DAY JIGAWA GOVERNOR DINED WITH THE DISABLED
Durbar Ground in Dutse, the Jigawa State capital, is usually a beehive of activities. Since the beginning of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month during which the faithful are required to engage in fasting, the place has played host to different individuals and groups from Kano and Jigawa States.
Night after night, several persons have shared meals and talks with the Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, in the spirit of the season. Since the fasting started, members of opposition political parties, religious leaders, associates of the governor from Kano State and members of the old Barewa College, Kaduna, have all been part of this experience. But on this occasion, it was a different story altogether and the reception, both in terms of passion and layout, was exceptionally unique. The guests being expected were quite special.
Indeed, the unique guests were none other than physically challenged persons. Well dressed disabled persons, ranging from the deaf, the dumb, the crippled and those suffering from all manners of deformities had come to the ground to partake of the social policy programme of the state government.
For this August guests, it was not just another night; it was their night of glory. By nightfall, just before the official 6.45 pm set for breaking the day's fast, they had made their way to the state capital from their respective councils. They were conveyed in big buses and were led to the venue by their leaders.
On the part of the governor and his team, the arrangement was altered and for the first time, there were no high or low tables.
There were just mats and everybody sat on them and broke the fast. While Lamido, alongside the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Lawal Abdul, and a number of personages sat with their backs, facing the entrance gate, their guests sat before them in a crescent that is both symbolic and historical. It was the traditional sitting culture of the Hausa.
Soon, it was time to break the day's fast. There were prayers and there were different kinds of foods for all. The menu of the disabled persons was the same as that of the governor. There were several dishes on offer. The dishes included bread, rice, fried yams, fish, vegetables, meat and many more. And at the end of the day, there were talks and talks, both religious and political.
But it was the touching commentaries of the challenged persons that carried the day. One of such remarks came from a member of the Jigawa State House of Assembly, Adamu Jigawa Tsada, who rode on a wheelchair to the stage. As he picked the microphone, his voice rang out with excitement. He was evidently grateful and his speech clearly portrayed the content of his heart and that of his fellow voyagers, whose disadvantageous condition had been dignified by the conscious efforts of the state governor.
Speaking from his wheelchair, he showered praises on the governor for his uncommon kindness on the entire disabled persons. He also told the gathering of his experience. According to the lawmaker, the governor made his (Tsada's) electoral success a reality, noting that Lamido provided him with a political platform on which he rose to become a member of the Jigawa State House of Assembly, representing his constituency. He recalled that the governor gave him a free form, a campaign bus and paid all the bills for his campaign.
On his part, the head of the deaf, Alhaji Garba Makale, noted that he was previously a beggar in Lagos State, a tenant of the streets, who slept under the bridge. He, however, added that the Lamido administration had changed all that, pointing out that he was attracted home by the existing social policy of the government which, he noted, had changed his status.
Two principal officers of the government spoke before the event came to a close. The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Lawal Abdul, and the Chief of Staff, Alhaji Aminu Ringim, took the stage. While Ringim humbly conveyed the greetings of the governor, Abdul recalled that the government had played host to several bodies, adding, however, that none of them had the same impulse and passion.
He pointed out that one of the interesting features of the night, like other nights, was that the various speakers spoke out of their conviction while acknowledging their commendation of the disposition of the governor towards Islam. He said the occasion was a realisation of the pre-election wishes of the people in terms of a governor, who would promote a sense of religious bearing in the affairs of the state.
He stressed that the state was outstanding in the conduct of Hajj operations, in the hosting of the Quaranic recitation competition as well as other practices of the Islamic faith, insisting that mischief makers, who had questioned the depth of the religious commitment of the governor, had been shamed by the sterling commitment of the state to the tenets of the faith.
Aside from the opportunities offered by the unique event during which everybody partook in a family dialogue about the state, the occasion is a commentary in social and political communications, according to Alhaji Ibrahim Garba Kiyawa. He argued that in the Nigeria of today, it is very rare for government to reach out to the disadvantaged members of its own society.
In his words, that Alhaji Lamido had elected to share a meal with the disabled members of the society is, like a true Moslem, simply adhering to the tenets of the faith. He said what the governor was preaching with the act was that everybody deserved a befitting life, irrespective of his physical conditions or state of health.