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Kashim-Imam and the Incoming Retirees

Francis Francis

Francis Francis

Every society must be SLEEPLESS about its future, especially, on one hand, the preparedness, possibilities, as well as the prospects of its youth as leaders of tomorrow; and on the other hand, the well being of its citizens after retirement.

Though in 2009, His Excellency Matthew Hassan Kukah, had in a piece titled “Preparing for Nigeria’s Coming Power Elite”, hypothesised that: “In about half a century from now, a new brand of leaders of Nigerian descent who are now honing their political skills and tailoring their brinkmanship in some of the best schools around the globe, will return home to seize the mantle of leadership from their thieving and corrupt parents who presently run the show and who would have become too old to be involved in the physicality of election rigging”, here within the climes of Southern Kaduna, I am more worried about a foreseeable class I refer to as the Incoming Retirees.

As a corollary to His Lordship’s submissions, I foresee that unless something is quickly done, in about quater of a century from now, our homesoil shall be witnessing the influx of its sons and daughters from the cities retiring home not as ex- soldiers, civil servants or entrepreneurs, but as former house boys and girls.

Like the Zionist Jews, the return of these veterans would usher us into a dispensation of conflicts in our own middle east. There will be claims and counter claims about their ancestral land and particularly, about the ownership of some economic trees planted by their fathers as their pension.

We must accept in all humility that a generation of our elite has failed us. Yes they have failed us for their inability to fortify and mentor these incoming retirees some of whom are well schooled and have their certificates, brains and skills as evidence that they equally have the capacity to occupy the enviable positions their colleagues in other climes occupy.

What is obvious is the fact that the abysmal inaction was clearly as a result of an unbridled greed, but moreso that the elite didn’t think about continuity and the future.

Every year, before the completion of the Senior School Certificate Examinations, contacts and arrangements had already been made via some veteran house boys and girls in the cities on members of the privileged class who may be in need of the services of these Southern Kaduna ‘orphans’. “But s/he must be of good character,” the employer will insist. Of course, the liason veterans will certify them as being so.

Yes, this is the state of affairs in most of our Southern Kaduna climes. What is now indisputable is the fact that unless men of conscience interfere, our future as youth will comparatively remain bleak. As youth, whenever we compare with our colleagues in other climes, we feel devastatedly cowed down.

Only recently, I attracted a friend’s attention to the very young boys and girls Governor Nasir El-Rufai is fortifying from his own side and constituency. These young men and women he appointed into various positions in government are now many steps ahead of us. And it appears as if we now live side by side as children of Hutus and Tutsis respectively.

What is again obvious is the fact that we are likely to be their stewards in the nearest future given their experience, skills, knowledge, wealth and connections. Little wonder we resort to the alternative of being house boys and girls to make up for the lacuna.

Now that it is very glaring that in the last six or more years, our elite- especially the political class, have either died or become ostracized from the kitchen of power and have now become economically lame, it will seem that agriculture and entrepreneurship are the only windows through which we can sneak into the land of equality where we and our now privileged colleagues are all Tutsis. Surely, this corroborates Bishop Matthew Kukah’s point that “seventy percent of our problems in Southern Kaduna can be solved through economics – money, than on the acquisition of school certificates.

No wonder, only last week, my muslim friend said to me: “Christianity in Southern Kaduna has done a lot in the areas of Education and Healthcare, but unfortunately unlike Islam, paid little or no attention to entrepreneurship.”

Clearly, if we are to get rid of the incoming retirees, that is, our own version of the Almajiris, then our powerful men and women, especially those in the business and political class, must be ready to invest in agriculture . But who at the moment? They have either died, lost their financial muscles, or indisposed!

The fact that, at the moment, no son or daughter of Southern Kaduna descent appears to have either the finance or the structure to contest for Governorship comes 2023, says it all. Indeed, an epiphany – a peeping hole into the vulnerability of our near future. May God not allow our eyes see this!

I strongly believe that for my generation and beyond to have a promising future, we must go back to the scene of the crime so as to start building bridges of what Pope Francis calls reciprocal subsidiarity. And as Bishop Kukah said at the funeral of Governor Yakowa: “Indeed, for you the entire people of Southern Kaduna especially the youth, rise up, fear is dead and it will never rise again.

Get ready to light your candles because we have seen the light of a star in Kaduna. Go forward and meet up with other young men and women like yourselves. Free yourselves from religious prisons, dream big and beautiful dreams. A wonderful, peaceful, just and non-discriminatory, unselfish world lies ahead of you. Conquer fear, take the torch and march forward, whether you are Christopher of Mustapha, march on, whether you are Mary or Maryamu, march ahead.”

This is why we are happy and welcome the patriotic resolve of the detribalised Alhaji Kassim Ibrahim Imam to reinvest in hundreds, if not thousands of hectares in ginger farming within our homesoil. What this means is that, thousands will be employed and blessed with a source of livelihood, idleness which breeds hostilities, envy and violence will become a thing of the past, a previously untrodden bridge of trust and mutual understanding among ethnic nationalities and Faith traditions would be crossed among many others.

No wonder, when I mentioned the proposal to Bishop Kukah and others, they prayed that the initiative sees the light of day cautious of Pope Francis’ words to the Americans when he said: When an immigrant appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins of the past because most of us are descendants of immigrants. We must now resort to live as nobly and as justly as possible as we also educate new generations not to turn their backs on our neighbors and everything around us.

Clearly, unless we cross through the untrodden bridge into the globalized world of cooperation, opportunities and dreams, out future will remain more bleak than at sunrise. And as the the Holy Father said: “Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity in a constant effort to do our best.”

Similarly, we will never be able to make it unless we put an axe to the fast growing tree of bitterness and envy planted and watered by the generation of our fathers. May God bless Patriots of Kashim Imam breed!

 

Damina wrote from Kaduna and can be reached via francisdamina@gmail.com

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