By Mohammad Qaddam Sidq Isa (Daddy)
Notwithstanding the appropriateness or otherwise of the recent and unprecedented wave of demolitions in Kano by the newly inaugurated governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf, it may have triggered a vicious circle of the incumbent governors and their predecessors taking turns revoking, converting and reallocating public land and facilities in the state.
Though purportedly guided by relevant legislation and overriding public interest, successive Kano state governors have been involved, to various extents, in controversial public land and facility-related scandals. However, the immediate past governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, having literally overdone it, has been particularly notorious in this regard.
Now with the recent demolitions, Governor Abba has proven that it’s indeed his turn. The way they were conducted, which made the operation look more like mob action, has been effectively set as a precedent for future similar operations in the state.
So, unless this looming vicious circle is averted, Kano may, after every four or eight-year tenure, witness similar operations with persistently worsening intensity and impacts.
Having monitored the situation from afar, thanks to the viral video clips on social media, I felt not only sad but extremely embarrassed watching helplessly how my city, a supposedly aspiring mega city, was being systematically bastardized.
I watched in shocked dismay how the lives of innocent traders, who simply happened to be tenets in the targeted buildings, were being turned to, perhaps, perpetual misery overnight by crowds of sadist creatures feigning being human looting their (traders) merchandise. Some buildings had already been looted even before the demolition team got there. There are verified heartbreaking stories about the plights of many victims. In a particular instance, one was reliably reported to have gone mad out of frustration.
The sheer ferocity with which the mob plundered traders’ goods suggests deep-seated populist sadism and sheer envy in a society where tacit gloating over the misfortune of any real or perceived wealthy person has become normal. I have also observed tacit attempts on social media by many otherwise reasonable people to underestimate the plights of the victims and even put the blame on them for their ‘failure’ to evacuate their goods in time.
Meanwhile, the cumulative impacts of this vicious circle on the state’s economy and other strategic interests cannot be overestimated. It’s already seriously affecting local investor confidence, for no one will consider the viability of any significant investment, especially in, say, real estate development and other related sectors, knowing that the land allocation is prone to arbitrary revocation and the structures are subject to impulsive demolition at any time.
Equally, banks and other financial institutions will have to discontinue recognizing Kano government-issued certificates of property ownership as collateral, knowing that they may at any time be rendered as worthless as takardar tsire.
Likewise, the state’s attractiveness to direct foreign investment (if there is currently any) will be hit even harder, for no prospective foreign investor, being typically particularly sensitive to any red flag suggesting policy inconsistency, will consider investing in Kano knowing that whatever policy or incentive attracted him can be impulsively terminated at any time.
Now, obviously, Governor Abba is aware deep down that that wasn’t how he was supposed to handle the situation in the first place. His approach is enough to vindicate those who insist that he is simply on a vengeance mission with a premeditated resolve to settle scores with political opponents and their associates on behalf of his political godfather, Rabi’u Kwankwaso.
He can address whatever land use abuses his predecessor committed, which are so many, by the way, but he should do it in a civilized way through due process leading to the demolishing of what indeed deserves to be demolished and sparing what deserves to be spared for the purpose of reclaiming and converting it into a public facility.
Mohammad Qaddam Sidq Isa (Daddy) wrote from Dubai, UAE, and can be contacted via email@example.com.