|Late Malam Aminu Kano; The Doyen Of Progressive Politics In Nigeria|
By Salihu Moh. Lukman
Growing up in Zangon Kataf, Ikara and Saminaka of Kaduna State between 1970 and 1975, it used to be extremely pleasurable to visit Zaria. Zangon Kataf, Ikara and Saminaka were then villages with no electricity, pipe-borne water and except for Saminaka none had tarred road. In all these three settlements, the only symbol of government were the local education authority primary schools, dispensaries, traditional councils, courts, prisons and again Saminaka had the exceptional case of having a Secondary School that was opened in 1974. Visiting Zaria and experiencing city life with the bubbly, busy but considerably organised traffic, seeing everywhere lit up at night, clean water flowing non-stop from taps, etc. was really heaven come true.
As one reflect on those formative years of human hood, it is quite tragic that Zaria (and by extension all our old cities such as Kano, Ibadan, Maiduguri, Enugu, Benin, etc.) have lost those attractions that used to characterise city life. Relatively though, Zangon Kataf, Ikara and Saminaka (also by extension similar villages of the 1970s) could have been argued to have catch up with the Zarias of the old, if we are only to look at the development of physical structures such as roads, schools, hospitals and generally modern institutions of government. If we however go deeper to investigate or assess the output of these institutions, the result might be shocking, if not scandalous.
Physical structures, institutions and human sophistication have considerably developed over the years. Correspondingly, in both the cases of villages and city life, standard of living has crashed. As individuals, especially those of us in our 40s and 50s, we have grown up, first as very confident, enthusiastic and proud kids but now sagged into frustrated and in majority of cases hopeless people. The promise of a better life as a result of education and the conferment of capabilities, which should ordinarily enable us to access opportunities, have proved to be the case of a desert walk and the common sight of mirages.
From a case where we dream and aspire to visit our old cities such as Zaria, many who possess the relative advantage of winning life and acquiring some comfort (although in most cases falsely so) avoid and dread visiting the old cities for the simple reason of having to experience the demise of our society at the ugly sight of decayed, non-functioning structures and disempowered people. All the old attractions have just vanished. Our old cities have regressed with the following main characteristics:
Majority of our children are out of school. Those that managed to go to schools are poorly educated and when they finish they have no jobs. Many, if not majority, are in the streets living miserable lives.
Our schools are real eyesores - dilapidated structures, no chairs, desks, instruction materials, etc. Teachers are degraded, de-motivated and debased. Yet, we expect them to magically train our children, prepare them for the challenges of the future and mould tomorrow's leaders.
Our hospitals are without drugs, facilities for treating many ailment and their workers are compelled to virtually become undertakers of the sickly for even the least of curable disease. About 25 years ago our dispensaries delivered services and attended to more complicated health problems than many of our so-called best equipped hospitals today.
Water is today a precious commodity when the last 25 years witnessed a situation where pipe borne water was never a problem.
Food was never a problem in the real sense of it in our society some 25 years ago. But the hunger of today has made the famine of 1973 child’s play.
Our industries have either closed or are so sick that we can't count on them for any productive activity and therefore we cannot expect them to provide jobs.
It is really sad and inexcusable that our societies have regressed and have continued to regress further and citizens are growing more and more hopeless. The combined effect of all these is falling standard of living. It is certain that incidences of child and maternal mortality are at their highest now, probably more than any period in the history of our society.
Our society came from a history of illustrious leadership at every level, from the family unit, projecting to other levels up to our national life. Most parts of the country have recorded exemplary and outstanding achievements and leaders who have inspired people into action and led processes of societal development. Today, Nigerians grieve that at all level of our society we are in dire need of such leaders. What happened that our society is unable to produce leaders of yesteryears? Is it a case that problems have overwhelmed leaders? Is it a case that citizens have grown to be stronger than leaders? Or that external factor has taken over both the citizens and the leaders? Should the later be the case, have Nigerian societies and citizens been conquered? How did that happened? What is really the problem?
The major reason for all these has been identified to be bad governance and it used to be fashionable to blame the military. Now about fourteen years under civil rule, are we getting back on course to rebound our societies en route to economic development and human progress? With the 2015 general elections approaching, are we about to have new governments and leaders at all levels that would serve as facilitators for development and improved service delivery?
That Nigerians are travelling on a hard political road cannot be contested. Also, that our Nigerian opposition politicians are making claims to progressive politics through the birth of APC is common knowledge. The challenge is whether citizens can expect APC to truly have progressive orientation and begin to revive the values of leadership and with excellent initiatives and foresights return Nigerians to times of dignified life with remarkably good living conditions. The predominant fear is that nothing will change as a result of which APC, like PDP and parties before it manage governance with a regressive lever and not progressive.
Can Nigerians expect a positive response from Nigerian opposition politicians through APC and on the strength of which expect that it can throw up strategies to bring about new leaders at all levels capable and competent to bring about programme of change in governance of the country. What will really be new in APC? How can we as a nation end our current unfortunate reality of misery? Will APC bear its name as a progressive party? These are fundamental questions given the context that all our parties are just election platforms without any policy orientation.
Engendering progressive politics is required to respond positively to Nigeria's numerous and intractable political challenges. For APC to serve as the catalyst for engendering progressive politics here are some checklists. They are not exhaustive but combinations of assessments with reference to the checklists would confirm or negate any claim to being progressive by APC:
1.Rule Driven: Is APC being organized based on respect for rules by politicians who are members and functionaries of the party such that leaders relate to party members and Nigerian citizens with humility and based on the question, what do you want, as basis for their actions or is the party more governed by unconventional, unwritten, uncivil, authoritarian and illegal order based on the discretion of leaders? Being progressive require high measure of compliance to conventional, written, civil, consensual and legal order and less of leadership discretions.
(Lukman can be reached on: firstname.lastname@example.org)