Desmond Mgboh, Kano
It was a breath of beauty to encounter pupils from different primary schools in the metropolitan area of Kano, Kano State, aged 12 and below being exposed to the ills of corruption and the need to live a life of integrity.
At Mambiyya House, home of the Late Mallam Aminu Kano and presently, a center for democratic research and training, pupils selected from different primary schools were hosted to a sensitization workshop by the Inter-faith Network Against Corruption (INAC).
The anti-corruption crusade sponsored by Mac Arthur Foundation and dubbed, “Catch them Young,” was a deviation from the norm that focuses on adults and mature minds as it targeted innocent school pupils who are yet to be polluted by the system.
Dr. Moses Aluaigba, a Research Fellow at Aminu Kano Center for Democratic Research and Training, Bayero University, Kano, captured fairly well the essence of the workshop, when he expressed optimism that the country would breed better future leaders if its youths were exposed and educated, early enough, on corruption and its consequences on the society.
Asides the pupils and the teachers that accom- panied them to the venue, the occasion attracted a host of scholars from Bayero University, including officials that came from the Abuja office of the Eco- nomic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
It also played host to many Muslim and Christian clergy men such as the Chief Imam of Kano, Professor Sani Zaharadeen, the Chief Imam of Frarkan Mosque in Kano, Dr Aliyu Bashiru Umar, the Catholic Bishop of Kano, Rev. John Nemaza Niyiring and the Chairman of the Kano State branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Adeolu Sam Adeyemo.
Talks, film shows and drama accounted for the busts of activities at the occasion while the mes- sage, carefully delivered with the intent to engage their minds, capture their thoughts and help them recognise the dangers of corruption, did not miss the mark.
Professor Haruna Wakili, the Director, Mallam Aminu Kano Center for Democratic Research and Training, reflected on the life of Aminu Kano. In a child-friendly manner, he began the conversation by asking the pupils to list the names of institutions and places named after the sage.
Hands were raised in excitement as the pupils rushed to answer the question. They listed Mallam Aminu Kano Airport, Mallam Aminu Kano Hospital, Mallam Aminu Kano School of Legal and Islamic Studies and Mallam Aminu Kano Road, all in Kano. He told them that the sage lived a good life, characterized by integrity and honor, leaving a legacy which was reciprocated by the society, which named street, hospital, airport and school in his honour after he demise.
He recalled that Mallam Aminu Kano’s guardian had wanted him to be judge or a leaned gentleman, but the young Aminu opted for the teaching profession (Mallam) and later in life took to politics with the singular intent to serve the people.
He said despite being a Federal Commissioner for Health and the leader of his political party, all he had on him at death was a small farm at Sharada, a house built with a loan from his friends and N200 found in his breast pocket at death:
“Mallam Aminu Kano was never selfish. He was a great student, very inquisitive to learn more about everything, a very attentive scholar.” He said in a simple Hausa narrative that inspired so many questions from the pupils about how he died, when he died and when he was born.
An enjoyable flashback, no doubt; but it was just to clear the field for the key speaker to assume the podium. She did not disappoint anyway and that was understandable. A mother and a vice principal in one of the secondary schools, Hajia Fatima Mohammed Nata’ ala saw the pupils as her own children and spoke to them like a matron.
Did they enjoy her lecture? Certainly, the answer is “yes”, going by their attentiveness and responses to each and every segment of her talk. The bottom line of her presentation was that corruption is evil and should be abhorred by all, young and old.
She reminded them of some popular acts of corruption and mischief perpetrated by children at home and at school. Some of the acts she mentioned bordered on actual stealing like stealing of biros of fellow students, picking meats from the pot or from a plate of food while conveying it to the owner, waiting on somebody who is eating until he gives you a bite of meat:
“I recalled that during the last Sallah celebration, some children were discussing about their mischief right before me. They were discussing how not declare all the money they got from their Sallah visits.
“When they came home, one of them said, ‘are we really going to give all these money to our parents?’ And the other replied ‘Haba, how can we give it all to our parents?’ And thereafter they decided to hide some of them in different parts of their body and gave their parents a fraction. Such a character would certainly be corrupt when he grows up.
“At school, when you lose your biro or yours is no longer good, you would wait until breaktime, stay back and try to pick the biros of others. Such early tendencies are likely to breed future corrupt leaders.”
Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, who spoke through Head, Integrity Desk, Hajia Zainab Bello, enjoined the pupils to imbibe the culture of discipline and integrity in order to be good leaders of tomorrow.
He reminded them that leadership comes with a huge responsibility asking them to stick to honour and integrity in everything they do. He said that the commission has a lot of programs for the sensitization of the young ones, saying that they are collaborating with a number of non-government organisations devoted to the cause of fighting corruption.
Rev. Niyiring described corruption as a poisonous rat destroying the fabrics of the society, imploring the young ones to resist the temptation of vices, both at home and in their respective schools.