He breezed into the already packed hall of Merit House, Abuja, like any other guest. Another batch of national awards was going out to another set of Nigerians and His Highness, Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi the second, later told us that rather than fail to honour the invitation to that event, he preferred to rush first to yet another event he had been equally invited to and then come over to the one I was MC of on that day at Merit House.
What immediately struck me was that only two palace aides escorted him into the hall. There was no fanfare or bugle to announce to us, the cultural weight of the man who just walked in. In royalty, Sanusi still managed to be ‘ordinary’.
I don’t really think I am a sycophant but after listening a few years back to Sanusi (who had just then vacated his Central Bank portfolio) on BBC’s Hardtalk , I couldn’t conceal my admiration for him, thereafter. I told him at Merit House that I wished my mother could see me as master of ceremonies at an event he, Muhammadu Sanusi the second, attended. I further said then to the Emir of Kano that my mother would have lauded my achievements in Abuja even when she hardly got feeding money from me on a steady monthly basis.
We all laughed over it!
But such was my admiration for the intellectually versatile Kano Emir. I recall that even Stephen Sakur, host of Hardtalk also couldn’t hide his admiration for cerebral Sanusi on BBC World. It’s the Sanusi factor….it creates an effect you cannot gloss over. It’s a solid foundation for spectacular phenomenon. You are left in awe about how one man can bear all that testimony to an abundant reserve of brains!
The news now is that Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is no longer the Emir of Kano. I never cry more than the bereaved!
Sanusi says God gives power and that same God takes power, which of course closes that aspect of his dethronement.
I hear though that the banishment part of it was due to be contested in a court of law. Banishment? In the 21st century?
Africa should please stop mocking Africa! I think that there are aspects of our beliefs and traditions that should be jettisoned for our benefit as people who are proud of their culture and traditions! I am not asking anymore about the right of a Governor to dethrone a monarch that was chosen by either his own people or a council of kingmakers so charged to perform the role. Time resolves many things. Let time handle its inviolable rights!
The real purpose of this write-up is to ask a few questions:
1. Does the North understand the huge gap in its march towards casting off some tendencies which inhibit human development which the purported dethronement has created?
2. Does it know that only a man of Sanusi’s imperial calibre could have quickened the pace of change needed by the North to save the North? I got involved in an argument with a pro-North public servant who oozed feudalism from head to toe. He told me the North is DESTINED to lead Nigeria, solely. I pitied his summations.
The many young men I see in the morning at Jikwoyi, cuddling shovels and all manner of implements for menial jobs that hardly ever come their way are mainly from the North. What man would keep parading his everlasting right to power when his children are largely hungry and jobless?, when school enrolment in his family or domain is abysmally low?, when teenagers without necessary education to appreciate the value of life easily get recruited in a campaign to kill as many persons as possible before they get killed themselves?, when education for women in such a man’s domain is an arrogant afterthought?, and maybe more importantly, when wielders of power in his community give a little thought to the general good and does everything to perpetuate a system where the ordinary people survive on discretional patronage?
I can’t remember exactly who it was but when I was GM of AIT, Jos, a Northern opinion leader once suggested that the North had become Nigeria’s problem. That may sound a bit extremist as a point of view, but recent upheaval in the North would seem to loan some credence to his opinion.
Sanusi warned that the North would destroy itself eventually if it does not change its thinking and commence bold action to change its socio-economic debility to one of empowerment. I am happy that Governor Ahmed el-Rufai has already given Sanusi a job to do. It is a subtle endorsement by another positive Northern ‘radical’ of what Sanusi stood/stands for. The North needs the likes of Sanusi and El Rufai. You might want to suggest a little diplomacy in their tone of reprimand of situations that do not prepare grounds for healthy living but let me add here that; like him or not, Abuja’s development stopped where el Rufai left it. When Governors were grudging over how to pay the new minimum wage, el Rufai said he would pay it. Sanusi and el Rufai are ambassadors of some truths that ruffle the feathers of unrepentant Northern conservatives.
The problem with truth is that it doesn’t show a knack for befriending many ears. Truth sometimes is an orphan that defies parenthood if it perceives any attempt to rob it of its tenacity.
About two years ago, former Kaduna state Governor Belarabe Musa told me in an interview that the North was some forty years behind the South in terms of education and that if this was/is not treated, there would continue to be friction between the two sides to the Nigerian coin. When I told him his kinsmen might not like his characterisation of the situation, he looked at me as if I had become a laughable preacher of yellow journalism and said that what he had said, he had said! Let’s recall that Belarabe Musa was himself removed from office by legislators who didn’t like his brand of change hypothesis.
For me, the North needs forthright ‘saviours’ in the shape of men and women who damn the consequences and say things the way they are!
Sanusi may yet have the last laugh over some individuals who see him as the maverick, the gadfly that threatens the drink of unthinking apostles of a status quo ante that can no longer wait for an overhaul.
The North MUST rise to the challenge of saving the North!
There’s no other option!
Chukwudi Okolie-Ugbaja is an Abuja-based freelance journalist
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