By Abdulmumin Giwa
With unalloyed compliance with the Northern Governors Forum’s resolution for the repatriation of Almajirai to their various states of descent, the Kano state government began the exercise and some Almajirai were returned to to Kaduna state.
In his usual character, the Kaduna state governor Nasiru Elrufai found in it an opportunity to score cheap political goals of which he announced that 21 out of the 61 Almajirai that were returned to Kaduna from Kano in April were corona virus positive and deliberate pH stepped up stigmatization against Kano and the people of Kano.
He insisted that no one from Kano be allowed into Kaduna to avoid spreading of Corona Virus as though every person from Kano was Corona Virus positive.
He later soured his agitation higher condemning the security personnel of betraying him and insisting that he will man the Kano to Kaduna road himself from morning to evening to turn back whosoever is coming to Kaduna from Kano. A lot of people laughed at that as they saw it as being a little bit to the extreme.
He was also at logger heads with the religious scholars who he addressed with total disrespect and disregard to the role they play in the society. At a point he even showed up that he too had studied Islam from Mukhtasar to Akhdari to Kawa’idi. Which if he had, he would have arranged it in the reverse order and not in the order which he mentioned. Is just like saying I have been to University, then to secondary school and then to primary school.
I was not surprised when I saw a headline saying “Gov Orton orders truck which smuggled in Almajirai to take them back”. But the content was actually talking about some seven adults who boarded a truck loaded with goods to travel to Benue or beyond, but were described as truck smuggling Almajiris to Benue, and they also insinuated that they were from Kano. As though anybody from the north or Kano is Almajiri. A very wrong impression.
Even as Benue is part of the North, though a lot of them believe they are not and call themselves Middle Belt, I was astonished with the way the phobia against Kano had gone across the country. Especially during the so-called mysterious deaths. When it later extended to other places and places like Lagos were complaining that mortuaries were filled up in the state, the story was silenced. Somebody asked why Kano? I answered because it is the most populated in the country, but it is a general phenomenon as it later appeared to be anyway.
The question is why would someone like Elrufai a governor in the North engage in stigmatizing Kano and their people? In a statement he issued around March 28, 2020, Elrufai said “Earlier this week, I submitted a sample for the Covid-19 test. The result came in this evening, and I regret to say that it is positive.”
He was positive for COVID-19 even as there was no record of him coming to Kano. He was a case himself because he might have infected several people around him that might have taken it to their families, who might have infected their neighbours. A community transmission introduced even as he later said he has tested negative gain. How many of those he might have infected have been traced, tested and treated? Definitely he might have founded a chain that has resulted into a community transmission and is busy stigmatizing Kano instead of tracing and treating those infected as a result of his infection.
While Elrufai was busy exchanging words with the religious leaders in his state, his counterpart in Kano, Abdullahi Ganduje, is adapting by the World Health Organization and UNICEF pattern of Community Health Participation and Involvement by enlightening both the traditional and religious leaders of their roles in the fight against COVID-19.
It is such that the religious leaders have also been made to become advocates of the safety protocols against COVID-19. They have in their possession thousands of facemasks and hand sanitizers they are sharing to the communities. They also have roles in identification and sharing of palliatives to the poorest of the poor households. This is a display of perfect administrative reasoning.
Further more, while Elrufai is chiding the security agents for inability to stop anybody from Kano from entering Kaduna and even boasting that he would man the road by himself, Ganduje is busy working side by side with the security. He has inaugurated eleven mobile courts that are working with the police to ensure compliance with the stay at home order and other safety protocols.
It is such that in compliance with the NGF, Ganduje had Quarantine 2000 Almajirai to be tested and confirmed negative before they are repatriated to their home states. Those found to be infected are placed under isolation until they are tested negative before they are repatriated. Among the Almajirai, those who cannot identify where they come from become beneficiaries of the policy integrating the Almajiri system with the formal education.
Dishearteningly, on the other hand, Elrufai is using the Almajirai to gain political scores with no plans for them or their future.
One is tempted to ask why the stigma against Kano? After all Kano is a source of personal economy to a large portion of the population in Kaduna. That is why a lot of them cannot do without coming to Kano, the centre of commerce to tap wealth for their sustenance in Kaduna. A lot of those plying the Kano to Kaduna road are not necessarily from Kano but from Kaduna to Kano and back to Kaduna where their governor has killed their individual economy, demolished their market and overstressed them with taxes.
Yes, Kaduna has squeezed out tax from citizens and generated more IGR than Kano but doesn’t have half as much of infrastructural development to show when compared to Kano.
While in Kano it is the governor, his deputy and other political office holders that have slashed their salaries by half to continue to survive under COVID-19, in Kaduna health workers, who are supposed to be in the front line are the ones complaining against salary cuts and threatening to go on strike. What will be the level of sanity of a person threatening to relieve health workers of their jobs if they insist on protesting against salary cuts even as they sacrifices their lives to save the lives of others under the COVID-19 pandemic?
On the other hand Ganduje is training health workers on personal safety, providing them with PPEs and promising them allowances for their sacrifices under the pandemic.
Definitely there is no logic in joining in stigmatizing Kano and making the world feel as if COVID-19 started from Kano. It is only an act of infatuation.