From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Alhaji Ibrahim Muhammed Gashash, 70, Kano born businessman and son of former Minister of Internal Affairs, Ibrahim Musa Gashash, bares his mind on issues around the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), now Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi 11.
What is your view about the dust raised by other prominent northerners about the emir?
It is not the tradition of traditional institutions to be vocal. Emir Sanusi I think among all the traditional rulers up north here is one of the youngest. The era we are living in now is different from what it was before and that is the reality. The late Emir, that is Sanusi’s father, you hardly heard him in the media or even in public speaking. As a matter of fact, even during visitation, he spoke very little which has always been the tradition all along.
Though I have not been associated with Emir to be frank with you, but from all indications he has had the best education opportunity anybody can have. He is versed in English language, he is versed in his own profession, and he is also versed in Arabic and religion. Now when you have too much education, you may also have too many thoughts coming to your mind. Even before he became Emir, he did many things that were beyond the ordinary. For instance, when he was the CBN governor, he spoke against the bank and even the government. He didn’t care.
Just very recently, the world watched as a 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron was elected the President of France. This was possible because earlier, the French voters had come out to let it be known that they would no longer accept the status quo, which are the old politicians and political parties. They wanted someone who would look at things differently, dare I say from the eye of a young person.
Day after day here in Nigeria, as we listen to or read the news, we are bombarded with stories of stealing, looting, raping, killing, kidnapping, social injustice etc. there is a little hope, a little optimism expressed here and there, but on the whole, it is the story of negativity. And yet this is the country we described as having the most brilliant of human resources, and a virtual abundance of natural resources.
Definitely, he may have stepped on toes and those people have the right to speak. But is the emir been constructive or is he trying to destroy what has been constructed by those people protesting? Maybe instead of condemning Emir Sanusi for his statements, we should re-examine whether all traditional rulers have an obligation to be bolder to speak up for their people or not. Maybe we should also look again at what is being said rather than who is saying it. The election in France and what is happening in many other parts of the world tell us the world is changing. If we as Nigerians want to overcome our problems that we face today, we need to look at how to harness our best minds, hearts and talents to bring about change.
If we feel Emir Sanusi is not honouring the emirate by his utterances, let us not look only at the utterances, but let us also look at what role the emirate can play in today’s world of the young, the Emmanuel Macrons, the people who see the world in a new way. Nigeria is our country and we can lose our way by focusing only on what is in the past instead of embracing the future.
From the whole episode, don’t you think it is also taking political dimension?
I will not like to go deeply into that but definitely when you have conflict of interest, there are bound to be conflicting actions. Emir Sanusi is talking on areas that touch other people’s interest. Definitely by nature, either they keep quiet and correct themselves or if they are bent on going the same direction without change, they will fight him and that is what is happening now. What I thought would have happen was for other traditional institutions to come out to voice their own opinion. Either they sit Emir Sanusi down and tell him it is not our tradition to speak no matter how things go wrong or to tell him they are in support of what he is doing.
But unfortunately everybody is keeping mute because they are afraid to lose their turban. Now I don’t think a leader should accept to let himself be in that position. It is expected that a leader should support whatever it is that is in the interest of the people. That is my own opinion.
I will like to ask those who feel threatened by the Emir to ask themselves why does he has the power to change their lives? Does he has the power to depose a governor? No, he is only asking us, his fellow Nigerians to see how we can improve the country. The Emir of Kano does not deserve this, he deserves better treatment. May Allah open the eyes of those castigating him including other Emirs and traditional rulers to realize the consequences of their actions and inactions on Kano emirate and its good people.
But allegations leveled against him include financial recklessness, that he has been spending the emirate’s money on frivolities. What is your take on that?
Sanusi has made some clarifications on that. The vehicles according to what I read were not bought with his or emirate council’s money; they were donations from his friends. Now I know that late Emir, Ado Bayero of blessed memory did received many presents. Even the Queen of England sent him pounds sterling cheques in millions as present while others brought him gold and jewelries. Those types of things are not out of the way for Emir’s to be presented with. As a matter of fact, if you go to some of the emirates, it is common for you to hear that the emirates receive, it does not give, which means no matter how poor you are, if you are coming to the emirate, you should bring and don’t expect to take and carry away from the emirate.
I believe it is too early to start talking about whether he has squandered funds of the local government or not. We should wait for the outcome of the enquiry that is ongoing. If something is discovered, then we can speak. But then, the image of the emirate particularly that of Kano does not deserve to be treated this way because if you break down that institution, if you degrade it, if you humiliate it, the federal government may have to come in. We have seen it happen in the past during the time of late Head of State, General Sani Abacha. So I implore us to better tread carefully to save ourselves the shame and confrontation.
Besides, Emir Sanusi does not have control beyond his emirate. He doesn’t have anything beyond his own subordinate and that is the only territory he has. In Kano State, we have other emirates apart from Kano emirate council that are under the governor. I believe one should look at that and do what will be good to the state and to the emirate council rather than destroy it. It is more of conflict of interest than what is beneficial to the people. I think that is wrong.