Northern Nigeria Is Just As Safe As Everywhere Else – David Lawal
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was definitely not wrong when she said paying attention to one side of a story denies you the real picture of the whole story. The time seems right for all to realize that the flow of information from one end of Nigeria to the other and even the world at large is not in any way balanced. Also, it is a well known fact that bad news sells more, but the truth is that every state in Nigeria has her own portion of challenges to face; from armed robbery to hectic traffic, ritual killing, intricate lifestyles, kidnapping and various forms of crimes distributed across. Painfully, we do not seem to see all of these but one- the most discussed on TV shows and the most published; insurgency.
We seem not to realize that five persons abducted by Boko Haram is not worse than five persons who died in an auto crash on Benin – Ore expressway. It is also the same as five persons taken into hostage in Niger-Delta or scores who died in a collapsed building in Lagos. It is the same as ten persons killed for rituals in Ogun or Oyo state.Human lives and emotions are involved here.Every state has her challenges to contend with but if you say there is no challenge within your state, it simply means you are yet to identify some.
Let us take Kano State as an example.
Wole Ogunnaike, a Clergyman in Sabon Gari area of the state, recalled from 1990 how he witnessed series of riots in the state including the Reinhard Bonke riot of 1991. He agreed that Kano has suffered from incessant attacks but was of the opinion that the state has always been able to recover from it all, in a jiffy. Ogunnaike opined that life in Kano is not worse than it is elsewhere in Nigeria. In his words, he says, “The question people ask me each time I travel down the South-West is, ‘How are you guys coping in Kano?’ and I also ask them, ‘How are you coping too?’ Then they say, ‘with what?’ and I say, ‘with armed robbery, ritual killing, day-by-day stress from work and other road users? How are you coping with traffic in Lagos? How are you coping with crime and all others?”
On the contrary, Abdul-Lateef Yusuf, Kano State Sales Manager, Floor Mills Nigeria Limited, believes that the effect of insurgency has reduced the inflow of people into Kano. “You know population has a great impact on the commercial activities of Kano. The state is known for trading of all sorts of commodities. If not for insurgency. Kano is relatively better than South-South or South-West in terms of peace, except in areas outside the state,” said Yusuf, while speaking from the business angle. “Therefore, I think it is everybody deciding what challenges to face, according to where you choose to stay. This is because life in itself is all about challenges, it only depends on the kind of challenges you want to contend with”, Ogunnaike summed.
Recently, some folks who relocated to Abuja from Kano were confused as to where is actually safe. Possibly, Lagos or Port Harcourt may be their next choice of safe haven. However beautiful these places may seem, the kind of life lived there is what a United Kingdom based Foundation, Walk Free Foundation, described in its 2013 Global Slavery Index as Modern day Slavery. A lifestyle where people hardly have time to attend to personal, marital and/or family issues due to the amount of hours spent on the road, all on official duties. Painfully, Nigeria was mentioned among the Nations with the highest Modern Day Slavery indices alongside China, Pakistan, Mauritania, India, etc. It is alright for Nigerians to react to insurgency (which is almost normal in some other countries) in this manner because it is completely strange to both our values and religious beliefs. Suicide killing is not acceptable either.
Of a truth, Kano state did face incessant attacks orchestrated by people who failed in their efforts to imperil her socio-economic life. Yet, because the ancient city of many gates was attacked does not mean that the city no longer exists or that human existence is now history. Many of the tons of watermelons, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and sugarcanes, being used for large-scale sugar production come from Kano, and are still being produced and transported to other states in good qualities and quantities. The commerce of the state is struggling to get back on its feet. While some people are backing out some others are venturing in.
Perhaps, with the entry of the South African retail business, Shoprite, into Kano, it could not have been otherwise. Shoprite in Kano is having the first outlet in northern Nigeria, as part of an aggressive expansion drive, disregarding wide-spread security challenges about the region. Interestingly, about $20 million (that is about N3.2billion) sunk into that project which now poses as Nigeria’s biggest. It is located in the new $110 million (about N17.6 billion) Ado Bayero Mall that took approximately three years to construct. Would any investor risk such a huge amount of money if the light at the end of the tunnel were not convincing enough?
One more thing that might interest you is the fact that Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwanso is currently equipping tertiary institutions within the state with up-to-date facilities and granting free education up to university level to indigenes while non-indigenes are also being encouraged to study in the state. The Red Cap governor has also concerned himself with training and retraining of Teachers at Primary and Secondary school levels. Some people may have fled due to the insurgency yet some others are trooping in. I bet you that life in Kano is as normal as it could be everywhere else.
I cannot wait to see Kano rise again.