Southern Kaduna has not fared badly under democracy. There are new roads while some old ones are better. There are bridges over some rivers, notably Bondong and Kiffin, where people had lost hope. Such bridges have opened new vistas for many.
Democracy also brought chiefdoms in baskets, introduced judicial reforms, established a state university and catapulted our people into offices hitherto considered impossible like the governor! The gains are much, really, but the basic problem of injustice is still there. A mass of the people are poverty-stricken. Education has been our main industry as it opens windows of opportunities, but our eminently qualified children are still denied university admission to read key courses like medicine, law, engineering, ICT, mass communication, et al.
And, for those in service, discrimination is still their lot, a classical case being the refusal to appoint Prof Andrew Nok as Vice Chancellor of ABU, Zaria, even when he floored every co-competitor after a very strenuous test. Dr Yusuf Bungon suffered same fate in Kaduna Polytechnic some years ago.
In the hinterlands, the inhabitants are still helpless, hapless and hopeless, while the future for many youths is just bleak, blank and black as they are hardly guaranteed equal opportunities to compete for either uniformed or civilian jobs.
To worsen matters, funny politicians still push local agenda to deceive gullible ones. Thanks to such jingoists, the headquarters for the proposed Gurara state has traveled from Kafanchan, to Zonkwa, and now Kachia, depending on the team handling the project at a time.
To tackle collective concerns, we must seek out visionary leaders, who will put the people above individual considerations. Leaders, who understand our peculiar history and values and are prepared to promote, defend and protect them.
Democracy does offer a good chance to do that. So, we must see it, and by extension, the Patrick Yakowa governorship, as a means to an end, and certainly not an end in itself.
But to really explore the opportunity democracy offers, we must reject the situation where we have become a rubber stamp for just anyone thrown up by PDP primaries where “delegates” are openly bargained for, and bought. Politics, like the Americans would say, is too serious to be left in the hands of politicians alone.
We must also avoid any attachment to hollow ethnic turfs. I recall a top Jaba politician telling some delegates in 2007 that Sen Isaiah Balat, a candidate for the governorship, had bleak chances from northern delegates because he was Kataf. My shamefaced friend only got wiser when his kinsman, Nok, was denied the ABU top job. Again, we must keep people in elected and appointed offices on their feet. They must show a sense of responsibility and be ready to shore up our fortunes. They must not be neutral on matters bordering on our collective values.
Importantly, we must reject elected people, who remain incommunicado, only to surface at election time with peanuts and petty things like wrappers, salt and soap, to get votes. We certainly can’t seek to grow and remain that cheap. But it is also very crucial that we offer some solidarity to the governor, who is one of us. Without being sheepish, we must support him, offer advice and criticise constructively.
The governor has been under severe attacks for working on the Kafanchan campus of the state varsity. This is strange, coming from the host of ABU, FCE, State Poly, School of Agric, NITT, Aviation College, Leather Research Institute, College of Health Technology, Special Hospital, etc.
We should insist, for instance, that our National Assembly members must seek the recruitment and admission patterns in federal and state organisations and ensure that we get our quota.
At a more individual level, the professionals and the well-to-do must offer to help the less privileged. We must give a little back to the society. Retired AVM Ishaya Shekari, for instance, is building a university at Zango-Kataf. We must support and encourage him to complete it.
Chief Danjuma Laah has invested immensely in Kafanchan, ditto Gen. Nom, who has opened a ginger process factory. Adamu Marshal’s local tabloid, “Kabido’’, has also proved very crucial in information dissemination. Dr Thot used to offer free medical services to the poor. We need more of such foresights. For a people heavily marginalized over the years, expectations are understandably very high, which may explain the pressure on Yakowa, but things won’t improve if we remain in any cocoon of pity, or become over expectant of the state government.
Indeed, democracy may not automatically offer solutions to our concerns, but it does give us the impetus to insist that we must be treated as equal stakeholders with one’s ascendancy to the ultimate not based on, or limited by one’s tribe, religion or any other consideration.
By Ephraims Tokan. Tokan wrote in from Kaduna
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