By Abubakar Jimoh
In recent times, one would have critically observed the persistent but unfair criticisms level by some Nigerians against the Emir of Kano State, HRH Alhaji Sanusi Muhammad Sanusi II for his constructive positions on pervasive socio-economic challenges permeating the Northern region or ill-advised government policies as they affect the nation at large.
We ought to appreciate the gallant and dogged Emir for standing firmly and articulating the mind-blowing but true positions about our stagnant socio-economic and political conditions for possible adjustments, even at the detriment of his throne. Such indeed, is a gift we should embrace and uphold.
Many have engaged written and other available means to advise him to shun public commentary and support every government’s decision or policy, not minding the dreadful consequences or probably to sail our already self-inflicted depressed economy towards a total recession.
The on-going verbal and written attacks against the Emir would however, not be a surprise as Yoruba adage puts its “Olooto kii ni eni” (i.e. the truthful one has nobody). Pardon me for the innate interpretation.
Some Nigerians are well known to hold strongly critics against any matter of public or policy concern without giving iota of proper and constructive digestion to the communal benefits of issue, as far as such is hitting on them. They make mockery of or conflagrate challenges facing one region in appreciation of their rosy ones.
Meanwhile, had the Emir been promoting obsolete or unrealistic socio-cultural practices backpedalling Northern development or commending every policy mistakes, the story would have of course won him encomium from every level of political sphere. Such is a society, where respect and dignity for traditional advice by the contemporary politicians are fast declining.
The lost respect and dignity would only be reverted in presence of some fundamental questions which often arise as: Who is the closest to the people? Who speak for the majority voiceless or poor?
We must on this note be mindful of some Northern leaders who, after the death of over 330 Northerners from Meningitis outbreaks, see themselves as angels, but poor citizens as sinners whose socio-economic problems can only be resolved by divine intervention, not good governance.
It is worrisome that our country has degenerated to a level where our socio-economic problems are not more of governance issues, but the wraths of God against the poor citizens.
We must remember that prior to ascending the throne, Sanusi was well known for his doggedness in articulating factual position on matters of public concern, even when such would cost his seat as then Governor of the Centre Bank of Nigeria.
Having observed the emergent socio-economic issues and archaic cultural practices as major impediments to the Northern region’s development and citizens’ well-beings, he comes openly and proffers holistic recommendations, instead of impressing political egos.
Giving the existing socio-economic problems backed by intrinsic cultural practices in the North, can we sincerely say Emir Sanusi is merely trying to impress the public? For instance, while adequate, accessible and affordable maternal and child is key to the development, survival and growth of every society, in various engagements by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) across North revealed that the region is faced high level maternal and child mortality arising from inadequate budgetary allocation, overstretched, inaccessible and dilapidated Primary Health Care system.
Similarly, childhood under-nutrition remains very high in the region with about 2.2 million out of the 2.5 million severely acute malnourished children being from Northern Nigeria. Majority of children do not receive minimum acceptable diet. While 50% child mortality in the country has malnutrition as underlining cause, no fewer than 1200, out of 2600 estimated daily deaths are caused by malnutrition.
Relevant studies across the Northern States have exposed mothers personally consuming or selling Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) meant for the treatment of their severely acute malnourished children. The situation which is intensified by existing rising poverty level hampers both local and international efforts at addressing childhood malnutrition and mortality in the region.
Apart from the above, adequate budgetary allocation to the social sector in the region is impeded by the on-going widespread dwindling revenue allocation from Federation Account to the states and low State Internally Generated Revenue.
It is in presence of decreasing resources and the growing financial incapacitation of many families that Emir Sanusi advises each family to be realistic in marrying number of wives or bearing children it can best carter for.
No fewer than 3 million out of school children, roaming the streets of Kano state, as Almajirai – pupils of Quranic schools are converted to beggars. The resultant socio-economic challenges of the situation was recently confirmed and seriously bemoaned by the State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje during the Kaduna State Economic and Investment Summit, where he stressed that the “Almajiri syndrome is one of the serious problems worrying the North-west geopolitical zone”.
This precarious backdrop prompts the Emir Sanusi’s tenacious public opinion calling for an end to the region’s obsolete socio-cultural and identification of the regional economic advantages for the region’s socio-economic prosperity.
Finally, while I commend the Emir’s giant stride, being the father of the a state and representative of the voiceless, he should as a matter of urgency consider reducing the Emirate’s expenditure to barest minimum to avert wrong signal or sensationalised public opinion.