K – K – K: Nigeria’s Political Heartbeat, Disenchantment, and Way Out

By Prof. M K Othman

Katsina – Kano – Kaduna, aka KKK is the brain and heartbeat of Nigeria’s politics. It is an irresistible and very attractive bride to political aspirants who wish to realize their dream of occupying Aso Rock. We have barely 14 months to elect the occupier of Aso Rock, which will be vacant by 28th May 2023. Therefore, discussion on KKK at this time is not only apt and timely but can prepare us for the Herculean task ahead.

KKK is reputed for donating bloc votes, which become decisive to crowning the presidential candidate into Aso Rock. In the last three presidential elections, KKK donated more than 10% of the total votes in the country to a single party. In 2011, KKK gave bloc votes of over 4 million to CPC out of about 34 million total votes casted in the country.

Similarly, in 2015 and 2019 elections, KKK provided bloc votes of 4.3 and 3.6 million votes out of over 30 million total votes casted in the country. KKK was hitherto PDP-controlled states but wrestled out by APC in 2015 and since then became APC controlled states.

The three governors of KKK states; El-rufai, Ganduje, and Masari are in their second and final tenure of offices. The only common thing to these governors is their party membership of APC as each is currently facing different developmental uphill tasks. The year 2023 will mark eight years of governance under the watchful eyes of the three governors. How will history judge them? Will they be seen as those who changed things for the better or left things unchanged?

Certainly, each will be scrutinized, assessed, and placed appropriately in the historical book of the three respective states. Time will tell. Four weeks ago, from 24th December 2021 to 7th January 2022, I traversed the three states of KKK on a working vacation. I interacted and mingled with the lower of the ladder, downtrodden people of the three states, the kind of people who live by the day who are at the receiving end of the economic downturn.

My interaction with these people revealed a disturbing picture of the current political and economic dispensation in the three states. Twin evils of insecurity and poverty are intensely ravaging the KKK states and their disturbing presence is seen on the faces of the people residing in the three states. People may be wearing smiling faces in the pretence that “all is well” but the weather-beaten clothes, tattered shoes, and emaciating body frames indicate the opposite. Hopes are dashed and people could not understand why the economic situation keeps deteriorating with the cost of living skyrocketing to high heaven.

The poverty rates and unemployment plus underemployment of the KKK states by 31st December 2020 were scary. Based on the State-by-State Economic Analysis made by BudgIT, a Civil Society Organization, the poverty rates were 56.42%, 55.08%, and 43.48% for Katsina, Kano, and Kaduna states, respectively.

Similarly, unemployment plus underemployment for the states were 48.82%, 56.56%, and 67% for Katsina, Kano and Kaduna states, respectively (https://yourbudgit.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/State-of-States-report-2021-web.pdf).

Although, Kaduna had the lowest poverty rate but had the highest unemployment plus underemployment figure and was ranked the 3rd most-indebted state in Nigeria with a total debt stock of N284.40bn as of December 31, 2020. On the security situation, residents of KKK states are no longer sleeping with one eye open, they are sleeping awake, their eyes may be closed but their ears are widely opened expecting to hear gunshots from the neighbourhood.

However, KKK states are not isolated cases, as these twin evils of insecurity and poverty do not spare other parts of the country with variability in severity and occurrences. Consequently, when considering the current situation in the country, the generality of people should be weeping rather than smiling as the noose is tying, and if nothing is done to lose it, suffocation will just be a matter of time. But, these are men and women of great faith in Nigeria’s survival instinct. Many witnessed the civil war of the late 1960s, numerous coups and counter-coups, June 12 tumult of early 1990s, “doctrine of necessity”, religious and ethnic mayhems in addition to unrecorded and reported socio-economic turbulences with significant fatalities.

The faith of a common man is an asset to the nation, without it, there would have been more pandemonium, more cases of suicide, and violence in the society would have quadrupled and the nation might not have survived it. Now back to KKK states, 2023, and the current political dispensation, people are disenchanted and confused why things are not changing for the better despite efforts from both states and federal governments. Governors and their cabinet members are receiving the most bashing and blames for the hardship being experienced. Truly, leaders have to be held responsible and accountable for the actions or inactions of the government. However, Democratic governance, as we operate in Nigeria, rests on the tripod of the executive arm, judiciary, and legislative. Ideally, the tripod arrangement is for check and balance to produce a perfectly working system to serve the people optimally.

The two legs of the tripod (executive and legislative) are made through people’s free choices but the third (judiciary) is made through a long process, which is initiated by the executive. The three are supposed to work independently for the common purpose of nation building. Nevertheless, when any leg of the tripod defects, the governance is likely to suffer or even collapse with the consequential effects on the people.

Are the legislators and members of the bench living up to the expectations? What are their contributions to the current economic crunch and mega-security breach? Many of the personalities in the tripod have unquestionable integrity with unflinching nationalism for a better Nigeria. However few among these personalities are visionless and massively indulge in aggrandizement to serve their selfish end. To this category of people, the end justifies the means and they have no limit to what they can do to achieve their solipsistic agenda. What is the way out?

In the previous elections, the bloc votes of KKK people to elect the desired candidates are yet to pay off but may do so with a change of strategy. Can good people of KKK develop more interest in partisan politics beyond mere voting? Politicians must be made to account for their deeds while voters must shun money politics by all means. People should be voted based on their integrity, selfless service, and morality not mundane considerations such as ethnicity and sectionalism.

This is in line with the resolution of the Northern Elders Forum last week when the Forum asserted “The people of the North want to work with other Nigerians to produce a competent and committed Nigerian leadership that will restore confidence in our country’s capacity to survive and rebuild itself for the next generations”. It is my wish that Nigerian voters will begin to think of this clarion call for a better and progressive Nigeria.

Othman, a professor of soil and water engineering NAERLS, Ahmadu Bello University, writes from Zaria and can be reached via +2348065571637.

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