N2.6bn Vehicles For Kano Lawmakers

Panel Probing Political Violence In Kano Begins Sitting Monday

The decision of the Governor of Kano state, Abba Kabir to splash N2.6 billion on exotic sports utility vehicles (SUVs) for members of the state Assembly leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Coming at a time when the citizens are barely able to eke out a living as result of the hard times speaks volumes about the insensitivity of the nation’s political leaders.

Only recently, the state Government confirmed that it has purchased 41 SUVs for members of the House of Assembly at a cost of N68 million each amounting to a whooping N2.6 billion.
The governor’s Chief of Staff, Shehu Sagagi, was reported to have said the lawmakers deserved sound working vehicles. And the suffering citizens are asking for the real definition of sound working vehicle.

Must it be the one procured at a staggering N68 million at a time majority of the citizens are looking for what to eat?

In the opinion of this newspaper, purchasing such vehicles for the lawmakers at this critical time is sheer misplacement of priority and we wonder if the state government is fully aware of the current hardship that permeates the entire country including the most populous state and the north’s commercial nerve centre.

In a preamble to its 41-page Manifesto, the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) states that “The care for human life and happiness, not their exploitation and extinction, is the first and only legitimate object of any good and innovative government Therefore, the worth of every state through its governments is the worth of her citizens”

Who could have imagined that the only state governed by the NNPP-Kano, with all its development challenges, will be so brazen as to accord priority to the luxurious cravings of the lawmakers at a time majority of the citizens are languishing in penury, bogged down by poverty, high cost of living and other hardships.

The fact that Kano state has almost one million children out-of-school who are roaming the street begging and being exposed to other cruelties of life is all it takes for one to understand how much of a misplaced priority Governor Abba Kabir’s vehicle purchase for lawmakers is.

According to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), there are 989,234 out of school children in Kano. Deprived of education, the state is trading away the future of these children. Yet the government is comfortable spending billions on vehicles for people who do not urgently need one.

And to imagine that this vehicle purchase is coming at a time the Kano state chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) complained of critical systemic weaknesses within the healthcare system of the State. The NMA decried poor remuneration and welfare of health workers, as well as inadequate equipment and consumables in hospitals and noted that such has continued to impede quality healthcare delivery in the state.

We can only imagine the quantity of consumables N2.6 billion can buy for the state health sector. Or what the amount could do if channeled to the provision of potable water in the state that has a long history of acute water shortage.

It is on record that the state has not fully addressed the challenge of acute water scarcity which is taking a toll on some residents of Kano municipality where men, women and children trekking in search of water for their daily chores have became a common sight in recent times.
The most infantile excuse we have heard so far is that the latest purchase followed a familiar pattern as previous administrations did the same so it should not be condemned.

And to those bandying this vexatious reason, we like to humbly remind them that two wrongs have never made a right. When did the ruling NNPP in the state resolve to toe the path of the immediate past administration which, in our candid opinion, it rightly vilified?

Why should a government that vowed to address the challenges of development bedeviling the people be so reckless as to prioritise the welfare of an insignificant few over and above that of many? Tellingly, the argument that the vehicles would facilitate the lawmakers’ oversight functions is pedantic and bereft of common sense

Although the lawmakers, most of whom belong to the NNPP have taken possession of their vehicles, we like to remind them that their party’s manifesto is unambiguous in prioritizing the need to ensure “the care for human life and happiness, not their exploitation and extinction”.

Flaunting these vehicles at these critical times doesn’t pass the lawmakers out as people who care for the happiness of their constituents. It is not late. They can return it and ensure the money is used to make the people happy. Knowing the average Nigerian politician for who they are, greedy and selfish, this is asking for the moon.

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