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Kwankwaso, Education and the Breathtaking Arrogance of His Disciples

| May 21, 2013 More

Adamu Alkali, a PhD student in Malaysia, came back from home wearing the distinctive Kwankwasiyya red cap. He was sitting just in front of me in the Friday mosque, but I couldn’t speak with him that Friday because I had to go somewhere. However, the next Friday, he was still wearing that cap; this time, I waited for him to finish his prayers so that I could ask him about home.

“I was quite surprised when I got home [Kano],” Adamu began. “How is it possible to do so much work in a short time in the same state where previous administrations have said same is not possible? I almost shed tears when I visited some of those project sites. Imagine three new cities completely from scratch.”

I asked Adamu to tell me more about education. Are the stories we hear true? “Indeed they’re true,” he confirmed. “You already know about the 500 students he sent to several countries for postgraduate degrees. You know the more than 20 new higher institutions he built. You also know about the new North West University.” Adamu continued to list educational initiatives of Kwankwaso and then told me why he was wearing the red cap, “I do not belong to Kwankwasiyya, but I was so blown away that I decided to wear the cap to show appreciation.”

Actually, Governor Kwakwaso is only doing his job. And ordinarily, it wouldn’t have been necessary to swoon over someone that’s elected and paid to do what he’s doing if other government functionaries would do their own work. But the reality is that almost no one is working, so whoever does stands out.

However, what I love most about the governor are his conviction and the audacity with which he executes his projects. When Daily Trust reported last week that Jigawa State spent N2.5 billion on scholarship in five years, an aide of Governor Kwankwaso said that his governor spent a little less than half (N1 billion) of that amount in one day! The money was used to send 100 Kano State students for pilot training. That amounts to N10 million per students. From what my pilot friends have told me, that’s just the right amount that it would take for such training. Most importantly, in a couple of years, Kano State would have at least 100 pilots licensed to fly commercial planes. Isn’t that great?

When I juxtapose what’s happening in Kano with what’s happening in my state, Niger, I always want to run home, cover my head in shame and sob in the pillows. While Kwankwaso is all action and implementation, we are all talk and blabbermouthed. While Kano State doesn’t care to be distracted by inane slogans, Niger State is aiming for 202020 (or what’s that nonsense again?). Obviously, we want to be something in the year 2020. I don’t know if shutting down our capital city to marry off the governor’s daughters would get us there. Kano doesn’t get distracted by the family of its chief executive either – there’s no first lady’s office in Kano and the family of the governor is nowhere near the government. Further, the governor has refused to take security vote. All these – especially the education part – are a challenge to other states.

And several states are beginning to accept the education challenge of Kwankwaso. I was told by the management of Bauchi State University that close to 100 of their staff have gone for postgraduate studies. This month, Sokoto State government sent 150 students to Uganda to study education management. Vanguard also reported that Sokoto is preparing 100 more to study in Dubai. You don’t hear such numbers from Niger State. I know that about 23 students were sent to Malaysia through the state university – I know this because I was involved in finding the right schools for those students. However, in a state where all the faculties of its only university are headed by deans from other states (mostly from the south), we should also be sending hundreds of students out for postgraduate education, just like Kano.

However, I’m still afraid of two things for Kano State: the continuity of Kwankwaso’s projects and the arrogance of his aides and disciples.

Let’s start with the first. In a recent conversation with a former governor, I tried to convince him that no matter how well intentioned a governor’s projects are if they’re not fortified and protected from being undermined by his successors, any adverse action (in Nigeria, it’s usually cancellation of the contracts and re-awarding of same) taken by the successors would also count as the failure of the predecessors who started those projects.

This is because in Nigeria, there’s no guarantee that your successor (even your son) will continue with the good work you’ve started. Thus, my prayer for Kwankwaso is not only that he be succeeded by someone just like him but also for him to plant pillars and roots that will prevent his successors from stymieing the progress the state is currently undergoing.

Category: Bauchi State News

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