By Nwobodo Chidiebere
“THE truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is”.
The Emir of Kano, Mallam Muhammadu Sanusi II, has been in the news for a while now. To his admirers, for the right reasons, and to his critics for the wrong reasons—depending on the prism from which one is looking at it. Most of us who have followed the antecedent of 21st century Emir Sanusi, have known him as a progressive-minded crusader who is not afraid to speak truth to power; no matter how it hurts. The recent unravelling, reformist and progressive postulations made by Emir Sanusi as regards development of the North, has made him a subject of attack by conservative and regressive forces in the North, who see his view as anti-establishment cum elite.
Within just a week, I have read several articles and statements targeted at Emir Sanusi in order to discredit him or possibly silence him. It is obvious that a well-conscripted media onslaught has been unleashed on his royal highness, simply because he chose to identity with the girl-child, women, Almajiris, and the talakawas on the streets of the North. The thoughts racing through the minds of discerning Nigerians are: what are the “sins” of Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II? When has it become a crime for one to advocate an improved standard of living for his subjects? Who is afraid of the reforms being canvassed by his eminence? Who is benefitting from underdevelopment and ravaging poverty in the North? Who is aggressively defending the status quo of penury in the region? These are few of the questions begging for answers.
Former Governor of Central Bank and Emir of Kano, Mallam Muhammadu Sanusi II, recently stirred nerves by promoting girl-child education in the North. He was quoted as saying that: “educating the girl-child was more important than building mosques”. He recommended conversion of mosques to schools. He also suggested strict marriage laws that would ensure that poor men could only marry as many wives they would be able to take care of. Part of his reformist postulations, was that family planning should be enforced to curtail ugly menace of millions of homeless and out-of-school children roaming the streets of the North. He also berated conservative Northern leaders who are still employing the deceptive veil of religion to keep impoverishing their people. Emir Sanusi captured the forces militating against the development of the North as: “a complete failure of social policy”.
As usual, those who chose (or were employed) to respond to Emir Sanusi’s reformist postulations, instead of proffering superior ideas to what he suggested, but decided to attack his personality in the media, are the real enemies of the North. Coincidently, most of the authors of anti-Sanusi write-ups are from the North—going by their names. What they failed (or refused) to understand is that Northern Nigerian—especially North-West and North-East geo-political zones, where Emir Sanusi rated as the poorest parts of the world, have become a huge cog on the wheels of progress of Nigeria. The gross underdevelopment of these most populated regions has turned out to be a liability to the nation’s economic prosperity. The same set of individual who want to crucify Emir Sanusi for championing the cause of girl-child education in the region, will use their last blood to oppose restructuring of Nigeria and demand for the head of anyone who agitates for Biafra, yet they do not want the children of the average Northerner to get western education, in order to catch up with his Southern contemporaries.
They are the same people who are defending the status quo of federal character; which promotes mediocrity in the system. Emir Sanusi may seem like a lone voice in the wilderness now, very soon the entire Southern Nigeria will rise up in unionism to demand for a restructured Nigeria that will provide a level playing ground for every region to make-do with what they have.
Religious irredentists, who are throwing jabs at Emir Sanusi for advocating more schools in place of mosques, are the same elements justifying Federal Unity Schools’ lopsided admission benchmark, where a pupil from Anambra State will study hard to score 139 points in the entrance examination just to secure the same admission which his counterpart from Yobe State will need only 4 points to get.
What an irony! Emir Sanusi’s die-hard critics are the retrogressive Northern elite who are not shamed that 90% of educationally disadvantaged states are located in the North. Most of the state governments in the North which spend hundreds of millions of naira marrying off women in mass weddings cannot boast of functional primary schools. Emir Sanusi’s truth may hurt for a little while, but the lie and deceptive approach of Northern elite in handling development of the region will hurt them for forever.
Mallam Lamido Sanusi as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria was applauded by the same hypocrites when he raised the alarm on the missing billions of dollars in NNPC under President Jonathan. He was suspended by the government for blowing the whistle but recent discoveries of billions of naira have vindicated him. After his suspension, he told anyone that cared to listen that he could be suspended but not the truth.
The same Northern elite, who defended him passionately as an anti-corruption activist when he was being persecuted, are the ones maligning him now because he courageously told them the same truth he told the power that be then, which cost him his plum job at the apex bank. At the end of Emir Sanusi’s sojourn on earth, posterity will be very fair to him for championing the cause of the less-privileged, the disadvantaged and the children of the talakawas of the North, while incurring the wrath of the Northern elite.
Chidiebere writes from Abuja.