As Nigeria marked her 61st independence anniversary on October 1, 2021, the former Emir of Kano, His Royal Highness Muhammadu Sanusi II, joined the Morning Show, an Arise tv talk show on Friday to speak on a wide range of topical national issues.
On the state of the nation, he acknowledged that Nigeria has gone through enduring bad times. ” I think we are at a very low point. There is the question of the international environment, collapse in the oil market, security challenges all over the country, decline in exports, wrong economic policies that have led to economic crisis, et cetera. Also, we’ve gone through crises in the 70s and 80s. We have witnessed the crisis of civil war. But even in these dark times, I’m optimistic that things can change and we should be able to think through.
“The strength of the people is in our resilience, the ability to compete, the desire to achieve. The weakness of the country is our people. The capacity to understand that the real problem is not the people. The real problem is manufactured by the elites who manipulate public opinion. Our ability to have an open intellectual approach to issues and see beyond ethnic and religious sentiments. The moment we begin to unveil this person to know that our problems is manufactured by the elite, then we can begin to move forward”.
He said “our problem all boils down to the kind of leadership we have and the kind of attitude that is taken to leadership. Instead of transiting to the people after the election, they govern for eight years and remain in a permanent campaign mode, not a governance mode. We have to change from the kind of attitude we have of governance. Until we have a situation where we are not ready to think of the next election but the next generation. We have to move from the permanent campaign mode to governance. For decades, decisions that would have been taken to place the country on the path of sustainability have not been taken”.
The former monarch said the argument about the country not evolving from a common root is flawed because hardly any country in the world evolved from the same root. “First of all you can hardly find a country that is homogenous. America is a country of immigrants. United Kingdom is made of England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland”. He cited the case of parting ways of Sudan and South Sudan as not solving the perceived problem created by lack of homogeneity.
The challenge according to him is not in our diversity, the challenge is not in our complexity. “The challenge has been in the inability of leaders to forge a nation. But we’ve had it in the past during Gowon regime where everyone irrespective of the tribe saw his or herself as a Nigerian. What part of Nigeria is homogeneous in it’s whole history. There is no part of Nigeria that is homogenous. In how many parts are you going to slice this country to have a homogenous group. Politicians just use ethnicity as a platform to access political space. This is identity politics. Individuals appropriate these sentiments for their selfish interest and Nigerians follow”.
And responding to cue on the recent stand by Southern Governors that the President should come from the South in 2023, he said though he has no grouse with the demand he feels the President should emerge from any part of the country but insisting on capacity and commitment of the candidates.
“We’ve had Presidents from the South and the North how has it profit the section where the President comes from. In what way has the life of the man on the street changed because someone from their tribe is the President. He said restricting the choice of candidates to a particular region may leave Nigeria with two useless Presidential Candidates in 2023”.
Sanusi wondered why there is this diversity only in the State of origin. We have a constitution that talks about the federal character which is to deepen governance. The constitution talks about the rule of law, institutions to enforce compliance. How do we ensure the institutions work. If somebody is using his office wrongly and is unchecked’ it means the institution has failed. Why are we not talking about the women, youth. Why only the presidency when we have governors, national assembly members from the States.
“I think we need to start asking more serious questions. Who is the person that can deliver the right policies? Who is the person that believes in Nigeria. How do you make sure our institution work? Democracy is about the institution that has been deepened and should do their work”.