The fortunes of Kano, a once flourishing economic nerve centre in Nigeria and West Africa, have plummeted following series of coordinated attacks by the Boko Haram sect in recent times. The attacks have also forced thousands of non-indigenes to relocate from the once peaceful state to their states of origin, thereby creating a vacuum in the economic arena of the state. Salisu Ibrahim reports that if the situation is not urgently curtailed, the state might be on its way to stagnation.
A visit to Kano, the once commercial and economic hub of Nigeria, reveals the sorry state to which the infamous attacks by the Boko Haram sect have reduced the city to. The legendry groundnut pyramid has since disappeared while the popular business centres in the state are now empty, no thanks to those who have been bombing and killing innocent persons in droves for reasons yet to be unveiled.
Those who used to visit the state for its unique tourism attractions have since turned their attention elsewhere as the bombs began to boom, turning most parts of the city into a ghost town. Although it has not been easy to determine the extent of impact of recent bomb attacks on Kano, their adverse effects on the people and the city, are already obvious.
With thousands of people killed and others maimed by bombs, many families have lost their breadwinners and their means of livelihood. Thousands of innocent children have been rendered orphans while many women have been forced into widowhood and men left behind as widowers by ruthless killers.
Even those who have managed to escape the attacker, are still nursing their wounds from their bedside and may never fully recover from their misfortunes that have wreaked incalculable damage to their bodies and psyche.
The most disturbing of all this is that the attackers are not relenting in their resolve to cause more havoc to the people and the terrain despite the gloom, tears and agony that their volleys of bullets and dynamites have brought on the city and the residents.
These orchestrated assaults on the city have changed the status of the state and the perception the residents towards a city they once loved and cherished as a cosmopolitan centre of peace and development, where every Nigerian had a stake.
Today, Kano is loathed and feared by the very people who used to dominate the economic and social scene because they are sure of their next door neighbor. They are not also sure if the people they see on the roadside have wired bombs attacked to their agbada and cars. Thus, suspicion, hatred and mistrust have replaced the respect, love and trust they once had for their neighbours, friends and business associates in the state.
Things are really getting out of hand. Even those who have resolved in the past not to quit Kano when their churches or business centres were attacked have now resolved not to stay any longer in the troubled land. In response to the attacks, most of the Igbo traders who dominated commercial ventures in the city, have started leaving in droves to avoid being wiped out by the malevolent elements who have no respect for human lives.
The industrial and commercial nature of the state has been affected negatively. Besides the erratic power supply in the state, the growing state of insecurity has adversely affected economic development in Kano and changed its outlook, something that may take successive administrations in the state ages to regain.
In fact, as experts have argued, the soaring impact of the insurgency on the lives and way of living of the people and their core values will remain a daunting task for the government.
The government has already begun to count the cost of the attacks on Kano and it is not finding it easy to explain to the world why things have gone this bad in a jiffy.
The state commissioner of Finance, Alhaji Abdullahi Mahmoud Gaya, admitted the other day that the state's revenue profile had been adversely affected by the mindless attacks. Gaya pointed out that insecurity had prevented the state from generating its projected monthly internally generated revenue of N1.5 million.
According to him, the state was forced to make do with IGR of less than N1 billion monthly. He said however that the administration was hopeful in meeting its revenue target for the year, a development analysts have dismissed as mere wishful thinking.
Analysts however are of the view that the commissioner's view point may look as a wishful thinking considering the effect the state of insecurity had on peace and stability in the state, an ingredient that remain paramount in the development of the state.
The Amalgamated Traders at the famous Kantin Kwari Market have also cried out over the near collapse of business in the market, which was once a beehive of activities. The group complained that apart from low sales recorded by members in recent times, most shop owners have also shut down and disappeared from the market because of incessant attacks.
The attacks have also shaken the Igbo who were very active in the economic arena. Their resolute faith in the city appears to have been broken by gunmen who attack without looking back.
Afraid that the exodus of the Igbo from the state could spell economic doom in the state, the Onye Ndu Igbo of Kano, Chief Leonard Nwosu and the President General of Igbo Community in Kano, Igwe John Chiajina Nnaji, have appealed to their kinsmen not to flee the city, promising that the security situation would improve.
In an apparent move to stem to panic exodus, the Igbo in the state recently met and assured themselves that they were safe and should stay on, as governors in the South-East had decided that their natives should not flee Kano.
"All Igbo in the state have resolved to remain and continue to live in peace with the people of the state as they have been doing before the recent attack. "We stand by the resolution of our South-East governors and our political leaders to remain calm as we believe in the corporate entity of Nigeria", the Igbo leaders said.
But once last Sunday's attack on the Bayero University Kano, in which two professors and 13 others lost their lives, the call on the Igbo to stay on in Kano has fallen on deaf ears. The people are already moving out in their hundreds daily. An Igbo youth leader, Tobias Idika, has been urging his people to leave at once to avoid being consumed by ruthless bombers in the state.
The latest attack on Christian worshippers at the Bayero University Kano [BUK] has equally touched negatively on the growth of educational sector in the state. Besides the wasting of some scholars in the attack, some survivors have resolved not to return to the university after they might have regained from the injuries they sustained. A female student of accountancy department of the university has vowed not to return after she might have been discharged from the hospital where she is currently on admission, following the attack on her.
But the state government has taken some desperate measures to check the exodus of frightened residents from the state. To start with, the government has raised a 15-man committee to work means of checking the deteriorating situation in the state.
The committee, under the chairmanship of Alhaji Magaji Dambatta has since submitted its report to the Kano State governor, Eng. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
According to the committee, the springing up of unplanned settlements all over the place, harbouring strangers without any proactive system of monitoring their activities, huge rural-urban migration, the almajiri (young boys on the streets) syndrome, teeming unemployed youth and grinding poverty, have combined to exacerbate the security situation in Kano State.
The committee summed that, with the virtual collapse of governance structure at the community level, which makes it impossible to keep tract of activities in local communities; abuse of town planning regulations, illegal motor parks, petty trading premises and armies of motorcyclists among others, will continue to loom large unless the state government rise up to nip in the bud the devastating effect of the menace.
"Kano has unfortunately been reduced to what can be described as an urban jungle", which needs urgent resuscitation of the communal governance system manifested in the ward heads, district heads and community leaders, so as to assist in achieving peace and security as well as in identifying foreigners in the land.
"Government must look into means of livelihood of such people, as well as at the lapses in the security apparatus in the nation that are manifest due to inadequate training of personnel, obsolete working materials and low morale," the committee said.
As the attackers continue to release their weapons of mass destruction on Kano, killing and maiming innocent persons and destroying private and public property with impunity, one lesson that stands out is that the state and its people are the immediate losers in this dastardly game that takes the state some miles into retrogression while other states in the country are progressing.
The destruction had brought about unprecedented fear and trepidation in the state that many are now scared of even passing through the state for fear of being killed like a rat. The situation in the state has continued to degenerate to a point that the state is almost being branded as one of the states that is beginning to show signs of a failed state.
But will the bombers retrace their steps and think about the interest of the state and its people? They may not; and things can really go bad in a state which was once looked upon by other Nigerians as the citadel of hope, prosperity and peace. But all that has since been wiped away by bombs, guns and fire.