The man of the moment this past week in this gullible Republic was the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as he mounted the rostrum in Kaduna signaling the battle for the minds of the electorate for the 2019 elections.
The emir made a lot of high sounds while delivering the keynote speech at KADINVEST 2.0, an event organised by the Kaduna State with his buddy, the governor as host.
The event held simultaneously with President Muhammadu Buhari’s formal launch of the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan for a period of three years, covering 2017 to 2020.
The emir was fiery in his indictment of the conservative north when he said: “We are in denial. The North-west and the North-east, demographically, constitute the bulk of Nigeria’s population, but look at human development indices, look at the number of children out of school, look at adult literacy, look at maternal mortality, look at infant mortality, look at girl-child completion rate, look at income per capita, the North-east and the North-west Nigeria, are among the poorest parts of the world.”
Poorest of the poor “As far back as 2000, I looked at the numbers, Borno and Yobe states, UNDP figures, Borno and Yobe states, if they were a country on their own, were poorer than Niger, Cameroon and Chad. “Nobody saw this because we were looking at Nigeria as a country that averages the oil-rich Niger Delta, the industrial and commercial-rich Lagos, the commercially viable Southeast, and you have an average.
“Break Nigeria into its component parts, and these parts of the country are among the poorest, if it were a country. And we do not realise we are in trouble.”
I will decode Sanusi’s fears about these zones if Nigeria breaks up alongside El-Rufai’s take that the North West standing alone is like Afghanistan in the days ahead along the recent affirmation of “One Nigeria” by Britain.
The emir also used the occasion to lampoon Buhari’s economic model as he declared: “The Federal Government of Nigeria is spending 66 percent of its revenues on interests on debts, which means only 34 percent of revenues is available for capital and recurrent expenditures.
“That model cannot work. If you look at the 2017 budget of the Federal Government, I sometimes wonder what Nigerian economists are doing? In the 2017 budget presented by the Federal Government, the amount earmarked for debt servicing is in excess of the entire non-oil revenue of the Federal Government, but that is not the problem. The problem is that it is a budget that is even going for more debts.”
A Day for El-rufai
But it was a day he held up his host as about the best thing happening in the North now as he reacted to jejune comments by Zamfara governor that he has a god who punishes the sins of only the poor with meningitis.
“A governor actually said it was caused by fornication? If Nasir El Rufai sits with investors in London or Abu Dhabi and tells them what he is doing, they will come and invest here. There is a battle of ideologies going on. A real battle without bombs or bullets being thrown (my words). We should stop allowing human beings appropriate our religions for selfish reasons.
“I commend El Rufai for his investment in education and for engaging investors. Growth will not come from rising oil prices or from borrowing and spending government money, it’ll come from investments.”
El-Rufai had prepared us for this season when Bloomberg quoted him to have said in South Africa that a lot of politicians are now talking as a result of President Buhari’s ill health which makes many of them feel that he would not run for a second term.
He said: “Because of the feeling that the president may not run for a second term, people are already gearing up. Some politicians want President Buhari’s job because of his ill health.”
Marketing the candidate for 2019
I do not shy from positing that the emir is already marketing his candidate for 2019 and that is why I am not impressed by his sophistry. And for those gullible enough to think he is really interested in moving the North away from this “13th Century mindset”, what was the emir displaying when he stormed CBN in royal robe as CBN governor?
Was his ordering AIG in Kano to keep 14 year-old Ese Oruru in abduction because she already converted to Islam a 21st Century mindset?
Where was this new thinking when he was taking a 17-year old Adamawa into matrimony?
Just three weeks ago he was in London advocating that Nigeria’s educational system should allow the inclusion of Arabic education into the mainstream.
The refusal to recognise and value this learning, he said, is a costly by-product of British colonialism, which only recognised English-language literacy.
According to him, it feeds the structure of power and inequality that currently exists and leads to resentment because these millions, who in many nearby countries would be counted as literate, feel marginalised.
The practical outcome of this, he said, is of not only a population of millions that is limited from being useful and productive, but one which is susceptible to manipulation by extremists.
I know a reformer when I see one!
Yinka Odumakin is a political activist and national publicity secretary of Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afrenifere.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.