From Desmond Mgboh, Kano
The late sage of Talakawa politics, Mallam Aminu Kano, is an enduring chapter in power game in Northern Nigeria. His signification and contributions to the processes and deals of good governance and democratic politics is preserved at the Mallam Aminu Kano Center for Democratic Studies, Mambayya House, Kano– a House which facilitates opportunities for conversations, debates and education on diverse political themes for the good of Nigerians and mankind.
On Saturday, December 5, 2021, Mambayya House, which has hosted the best in academics, politics and power, hosted the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi as part of its 21st anniversary celebration.
Right from the break of dawn, the Center received guests- some of whom had made themselves available just to listen to the usually enriched discourses at the Center, while others had come to hear the political gospel of the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum- whose presence in the ancient city and his impending paper had evoked varied interests and expectations.
Governor Fayemi’s audience was, therefore, a representation of the most critical mass – University students and lecturers, Non – governmental organizations, community and traditional leaders of Igbo and Yoruba Communities in the state and as well as members of the political class including those with different party persuasions.
The high table was chaired by the governor of Jigawa State, Abubakar Badaru, who was flanked by the governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. Others were the factional party Chairman of the All Progressives Congress(APC), Haruna Danzago, the former Deputy Governor of Kano, Professor Hafiz Abubakar, the Vice Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, Professor Sagir Adamu, the former Zonal Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Dr. Nasir Fagge among several others.
Fayemi’s paper which was titled :”Democracy, Good Governance and National Integration” which was packed with political symbolism, not only recalled the celebrated memory of the Late Mallam Aminu Kano, but equally celebrated the ordinary people, whose followership, resilience and conviction completed the story of the Sawaba Declaration in Northern Nigeria.
Mallam Aminu Kano, Fayemi told his audience, was born on the 9th of August 1930, explaining that he was an early beneficiary of both Quaranic and Western education.
He added that the Late sage quickly carved a niche for himself as the preeminent voice and champion of the Talakawas, consisting of the mass of peasants, the urban working poor, and the declassed.
“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” Fayemi thundered through the hall amidst cheers.
Talking about Mallam Aminu Kano, Fayemi recounted his life of principle, courage of conviction, enduring commitment to a just cause and his consistency in public service.
He recalled that Mallam stood out as anti- thesis to money politics. His followers did not depend on tons of money but had faith in him as “the honest, indefatigable and reliable torchbearer of their interests.”
Fayemi did not forget a mention of the place of ideas and ideology in his entire political engagements, holding that, “Mallam Aminu Kano built his emancipatory politics around a clear set of ideas and an ideology of empowerment of the Talakawas”
He also indicated that the sage stood for modesty and moderation as a successful servant – leader. His dress code, his office, and his worldly goods, he recalled, were all epitomes of simplicity and modesty.
The last of the virtues, which Fayemi spoke about was his love and focus on education. He said to Mallam, education was a vehicle for social advancement, personal dignity and nation – building. It was his weapon for emancipation, he stated while recalling that Mallam invested his time between political meetings and educating/ teaching of some of his personal staff, who had not been to school.
In what ways are Mallam Aminu Kano’s political life ways relevant in the context of the Nigeria of today, especially in terms of democracy, good governance and national integration and Fayemi said Nigeria must take a serious look at the late sage as a compass of where to go and a reminder that, “There was once a time in our history when ideas drove political choice and affiliation”
Fayemi also noted that the political system must endevour to empower its citizenry and empower their wellbeing, adding that no political order would endure, where a majority of its people are wallowing in 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” he declared.
“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,” he insisted.
“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”, he asserted.
He implored the system to take a determined, and bold steps to address these social problems as well as devote the same energy in recalibrating and updating the federal structures.
“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”, he announced to the gathering of political scholars and thinkers.
“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, subsidiarity 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” he stated.
Several other speakers reviewed his paper, highlighting their observations. One of such speakers is the former Zonal Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Dr Nasiru Fagge.
He regretted that Nigeria today has decided to go in reverse direction with regards to all of the teachings of Mallam Aminu Kano, the reason he stated was responsible for the myriads of problems bedeviling the nation.
He confessed that apart from organizing political dialogue of this nature, “ We must begin to address the fact that education has not been given and does not enjoy an official position in the constitution. His thinking is that education must be compulsory and mandatory for all, with clearly defined sanctions for those who failed to comply, stating that education is the basis for development in the 21st Century.
He also observed that there must be law that protects the right of ordinary citizens to own their property, pointing out that part of the reasons for some of the present day problems was the displacement of farmers from their farms and the dispossession and rustling of cattle belonging to the herders.
He rejected the present gifts system in which government doles out money to the vulnerable poor and ticked in favour of creating an enabling environment for citizens to earn a living.
He tasked the various governments to provide industries and establish companies for citizens to be gainfully employed.
“Our Governors should go back and make our farmlands available to local farmers and at the same time provide them with farming equipment”, he stated.