Urbanisation and crave for metropolitan land in major cities (1), by Nasiru A. Ahmad, PhD

According to the United Nation (UN), a city with over 10 million urban and suburb non-agricultural population can be referred to as mega-city. Studies elaborated that human beings are being faced with several disasters in recent years which shows the venerability of urban area. For instance, the 911 attack, leakage of Fukushima nuclear plant and Kano market fire outbreak that destroyed over 3,800 shops throw light on the need to strengthen the city safety and security and perfecting emergency rescue systems. The growing population results in increasing complexity of personnel composition and crime rate. This requires mega-cities to focus on the importance of the changes concerning the impact of the city on human life, city safety and also conduct a re-examination of city life at a given interval. Several risks were found to have direct consequences on city safety which include natural disaster, crime, terrorist attacks, ethnoreligious violence, and public health events. These are key factors that every city should focus on to prevent and control negative eventualities. Though, urbanisation brings about several edifices, manufacturing plants, road networks and other developments which result in congestions and possible environmental degradation. Therefore, it requires the state to focus on urban industrial safety, effective waste treatment, and disposal and environmental sustainability measures. These initiatives ought to form part of the state macro-city policies and procedures.  In spite of the importance of these security and safety procedures, Kano state which had an estimated population of 12 million gives little attention to the negative consequences of urbanisation.

Kano state is endowed with varieties of blessings that are priceless. The state initiated its ancient structural reforms during the Bagauda reign by creating public offices in 9th century propelled by its political ingenuity. The reign of Muhammad Rumfa during 15th Century brought about a modern governance structure introduced by Sheikh Al-Maghili who was perhaps the most renowned scholar that contributed immensely in developing its constitution that resulted in the creation of instituted authority with an effective judicial system. The state passed through a series of chaotic era ranging from the Fulanis jihad, British conquest, independence, military administration to the current republic. These challenging happenings made the state and its indigenes politically and socially disposed to changing conditions. At the beginning of its modern formation, the state was blessed with erudite town planners that put a fashionable design with due respect to the city anticipated urbanisation and keeping intact the antiquities which our generation witnessed and cherished.  Whenever, I pass by the ancient city wall, in those days, I reflect on the then Kano. Thus, reliving how our forefathers dwelled within such a protective city wall full of joy and self-esteem. The modern time’s development had a peaceful ramification on the city by the blessing of the then leaders who valued its treasure. Many governors starting from Audu Bako came and passed reshaping its features but persistently respecting the dignity of its historical archives. Graveyards strategically located had been treated with great veneration. City gates which are the main entrances to the town were continuously expanded to accommodate the city booming population, while at the same time preserving their ancient connotation. Roads within the metropolitan were developed to give a freer vehicular movement but designed in such a way to avoid the demolition of some landmarks. The intervention of military regimes brought about military administrators who had a good time in the state but kept alive these simple principles in their developmental programs.

To my dismay, the state turned a blind eye to these simple principles. The intended negligence and nonchalant attitudes of some officials at the helm of affairs contributed to the destruction of these antiquities and the original plans which possess great historical and modern (tourist attraction) implications. The priceless structures (such as City wall) are razed down almost entirely in search of precious land within the metropolitan. Their action had created more commotions, havoc and adverse population boom within the city. Thus, destroying the peace the state and its residents once enjoyed. The shortsighted and parochial vision of the land mongers with the support of the powers around made them forget the meaning of town planning and what it entails. This action is demeaning for a state that gave them and their family a remarkable lifeline. The self-centered attitude had choked up the state which justifies the need for more billions to be budgeted for the construction of flyovers to decongest the traffics they are busy creating in any step they take. This practice adds to the ruins of the state because the mega-projects are funded by denying the third tier of government their entitlement as such facilitating rural-urban migration; thus, reversing their inadvertent decongestion plan. From my little management background, I feel like we are instead destroying the state that needs to grow from outside not within. Though, the crave for expensive plots which are not available at the outskirt had contradicted their inner thought as such put the state on an imminent verge of collapse.

The need to highlight the state new orientation could be depicted in the egocentric allocation of graveyard, government schools compound, ministries’ and agencies’ outer fences to higher bidder, friends, and family. These are places that need to be decorated with flowers to give a more relaxing view to the onlookers in an already saturated town. The city wall (ganuwa along B.U.K road) which was constructed between 1095 and 1134 during the reign of Sarkin Kano Gijimasu with a radius of 14km was utterly demolished, destroying its beautiful sceneries surrounded by horticulture that gave it a nice look.  The plots of land around were allocated to the people born with a purported silver spoon in the state. Part of this Ganuwa falls within the ambit of Kadon Kaya (an ancient city gate) on which side a bridge was constructed (to decongest) but is now to be congested with an upcoming erection of an intended commercial structure. A growing number of lands allocated for petrol stations within the metropolitan had also become an issue of grave concern to all citizens. Mohammed, Musa and Jeb (2014) put the figure of petrol stations within eight metropolitan local government areas at 214. This illogical life-threatening practice needs to be put on hold to save the indigenes from the foreseeable danger of fire outrage.

My throwback to the ancient treasures was mainly to give deserving respect to the importance of the city not to be conservative against progressive changes. However, having no bone to pick with the regime, I will remain resolute to highlighting critical issues that could jeopardise the wellbeing of the populace. Therefore, in a nutshell, I suggest that the state government should commit to resolving these concerns. First, the state government should engage the services of experienced town planners to allow transparent land management. Second, reverse the allocations of some strategic locations; this might warrant the demolition of already erected structures. Third, rescind the ambition of constructing billions of naira flyover and concentrate on the construction of outskirt markets to enable relocation of saturated markets (Singer and Kwari markets) away from the old city. Fourth, stop withholding the subventions and grants meant for 44 local government areas and encourage fiscal responsibility to allow transparency and accountability to prevail. Fifth, review the licenses and land allocation of filling stations within the city to avoid a catastrophic outrage. Sixth, embark on publicity on city safety measures example, sensitisation exercise to prevent blockage of sewage which brings about flooding that occurs almost every raining seasons in the state. Seventh, correct the defect of exiting engineering works and strengthen ongoing ones with full legal implication on any compromise that results in injury. These steps must be taken for the state to have a meaningful, inclusive development thus, avoiding calamitous happenings.

Nasiru can be reached at nazmait11@gmail.com, and 080 39434 923