CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE 2ND KANO ECONOMIC AND INVESTMENT SUMMIT (KEIS) OF MAY 2017
PROF SULE BELLO*
DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY, AHMADU BELLO UNIVERSITY SAMARU, ZARIA
DISCUSSION POINTS SUBMITTED TO A CONFERENCE
THE THEME, “TRANSFORMING THE ECONOMY OF KANO: TURNING CHALLENGES INTO OPPORTUNITIES” ORGANIZED BY KANO STATE GOVERNMENT AT CORONATION HALL, GOVERNMENT HOUSE, KANO 23 – 24TH MAY 2017
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE 2ND KANO ECONOMIC AND INVESTMENT SUMMIT (KEIS) OF MAY, 2017
PROF SULE BELLO
Let me start by expressing my thanks to the organizers of this Summit for extending their invitation to me to participate in this very important and topical programme.
The summit, which is apparently the second since the first was staged in April 2006, is coming at a time when the crises of economic development in Nigeria, and Kano state in particular-in addition to the African Region in general, are expressed in the most graphic of terms: in the form of widespread poverty, destitution, corruption, unemployment and economic distortions at various levels, and in every sector, of the economy. We therefore look forward to very sound, and original, discourse that will help towards finding lasting solutions to the problems identified.
The contributions contained herein attempt to give a wholistic view of the subject by emphasizing, in line with the themes I was invited to address, the cultural and political imperatives, or needs, essential to the generation of sustainable economic development in the state.
The theme of the conference is understood to mean a drive towards the transformation of the economy of Kano, by way of turning existing challenges into developmental opportunities, options and choices. This effort definitely requires social processes that are both creative and innovative. I have thus chosen to summarise my observations, and contributions, under three major headings. In the first place I draw attention to what could be described as neglected, or under-emphasized, factors which I refer to as gaps. In the second place I draw attention to major areas requiring creative, and innovative, approaches due to their unique and overriding importance in the development of the state and the Federation. These specifically refer to the abiding, and overall, goals of promoting economic self-reliance and diversification as a basis for the prosperous well-being of a majority of Nigerians, in general, and the citizens of Kano in particular.
Finally, at the level of governance, I draw attention to the over-all significance of independent, sovereign and democratic processes of policy formulation as important factors in the development of self-determined and independent economies. In this regard it is very important to give due regard to the official policies pursued by various Kano state governments in line with the approach indicated by the organizers of the conference. This will help towards evaluating relevant and existing local policies, the most immediate one being Kano State Development Plan of 2016 – 2026. The importance of such on approach cannot be over-emphasised as it will highlight the key problems, and achievements, that need to be addressed in the light of past, present and future development planning.
In the analysis of policy formulation and implementation for the economic development of Kano since Nigerias independence, it is imperative that due recognition is given to the overarching layers of development constituencies of which it was a part. The first of these being the development policies of the former Northern Region of Nigeria within which it was a province and which came to an end in 1966. Similarly economic development plans at the levels of the Federation of Nigeria, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) need to be fully appraised in terms of their actual, or potential, impact on the local development of the Kano economy.
Historical overview of the economy of Kano
A survey of Kano’s economic history indicate three major patterns whose understanding is critical to the overall organization, and management, of the economy. They could, broadly, be identified as the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial economies of Kano. The first, ie the independent pre-colonial economy, was rooted in the founding of Kano as a settlement around 999AD. This was most importantly associated with the mining and working of Iron Ore at the site, along with a number of other associated industrial crafts such as food processing, textiles, dyeing, leatherworking etc. Such manufacturing activities, supported by the extensive development of agriculture for the provision of food and industrial raw material, made possible the wide commercial network of which Kano became the major hub. This network comprised inter-regional trade between North, Central and West African regions, popularly referred to as Trans-Saharan Trade, as well as the intra-regional trade of West Africa which traversed the region in all directions integrating the Savannah and the Forest belts.
The second phase was the colonial economy which could, nominally, be dated back to the conquest of Kano by the British in 1903. This economy was defined by two important characteristics. The first is the fact that the industrial sector of the economy was effectively repressed by the colonial administration thereby resulting in the subvertion of local manufacturing and mining. Secondly the agricultural sector was reorganized to facilitate the export of local raw material as well as promote, correspondingly, a reliance on industrial goods imported from abroad. Thus Kano became famous for the export of groundnuts, hides and skins, cotton, shea-nuts etc. The famous groundnuts pyramids are a testimony to the agricultural productivity that were, unfortunately, stimulated to serve the development of foreign industries rather than local ones. The result was the denudation of local industrialization processes, on the one hand and the institutionalization of industrial as well as economic dependency, on the colonial mother countries, on the other.
The third phase, since independence, has been characterized by the efforts towards the general diversification, independence and development of the economy primarily as anti-dotes to the nature of the colonial economy created as discussed above. This has occasioned the formulation and application of diverse policies with varying successes. It is in this context that we need to view the role of the 1st and 2nd Kano economic summits.
It is not only imperative that we contextualize the issues under consideration in the broad historical framework of the evolution of the Kano economy, as indicated above, it is also very important to also evaluate the issues under the searchlight of the present, or second, summit against the background of the problems or achievement of the 1st summit, especially by way of publishing its proceedings. Similarly it will be significant to highlight the policy contributions made to the economic development plans, or programmes, of Kano state and the kinds of successes recorded as a result of same.
Indeed the assessment of such summits need to go beyond Kano, to the national level, in order to assess the contributions made to national development by the various national summits as well as their corresponding effects on the various states of the Federation. This approach is necessary if the summit is to assume the status of an open and independent discourse that embraces diverse historical, theoretical and policy perspectives on the issue of economic development.
On the basis of the observations made above one would thus expect the Summit to evaluate not only the theoretical and policy preferences of the World Economic Forum, the World Bank and the IMF but, even more importantly, the independent local policies signified in the existing economic proposals, projections and programmes such as the National Development Plans of Nigeria; policies and programmes of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); policies and programmes of the African Union (AU), and indeed those of Kano State.
Gaps Occasioned By Differences of theoretical perspectives and associated policy prescriptions.
Differences in terms of theoretical perspectives, more often than not, presuppose very important differences in terms of economic interests as well as the policies generated to serve them.
A broad survey of the literature on Nigeria’s economic history and the policy prescriptions associated with them at both the descriptive and structural levels, as well as in terms of dynamic and analytical considerations, indicate two very interesting trends. In the first place local studies on Nigerias, or Africas, economic histories, theories and policies tend to be defined by the need for independent development, economic diversification and the necessity for both national and regional integration as signified in the development agenda of the AU and its subregional organizations. On the contrary the normative assumptions, as well as the prescribed policies, that define the operations of the IMF and the World Bank remain the subordination of the local economies to the developmental needs of the powerful foreign countries that own the Bank. These differences are clearly reflected in the statements of objectives of the various National Development Plans of Nigeria as well as those of the AU and these stand opposed to the policies of the World Bank and the IMF which are more often than not imposed on weaker nations through surrogate regimes controlled by foreign powers (see Select References attached). The difference in terms of development goals, projects and policies between these two approaches could further be demonstrated with reference to other critical issues central to economic development efforts.
In the first place in most of the recommendations of the IMF and the World Bank while a good deal of attention, and support, is given to what is generally referred to as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) hardly is similar attention, or indeed support and patronage, given to internal, domestic or local sources of investment be they private or public. One of the key results of this neglect is that of recent, such issues as “state control over the commanding heights of the economy” or the processes towards the indigenization of specific businesses in the country have been more or less abandoned. Indeed one of the most serious consequences of such an approach is the extent to which informal, small scale, self-employed or the so-called “subsistence” economic activities are greatly underrated and neglected despite the fact that they provide the major sources of employment in the country. Small scale industrial activities in which Kano could be competitive, in addition to self-sufficient, in the form of local mining, food processing, metalworks, leatherworks etc. are left fallow and neglected. Similarly critical local investments made by small scale entrepreneurs in industry, agriculture, commerce, culture, education and social welfare, in the society have also tended to be neglected with disastrous consequences for the society as a whole. Indeed the extent to which lll-conceived policies, outright neglect, violent conflicts and corruption have devastated such enterprises is yet to be given the attention it deserves.
Secondly, the effort to deal with the problem of corruption is proving difficult because, as many studies indicate, it is not conceived and approached as part of a growing culture, and politics, of impunity which is not amenable to simple attempts at basic law enforcement because of the wider political and economic interests associated with its occurrence, recurrence and continuation. It calls for much broader and deeper social reforms. The implications of such high level corruption to the operations of so-called public-private partnerships is yet to be explored in any significant details.
In the third place the various efforts towards improving the value chains in each of the economic sectors or subsectors ie industrial, agricultural, commercial, and financial activities need to take into account their overall linkages and integration as a basic condition towards the existence, and organic operations, of the economy as a diversified, wholesome and functional entity.
There is also the further need of ensuring that the society recognizes and applies its own socio-cultural capabilities in order to facilitate its own creative, and innovative, role in the definition of the various functions, processes and objectives informing the development of the economy. In this regard the increasing collapse of the industrial sector, in both the modern and ‘traditional’ sectors, is a primary factor requiring attention. As such all projects need to be designed to lead to the actualization of local industrial development process. Similarly the agricultural sector needs, in line with the past development efforts in the state, to be resurrected through the provision of all year-round irrigation facilities in line with the efforts made earlier by Abdu Bako led Administration particularly in Kura, Garun Mallam and Rano LGAs. Furthermore industrial innovations aimed at the local production of simple as well as basic agricultural facilities, inputs and machineries need to be initiated and sustained by the state government. Once again the most important examples to emulate would be found in the Regional Development Plans of Northern Nigeria as well as in the manner Audu Bako executed some portions of these plans in Kano. The Kwankwaso-led, along with the present, administration in Kano State have profounded very original and important policy perspectives on commerce, power generation and sub-regional integration programmes. These need to be pursued as basic strategies towards ensuring that the state benefits from the operations of national, subregional and regional organizations towards the provision of basic infrastructural facilities in the form of gas pipelines, transportation facilities, access to markets and various other programmes that would ensure economic self-reliance. Losses sustained by the state in terms of the refusal by the Federal government to execute an earlier scheduled Gas-Pipeline project, the local development of an international Airport as well as the creation of a very viable and functional Dry Port need to be quickly redressed. Financial institutions are currently lacking in the state and need to be reinvented, especially given the demise of all local banks.
The above efforts cannot succeed unless they are accompanied by a vigorous socio-cultural development perspective which makes integrated educational development in the state a top priority aimed at making the entire population more involved, more creative, more innovative and more development conscious. In particular civic, industrial and religious education need to be integrated into, as well regulated by, a social policy rooted in the historical and religious character of Kano in line with the social policy initiated by Governor Ndatsu Umaru. Parts of this have been selectively implemented by the immediate past, and present, administrations in the state with beneficial consequences. These various suggestions require the committed role of purposive governments, at all levels, and it is to this that we now turn.
‘Good Governance’: Its Institutional, Participatory And Constitutional Bases
It is now widely accepted that the role of the state is very significant in the generation of the modern economic development of various countries. This is the beginning of wisdom because it recognizes the importance of the multifarious roles of the state as a regulator, investor, protector and promoter of national economies world-wide. This is a truism born out by the historical evidence of the development of all modern economies.
The efforts at democratization, as well as associated process of economic development, in Nigeria since the inception of the 4th Republic in 1999 has however not yet justified this expectation. On the contrary the fortunes of the nation have only gravitated towards more aggravated poverty, corruption and economic dependency.
Attempts to explain this predicament have varied. However there is the growing concensus that impunity, which subverts national independence, rule of law and economic self-determination is a critical factor accounting for Nigeria’s predicament. Precisely because impunity subverts institutional and constitutional, as well as participatory, democracy or ‘good governance’, the question that arises is to what extent does this invalidate the claims that Nigeria is truly democratizing? The level of corruption, and the manner in which it tends to defy law enforcement in the country, is a good case in point. Various studies that have looked into the issues have tended to emphasise that the combined, pervasive and continuing legacies of colonial mono-economies, military rule and foreign interventionism in the form of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) have greatly tended to undermine national sovereignty, and democracy, at several levels of our national affairs.
What I have chosen to do is to pose a question as to whether the nature, extent or, indeed, validity of the claims of democratization in the country do indeed exist in any manner that could positively impact on the economy or the society, at large? If the answer is yes then what accounts for the general harvest of economic decline, corruption and institutional decay that has tended to be the lot of the country since the inception of the Fourth Republic?
A lot of evidence tend to support the view that impunity today defines the system more as a result of the increasing preservation, and ascending influences, of colonial mono-economic structures, past military rule and the prevailing policies of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) imposed by foreign powers. In the light of this the need for the independence and diversification of the economy, amidst sovereign processes of national democratization, still remain important.
Given the general issues discussed above three very important observations, towards the economic development of Kano, need to be made.
The first is that, given its historical character, the need to recapture its past levels of self-sufficiency, diversity and integration into the regional economy need to be the priority considerations of present policy objectives. Added to this is the necessity for the modernization of the economy through profound educational, in particular vocational, training programmes that also accommodate local industrial achievements.
The second important observation is the need to address the increasing de-industrialization of the state through relevant policy interventions that will ensure cheap and adequate power supply, financial mediation and related infrastructural facilities especially for the small and medium scale industries in the state. Indeed one would expect that engaging this sub-sector, its modern as well as “traditional” variants, would feature most conspicuously in the programmes of the state government as well as in future Kano economic summits.
Finally mention has been made of projects that had earlier been initiated, and need to be further continued, if the local economy is to properly and truly be invigorated. The examples of the earlier policies of Northern Regional Government, the projects executed by the administration of Audu Bako and the Social Policies initiated by Ndatsu Umaru as well as other various initiatives of the present, and past, governments of the state need to be reinvigorated towards the industrialization, as well as the wider provision of irrigation facilities, in the state.
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