This is not a travelogue or a regurgitation on the deplorable state of the roads to Kano. But, from any direction you approach Kano, your journey was surely full of potholes of varying width and depth deserving of becoming a legend in the infamous stories of how traveling by road becomes risky and reckless. Besides potholes, you have to begin and end the journey with fear and anxiety; fantasizing how the encounter with armed robbers or kidnappers is going to play out; whether you will reach Kano or you will become a story. But which roads in Nigeria are not deplorable? Where are they?
Before digressing to the issue at hand, I have to say, there is a connection between what this article is about and the roads. Recently, Kano was in the news after DAILY NIGERIAN consistently reported professionally on a shocking story about how some people embarked on a journey by road, from Anambra to Kano, with the sole aim of abducting children, trafficking them, imposing on them a different identity and setting them into slavery in a distant land. What happened to these children can best be described as death because their identity was erased and a new one was forced on them. With a new identity; they no longer exist, I believe.
Of course, anger and fury followed. There was anger at the Nigerian media for looking the other way. There was anger that prominent people are not fuming about it. There was anger that no national outrage similar to what would have happened if the reverse was the case. All these angers are justified; who else will not be angry when his child is abducted, sold and enslaved?
In my own personal view, there should be more anger and reflections on the fact that such a horrible thing can happen to children in our country. In the first place, why would a society make or allow children to be as vulnerable as this? Where is the love, protection and care that constitute childhood? Where are parents? What kind of future are we building if children are this vulnerable? How on earth can this happen to children? What is really happening; in terms of parenting? Where are the family values?
Even in medieval times, when might was right and cruelty was everything, it would be shocking that someone could abduct children and put them on a bus, on a journey of hundreds of kilometres, without being detected, without any law enforcement agency rescuing the children, without the culprits caught red-handed, before inflicting the pain of being trafficked and sold on children. The road from Kano to Anambra is not swathes of endless jungle; it passes through towns, cities and security checkpoints. Where are the police? Where was NAPTIP? Where was civil defence? Where is crimes detection and prevention officers? What exactly is the responsibility of law enforcement agencies, if they can’t detect this and reunite children with their parents? What is really going on?
The media is a type of power that keeps eluding Northern Nigeria. One can have the power of authority and lack the power of influencing culture, shaping opinions and building perception. No one establishes the media to only make profit. When Nigerian media ignored the tragedy of Kano trafficked children, they were only exercising what Edward Said described as “The power to narrate, or to block other narratives from forming and emerging…” Factors that determine what is news and what is not are far beyond the truth and what is new. Many wrongly assume establishing more media in northern Nigeria is the only option that can balance the equation. But those who hold this simple view tend to forget that there is a relationship between flourishing media and education and economic wherewithal. Even if the north throws loads of money to build media empires, those empires can only thrive if those who are educated are more in number than those who are not educated and if more people are economically empowered.
Again, this brings back the importance of placing more priority on education. Yes, education. This also brings to the fore the importance of getting more people out of abject poverty.
Mr Sanusi wrote from Abuja.