Travelogue: How Kano became the dirtiest city of Nigeria


Kano state can become a developed economy if its people and government start by tackling the dirty states of its streets, Faruk Ahmed writes

Instead of finding the soothing arms of his dear wife wrapped around him, Malam Abubakar Dantani woke up in the middle of the night clinging unto straws for his dear life in the midst of a fast-moving torrent of muds and water.

Later in the day, when the rains had abated, he finally found his wife after a hectic search among strewn of debris, uproot trees, blown-up roofs and pulled-down walls, with a cake of mud in her mouth.

By the time he had pulled her out, the number of his family members had reduced by one to six. His last child, a suckling baby girl of nine months had been washed away by the torrential rain into the river.

His house was reduced to rubbles, and half of his farm of guinea corn submerged and destroyed.

When Malam Dantani went round the village to inform his relatives of his predicaments, he had to swallow his pains because of the wreckages and deaths he saw around him.

Floods in Kano. Source: Jaafar Jaafar

Springs of deaths

A report by the Guardian has it that between 2020 to 2021, floods have killed more than 51 people and destroyed over 14,000 houses in Kano state.

And as the trend portends, we may be heading towards gloomier stories if the attitudes of the people and governments of the state do not turn a new leaf.

As the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) puts it, flooding in Nigeria is caused mainly by rainfall, overflowing rivers and blocked drainages.

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The agency also identified poor town planning that allows building on flood plains, drainage channels, poor land reclamation and weak and unenforced sanitation laws by states and local governments authorities.

Recipe for woes

If one move along roads in Gaida, Panshekara, Post Office, Sabon Gari market roads and others, you will find sands taking over the roads with gutters filled up with debris.

But on the other hand, stroll along State, Zoo, Bank or Airport roads which are plied by the governor, his entourages and other dignitaries, you will meet clean shaven routes.

The deaths the Guardian report above mentioned do not take place in high brow areas. They happen in the suburbs and villages of the state.

NIMET, NEMA and other national and multinational had admonished the three tiers of governments to “stop resorting to fire brigade approach,” acting only after the rains had started.

But as at the time of filing this story, which is about two months left for the raining season to set in, not much has been done in Kano state to prevent a repeat of the ugly trend.

Emulating greatness

This reporter had traveled to Kaduna state where you will see well laid out streets and cleaners out as early as 5am. I have also lived in Maiduguri where few months to the start of the raining season, the government ensures that all drainages in the city are cleared and packed right away.

I have also lived in Edo and Jigawa states, and have been to Akwa Ibom, Delta, Lagos, Taraba, Yobe, Gombe, Katsina states, and more.

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In all these places, you will not find a person spend millions of naira in building a house but refuse to build a proper drainage system outside his or house. Or in a place where there are drainages, you find a trader, after sweeping his or her shopfront, pushing the dirt into the gutter. Or children sent to empty refuse in the drainage.

The people of these localities do not also wait for governments to pack their gutters when full, or burn up their dump sites. They do not also wait for governments to fix leaking pipes.

Relegation of responsibility

Successive Kano state governors have tried in giving the state facelifts, most especially ex-governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. While in government, he was reported to have read a riot act to the state refuse management board to sit up, built drainages and pedestrian walkways across the state, demolished structures built on flood routes and installed streetlights in major streets.

But with the coming of the current government of Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje all these lofty ideals have been reportedly jettisoned. Of recent the government even outsourced its refuse collection and management board to a spurious private company, Capegate ENT Co. Ltd., whose impact is not being felt across the city.

As at the time of publishing this report, some of the town cleaners, who do not know whether they are employees of the government or the private company, confided to this reporter under the condition of anonymity, that are they are understaffed. They also groaned of not being paid for more than six months.

But an employee of Capegate, Abba, who insisted he wasn’t authorized to speak to the press, confirmed to Memorila that the company experienced salary problems in the past which according to him, had been resolved. He also boasted that the company cleans the state very well.

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Modernising Kano, saving lives

It is the wishes and dreams of all third world economies to grow and become like developed ones, Kano state inclusive.

After getting his or her stomach full, every Kano citizen will want to live in a clean environment, with lush greenery spread to the end of one’s sight.

It is such tranquil environments that give rise to creative thinking which metamorphoses into innovations. And it is these innovations that separate developed worlds from the underdeveloped, the haves from the haves-not.

As an Arabic adage says, “Resemble (them) if you cannot be exactly like them. For verily, resembling the noble ones is prosperity.”

And as Johan Wolfgang von Goeth puts it, “Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.”

Let everyone build proper gutter system in front of his house and shop, clear, pack it away and put in refuse dumps. Let the governments make sure all refuse dumps are emptied as at when due and the streets of the state are sparkling clean. The whole world will be saved!


Faruk Ahmed

Faruk Ahmed is the founder of Memorila.com. Having previously worked with National Review magazine, he is a keen watcher of political events.

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