KWANKWASO AND KANO LOST ECONOMIC GLORY
Just last week, during the lunch of newly constructed CBN Port Harcourt branch, the CBN governor (who also happen to be from Kano) was quoted to have compared the amount Rivers state got in 9 years from the federation account with that of Kano at the same span of time. While Port Harcourt received a total of 1.5 trillion Naira, Kano with far more bigger population received about 285 billion Naira, though I have my reservations concerning the amount he attributed to Kano, it goes to show how insignificant the Kano economic stride was during the period when compared with oil rich Port Harcourt. On one of my visit to Sharada industrial estate (one of about three big industrial estates in Kano) I found the place to be a shadow of it former position, full of empty sites many of them have become home to rats and lizards, while others have been converted to ware houses. While Lagos industries, despite been unfortunate to find themselves in the same confusion called Nigerian economy, have managed to wake up from their slumber, Kano’s own are still in deep slumber. Aminu Kano international airport which is suppose to be the nerve center of Kano industrial and commercial growth, her link to the global economy (if not for the recent make over it received) have experienced a phenomenal slow down in almost all it activities. As one commentator observed, Kano groundnut pyramid has turn to pyramid of refuse; Kano used to be the nucleus of agricultural revolution not only in northern Nigeria but the whole of central Sudan, with its Dawanau grain market which happen to be the biggest grain market in Africa. Like most northern states, Kano is still ravaged by problems of unemployment and redundancy that result in abundance of jobless youth who resort to violence and thievery at the slightest provocation. No wonder last year Kano was rated as the biggest heaven of drug takers.
Therefore, the restoration of Kano to it former glory is going to be a daunting challenge for the government of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. As mention at the beginning of this piece the amount that is coming to the government coffers from the federation account is insubstantial when compared to the big challenges that are on the ground. The revenue been generated by state tax collection institutions is still meager when compared with the potentials on the ground. While the great many task on the ground are very substantial; there are many roads that need to be built, improvement in the current status of Kano own tertiary institutions, provision of affordable houses; the resources needed to execute them are not there. In an era when many states in the country are generating their own electric power, Kano is yet to have it own independent power plant. Despite the abundance of sources of generating power such as hydro dams, wind and sunlight. Despite the fact that Kano is ranked among the top states with huge irrigation potentials, irrigation in the state is still in decade long decline. A lot many dams that costs billions of Naira to construct have remained idle, in some cases were allowed to waste away. While many countries and states around the world have realized that there is power in numbers, Kano is yet to utilize its vast population of idle entrepreneurs. Despite producing the richest black man on earth, Kano’s per capita income remain one of the lowest in the country. Another interesting contrast is that despite having some of the largest population of small scale business in the country, Kano has few micro finance institutions.
What is the way out? First, Kano state government should intensify it efforts at generating local revenue that can be later channel into the building of infrastructures. Today in Nigeria only Lagos state can boost of over four hundred billions Naira budget apart from the federal government, and most of this money comes from internally generated revenue. Then ideas, like running of companies state governors need to generate ideas that will move their state forward, in short they should think and behave as chief executive officers (CEOs) of their states. Do not forget the saying that ideas run the world. To be an effective manager of Kano state, Kwankwaso need to have very hard working and committed middle managers to help him executed his good projects. Since its time is short (less than four years) and resources are inadequate, the present Kano state government needs to go for public private partnerships (PPP) with some zeal. I do not object to taking debt, only that those that borrow the money should be God fearing and put it into genuine uses, because of that I will advice borrowing money from Islamic development Bank to execute Kano state independent power projects. Why I emphasize on Islamic development bank is because unlike most other international financial institutions, IDB do not just hand you over their money and turn their back not caring what you do with it. In most cases they buy you the equipments you need to execute the projects or built the project and then hand it over to you. Kano state government should devise tactics of luring headquarters of major Nigeria corporations into its state capital. This will boost the state capital attraction to other investors and generate more revenues. And people should not say this is impossible because it has been done in many countries around the world including the United States; not far from Kano, recently, one of the oil giants moves its headquarters from Lagos to Rivers state capital, Port Harcourt.