By Abubakar Jimoh
In recent times, unfair criticisms have been levelled by some Nigerians against the Emir of Kano State, HRH Alhaji Sanusi Muhammad Sanusi II, for his constructive positions on pervasive socio-economic challenges in Northern region, and the ill-advised government policies as they affect the nation at large.
We ought to appreciate the gallant and dogged Emir for standing firmly and articulating the mind-blowing but true positions about our stagnant socio-economic and political conditions for possible adjustments, even at the detriment of his throne. Such, indeed, is a gift we should embrace and uphold.
Many have engaged written and other available means to advise him to shun public commentary and support government’s decisions and policies, not minding the dreadful consequences or and the fact that this could sail our already self-inflicted depressed economy towards a total recession.
The on-going verbal and written attacks against the Emir would, however, not be a surprise as a Yoruba adage puts it that “Olooto kii ni eni” (i.e. the truthful one has nobody). Pardon me for the innate interpretation.
Some Nigerians are well known to strongly criticise against any matter of public or policy concern without giving a proper and constructive digestion to the communal benefits of that issue, as far as the matter affects them. They make mockery of or conflagrate challenges facing one region in appreciation of their rosy ones.
Meanwhile, had the Emir been promoting obsolete or unrealistic socio-cultural practices backpedalling Northern development or commending policy mistakes, this would have won him encomiums from every level of political sphere. Such is our society, where respect and dignity for traditional advice are fast declining among contemporary politicians.
The lost respect and dignity would only be reverted in the presence of some fundamental questions which often arise. For example, who is the closest to the people? Who speaks for the majority voiceless or the poor?
We must on this note be mindful of some Northern leaders who, after the death of over 330 Northerners from meningitis outbreaks, see themselves as angels, and the poor citizens, as sinners, whose socio-economic problems can only be solved by divine intervention, not good governance.
It is worrisome that our country has degenerated to a level where our socio-economic problems are no more governance issues, but signs of the wrath of God against the poor citizens.
We must remember that prior to ascending the throne, Sanusi was well known for his doggedness in articulating factual positions on matters of public concern, even when such cost him his seat as the then Governor of the Cental Bank of Nigeria.
Having observed the emergent socio-economic issues and archaic cultural practices as major impediments to the Northern region’s development and the citizens’ well-being, he comes openly and proffers holistic recommendations, instead of massaging political egos.
Giving the existing socio-economic problems backed by intrinsic cultural practices in the North, can we sincerely say Emir Sanusi is merely trying to impress the public? For instance, while adequate, accessible and affordable maternal and childcare is key to the development, survival and growth of every society, engagements by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) across the North revealed that the region has high level maternal and child mortality arising from inadequate budgetary allocation, overstretched, inaccessible and dilapidated Primary Health Care system.
Similarly, childhood under-nutrition remains very high in the region with about 2.2 million out of the 2.5 million severely acute malnourished children being from Northern Nigeria. Majority of children do not receive minimum acceptable diet. While 50% of the child mortality in the country has malnutrition as underlining cause, no fewer than 1200 out of 2600 estimated daily deaths, are caused by malnutrition.
Relevant studies across the Northern states have exposed mothers personally consuming or selling Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) meant for the treatment of their acutely malnourished children. The situation, which is intensified by the rising poverty level, hampers both local and international efforts at addressing childhood malnutrition and mortality in the region.
Apart from the above, adequate budgetary allocation to the social sector in the region is impeded by the dwindling revenue allocation from Federation Account to the states, and the low Internally Generated Revenue in these states.
It is in the presence of decreasing resources and the growing financial incapacitation of many families that Emir Sanusi advises each family to be realistic in marrying the number of wives or bearing the number of children it can cater for.
No fewer than three million schoolchildren, roaming the streets of Kano State, as Almajiri – pupils of Quranic schools are converted to beggars. The resultant socio-economic challenges of the situation were recently confirmed and seriously bemoaned by the State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, during the Kaduna State Economic and Investment Summit, where he stressed that the “Almajiri syndrome is one of the serious problems worrying the North-west geopolitical zone”.
This precarious backdrop prompted Emir Sanusi’s call for an end to the region’s obsolete socio-cultural practices and the identification of the region’s economic advantages, to promote its prosperity.
Finally, while I commend the Emir’s giant strides, being the father of the a state and representative of the voiceless, he should as a matter of urgency consider reducing the Emirate’s expenditure to the barest minimum, to avert wrong signals, or sensationalised public opinion.
Jimoh writes from AMAC Estate, Abuja.