Most of the crisis that rocked Kaduna State, from the early nineties to the late 2018’s with the exception of the Sharia, Miss World riots, and the banditry attacks that often resulted in retaliatory attacks, the Zonkwa, Kafanchan, the infamous 1992 Zangon Kataf, and the incessant Kasuwan Magani crisis, all originated from very minor disagreements over the location or relocation of markets, access to stalls amongst the diverse communities, and commercial quarrels (haggling over prices), conflicts that eventually degenerated into religious or inter-communal clashes, with very adverse effects, especially fractured and long-lasting scars on relationships and the portrayal of the state in a negative light.
Kaduna State Government, under Nasir El-Rufai was compelled due to the frequency of the riots, especially the recurring Kasuwan Magani market crisis, in Kajuru Local Government, the new theatre of war, to carry out a holistic post-conflict assessment of the various riots that usually engulfed the state, and indeed the entire country, as states whose indigenes were affected in the riots “retaliated” the killing of their “people”. Previous administrations are to some extent culpable in the unabated crisis for preferring to conveniently sweep the issues under the carpet, rather than frontally addressing the root cause of the crisis, which is what the El-Rufai administration has decided to tackle headlong, especially as part of an all-encompassing strategy to advance peaceful coexistence and its unequivocal commitment to the eradication of poverty through its “equality of opportunity and prosperity agenda” for the common man; unfortunate victims of elite manipulation.
The World Bank estimates that for developing countries to achieve the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, an annual investment in the region of over 4.0 trillion dollars is required, is a wake-up call for the Nasir El-Rufai administration, on the magnitude of problems that needed urgent actions. And the reason why from its inception, inclusive economic growth, that will translate into substantial improvement in the quality of lives of Kaduna state citizens, the primary objective of government, was non-negotiable, and the cornerstone of its policies. The challenge was that it was a goal that required a peaceful environment, in other to attract direct foreign investments and for the local economy to thrive. Hence the seriousness it attaches to poverty eradication, and why it has heavily invested in the generation of accurate data to guide its decision making. So far the Kaduna State Statistics Bureau has conducted two General Household Surveys (KDGHS), two Annual School Censuses, a state GDP Survey (KDGDP), a population dynamics survey, an Agricultural Survey (KASS), which have provided crucial baseline data to calibrate the state’s development strategy.
At the foundation laying stone of the multi-billion Kasuwan Magani market, El-Rufai restated the twin objectives behind the redevelopment of the markets in the state; which specifically includes ensuring “that the new markets accommodate the previous shop owners, and all those interested in owning shops”. Central to that resolve is disabusing the perceptions “that there are insurmountable barriers to securing trading places in markets”, which the new and expanded modern markets will put lies to. Towards achieving these objectives, the El-Rufai administration has gone for the broke in delivering brand new modern markets from Zaria to Kafanchan.
The completion of the comprehensive Infrastructure Masterplan to systematically bridge the infrastructure deficits of Kaduna State was a further impetus to fast track the redevelopment of the markets using the hitherto moribund Kaduna State Markets and Development Company (KMDMC), as the choice vehicle for the execution of the various projects, due to the sterling performance of the Muhammed Hafiz Bayero team.
Before the Mohammed Hafiz Bayero team came onboard, the Sheikh Gumi Central market was a nightmare for shoppers, who had to contend with illegal traders that took over every available space, an unkempt environment, with miscreants operating freely etc. Thankfully, that’s in the past, as the Sheik Gumi market is now a shoppers delight, but it was a transformation that came with a huge cost.
Getting the buy-in of the traders, most especially that of the “portfolio traders”, who over the years paid a paltry N40,000 rent to the government but rented out the same shops at very outrageous fees of over an N1 million, was a herculean task worsened by the propaganda of political opponents that the traders would be dislocated from the markets, on completion by party loyalists. Again, like they say, the taste of the pudding is in the eating. Ever concerned about the plight of the poor man, working with Sterling Bank, the government has obtained a mortgage facility at 9% interest rate to enable the traders to acquire the shops.
Currently, the Kaduna Markets and Development Company, has 21 ongoing projects, from the famous Mohammed Murtala Square to the Kabala Doki market, which are at various stages of completion. The N2.78 billion new Kasuwan Magani market which has over 1,000 shops, a meat dressing slabs, abattoirs, a police post, clinic and fire service area in compliance with health, safety and environment regulatory requirements for a model market, is the template that is being replicated in every new market.
Naturally, the critical question that should and that is indeed agitating the minds of Kaduna State citizens, considering the economic downturns induced by Covid-19, is the funding of the ongoing projects, the expected construction of a grains market in Giwa, and the redevelopment of the Zonkwa, Gonin-Gora, Kawo, Kudenda markets and the long-overdue remodeling of the sprawling Sheik Abubakar Gumi market to improve its facilities. The simple answer is the business-like approach of the Kaduna State Government and its wholehearted embrace of the public-private partnerships to deliver prosperity to the citizens.
With its quintessential efforts, the Kaduna State Government is on track to tackle the prevalence of poverty and address in a fundamental manner, one of the manifest threat to peaceful coexistence, through its strategy of providing more shops than is needed and in the process delivering some of the most beautiful and organized markets in Nigeria.