Fence mending and accountable governance By Nasiru Suwaid

For those that have had their early childhood years proximate to Africa House, the nomenclature of the official residence of the Kano state governor, the early 1980’s brew mega-tonnes of nostalgia.

One notable reference was during the democratic experiment of the second republic, when, the Late Alhaji Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi came to power, in the state, under the platform of the People’s Redemption Party and on the mythological tutelage of the much famed defender of the peasant folks, the Talakawa’s, as a political scion of the Late Mallam Aminu Kano. Those were times when the people genuinely loved their leaders, unlike nowadays when public officers are only shown deceptive affection for pecuniary political gains.

During those times the Government House fountain was the place of our childhood escapades, and the occupant, except in periods when he has important guests from faraway places, does not seem to mind the presence of running and chanting children. Apart from the normal and procedural checking at the gate, the house seems to welcome every guest of different social hue. It was also in those impressionable years, that I noticed the nature of the Kano state government house fence, which is a set of white concrete planes, built with an allowance between each plank of concrete, such that, were anybody to stand adjacent to the governor’s fencing, he or she could peep and pry into the residential abode of the state’s chief executive.

My initial thought was, doesn’t the occupant need some personal privacy? What about issues of security for the first family?, Upon further enquiry, I found that the sleeping lodge of the first citizen is kept from the glare of the public, and except for the recent fuel subsidy riot, Africa House has never suffered a security breech.

Move over fond times: recently the Kano state commissioner of works, Alhaji Abba Kabir, took pot shots at critics who claimed the state government was spending over a billion Naira to raise the fence. In adherence to the People’s Democratic Party’s fundamental ethos of accountable governance, he said, the state government is only paying the sum of 479 million naira of the budgeted 655 million naira for the project.

The thrifty administration of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso  has finally given Kano a state of the art, bullet proof, fence and gate system, that offers maximum security to the occupants of the lodge. The administration, the commissioner even gloated, had generously saved for the Kano people the sum of 176 million. Kano citizen should do the next correct thing,  and celebrate their administration which has shown, by the mode of dressing, characteristic trait and official conduct, that it is virtually an upshot of the saintly politics of the poor masses of the second Republic.

While the exorbitant cost of the fencing project is an issue to a lot of citizens of the state, more so for a member of the much vilified club of Northern Governors Forum, who had been shouting on top of their voices, of an alleged  inadequacy of federal allocation to states, it seems, from a very sober and rational perspective that such huge expenditure on a single person, is highly indefensible for a government seeking association with the late revered defender of the Talakawa heritage.

Thus, it is on the issue of accountability that I find the project most objectionable, because it only portrays an effort at catering for self over the generality of the populace. The concept of minimalist fencing had a deep root in answerable leadership, where elected officials are sighted by the people and given access to those in need of their serving presence. Generally, for citizens seeking access to public officials, either as an avenue to present their development needs, or to demand for the discontinuance of certain projects, issues of confidence and contact procedure are enough headache to such a lowly individual, thus when factors of inaccessibility is added to the mix, a once elected official become monarchical Pharaoh of the modern times.

Thus, from a rational perspective a bullet proof fence and gate are ultimately ineffective, because while bullets are latent security threats, the most challenging issue of the moment is the Improvised Explosive Devices and earth shattering bombs, which have become the tools of trade for the retinue of most of the operating insurgency groups in Nigeria.  To drive the analogy home, just as a bullet proof vest cannot prevent a lobbed grenade, so does a bullet proof fence or gate cannot be effective against an Improvised Explosive device. 






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