(146): The Kano of my dream
By MA Iliasu
The dilemma with Kano has always been about standards. So, naturally, Kano's advantages and disadvantages in socioeconomic assets have outgrown everyone's. The history of Hausa land and much of the Sahel will confirm that assertion.
Kano's population was approximated in 2022 as the second largest in Nigeria after Lagos and sixth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), ranking behind Lagos, Rivers, Delta, Oyo, and Imo. Kano is blessed with more than ten major markets across its rural and urban settlements, with Kantin Kwari and Dawanau serving as the largest textiles and food markets in West Africa, respectively. The state is enriched with the twentieth highest landmass in Nigeria, the biggest part of which is a prosperous arable land, with a favourable temperament that enables consistent rainfall and harmattan during rainy and harmattan seasons, on top of the twenty dams distributed across the rural economies of the state. Kano is one of the largest industrial hubs in West Africa, and the aggregation of these natural and human resources earns the state the title of “Centre of Commerce” in Nigeria.
By the same standard, however, the same factors make Kano an unfavourable environment. The massive population is more neglected than cared for, thus becoming a liability rather than an asset. There is a large number of out-of-school children roaming streets as beggars and hawkers, with many engaging in child labour. Many youths have been reduced to thuggery, thievery, and drug abuse. The economy is overwatched, yet doesn't reflect in the state's treasury by how the state rank lower in revenue generation, signifying, among others, the corruption and mismanagement holding its potential backward. The landmass is underutilised, with poor urban planning in the metropolitan areas and primitive agriculture in rural areas.
Consequently, signals of environmental hazards like crime, congestion, and flooding have become significant threats to the Kano metropolis. The dams have been neglected in the rural settlements. The widening gap between the rich and the poor makes the Human Development of the state ranks 28th, according to Human Development Index (HDI) 2019, among the very worst in Nigeria. The income per capita of Kano is among the lowest, with its healthcare being one of the worst in Africa. As of 2021, the state could only hire one medical doctor to tend to the emergency unit of Murtala Muhammad General Hospital during the weekends.
The common factor in both the contrasting pictures is that Kano never does anything in small doses – it's so-called standard. The Kano of my dream, therefore, is the one in which this standard is retained but only positively to enable the growth and development of the state to measure up to it.
In the Kano of my dream, agriculture and industry are the central focus. A coherent plan which utilises the twenty dams for irrigation farming in forty local governments has been implemented. And courtesy of that, the agricultural output from Kano has outranked every state in Nigeria and equals the capacity of many African countries combined. The landmark is achieved thanks to overwhelming human labour and fertile land, and after the state government widens its thinking beyond small partnerships with regional development banks by reaching out to international agricultural cartels.
A deal has been stroke with India, China, Nepal, and Thailand that sees to it all Kano dams have been utilised in exchange for an uninterrupted supply of agricultural output to the Asian markets. And the reliance on agriculture has paved the way for the flourishing of other farming and manufacturing industries, the rural economy, and infrastructure, which consequently ends rural-urban migration and reduces the pressure on metropolitan areas. Resurgence occurs in food and technology markets, with advanced research in agricultural institutes and massive employment generation for the teeming population. Agriculture is Kano’s largest labour employer for the first time this century. And the problems of unemployment, revenue generation, urban migration and planning, rural negligence, and food security have become negligible.
The multiplier effect of achieving such economic landmarks will, among others, boost the GDP, HDI, Per Capita Income (PI), and general economic buoyancy across all social classes, which in the Kano of my dream, enable investment in education and healthcare. The fantasies of free education and healthcare are now history. The government has seen the truth and intensified its efforts towards achieving a hundred per cent literacy rate and eighty years average life expectancy through massive investment in education and health infrastructure, with more than sixty per cent of its talent pool channelled to study science and technology.
The revolution in the education sector takes place in two dimensions. The first is by reconstructing the state institutions and equipping them with modern learning tools, recruiting more teachers and retraining them, and taking their remunerations to a world-class standard. The second dimension is by reshuffling the curriculum by removing the outdated, less relevant subjects and introducing modern, relevant ones, and rearranging the method of achieving Senior Secondary School Certificates (SSCE) by turning terminal examinations into grade point averages, the cumulative of which will determine whether a student qualifies to take the SSCE or not. Students who excel by having high cumulative grade points from their terminal examinations across six years of Secondary School education will be able to sit for SSCE and secure government scholarships. While those who have yet to excel will have to engage in compulsory remedial studies before they become eligible to write SSCE. That way, the higher institutions will admit students not by chance but by competence, making them more productive intellectual environments. Breakthroughs have since been recorded in research and innovation.
Investment in healthcare starts by providing each local government with a general hospital and enough health workers. Infant and women mortality shall be met with formidable maternal health departments. And health education shall be prevalent, especially among women.
The political culture in Kano of my dream is perceptive and intentional. The fusion of power between state and local governments is abolished, enabling a reformed, energetic, merit-based, transparent, and accountable leadership style of leadership that is appropriately informed by and with the major activities of the clerical, academic and social establishment in the state.
Sports and recreation are engaged with remarkable intensity by establishing sports academies to meet the demands of modern football, basketball, tennis, and boxing. Kids are trained at a young age, adults are funded to do their coaching badges, and sports entrepreneurs are granted smooth platforms to facilitate the transfer of Kano talents to major European and American leagues, revolutionising domestic football to a world-class standard. For the first time in football history, Kano Pillars, an African team from the Nigerian league, has won the Club World Cup, thanks to the formidability of local talents.
In the end, the Kano of my dream isn't only distinguished with glowing physical features such as roads, schools, hospitals, and recreational facilities but also with a glowing soul, mind, and heart. The spiritual infrastructure is also revolutionised through changing mindsets, attitudes, and beliefs. As a religious society, we have admitted to the supremacy of destiny, one who greatly appreciates the purity of our hard work and ethics. And through the pursuit of this, we turn into reality the endless upward possibilities of our beloved ancient society.
MA Iliasu won the 1st position in the 2022 “The Kano of my dream” writing competition jointly organised by Muhsin Ibrahim, PhD, and The Daily Reality online newspaper. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.