By Oyewale Oyelola
The World Bank about a decade ago projected that Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt and two other cities in Nigeria would emerge as Megacities by 2025 with population of over 25 million residents expected to be living in each of the city. It’s cheering news for the government of Kano State as Kano city would join leagues of megacity like London, New York, Tokyo, Toronto and Moscow among others.
However, the megacity status for Kano would remain a mirage, if the government fails to take necessary steps to position the eight metropolitan and 36 rural local government areas across the state to withstand challenges of a real megacity.
Besides, megacity is not just a mere large city but term use for highly industrialized city that has infrastructure, basic amenities, security and other facilities to accommodate even increasing population of such city. Just like every other megacity across the world, it’s always the centre of attraction for migrants from other countries and towns within the country.
Hence, Kano State Governor, Dr. Umar Abdullahi Ganduje in the last three years has commenced implementation of programmes/policies geared towards building befitting infrastructures and other facilities for future megacity amidst scarce resources.
Kano State Government under the foresight leader-Ganduje has embarked on road projects to open up ancient city of Kano with good road networks to ease movement of people from different locations across the state.
The current administration has invested billions of naira to complete Sabongari Axis 2km bridge inland flyover which is the longest in West Africa. The project according to findings was at 20 completion prior to swearing of Ganduje as Kano State Governor and President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to commission the project in August 2018.
Similarly, N4.5billion has been approved for construction of Underpass, Flyover and Roundabout at Dangi road connecting Zaria road-Zoo road and Silver Jubilee road in Kano Metropolis. Governor Ganduje while performing the sod-turning ceremony of underpass and flyover at Dangi roundabout said the multi level project involves the construction of underpass and flyover structures at the junction connecting Zaria road/Zoo Road/ Silver Jubilee, as well as the provision of roundabout, clovers, slip roads and rotary intersections, to allow for easy, safe, and controlled maneuvers and changes in directions to the desired routes.
The governor explained: “The project would cost N4. 5 billion and to ensure that work does not stop, we decided to pay the contractors 50 percent of the total project cost and the contractor has assured us that it would be completed in ten months time.
“This noble project was conceived out of our inherent desire to solve the persistent transportation problems bedeviling the Zaria road/Zoo road area, sequel to various pleas by teeming members of the public”.
Dr. Ganduje added that the project would provide lasting solution to several transportation related economic problems including accidents, congestion, air pollution and loss of revenue.
He added: “Our fore fathers envisaged Kano as a mega settlement. We shall make their dreams come true by embarking upon projects such as this gigantic one that will make Kano a mega city, at par with its contemporaries elsewhere”.
Apart from that, Kano State Governor recently introduced Integrated Rural Development Initiative tagged “Karkaka Salamu Alaikum” to fast track infrastructural development in rural communities and minimize rural-urban migration as Kano City keep growing in geometrical progression as predicted by World Bank.
To this end, the state government embarked on construction of roads across the 38 rural local government areas in the state.
Some newly initiated road projects include: 9.10km Sodiwa-Ridawa-Kasuwar Kuka road in Kunchi local government, 23km Kwanar Zira-Ganduje-Dungurawa Road, 8.5km Ganduje-Saje feeder road linking Bichi and Dawakin Toga councils, Dambatta Township Roads that involves construction of drainages and ancillary facilities and many more.
Apparently, the governor mean business when he said the construction of rural roads and provision of social amenities in towns and villages will position rural dwellers to contribute meaningfully to the development of the state.
According to him: “We are already constructing several of such roads to help our farmers to convey their produce to markets and to alleviate the problems generally associated with transportation, which negatively affect the economy of our rural population”.
“We believe that by constructing rural roads and providing our villages and towns with social amenities, the rural dwellers will be more positioned to contribute significantly to building our state.
” Being a rural man, I appreciate the suffering you experience in terms of transportation. My hope, therefore, is to use resources at the disposal of government to improve the road network in this state, because doing so will help in curtailing post harvest loss by our farmers and save you time whenever you are taking your farm produce to markets”.
Furthermore, Ganduje led administration is collaborating with private sector and other development partners to make the state viable economically. Kano state in 2017 signed $600million deal with a Chinese company to build Textile City in Kano while the governor is wooing investors with free land, business friendly environment, tax holidays, security and other social amenities. Over 20 foreign companies including a Television Station with headquarters in Dubai have benefited from land donations for investors.
Moreover, the current administration is working assiduously to revive the two free trade zones in Panisau and Dala Dry Port. Without doubt, the functionality of the free trade zones will enhance megacity status of the state. Also, the government has inaugurated committee to rebrand tourism sector in the state in order to attract tourists from other states and beyond Nigeria to visit rich tourism centres in Kano.
In area of social amenities, Ganduje led government has stepped their game by modern and special hospitals across the state. Recall that President Buhari last year commissioned ultra modern hospital equipped with world class facilities in Kano.
In a related development, Gov. Ganduje in April laid the foundation for the re-construction and upgrade of the Fagwalawa Primary Health Center in Dambatta local government area, to a Cottage Hospital. This followed extensive damage to the center following a fire outbreak recently, which resulted in the loss of medical consumables and infrastructure worth millions of Naira.
The governor explained that the project would include building of new structure, provision of equipment and medical consumables at the facility which serves people of Fagwalawa and surrounding communities in both Kano and Jigawa states.
Likewise, the security of lives and properties also top agenda of Kano state government as Governor Ganduje has invested over N1billion on procurement of gadgets and operational vehicles for security operatives in the state. Just last month, Kano State earmarked N400million for building of new police division across the state. The government has also engaged about 1000 to security vanguard of the state and re-organised Vigilante groups across Kano state to enhance community policing and complement efforts of conventional security operatives.
Expectedly, the state government has also commenced construction of mega secondary schools befitting of a megacity. So far, the state governor has approved funds for construction of five new ultra modern schools that will be equipped with latest lCT gadgets to enhance teaching and learning.
Aside that, the state government has taken proactive step to end open grazing which is not appropriate for a megacity by partnering with Islamic Development Bank to establish cattle colonies in the state.
Recently, Kano state unveiled N95billion five water development plan to address issue of water scarcity being experienced by people of the state.
In the same vein, Kano State few months ago collaborated with Lagos to organise Lagos-Kano Summit, the summit avail the two potential megacities to market opportunities in their state to the world.
All the actions of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje towards positioning Kano state as a megacity are highly commendable, as it shows that any government could achieve a lot with scarce resources when the leader has political will to deliver good governance and make the masses enjoy dividends of democracy. Although, the World Bank projected that Kano State will emerge megacity by 2025 but it crystal clear that Dr. Ganduje will turn Kano to megacity of repute in few years to come.