By Umar Haruna Doguwa
In every nation or state there exists a certain class of people that excel in their respective chosen fields called professionals.
These professionals offer from time to timepieces of advice and sometimes engagements to their nations or states, based purely on experience and professionalism.
They offer this mostly for free to those in governance for better, purposeful, people-oriented and more refined results such that government will cater for its citizens and leave a lasting legacy for generations yet unborn.
Not heeding their ( professionals) advice mostly come with catastrophic consequences. A quick throwback; at the peak of COVID -19 pandemic in Kano State when an audio clip of a well known human right activist Barr. Sa’eeda Sa’ad went viral on how Kano State Government, under Governor Ganduje turned down an offer for advice and engagements free by some indigenes of Kano State, who are prominent and professional medics on how to contain and control the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the State.
No one needs a telescope to see what’s coming, as we are now counting our losses of an unprecedented number of senior citizens died in a single year in the history of Kano State ( Allah yayi musu Rahama, Amen).
The pains of their exit, which individual families and responsible citizens are left to bear with and which this Government keeps denying with brazen unconsciousness, doctored numbers and claims.
The claims that contradict those released by the presidential committee on COVID-19 to Kano and that of the Hon Minister of Health in their separate press briefings on the reason for the unprecedented deaths in Kano and on which the Government of Governor Ganduje was remorseless.
Another known advice, fresh in the minds of the good people of Kano to Ganduje’s Government was on foreign loans accumulation through a letter signed by two prominent senior citizens of Kano, Sani Ahmed Sufi PhD mni and Aishatu Ibrahim Dankani mni OON on behalf of Kano LEADS Initiative, a non-partisan conglomeration of professionals of Kano extraction, their advice and many more of its types by prominent professionals with track records of achievements on foreign loans, as usual, fell on the unlistening ear of the State Government.
Democracy can be the worst form of government when there’s no accountability. Awfully worst is when the government refused to heed to the sincere advice of the majority and professionals, men of impeccable integrity and allowed self-interest, naive and incapable aides who are ready to compromise everything and lose their souls for a pot of porridge.
They do that in order to keep their meaningless appointments. In that situation, lawful and legal resistance becomes a duty for all. Lawful and legal resistance with sensible and intelligent questions, indisputable figures and comparative analysis that make them jittery scampering for cover.
It’s being taught in elementary economics that Internal revenues and external debts are two main variables that determine the direction, stability and the entire performance of a state or nation’s economy. Most states and even developing nations have become victims of foreign debts which has significantly rendered their individual economies frail and prone to dictatorship/modern slavery of foreign debtors.
This happens when a substantial part of the state or nation’s internal revenues is used for debt servicing and payments at the detriment of social, educational and infrastructural development of the state or nation.
Being a former commissioner in Kano State and former State Party Chairman (APC) that led Governor Ganduje’s campaigns/elections and knowing fully well the drastic and visible measures taken by kwankwaso’s administration of existing inherited foreign loans and also making it a policy not to take foreign or local loans because of their side effect.
I was shocked when I read an article written by one Muhammad Garba, the present Kano State Commissioner for Information in an online Newspaper, Stalliontimes of 31st May 2020 titled “Sustaining development in kano amid COVID-19 contagion”. That the State Government has secured a loan of €64.5 million euros ( Equivalent to #28,474,492,500 Billion.
At the official exchange rate of #441.465:€1) from French Development Agency, which has already been released to the hands of Governor Ganduje. He also made mention of another foreign loan of $200 Million US dollars from another foreign bank(Equivalent to # 77,616,760,000Billion. At the official exchange rate of #388.0388:$1) by the State Government.
The two foreign loans totaling #106, 091,252,500 Billion( Compound Interest not added). I paused a little and reflect on the impact of this colossal amount of foreign loans on the State economy. As if, the glaring burden on the State mono-economy is not enough, (The State Economy now depends solely on Monthly Federal Allocation, with intentionally crippled, underperforming and indicted State Board of Internal Revenue contributing very negligible).
Then came the mother of all foreign loans in the history of Kano State by the same Ganduje’s Administration from China Exim Bank of $1,850,839,098.00 Billion US Dollars ( Equivalent to #718,197,382,581.002Billions at the official exchange rate of #388.0388:$1) signed in 2016, which the State Government now claimed to review downward to €684,100,100.00 Million Euros (Equivalent to #302,006,250,646.5Billion at the official exchange rate of #441.465:€1), the loan as reported is for light rail construction within the State capital to CRCC( China Railway construction company).No cogent reason was however advanced for this downward review which makes the entire deal even more suspicious.
Debt not budgeted for and which the State economy cannot fully service, aimed at bogus and unrealistic ventures like the light rail, is a big step towards mortgaging the future of Kano citizens. Kano State, With an average monthly federal allocation and average State monthly revenue collection of #6.8billion and #1.3Billion respectively (sources ~ National Bureau of Statistics), servicing loans of $2billion US Dollars($1.8B+$200M)and €64.5million Euros (#824,288,635,081Billion)by the State is NOT REALISTIC.
(Local loans of #78,000,000,000Billion for Salary advance, Educational development and Social infrastructure from Banks not added).
Added to the above, the unfortunate things about this rail loan are
(1)REPUTATION, the company CRCC( China Railway Construction Company)with which Kano State Government signed the light rail contract, was among the 13 companies blacklisted for unethical and corrupt practices by World Bank and African Development Bank AfDB (source Premium Times Monday, July 27th, 2020,THIDAY Newspaper 25th August 2019).
(2)NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (NASS) FINDINGS, The recent findings by the National Assembly that contract agreements signed with Chinese companies have in them certain obscure clauses leading to enslavement.
(3)CAPACITY, this same company signed a 24.5km light rail contract in 2009 with Lagos State Government, this is the eleventh year (11)and it’s still ongoing, comparatively, ours(74.5km) will take a minimum of thirty years (30)to be completed.
(4) COST, In 2017 the Governments of Ethiopia and Djibouti signed a contract for the construction of a standard gauge heavy rail line with 25 stations from Addis Ababa to Djibouti, a distance of 759km, cost, $3.518billion. ($4.6million par kilometer) The rail has total capacity of 24.9million tones of freight annually.
Recently in Nigeria, the Federal Government signed a railway construction contracts, Lagos to Kano 980.3km and from Lagos to Calabar 781.5km total distance of 1761.8km at the cost of $19.4Billion. If Lagos to Ibadan, a distance of 132.6km costs $1.49Billion, WHY SHOULD 74.5KM FOR KANO STATE COSTS $1.85BILLION?
Who will benefit more from this, CRCC, Exim Bank or the people of Kano State? Any serious government shouldn’t be more concerned about foreign debtors making profits on interest from the many-hued loans it collects from them rather than welfare and future of its citizens.
Today, against the well-meaning advice from men and women of integrity, professionals with track records of excellent achievements recognized worldwide; Kano citizens, their way of life, their traditions, their economies, their very freedom, that of their children and great-grandchildren, came under serious attacks through series of deliberate, questionable, deadly, foreign loans that came with huge interest and outrageous consultancy fees aimed to “execute” unjustified white elephant projects at an extremely high cost with a questionable timeline of completion the effect of which cannot be seen anywhere and which if not properly checked will surely turn us to slaves in our fathers land to the very extent that WE CAN’T BREATH. If however there is any consolation, it is to the effect that a day will come sooner than later. And Governor Ganduje will be fully held to account for all his actions.
Umar Haruna Doguwa writes in from Kano, Nigeria.