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(45): Feeble Politics on Flyover ("Gadar Lado") in Kano

Muhammad Muhsin Ibrahim

As a special gesture to mark Nigeria’s Independence Day, I wrote an article in which I extolled the country on the October 1st 2014. It was a rare piece, for I as well as many others have written several other articles decrying the decay in the country’s polity, insecurity, falling standard of education, depreciation of naira and on various other unmentionable issues. Nonetheless, I painted Nigeria as great (as it supposed to be), and, somewhat, ‘denigrated’ my host country, India by comparing them. I now kind of believe I was wrong as a friend pointed it out to me then. I think he’s even more right that he thought he was.

Last Sunday, the 22nd of March, President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan commissioned a 2.5b naira flyover that’s popularly called “Gadar Lado”, meaning Lado’s flyover, in Kano state. Bashir Garba Lado is the senator representing the state’s central senatorial zone. He was credited as the one who spearheaded the project. Nevertheless, just yesterday, 25th of March, the flyover is reportedly said to be cracking, hence cordoned by the police. That soon became a sensational subject of ridicule by the supporters of his opponent, Engr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, the current governor of Kano who’s also vying for Lado’s seat in the coming election a few days away.

The context here is: Kwankwaso’s administration has already built some, perhaps better,  flyovers in the state. If he, at the state level, was able to do that, how come the federal government couldn’t deliver a better one? That accomplishment made him and his teeming supporters literally euphoric. Not everyone, though, was that happy. I have read a few rejoinders saying that the whole saga was just allegation…that the flyover is ‘hale and hearty’...that it’s all campaign of calumny. I can’t say who’s telling the truth and who’s not as I am not in the state.

However, everything beside and to my firm belief, the whole politics surrounding the flyover and others, too, is at best laughable, and at worst, ludicrous. How or why, some people would ask. Don’t you know that Nigeria is unarguably the giant of Africa with the biggest economy and the largest population? Don’t you know that many other countries across the world (and in Africa, too) that lag behind Nigeria in many respects have more than numerous and far more advanced overhead bridges (simple flyovers, cloverleaf junctions, etc) for roadways and railways? Yet, nobody take that as something worth politicizing in the same way we have taken ours. I doubt if even their politicians are bragging or ‘fighting’ themselves over who should earn the credit for their constructions.

For example, Punjab, the state I live in India, is not listed among the advanced states of the country in terms of infrastructure and so on like the capital, New Delhi; Gujarat (Ahmadabad), Karnataka (Bangalore), Maharashtra (Mumbai), etc. However, flyovers, even longer and far well-made ones, are commonplace all around here. They greatly streamline their traffic control system.

I am not criticizing Lado’s detractors or Kwankwaso’s supporters; not at all. I am just trying to expose the kind of malnourished thought, if you will, of many of us. We are like doomed to think inferior, for we ought to have passed that stage in infrastructural development in Kano and Nigeria as a whole, yet that’s where we are. That’s why I couldn’t make any reply to all the posts I have seen on Facebook and Twitter about the ‘tragedy’ of Gadar Lado. My friends here might have made fun of it. No doubt, we are here.

May our country and my state be better than they are in a near future, amin. May we witness free, fair and peaceful elections on 28th March and 11th April, in sha Allah. May Allah grant General Buhari victory, amin.

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