The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi 11, has warned that the North would self destruct if its leaders continued on the path they have now taken. He spoke last weekend in Kaduna during the 60th birthday anniversary of the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el Rufai. The emir held the governor up as an exemplary leader. According to Sanusi 11, the North will destroy itself, if it does not address the challenges of poverty, millions of out of school children, malnutrition, drugs and the Boko Haram insurgency.
He said, “Just last week, someone asked me, are you happy? And I said I am not. And the person was surprised. The truth is, nobody who is a leader in Northern Nigeria today can afford to be happy. You cannot be happy with about 87 per cent of poverty in Nigeria being in the North. You can’t be happy with millions of Northern children out of school. You can’t be happy with nine states in the North contributing almost 50 per cent of the entire malnutrition burden in the country. You can’t be happy with the drug problem, you can’t be happy with the Boko Haram problem. You can’t be happy with political thuggery. You can’t be happy with all the issues; the Almajiri problem that we have.”
In the emir’s opinion, “The real change in the North will come from those who are considered mad people because you look around and say if this is the way we have been doing things, and this is where we have ended up, maybe we need to do things differently. If we have populated the government with middle-aged men, maybe we need to try younger people, maybe we need to try women. If we have spent our money and time on physical structures, maybe we need to invest more in education of our children. Maybe we need to invest more in nutrition. Maybe we need to invest more in primary healthcare.
“We need to get our Northern youths to a point where they don’t need to come from a part of the country to get a job. And believe me, if we don’t listen, there would be a day when there would be a constitutional amendment that addresses these issues of quota system and federal character. The rest of the country cannot be investing in the education of its children, producing graduates and then they watch us, they can’t get jobs because they come from the wrong state, when we have not invested in the future of our own children.”
To be sure, the emir has not said anything new. He has consistently been criticising the Northern political leadership for not giving the quality of governance that would lift the population out of grinding poverty. Even as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and a member of the Northern political establishment, Sanusi never refrained from seizing the day to lament over the leaders’ complacency and selfishness. The only difference this time is that Sanusi, as emir, has moved nearer to people at the receiving end of the bad governance stick. He feels their pains more acutely now. When he speaks, he speaks truth as the man on the street sees it. For instance, when he said quota system should be abandoned, everybody, excepting self serving leaders of the North, saw the sense in it. “We have been saying this for 20 to 30 years. If the North does not change, the North will destroy itself. The country is moving on. Quota system that everybody talks about must have a sunset clause,” he said.
Sanusi’s unusual frankness has got him into a lot of troubles with those in government, including his present persecution at the hands of Kano State government. However, his is not foolish boldness. It is still embracing truth even in the jaws of a crocodile. This is what has endeared him to his people and those in other parts of the country.