Sale of public property in Kano: Between development and conservatism
By Abdulmumin Giwa
AREWA AGENDA- The Kano state Governor Abdullahi Ganduje has been under attack recently for selling off some public property that have remained obsolete for some time.
Critics have concocted a lot of fake information and spread rumors concerning the sale of the property. They adduce personal sentiments to such development activities by the state and wrongly accuse the Governor of trying to enrich himself.
On the other hand, such properties are sold off by the state governor to be developed and put to use and to create a facelift in the fast population growing ancient city.
It has been the plan of the present government led by Ganduje to uplift Kano into a mega city and the steps are clearly seen with the construction of flyovers, underpasses and the dualization and renovation of some roads as well. These are facts that can’t be denied due to their physical presence in the different locations he made them in the last seven years and are indeed commendable.
A lot of people have a problem understanding what a mega city is. A mega city is determined by its population which according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs in its 2018 “World Urbanization Prospects” report says it starts from 10 million people. Also, according to MNCH2 and UKAid, Kano has a population of 13.4 million as at 2017. There is also another projection that is estimating that there are at least 7.5 million people within the metropolis alone made up of about 9 out of the 44 local government areas of the state.
The level of general global modernization as well as migration from rural to urban areas has placed the Kano metropolis population to approaching beyond ten million in the next few years. Even as at now, there are unverified estimations claiming that Kano has a population of about 20 million people. These could be deduced even in the level traffic hold ups in the already institutionalized rush hour activities within the metropolis every day.
This means that Kano is either heading towards becoming a mega city or is already a mega city, a situation that has to be prepared for and duly managed in terms of road networks, provision of domestic facilities like markets, security posts, primary healthcare services, public conveniences and a host of other facilities required in a densely populated city.
Similarly, a report by University of Bonn says that mega cities are usually defined as metropolitan areas with a total population of 10 million or more people. The same term could alsi be used on cities having population of about 5-8 million and having an average of 2000 people per square kilometer, which Kano city has gone beyond and is continuously growing.
It is against this foresight that the Governor Abdullahi Ganduje regime is preparing Kano towards that inevitable level of a mega city through the selling off of public property and buying of private ones.
This preparation towards providing for a mega city requires a lot expansion, relocation, renovation and new creations, a reason for which a lot of property, both public and private must be affected, it is only normal.
The lack of understanding of the process of development and the need to prepare for it as well as the inherent conservatism among some people is what is causing the attacks and criticism labelled on Governor Ganduje. People need to be enlightened about governance and management of developmental processes.
Another issue is that of the wrongful politicization of such policies and programs by political opponents, which is also wrong. Because the the public is wrongly misled from understanding what is actually happening. They are made to be seeing only the angle of selling off some public properties and acquiring some private property by the government and are not shown the need behind such. It is the city that is being adjusted to suit the population concept of a mega city in order to avoid problems faced by unorganized populated areas. Such problems even include health issues and the management of unnecessary pandemics.
There are indeed several mega cities across the world, some of which are properly managed while others are not. The total number of mega cities in the world varies according to the producers of the reports. The UN in 2018 says the world had 33 and in 2020 there are 37 according to City Population.de. More so, in 2020 there were 35 mega cities according to Demographia.
Many of these urban agglomerations are in China and India some are managed and some are not properly managed especially in India which is leading in the problem of open deification, situation that constantly courses breakdown of diseases. Other countries with multiple mega cities are the United States, Brazil, Pakistan, and Japan.
In African mega cities are present in Nigeria, in places like Lagos and Kano, and in Egypt, and the DRC, while in Europe mega cities are present in France and the United Kingdom.
More so, the Kano state government in a statement signed by the the steadfast Commissioner for Information Muhammad Garba has actually explained how the process of selling off the public property is done. He explained that it is based on global best practices of the Public Private Partnership, PPP.
“The PPP arrangement, one of the best global practices, is a long-term contract between the private sector and a government agency for providing a public asset or service, in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility. More so, the properties are decayed and obsolete and need to put to use.
“The Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) variations, which are also commonly used in Nigeria, including Design-Build-Finance-Transfer (DBFT), Build-Operate-Own (BOO), and Design-Build-Finance-Operate (DBFO) models are part of efforts by the government to re-appraise the Kano Master Plan, which has not been rendered to any re-appraisal for a very long time, to give impetus for proper planning and implementation of infrastructure development,” he explained.
He further gave example of such property saying, “One of such properties is Daula Hotel, which had been abandoned for years. It has become a hiding place for criminals, even as the School of Hospitality and Tourism situated within its premises only occupies 10 per cent of the structure. It would now be developed to a residential building for enhanced revenue generation.”
I think is high time we keep all conservative sentiments and support the adjustment of Kano into a mega city through the provisions of necessary amenities as embarked on by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.
Arewa Agenda is a publication of young writers and journalists from Northern Nigeria geared towards peaceful coexistence and national development through positive narratives.