The late Chinua Achebe wrote about Nigeria in one of his pamphlet, The Trouble with Nigeria, “the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal examples which are the hallmarks of true leadership”.
Looking at this quotation, it is imperative to remember someone somewhere in Kano like Malam Aminu Kano who was an epitome of character, full of humility, a leader whose zeal for the unity and progress of Hausa land and Nigeria as a whole dogged him until his last breath. He believed that the faculty of reasoning that God bestowed on man was to be used to reflect on truth and find meaning in life. As such, any unfavourable custom or tradition, no matter how long it was practised or who it was descended from should not only be rejected but also dismissed, flicked away and clobbered to death. His desire for the people of Kano set the ‘talakawa’ free for the betterment of their lives.
Malam was so bold that he questioned every authority, policy or power that had a semblance of oppression; be it from the colonialists or from the native authority. His uncompromising nature started showing in Middle School when he masterminded students’ unrest. The tactics he used in scheming the strike were so advanced that when others were singled out for punishment; Aminu Kano would not be among them. Perhaps the only person who equaled or even surpassed Aminu in fearlessness was his teacher, his mentor and the master strategist, Sa’adu Zungur. Sa’adu who was a genius who absorbed knowledge like a sponge, a challenger of the status quo per excellence who wouldn’t genuflect to anybody – that was his teacher.
He was an embodiment of pure love for humanity devoid of any hidden and selfish tendency whereby he took everyone as his own son or daughter. He embraced all and sundry without discrimination as to tribe, religion and status. He strongly believed in prayers. According to Psychologist Don Baucum, children who got this type of early start do better in adult life than children who did not. This fact, twinned with their voracious reading habit, put Aminu above others. People’s encounters with Malam Aminu Kano were life enriching and they were never regrets. Such include his assigning thoughts to them of being hard working, pieces of advice as well as showing them the pathways of life.
Despite all the difficulties he encountered here on earth, he was still very strong, brave enough to face life’s circumstances. His potential desire and prayers for people as a person was active and tremendous and can never be forgotten. The unquenchable zeal for his people and the pains he had for their quest of, economic and social emancipation seemed to consume him all through his life time. Therefore, anyone who belonged and still belongs to Malam’s ideology cannot be associated with laziness, corruption, evil, wickedness, maltreating the down-trodden and indifference to what affect the people.
As Allan Freinstein described his first impression of Aminu in his book, The African Revolutionary, ‘he was short in stature and short in neck, almost turtle-like. But then, everything about him smiled. His sparkling eyes, his mouth, his entire visage exuded warmth.’ This likeable personality and friendliness endeared him to many – even those who constantly disagreed with him. Like late Chinua Achebe put it, ‘Nigeria cannot be the same again because Aminu Kano lived here’.
Therefore, it is imperative to believe that the solemn penury that is growing in this country is as a result of Nigerian leadership-style. Lack of good leadership in this country has indeed remained a canker-worm that is refusing to go. For this country to remain the same, the problem of leadership must first of all be addressed but as it is now, there is nothing like new Nigeria. I think Nigeria really needs to carry a lantern in broad day-light in search of leaders like Aminu Kano.
Aondover Eric Msughter, Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano