to read or make further researches.

Most of the schools we know have become business centers where huge amount of money is made. Perhaps parents send their children to schools to ease the tensions and the noises their children cause and make while around; and some teachers are teaching because they could not find better jobs.

A critical look at the arguments above will surely lead one to a major cause these days. As it is true that the government and the teachers should share the blame, so also social media; the hours the lucky generation spent perusing their books, doing assignments or winding their brains are replaced by cyber space these days. A larger percentage of students has no taste for reading at nearly every level.

The dwindling interest in reading culture or reading habit among the youth is deplorable. Social media has taken over the hours students are expected to spend studying, doing assignment or reading story books that can boost their academic status. Due to excessive chatting on Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype, etc, by the students, many teachers especially of English complain that the students’ ability to spell words correctly is no longer there.

To sum it up, government should declare a state of emergency on education; it should hire educationists to prescribe cure to this dying sector. Congestion of all the levels of education in the ministry of education should be decentralized. Government should re-establish teachers colleges all over the country for the production of competent not half-baked teachers. Teachers’ welfare should be improved at least to be at par with that of other government officials’ remuneration.

Facilities for learning should be provided and thereafter adequate teaching and learning materials should be supplied. Communities should imbibe the do-it-yourself mentality that will give way to community schools. And lastly parents should closely monitor their children’s relationship with their books and social media.