Jigawa As A National Conversation

Talking about Jigawa isn't a disinterested affair for me. But it's no vacuous propaganda either. Governor Sule Lamido's Special Adviser on Media, Adagbo Onoja, is my friend and mentor. But my relationship with him is defined and sustained by our common love for critical engagement, for robust debates, and for self-questioning. Uncritical, undeserved, and sycophantic adulation would offend Onoja's - and Lamido's - sensibilities.

That's why although Onoja is predictably his boss' most robust defender he can also be his severest in-house critic. And Governor Lamido, being the scion of a time-honored, critical NEPU/PRP political tradition that cherished and celebrated informed dissent, is at peace with this. He welcomes vigorous, constructive debates about his performance, strengths, and weaknesses. But this isn't one of those. It's a genuinely heartfelt tribute to his inspirational and transformational leadership in one of Nigeria's poorest states.alt

When Onoja invited me to Jigawa, first, to temporarily take my mind off the recent personal tragedy that has befallen me and, second, to assess the performance of his boss, I didn't hesitate to honor his invitation. I had visited Jigawa twice in the late 1990s when I worked for the Weekly Trust.

I recall being struck by the intensely dispiriting rusticity and developmental awkwardness of Dutse, the state capital. Upon my return to Kaduna, I told my colleagues then that Dutse reminded me of my natal village. I didn't imagine that a state capital could be that cruelly denuded of the basic, taken-for-granted infrastructural trappings that we have come to expect of towns and cities of Dutse's status. It was almost untouched by the faintest sprinkle of modernity.

In early 2007, my friend and former classmate, Dr. Moses Ochonu, who is now an assistant professor of history at Vanderbilt University in the US, had occasion to visit Dutse on a research trip. He recorded his impressions of Dutse in a searingly biting and perceptive piece titled, "The Ground Zero of Corruption." Dutse hadn't changed a wee bit since the 1990s.

"Rural, pristine, sleepy, and rocky, the capital of Jigawa state represents in my opinion the ground zero of corruption in Nigeria," he wrote in the Nigeriavillagesquare.com, a popular Nigerian internet discussion forum. "My first visit to Dutse was in 1991, shortly after the state's creation…. A succession of military administrators and the brief civilian administration of Ali Sa'ad Birnin Kudu… laid a modest foundation for what could have been a remarkable transformation of Dutse from a rural quasi-emirate headquarters to a truly urbanized capital. Such transformative opportunities were wasted, by all accounts, by the administration of the immediate past governor, Alhaji Saminu Turaki, leaving the town bereft of development and an infrastructural presence befitting a state capital."alt

His reflection and critical commentary on the tear-jerking backwardness and decay of Dutse were accompanied by vividly telling pictorial corroborations. Late last year, he was on another research trip to Jigawa. He again recorded his observations in an interesting piece.

Even with the utmost stretch of fantasy, it is difficult to imagine a contrast more striking than that between the condemnatory, censorious, anger- and pity-inspiring reflections he wrote in 2007 and the laudatory, even celebratory, account he gave of the current state of affairs in Jigawa. (Read his "Who is Nigeria's best performing governor"? in Nigeriavillagesquare.com).

Because I know Moses to be an honest, fiercely independent, hypercritical, and fastidious fellow, my curiosity was piqued. Anything that can attract and sustain Moses' attention - and praise - must be truly outstanding and inspirational.

Two weeks ago, I saw first-hand what my friend eloquently and persuasively captured in his piece. I didn't believe I was in the same Dutse that I visited in the 1990s. I do not exaggerate when I say Dutse ranks favorably with Abuja in terms of the beauty and quality of most of its infrastructure.

Dutse's well-laid, nicely lit, delicately manicured road networks, the spell-binding architectural and esthetic splendor of its newly built structures such as the Sawaba Monument, the Aminu Kano Triangle, the G-9 quarters (all architectural tributes to the governor's progressive political and ideological provenance), the numerous, well-constructed housing estates that remind me of the Gwarinpa Housing Estate in Abuja, the massive quarters for the speaker and other senior government officers, etc are a visual delight.

Well, you would be right to dismiss these infrastructural accoutrements as vainglorious elite indulgence, as testimonials of bourgeois vanity. However, it is also true that neat, inspiring, beautiful, and lush environments can - indeed do - propel the creative impulses of people, rejuvenate their spirit, and renew their hope and enthusiasm to live.

But it isn't the radical, almost magical, infrastructural transformation of Dutse and other parts of Jigawa that fascinates me about Lamido. It is the attention he has paid to the social security, education, and health of his people. Jigawa has gone down in the annals as the first - and, for now, the only - state in Nigeria that has instituted basic economic liberties for its severely economically disaffiliated citizens. Every disabled and unemployable person in Jigawa now receives a monthly stipend.

I was also impressed by the quality of infrastructural construction and renewal - and pedagogic preparation - of the schools we visited in Dutse, Hadejia and Birnin Kudu. The quality of the new buildings at the nursing school in Birnin Kudu is particularly so lavishly high-quality, so world-class that I stood transfixed for several minutes. And the Rasheed Shekoni Specialist Hospital in Dutse is simply a marvel. It's said to be first and best of its kind in Nigeria. That's not difficult to believe. Going round the wards of the hospital and seeing the state-of-the-art medical equipment installed in them reminded me of the hospitals I've visited in the US. No hyperbole.

It is impossible to record in this short piece every impression that registered in me during my two-day stay in Jigawa. But what kept agitating my mind after my sight-seeing - and after reading and hearing the accounts of other credible, otherwise hypercritical people - was: why is Jigawa, with one of the lowest federal allocations in the country, able to financially support its many infrastructural and social initiatives while more financially endowed states vegetate in developmental stagnation? Is Lamido incurring huge debts for his state to fund these projects? Onoja assured me this isn't the case. I believe him.

Well, for me, Jigawa's admirable transformation in spite of its modest financial standing aggrandizes the profundity of the corruption that plagues our nation. Lamido is certainly no saint. If he "helps" himself a little with the resources of the state but is still able to do this much with what remains, why have many other state governors with much larger shares of federal allocations condemned their states to perpetual developmental babyhood, to the nadir of despair, hopelessness, and decay? This should be the topic of a national conversation.

Author can be reached at farooqkperogi@gmail.com. He blogs at www.farooqkperogi.blogspot.com



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Re: Jigawa As A National Conversation
Iye posted on 08-01-2010, 03:14:00 AM
Is Lamido, planning to run for presidency?
Re: Jigawa As A National Conversation
Aguabata posted on 08-01-2010, 03:14:00 AM
Kudos for any leader sincerely doing his best. Is his best good enough? That could be a philosophical question when you look at the quality of a society that a leader will emerge from. It also shows how underdeveloped we are that we marvel when a govt carries out its basic functions. However we should continue to encourage/criticise whatever little progress being made in our quasi-democracy.
Re: Jigawa As A National Conversation
Taslim posted on 08-01-2010, 03:38:48 AM
Nice piece. Thank you.

taslim
Re: Jigawa As A National Conversation
Gerd meuer posted on 08-01-2010, 04:03:02 AM
Brother Farooq,

I liked that 'even if he helps himself... I did!

But...
that housing estate in the picture looks a bit like and American 'gated community' with high walls around it...

and look at the houses: not exactly ecological, with the sun beating those walls. The houses will need a lot aircon, and Nigeria has, as we all know, 'tricity a-plenty.

And you have seen those beautiful and very ecolohical 'verandah houses' woth over-hanging roofs, like we used to to have in Ikoyi, and still have, f.e. in the Korle Bu area of Accra.

But those are only minor remarks, although the quality of living depends very much on the kind of house you live in, forced to live in..

I shall send you a pocture of mine - I am only renting though....

T H A N K S

your

true brodda

the NVS CPDE is just too beautifil this time again

gerd
Re: Jigawa As A National Conversation
Eire posted on 08-01-2010, 04:40:51 AM
These article does not help get a true account of events on the ground.

A friend of mine read similar articles years ago that made him relocate from Atlanta to go invest in a Northern Nigerian state only to find he was in something similar to Niger Republic and chad. The poor lad barely managed to sell his houses and business premises to go start again in America.

Showing a few housing projects and one or two roads does not change the fact that Jigawa is a centre of poverty and decay as is many other Northern Nigerian states.

The state of that region made the Central Bank Governor to say that "Jigawa State is the poorest in the Northern states, poverty is endemic in the North, with the country's ten most poverty-stricken states in the region. These with their poverty percentages are: Jigawa, 95%; Kebbi, 89.7%; Kogi, 88.6%; Bauchi, 86.3%; Kwara, 85.2%; Yobe, 83.3%; Zamfara, 80.9%; Gombe, 77%; Sokoto, 76.8% and Adamawa 71.7%".

Jigawa is the highest in terms of poverty rate in the North.

Nigeria's poorest people - many of whom live in the Northern part of the country - are in Jigawa, Kebbi, Kogi, Bauchi, Kwara, Yobe, Zamfara, Gombe, Sokoto and Adamawa. They struggle daily for food, shelter and other necessities. They often suffer from severe malnutrition, epidemic disease outbreaks, famine and uprisings, etc.
Re: Jigawa As A National Conversation
Good grief! posted on 08-01-2010, 13:23:43 PM
"If he "helps" himself a little with the resources of the state but is still able to do this much with what remains...."

I believe you ruined the story with this comment. There should be zero tolerance for corruption. Sule Lamido was elected to serve and he has no business whatsoever to help himself to anything no matter how little or small.

Would you make the same comment to the folks in Atlanta or any part of USA buddy? We should not glorify stealing in way, shape of form.
Re: Jigawa As A National Conversation
Austin posted on 08-01-2010, 17:16:35 PM
Hi Mr Kperogi,
Thank you for bringing out this positive news to the world. It is heart-warming to read your piece, for it gives a confirmation of, and encouragement about, what we can achieve if only we apply our minds and energies in the right direction.

It is edification to some of us, who have been trying hard for a while now, to pass along the message that all is not dark and gloomy about Nigeria. That amidst the heart wrenching stories coming out of the country are also some bright spots that's worthy of proclaiming, lest our people loose all faith in themselves.

Unfortunately some stupid-white-people will never be able to see anything good out of exclusively ingenuous efforts, to them; the cup will forever be half empty rather than half-full. For to acknowledge and applaud anything good we do is to negate their deep rooted condescending opinion. And therefore, rather than cheer the effort made in 2010, they would rather prefer to belittle it by comparing it with whatever rubbish their racial consanguine achieved whether in Ikoyi or Ghana in the 60s.

I have met many of them like that in my sojourn here in the west, normally, I will just hiss and walk away, leaving them to die and rotten in their ignorance - if they so wish.

But this one is right at home in my backyard, running his diarrhoea invested mouth and spewing foul odour freely as he likes. And I can only wonder who let the ignoramus in. And in that wise, I can only blame the admin, for the only mistake he has ever made since I have come to enjoy the work of his brain since the year 2005. He surely has to do something about this loose canon before he wrecks intangible havoc in the heart and minds of our fellow citizens, the future hope of our beloved nation. I have been warning and will not relent until something is done.

Once again, thank you Mr Kperogi. I have also followed your link to Moses Ochonu's article and pictures. Seeing as they say, is truly believing!

I am Austin and I approve this message
Re: Jigawa As A National Conversation
Agidimolaja posted on 08-01-2010, 23:39:14 PM
Kperogi the English Language Guru have all of a sudden changed to a "Praise Singer".

I heard that kind of praise singing before andI at firsttook the singers for seriouslyonly to be greatlydisappointed when I got to most of those areas and found nothing to write home about.

The fact that the so called Governor built few houses and paved maybe one road or two does not mean that he deserved any paraising.

He is just doing his duty. He is only doing what he was expected to do, what he was elected to do, what he was paid for and for which he collected huge allowances from public purse.

Pls lets stop praise singing.

We should even be more ashamed that such low quality houses shown are just being built after nearly 50 years of Independence.

Bankole the Speaker of the House rushed to Otta to commission a mere bridge.Commission a bridge? That is very primitive.Why do we need to ring bell when a very minor thing that was supposed to have been done several years ago is finally done, maybe poorly otherwise?

By the way , who would occupy those houses?Poor farmers? Low salary earners? Petty traders?The answer is NO.

Those houses as we all know belongs to the relatives, friends, etc of the guy who built them and those that are well connected.

What then is this loud crowing at the rooftop by Kperogi about?

Lest I forget, he is a typical Nigerian!
Re: Jigawa As A National Conversation
Feranmi posted on 08-02-2010, 06:44:43 AM
Mr Kperogi, I read an article in vanguard when Saminu Turaki was the governor, praising him for turning the state into another Silicon Valley, now we no better.
Re: Jigawa As A National Conversation
Exxcuzme posted on 08-02-2010, 10:18:43 AM
"Dutse's well-laid, nicely lit, delicately manicured road networks, the spell-binding architectural and esthetic splendor of its newly built structures such as the Sawaba Monument, the Aminu Kano Triangle, the G-9 quarters (all architectural tributes to the governor's progressive political and ideological provenance), the numerous, well-constructed housing estates that remind me of the Gwarinpa Housing Estate in Abuja, the massive quarters for the speaker and other senior government officers, etc are a visual delight."

I did not see much "manicure" in your pictures O! What I am seeing are dirts around the estate and One road o!

More pictures of the other buildings especially the schools you mentioned. Need to see students in those schools as well.

We are my Jigawa villagers to corroborate or otherwise this article?
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