31 January 2013

Nigeria: Achaba Ban and the Burden of Dan Audu


As one of the scions and grandchildren of Islamic scholars in the ancient city of Kano, who could easily trace his lineage directly to Malam Muhammadu Na'ibi Mai Dogon Gemu, nothing mystifies the soul than the way the Kanawa regard their emir, because, for a city famously identified with a rebellious streak, even before the time of Northern Elements Progressive Union's Malam Aminu Kano or the earlier eras of Alu Maisango, which has made the people to be highly distrustful of lineal oligarchy, which with the sure certainty of the passage of time, usually transforms into a parasitic overlord hegemony, no matter the benevolence of a monarchical system and structure subsisting.

As the old man and the one with long beard would won't to say, the rulers after the Jihad, had always identified with the primal interest of the peasantry (Talakawa) so much, to the extent that it was the present emir, who was at the time a Royal Police Constabulary, whom the authority's much reviled and threatened opposition elements relies for bail, during those times and periods of deadly political persecution. Indeed, some actually regarded the cop prince at the time, as having open sympathy with the true political emancipators of the masses.

For a child or kid brought up within the vicinity of Kano city, religious festivals like the Sallah holidays are times when the people knew who their true leaders are, as it is during such periods, the emirs go round the city to greet the people, mingle with them without much security barriers expected of a leadership of high authority, indeed, it is at such moments of power equation and aggregation, when the coercive might of temporal leaders or a political rulers wilts at the grace of a spiritual lordship or most appropriately an accessible monarchy.

After all, even with the genuineness of belief of the first republic politicians, it could not ennoble them to seek for the thrones, a revolutionary change of the old order to a new one, while the fiery brand of the second republic's People's Redemption Party, only courted revolt and trouble, when it tried to belittle the old institution of power ascension in the north. As not only was I as a Magwam Primary School pupil, had to run for dear life, when Governor Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi issued a query and slapped a suspension order on the emirate, he as an individual had to jump a fence to escape while his political adviser the Late Dr Bala Muhammed was consumed by the inferno of a mob action.

Indeed, where it at earlier times, an achaba motorbike owner would have fervently waited for the arrival of the emir from medical leave abroad, while congregating at the palace courtyard to plead for the unbanning of their trade and with the sure certainty of fate, the benevolent ruler would have argued their case to the highest office in the land, not minding the revulsion such monumental intrusion, could have caused to the current political rulers of state authority. But, the announcement which declared the ban, was made by Kano state government officials, with the main aim and fundamental reason for proclaiming the new policy, being the devilish attack and an attempted assassination on the convoy of emir, coupled with the countless number of incidences of attack of innocent citizens of the state, which seem to be almost and always undertaken by a clique of motorcycle riders.

In fact, it is a long held conversational folklore about town, relating to incredible escapades of a motor bike transporter, who drives through town breaking all known traffic regulations, causes a considerable percentage number of road accidents and often behaving in the most reckless manner, with their unconventional medium for movement of passengers. Indeed the biggest hospital in town, which is the Murtala Mohammed Hospital, Kano, has a specialized inpatient ward for the reception of the victims of achaba operators. On the other hand of the presumptive belief, in which like the conversational folklores, as a compendium of the collected ills of the riders, it has never been scientifically collated to arrive at the resultant effect of their deviant commercial activity. The conservative projection is that commercial motorbike operators within the city are in the region of a million persons, who eke their living everyday from the trafficking of passengers to different parts of the surrounding environment.

With the ban is the possibility of having a million idle souls, whose idle mind would not be a mere devils workshop, but rather a terrorism and insurgency incubation factory, as even with the Okada business they are seriously under-employed, who are now expected to be facing an everyday of penniless living, without any concrete hope of a policy lifeline, which can promise and deliver an alternative vocation for any rider who abandons his much vilified transportation trade. The greatest danger is when the last bastion of the common man, which Nigerian already knew is not in the disparaged temples of justice but the palaces and courtyard of a listening ruler, becomes a place where their cries for the revision of a highly controversial policy, met with the brick wall of it is because of I, the decision was taken.

Suwaid wrote from Kano

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