The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi on Monday said the northerners are on the verge of destroying themselves if they fail to address the myriad challenges facing them.
Sanusi, who spoke at the 60th birthday of Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai, in Kaduna on Monday, highlighted the main problems facing the region as poverty, millions of out-of-schoolchildren, malnutrition, drug abuse, Almajiri and the Boko Haram insurgency.
The emir, who insisted that no “true Northern Nigeria leader” was happy with the problems, said the North should stop relying on quota system and federal character.
He said the challenges facing the region must be addressed immediately.
The traditional ruler said this a week after the World Bank in a report said 87 per cent of the poor in the country resided in the North.
The World Bank also described the North-West as home to almost half of all the poor in the country.
At El-Rufai’s 60th birthday, Sanusi singled out the Kaduna State governor for praise. He said El-Rufai ‘s investment in education would go a long way in addressing poverty.
He called on other northern elites to follow in the ex-Minister of the Federal Capital Territory’s footsteps.
According to him, investing in education is the only way the region will save itself from the imminent destruction.
The ex-Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria lamented that 87 per cent of the country’s poverty rate was in the North, with nine states in the zone constituting almost 50 per cent of the malnutrition burden of Nigeria.
Sanusi said the region should not continue to rely on quota system and federal character to get jobs for its children at the expense of the other parts of the country busy educating their own children and turning out graduates.
The emir said, “When we talk about birthday, we talk about happiness. Just last week, someone asked me, ‘ are you happy?’ And I said, ‘ I am not’ .
“And the person was surprised. The truth is, nobody who is a leader in the Northern Nigeria today can afford to be happy.
“You cannot be happy with about 87 per cent of poverty in Nigeria being in the North. You can’t be happy with millions of northern children out of school.
“You can’t be happy with nine states in the North contributing almost 50 per cent of the entire malnutrition burden in the country.
“You can’t be happy with the drug problem, you can’t be happy with the Boko Haram problem. You can’t be happy with political thuggery. You can’t be happy with all the issues; the Almajiri problem that we have.
“So, we wish Nasir a happy birthday, but we do not want him to be happy as a leader. Because you are happy when you think you have reached a state of delivering and taking your people to where you want them to be.
“Now, because of the condition of Northern Nigeria, it is almost correct now to say that, if you are seen as normal, if you are a governor in the North or a leader in the North, and you are seen as normal in the sense that you continue to do what your predecessors have been doing, doing the same thing, which has been normalised, then, there is something wrong with you, you are part of the problem.
“The real change in the North will come from those who are considered mad people, because you look around and say if this is the way we have been doing things and this is where we have ended up, maybe we need to do things differently.”
Sanusi added, “If we have populated the government with middle-aged men, maybe we need to try younger people, maybe we need to try women. If we have spent our money and time on physical structures, maybe we need to invest more in the education of our children.
“Maybe we need to invest more in nutrition. Maybe we need to invest more in primary health care.”
Sanusi warns northern youths
Meanwhile, the emir asked that issues of religion or tribe should have no place, but rather emphasis should be on merit.
He said, “You don’t need to rise on being from Kaduna State or being from the North or being a Muslim to get a job, you come with your credentials, you go with your competence, you can compete with any Nigerian from anywhere.
“We need to get northern youths to a point where they don’t need to come from a part of the country to get a job. And believe me, if we don’t listen, there would be a day when there would be a constitutional amendment that addresses these issues of quota system and federal character.
“The rest of the country cannot be investing, educating its children, producing graduates and then they watch us, they can’t get jobs because they come from the wrong state, when we have not invested in the future of our own children.
“We have just heard how he (governor) has developed himself over the years. He is a surveyor, he is a lawyer, he has got a master’s degree, he has had over 80 certificates from Havard, because education is what makes a man.”
Power is transient – Sanusi
The emir noted that power only comes from God and that it is transient, calling on leaders to leave behind legacies.
He said, “It is important to realise that the positions we hold are transient and they do not define us.
“Anybody can be called a governor; anybody can be called an emir; a commissioner or a minister, but at the end of the day, you should know that, God had given you a chance to do something, do leave a mark and impact people’s lives.”