Once again I deem it expedient to throw my weight behind the emir of Kano HRH Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the man always at the centre of controversies.
He may be loathed by many northern conservatives and opposers of paradigm shift. But to librals and broadminded, the monarch is on the right track.
Recently, his remarks over the economic status of northern Nigeria and some dogmatic beliefs and practices bordering on marriage, divorce, birthrate and child upbringing has attracted barrage of critisisms from Islamic clergy and otherwise. Nonetheless, the estranged emir remains steadfast and unshakeable.
To start with the poverty in the north. The emir opined that if Nigeria is to divide in to pieces, the north will suffer economically. This didn’t go well with some northern elements who insist that it was the proceeds from northern agricultural produce that was used to explore oil in the south and that the discovery of oil killed agriculture in the north and resulted to reliance on mono-economy in the country. But that doesn’t change the fact that if today Nigeria is divided north with all the much advertised agricultural potentialities will collapse. The emir through his daughter, Shaheeda who represented him at BBOG lecture had given the data and indices, its now left for his critics to check.
As a student of history, I know even before the exploration of the oil, southern Nigeria was economically viable than the north. Frederick Lord Luggard who amalgamated the northern and southern protectorates to become what is known today as Nigeria did so in favour of the north. He had administered north before as head of the Royal Niger Company and had established a cordial relationship with the emirs through indirect rule system. The northern merchants then were paying huge amount of money as taxes while crossing southern protectorate to reach the coast. So the so-called proceeds from the agricultural produce ended up in paying taxes. This was the reason Lord Luggard merged the two protectorates to support the northern economy. We keep on repeating agriculture as if apart from the oil southern Nigeria has nothing to rely on. What of the cocoa, timber, rubber, palm oil and above all water which were all available in the south even before the exploration of the oil. Its high time to tell ourselves the bitter truth not to continue living in denial.
On what the emir terms “13th century” form of Islamic practices. I believe Sanusi is not the only northern leader with similar view, but many opt to remain silent for fear of being called names; apostates, infidels and so on. But for how long shall we continue to trade our conscience with fear of blackmail? For how long shall we fold our hands and watch our women and children suffer in silence in the hands of cruel men hiding behind the cloak of religion? A man would wake up in the morning and say he divorce his wife. With that he terminates his twenty-year old marriage and that’s all. He married her at tender age thereby denying her right to formal education. He refused to teach her any form of trade, hence rendered her completely dependent on him and after twenty years he sent her parking. In that same month he would propose to a virgin while his victim would find solace in begging.
We take offence whenever we are mocked for producing children we can’t take care of while we remain indecisive. I’m an advocate of a legislation to regulate birthrate and rampant divorce. Preaching alone is inadequate because the clerics are also guilty of the offence they are supposed to preach against. Are we the only Muslim umma in the world? Why the rest of the Muslim communities are reforming and adjusting to the new world order while we always resist change?
To me where Emir Sanusi derailed from the track is when he accepted the kingship of Kano. Sanusi’s right place is not in the royal court. Late Dr Bala Usman was also of royal lineage. But he turned down any traditional title. He lived all his life fighting for social justice. The institution Sanusi heads represents oppression, inequality and injustice. Its primary responsibility is the preservation of the practices he preaches against. So is like preaching the gospel of capitalism by a member of a communist party.
Nevertheless, the emir has a point which we all need to pause for a little while and ponder at. We need change of status quo in the north. Forget about what the clergy are saying about him. They are the source of the problem. They benefit from the system.