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Democracy, good governance and the national integration, By Kayode Fayemi

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As a site and in its uses after the passing of its occupant, Mambayya House serves the important purpose of celebrating that inimitable champion of the working poor, the late Mallam Aminu Kano. The popular name by which the place is known, namely Mambayya House, is derived from the nickname of his late mother. The Sa’adu Zungur Auditorium in which this lecture is taking place is named after one of the close political associates and faithful fellow travellers of Mallam Aminu Kano. Mambayya House, therefore, brims with multiple symbolisms centered on all that the late Mallam Aminu Kano meant to us and our country. You will understand, therefore, that as we mark the 21st anniversary of the House, it is appropriate to remember the life and times of Mallam Aminu and pay justified tribute to his memory.

Born on the 9th of August 1930, and as an early beneficiary of both Quaranic and Western education, Mallam, as he came to be known affectionately, very quickly carved a niche for himself as the pre-eminent voice and champion of the talakawa – that mass of peasants, the urban working poor, and the déclassé. His emergence and growth into this role emanated from a deep-seated set of values that he embraced and honed at an early stage in his political career, and held on to tenaciously for the rest of his life.

Concerned by the reported excesses that were built into the colonially-licensed native authority system and convinced that the system needed to be overturned in order for the talakawa to be able to have a fighting chance to lead a decent and dignified life free of oppression, he committed himself to organising the mass of the people to exercise their agency to imagine and create an alternative political order. The principal agency through which he did this was the movement which he helped to found in 1950 and which was named the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU). The establishment of NEPU was to mark a significant milestone in the history of political radicalism in Nigeria. The tradition of radicalism which it represented was carried over into the late 1970s and beyond by the People’s Redemption Party (PRP), which Mallam Aminu Kano also led.

Much of the history of the early political life and exploits of Mallam and the NEPU will be familiar to this audience and has been amply documented and dissected by at least two generations of scholars. Easily among the most thorough and illuminating is the book by the frontline political scientist, Professor A.D. Yahaya, who transited into eternity a few weeks ago but whose legacy lives on through his writings – such as The Native Authority System in Northern Nigeria 1950 -1970‬ – and the two generations of students he mentored and inspired.

Given that Mambayya House was mandated and endowed by the authorities of Bayero University to preserve the memory and legacy of the late Mallam Aminu Kano through research and training on democratic governance writ large, you will allow me to draw a few lessons of his life experience and political career, which I find to be an enduring part of his contribution to our nation and of relevance to our contemporary circumstances as a people.

The first point I would like to raise, and one which has found recurring resonance with me, is the life of principles, courage of conviction, enduring commitment to a just cause, and consistency in public service. For much of his life, despite the fickle and slippery terrain of politics, and against various odds, Mallam stood by his principles and convictions. More than that, he organised within the realms of democratic politics to defend his principles and mobilise for his convictions. The courage and consistency he projected at all times won him the respect of his opponents and critics, and the undiluted respect and adulation of the masses. In this, our very own Mallam Aminu Kano stood shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Kwame Nkrumah, Ahmed Sekou Toure, Ahmed Ben Bella, and other icons of African liberation from the shackles of colonial rule. The NEPU he led shared many similar attributes with Nkrumah’s Convention Peoples’ Party.

Flowing out of my first point is a second related one: For all the political influence and power which he came to enjoy once it became clear that his movement was not going to fade out or be destroyed by its rivals, Mallam stood out in our entire post-colonial experience as the very anti-thesis of money politics. The weight of the man across Nigeria, generally, and northern Nigeria. in particular, did not depend on his ability to dole out tons of money to his followers and fellow-travellers but, rather, the trust and the faith they had in him as the honest, indefatigable, and reliable torch bearer of their interests, whom they could trust at all times. There is something in this for all of us who are practicing politicians today.

The third point I would like to make about the life and legacy of Mallam centres on the important place of ideas and ideology in his entire political engagement. Mallam built his emancipatory politics around a clear set of ideas and an ideology of empowerment for the talakawa that left no one in doubt as to what he stood for and represented. In this regard, the Sawaba Declaration of December 1950, which he issued, marked an historic milestone in his ideological journey, delineating him and his partisans from the more mainstream sections of the rapidly growing nationalist movement for self-rule and independence in Nigeria.

At a time when we seem to have increasingly relegated ideas and ideology to the background, the experience and example of Mallam serves as a poignant reminder to us that there once was a time in our national history when ideas drove political choice and affiliation. Those times can still be reinvented if we stand ready to pause for a bit and learn from the likes of Mallam Aminu Kano, especially in these testy and treacherous times in our national history when we are in need of a constant flow of fresh and refreshing ideas for our national rebirth and advancement.

A fourth point I have drawn out of the life experience of Mallam Aminu Kano for our edification and re-education in these times is the central place of modesty and moderation in the making of a successful servant-leader. All through his life, from his abode here in Mambayya House and the high density Gwamajja Quarters in which it is located, to his dress code, his offices, and his worldly goods, Mallam was the epitome of modesty, simplicity, and moderation. This, in turn, made him one of the most accessible leaders in our history to date. It also ensured that the masses easily identified with him as one of them.

The fifth and last point I would like to bring to our attention centres on the great store which Mallam set by the place and role of education in the making of personal dignity, social advancement, and nation-building. Whether it be by the open encouragement and calls which he made for the education of girls or the assistance he gave to his staff and followers to acquire education, including, if necessary, self-education, he understood the liberating power of learning and the acquisition of knowledge and skills in the empowerment of a people and the making of a nation.

For someone who was trained as a teacher and who also practiced the profession for a period of time, his strong interest in the liberating power of education should probably not be surprising. However, for Mallam Aminu Kano, education was also a weapon for emancipation and he encouraged it in the conviction that it was a necessary tool for self-actualisation and societal progress. Little wonder then that he started his political activism with his central role in the formation of the Northern Teachers Association.

In his time, as recounted by Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, one of his young political assistants, Dr A.U. Jalingo, who later went on to become a Senior Lecturer and role model in the Department of Political Science in this University, told of the experience whereby Mallam invested his time between political meetings to teach some of his personal staff who hadn’t been to school to read and write. That was a mark of just how important education was to him. And it is a sector to which we must devote a considerable amount of attention anew in our continued quest for the combination of workable policies that will enable us, once and for all, to turn the table of underdevelopment in Nigeria.

Policies designed to advance agendas of state- and nation-building or strengthening democratic governance demand that we take to heart the kinds of social concerns that were at the centre of the worldview and politics of Mallam Aminu Kano. These policies must be premised on the starting point, which he knew so well, that no political order can endure where majority of its members wallow in abject poverty and exist in a state of disempowerment. And this is why, in the midst of our debates about the National Question and the various options for restructuring the polity, we must remind ourselves that there are underlying social questions that urgently require to be addressed as well. For the crisis of Nigerian nationhood with which we are presently grappling is not simply reducible only to competing ethnicities or religiosities, it is also about a crisis of social livelihoods.

Every political system derives its legitimacy and is held together by the investment which is made in the empowerment of the citizenry and the protection of their welfare and wellbeing. Citizen empowerment, as articulated by the generation of Mallam Aminu Kano, was structured – correctly – around the provision through public policy, of the basic tools by which individuals and groups could advance themselves in life. This is why at independence, across Nigeria, there was a significant investment in the educational and health sectors that are at the heart of social policy. Healthy citizens equipped with the requisite skills and knowledge could not only get employment but also create employment. No wonder then that in the first two decades of our independence, in tandem with and flowing from public social policy investments, Nigerians enjoyed a phase of generalised upward mobility in their lives.

Following the onset of economic crisis in the period from the early 1980s, and as a direct result of some of the austerity measures that had to be put in place, the social expenditures of governments at all levels of the federal system suffered a broad-ranging retrenchment. The structural adjustment measures that were subsequently introduced exacerbated a worsening social situation that effectively eroded the social contract underpinning the country’s governance. This is the background to our slide into the ranks of the countries around the world that harbour the highest number of working poor and those excluded outright. Massive and long-term unemployment, especially among our youth, growing social inequality in the country, and the overall thinning out of the middle class are among some of the challenges that steer us in the face everyday.

TEXEM

It does not take a magician to see that we are confronted with a highly combustible cocktail of mass poverty, mass unemployment, and massive inequalities that are already generating various discontents in insurgencies, criminality, banditry, and various extremisms. I want to submit that taking determined and bold steps to address these social problems head on is as urgent and crucial as the energies we may be required to devote to recalibrating and updating the structures of our federal system. To do so meaningfully, we cannot avoid offering Nigerians a new social bargain around which we can rebuild citizenship, national identity, and the legitimacy of the state. Nigeria and Nigerians need a new Sawaba Declaration that will constitute our collectively-shared national manifesto of emancipation from poverty, unemployment, inequality, marginalisation, and generalised unemployment.

Thinking through what a new social compact for Nigeria might be, we can borrow a leaf from the late Mallam Aminu Kano and resolve that as part and parcel of the bargain of being a citizen of Nigeria, we will strive to design universal social policies that will enable the generality of our people to renew their faith in the country and their government. Universal access to education should be accompanied by a system of universal health care. It should be underpinned with a national strategy that defines employment creation as a priority concern of public policy. Enhanced efforts at boosting domestic resource mobilisation will need to be accompanied by deliberate measures at redistribution designed to reduced wealth, income, gender, and inter-generational inequalities.

Beyond these broad categories of what the new Sawaba Declaration should focus on, I would like to argue that those of us who believe that a new Nigeria is possible must get to work quickly on the comprehensive development of this social compact, one which must elevate the dignity of the human person and promote the principles of common good, solidarity, stewardship, subsidiariaty in the functioning of government, active participation of the citizenry, rights and responsibilities, economic justice as well as peace and security. This should be the manifesto that we collectively work on to address the existential threats to the survival and thriving of the Nigerian state.

When the generation of the late Mallam Aminu Kano was faced with what the historic Sawaba Declaration described as “the shocking state of social order”, they summoned the courage to organise themselves to proffer alternatives that they felt would allow for a social redress. The new Sawaba Declaration which we must produce in order to tackle the myriad of discords and discontents afflicting us today must, it seems to me, aim at nothing less than the rebuilding of the social policy anchor of the Nigerian state. On this occasion of the 21st anniversary of Mambayya House, we owe ourselves nothing less. We owe the memory of the late Mallam Aminu Kano nothing less. Let us rise up to the call as a people determined, in unity and a shared hope, to take a giant leap forward.

In conclusion, please allow me to return to Mallam Aminu Kano’s oft quoted saying in Hausa.

”Najeriya daya ce, amma kowa ya san gidan uban shi.”

Coming from a top and early nationalist who actively participated in the decolonisation of Nigeria, and, indeed, of Africa, we owe it to ourselves, and to him, to pause and ask what the great sage and inimitable scholar mean by this powerful, short, pithy, and memorable statement? –

It is my firm conviction that these words of wisdom are a clear message of guidance to us Nigerians, on unity in diversity and on national. Integration. But he spoke to an integration that is content laden, not one of empty rhetoric. It is an enduring call reminding all of us that though by God’s design we all come from somewhere, “gidajen ubannin mu” (our various fathers’ houses, our primary areas of extraction), nevertheless, we must, at all times, ensure national cohesion and unity, without which peace and progress will never be achieved.

It is my conviction that the best way to honour the memory of this teacher, philosopher, mentor, father, political activist, organizer extraordinary, and patriot par excellence is to continue to organise to successfully achieve national integration on the basis of social justice, fairness and equity.

Kayode Fayemi is governor of Ekiti State, Nigeria.

This is the text of the lecture delivered on the occasion of the 21st anniversary of Mambayya House at Sa’adu Zungur Auditorium Complex, Mambayya House, Kano State on Saturday, December 04.

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2023 battle: PDP Governors in emergency meeting Monday

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By Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Governors Forum will hold a special meeting on Monday, 17 January, 2022 at the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt.

The Director General, PDP Governors Forum, Cyril I.D. Maduabum, said the meeting would review the state of the nation and readiness of the PDP  to provide the necessary leadership to rescue and rebuild Nigeria.

“All the elected PDP Governors are expected to attend the meeting to be presided over by the Chairman of the Forum, Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.

“The meeting will be preceded by a Gala night to be hosted by the Chief Host, His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.

“The PDP Governors are working in concert and consultations with other leaders of the party and in particular the Senator Dr. Iyorchia Ayu led National Executive Committee of PDP to craft a credible process and programme for Nigeria’s positive rebirth.”

He explained that Dr Ayu has been invited to attend the Port Harcourt meeting to hold consultations with the Governors on strategies for executing the rescue and rebuild Nigeria project.

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Rivers LG chairs destroy illegal artisanal refineries

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Okafor Ofiebor/ Port Harcourt

Chairpersons of local governments in Rivers have intensified battle against soot menance with raid and destruction of illegal artisanal refiners in some parts of the state.

In Obio-Akpor Local Government Council, George Ariolu, the chairman and some of his officers have uncovered facilities being used for illegal refining and storage of refined products around Ogbogoro and Eligbam communities of the Council.

Ariolu restated that the battle against soot menace is a battle for everyone and not for government alone to tackle, adding that it is a problem for all considering the environmental and health hazard associated with it.

He told journalists at Ogbogoro waterfront that all hands must be on deck in order to combat the menace of black soot in the State.

There was mild drama and altercation between the Police and officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, at site of one the depots, Obio-Akpor local government in presence of LGA boss.

The Chairman later accused some security personnel of aiding and abetting culprits involved in the pollution of the environment through their collaboration.

Ariolu advised the public to align with government and security agencies by relaying relevant information that will aid the arrest culprits, as he described the Ogbogoro Waterfront (former Crushrock) as a major depot for the storage of illegally refined petroleum products in the State.

The Chairman who also found an illegal refined petroleum products dump yard at Rumuolumeni Community (Mgboduohia and Minikpete), condemned the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps for their compromise in the fight against illegality.

He called on the State Government to seal, investigate and arraign owners of facilities used to perpetrate such heinous crimes in the society.

Speaking at a radio programme with Raypower 106.5 fm, the Chairman debunked rumours that the fight against illegal refinery operators in the state is political motivated and targeted at a particular sect and tribe in Rivers State.

In the same vein, the Chairman of Etche Local Government Area, Obinna Anyanwu and his team also discovered and dismantled two oil bunkering dump sites located at Akwa and Odagwa waterfronts boundaries between Rivers and Abia States.

Anyanwu was accompanied by security operatives and members of the Etche Local Government TaskForce/Oil Bunkering to the illegal oil dump sites.

Speaking to Journalists shortly after the raid, the Etche Council Chairman assured that his administration will continue to rid the area off illegal crude oil refiners to ensure safety and healthy environment for the people.

The Etche Council Chairman directed the committee in-charge of oil bunkering to collaborate with the security agencies in fishing out anyone who might be involved in illegal oil refining, including those using Etche as a route to transport their illegal refined products to neighboring states.

Anyanwu who expressed concern over the harmful blanket of black soot across the skyline in Rivers caused by illegal crude oil refining, pledged his full support to Governor Wike’s drastic measures in seeking an end to the soot menace.

Likewise in Eleme local government area an enforcement team was led by the Chairman, Obarilormate Ollor in company of security personnel, Eleme Youth Coordinator, Prince N. Okereke,the Chief Security Officer, Brain Gokpa, Special Assistant to the Executive Chairman on illegal bunkering and artisanal mining Mr Chika Alale Oluji stormed some illegal Bunkering sites.

Our Correspondent reports that seven refining points as well as two fully loaded oil badges were discovered and destroyed.

However,beside depots, no illegal refining sites were found at the time of the operation and no arrests have been made.

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Shonekan’s death major loss to Nigeria, private sector -Osinbajo

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the late head of Nigeria’s Interim National Government, Ernest Shonekan, was highly consequential as a leader in the private sector who impacted economic policy in Nigeria.

This is as he described Shonekan’s demise as a major loss to the country.

Osinbajo stated this on Sunday when he paid a condolence visit to the family of the late head of the Interim National Government, in Lagos.

Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity Laolu Akande, disclosed this in a statement he signed late Sunday titled ‘Shonekan was consequential as private sector leader, his death a major loss, says Osinbajo’.

The Vice President who visited in company of his wife, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, was received at the Ikoyi residence of the Shonekans by the late ING head’s widow, Margaret Shonekan, and the son Adeboye Shonekan.

Osinbajo described Shonekan’s death as “a very major loss for the country and for the private sector and even internationally.

“Here was a man who made an impact. He was one of the very first leaders in the private sector to shape economic policy in Nigeria, and his role in that respect was very significant.”

During the visit, the Vice President also signed the condolence register thus: “We bless the name of the Lord for the excellent life of service to the country and to God, of our leader and father  Chief Ernest Shonekan, GCFR.

“We are proud of his contributions to the shaping of the modern Nigerian economy while being a leading light in the private sector. And for his statesmanship and leadership of the country at a time of great uncertainty in our nation.

“His integrity, legacy and high value service will remain evergreen in our memories. We pray that the Lord will comfort the family and may his memory be blessed forever. Amen.”

The Vice President also prayed for the family of the deceased business guru.

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