By Uzair Adam Imam
A man diligently taking care of a house meant for Muslim converts in Gwale LGA, Kano State, has opened up on the tough times the people are going through.
Malam Hassan Tela described to The Daily Reality how the Kano State Government had abandoned the house located at Hauren Wanki, Gwale LGA, without food and basic necessities for over 11 years amidst the biting economic hardship in Nigeria.
Hassan Tela said that the forsaken converts are now under the care of a few individuals who shoulder their responsibilities since the government had turned its back on them.
He stated that the house is under the Kano State Shari’ah Commission, founded by the former governor of the state, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, in his first tenure in 2004.
The Daily Reality gathered that during the Shekarau administration, the converts were well taken care of and had their foodstuffs provided every month, including soaps and detergents to wash their clothes.
The end of Shekarau’s tenure throws converts into a dilemma
However, the end of Shekarau’s term opened the door of hardship and hunger for these abandoned converts for over a decade, leaving them stranded and, sometimes, starved.
Tela said, “During Shekarau administration, the governor provided foodstuffs such as rice, beans, maize, yam and other items to the converts, including the pocket money.
“The government also sponsored the children to continue their studies from primary to tertiary institutions. Books, shoes, bags, and uniforms were also provided for them. Life then was smooth. I also had my N15,000 allowance every month.”
However, when Engineer Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso was elected as Kano state governor in 2011, he stopped the feeding and the allowance. Likewise, Governor Ganduje, whose administration has marked its 7th year.
Our reporters gathered that despite all the pleas by Tela and his Da’awa preaching colleagues, the government turned a deaf ear to the plight of the converts and those taking care of them. This development has forced many of the converts to drop out of school.
‘We sell our preaching bus to feed converts’ – Tela
“Because we cannot keep human beings without food, and the converts numbering thirty-seven, we had to sell our bus we used to go for preaching to sustain this activity.
“Some people that came to our rescue purchased a tricycle (Adaidaita Sahu) for us. After spending some years and the machine was old enough to work, because it broke down almost every day and we didn’t save anything because we used the money for our daily shopping, we had to sell it too to buy foodstuffs.
“In those days, when goods and services were cheap, N2500 was enough for me to do all the shopping, but now, I spend N5000, and we are still managing.
“But Alhamdulillah, the founding fathers of Hanan and Abu Hanifa schools, including the current deputy governor of Kano State and a few others, have lent us their helping hands.”
It’s difficult for us – converts
Some of the converts that spoke to The Daily Reality have voiced a passionate plea to the government to come to their aid.
A convert, Aisha Hassan, pleaded with the government to come to their aid, saying, “Sometimes we would wake up, and we have no money to shop.”
A convert, Ummu-Salma Musa, said, “Some of us are in school, but we don’t have reading materials such as books and bags, and we also need some clothes to wear.”
Another convert who identified herself as Hafsat, and has completed her diploma programme, said, “We really face many challenges including lack of soaps, detergents, slippers and sandals for our younger ones going to primary and secondary schools. We also hope to further our education.”
Aisha Danjuma said, “We also need to learn some skills as some of us are not going to school.”
When contacted, the Director Public Enlightenment of Kano State Shari’ah Commission, Malam Aminu Musa, said he could not comment on the allegations.
He said, “I know of the issue. But as of now, honestly speaking, I cannot say anything about it. In addition, there have been changes and appointments in the commission, and I am one of those appointed that assumed duty on Monday.”