Sanusi Lamido Sanusi's Question: Are we truly ready to develop and unite Nigeria?
“Are we truly ready to develop and unite Nigeria”? This was the question that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Central Bank Governor, is reported to have posed at the end of the remarks he is said to have made on the occasion of the launch of Sir Olaniwun Ajayi's book titled "Nigeria , Africa 's Failed Asset”.
This is what Sanusi was reported to have said:
"Let me start by saying that I am Fulani (laughter). My grandfather was an Emir and therefore I represent all that has been talked about this afternoon. Sir Ajayi has written a book. And like all Nigerians of his generation, he has written in the language of his generation.
"My grandfather was a Northerner, I am a Nigerian. The problem with this country is that in 2009, we speak in the language of 1953. Sir Olaniwun can be forgiven for the way he spoke, but I cannot forgive people of my generation speaking in that language.
"Let us go into this issue because there are so many myths that are being bandied around. Before colonialism, there was nothing like Northern Nigeria, Before the Sokoto Jihad, there was nothing like the Sokoto caliphate. The man from Kano regard himself as bakane. The man from Zaria was bazazzage. The man from Katsina was bakatsine. The kingdoms were at war with each other. They were Hausas, they were Muslims, they were killing each other.
"The Yoruba were Ijebu, Owo, Ijesha, Akoko, Egba. When did they become one? When did the North become one? You have the Sokoto Caliphate that brought every person from Adamawa to Sokoto and said it is one kingdom. They now
said it was a Muslim North.
"The Colonialists came, put that together and said it is now called the Northern Nigeria. Do you know what happened? Our grand fathers were able to transform to being Northerners. We have not been able to transform to being Nigerians. The fault is ours.
Tell me, how many governors has South West produced after Awolowo that are role models of leadership? How many governors has the East produced like Nnamdi Azikiwe that can be role models of leadership? How Many governors in
the Niger Delta are role models of leadership? Tell me. There is no evidence statistically that any part of this country has produced good leaders.
You talk about Babangida and the economy. Who were the people in charge of the economy during Babangida era? Olu Falae, Kalu Idika Kalu. What state are they from in the North?
"We started the banking reform; the first thing I heard was that in Urobo land, that there will be a curse of the ancestors. I said they (ancestors) would not answer. They said why? I said how many factories did Ibru build in Urobo land? So, why will the ancestors of the Urobo people support her?
"We talk ethnicity when it pleases us. It is hypocrisy. You said elections were rigged in 1959, Obasanjo and Maurice Iwu rigged election in 2007. Was it a Southern thing? It was not. "The problem is: everywhere in this country, there is one Hausa, Ibo, Yoruba and Itshekiri man whose concern is how to get his hands on the pile and how much he can steal.
Whether it is in the military or in the civilian government, they sit down, they eat together. In fact, the constitution says there must be a minister from every state.
"So, anybody that is still preaching that the problem of Nigeria is Yoruba or Hausa or Fulani, he does not love Nigeria . The problem with Nigeria is that a group of people from each and every ethnic tribe is very selfish. The poverty that is found in Maiduguri is even worse than any poverty that you find in any part of the South.
The British came for 60 years and Sir Ajayi talked about few numbers of graduates in the North (two at independence) . What he did not say was that there was a documented policy of the British when they came that the Northerner should not be educated. It was documented. It was British colonial policy. I have the document. I have published articles on it. That if you educate the Northerner you will produce progressive Muslim intellectuals of the type we have in Egypt and India. So, do not educate them. It was documented. And you say they love us (North).
"I have spent the better part of my life to fight and Dr. (Reuben) Abati knows me. Yes, my grandfather was an Emir. Why was I in the pro-democracy movement fighting for June 12? Is (Moshood) Abiola from Kano ? Why am I a founding director of the Kudirat Initiative for Nigerian Development (KIND)?
"There are good Yoruba people, good Igbo people, good Fulani people, good Nigerians and there are bad people everywhere. That is the truth. "Stop talking about dividing Nigeria because we are not the most populous country
in the world. We have all the resources that make it easy to make one united great Nigeria . It is better if we are united than to divide it.
"Every time you talk about division, when you restructure, do you know what will happen? In Delta Area, the people in Warri will say Agbor, you don't have oil. When was the Niger Delta constructed as a political entity? Ten years ago, the Itshekiris were fighting the Urobos. Isn't that what was happening? Now they have become Niger Delta because they have found oil. After, it will be, if you do not have oil in your village then you cannot share our resources.
"There is no country in the world where resources are found in everybody's hamlet. But people have leaders and they said if you have this geography and if we are one state, then we have a responsibility for making sure that the people who belong to this country have a good nature.
"So, why don't you talk about; we don't have infrastructure, we don't have education, we don't have health. We are still talking about Fulani. Is it the Fulani cattle rearer or is anybody saying there is no poverty among the Fulani?", he said.
This is a great message to our generation.
Are we truly ready to develop and unite Nigeria?
I fear that Sanusi Lamido was being economical with the truth in this speech.
It is true that it was British colonial policy to leave the Northern masses uneducated and only to educate the children of the elite like Sanusi. But for the whole truth Sanusi should have gone on to admit that the British adopted this policy at the specific request of the Emirs, like his grandfather, as part of the terms of the Caliphate's surrender to the British conquest. It was done so as not to undermine the Caliphate's top-down approach to governance by introducing bottom-up education as in the South.
Sanusi knows this because it is all, as he says, documented. It is documented because the British do not share our faith in oral history and will always write everything down for better or for worse. The full account is set out in the (now scarce) autobiography of Sir Bryan Sharwood-Smith who was Governor of Northern Nigeria for close on thirty years which is titled "Recollections of British Administration in the Cameroons and Northern Nigeria 1921-1957" The sub-title of the book is "But Always As Friends" which was taken from the title of Balewa's speech at the grand send off for Sharwood-Smith when he was finally returning to Britain after he had finished his work in the North. From that sub-title alone it is plain to see that Sanusi protests too much when he says "And you say they love us (North)".
Being the scholar that he is, Sanusi cannot have failed to understand from Sharwood-Smith's account that it is misleading to say, as he claims, that "our grandfathers were able to transform to being Northerners". It is not strictly true because it was British policy to create One North and many Souths. Sharwood-Smith narrates in the book how he went about selling the agenda to the Emirs as the only way they could avoid domination by the (many) South. Whenever necessary he deposed and replaced any Emirs who refused to cooperate.
A key instrument in implementing the policy, the book says, was the foundation of Katsina (now Barewa) College in Kaduna as a boarding school where the sons of the elite from across the North went to be groomed in the One North ideology and from which Southerners were consciously excluded. The fruits of the ideology can be seen in the list of illustrious and powerful Alumni which include: Ahmadu Bello, Premier of Northern Nigeria; Tafawa Balewa, Prime Minister of Nigeria; Yakubu Gowon, Former Military Ruler of Nigeria, Murtala Mohammed, Former Military Ruler of Nigeria; Shehu Shagari, Former President of Nigeria; Umaru Musa Yar'Adua Former President of Nigeria; Muhammadu Buhari Former Military Ruler of Nigeria and Presidential candidate and Nuhu Ribadu Former Chairman of EFCC and Presidential Candidate (doubters can check the list for themselves via Google).
Although he is correct when he goes on to say "we have not been able to transform to being Nigerians", he is unfair to Nigerians when he adds "the fault is ours". It is not. It is the fault of the "One North" indoctrination drummed in at KatsinaCollege which is diametrically opposed to the One Nigeria slogan that is often mouthed: that mindset is still at large. The related reason is the wedge which that programme of indoctrination drove into the relationship between the North and the South(s). Not only were Southerners consciously excluded from KatsinaCollege so as to prevent One Nigeria from emerging but no equivalent college was set up in the South to create One South to counterbalance the One North.
He misses the point when he says "there is no evidence statistically that any part of the country has produced good leaders" The easiest rejoinder is that the top-down arrangement controlled by the Katsina College Alumni has not allowed good leaders to emerge. The answer I prefer to give is that every village and hamlet in every part of the country produces good and bad leaders and if bad leaders keep coming through and good leaders do not, the explanation probably lies in the priority given to One North over One Nigeria. To borrow his language, the problem is that in 2011 we are still stuck with the mindset of 1953 hence the talk of "Northern Consensus Candidate" and being ready to "step aside for another Northern candidate". Even now, is there any evidence to say that the elite in the North have abandoned the policy of keeping the masses in the North out of the light of education?.
He says that "we talk ethnicity when it pleases us" and adds "It is hypocrisy". He is wrong on both fronts. We talk ethnicity because it is part of the reality of humanity and it is better to call a spade a spade than an implement for digging. Is not "One North" the practice, and not just the talk, of ethnicity? Is it not the height of hypocrisy for graduates of KatsinaCollege with their One North indoctrination then to proclaim One Nigeria? how many times have you heard a Northerner, let alone a Fulani, say that their political domination of the country since Independence is inimical to the achievement of One Nigeria? This is why I prefer the straight talking of Ahmadu Bello.
He is right to say that the South have repeatedly said that "elections were rigged in 1959". It is because it is true and the British colonial officers who arranged the rigging for the benefit of the Northen elite have admitted it. It only remains for the Northern elite to admit it so that we can move the discussion on.
He says (and truly) that "Obasanjo and Maurice Iwu rigged elections in 2007" and adds "was it a Southern thing? It was not."
Of course it was not: Obasanjo was never the choice of the South and it was not the South who were in charge of the transitional arrangements following the Mother of All Rigging which was the abortion of the June 12th election results by Babaginda & Co. Obasanjo was simply deployed to divert what was supposed to be a concession of power by the North to the South. The thing about true progressives is that they will always shout "THIEF" when they see one, be he from the North or South.
He is of course right in saying that "there are good Yoruba people, good Igbo people, good Fulani people, good Nigerians and there are bad people everywhere". But he should not try and use that to justify saying that we should stop talking about dividing Nigeria after all the wives in a polygamous household may all be good people but that does not mean that each should not have her own quarters for peace to reign in the household. The evidence to the contrary is the ongoing daily murders in Jos.
Sanusi is in fact talking the language of the past when he suggests that any talk of re-arranging the internal walls in Nigeria to avoid the feeling of discrimination and domination evidenced by the dominance of the Katsina College Alumni, is bad. South Africa, Switzerland and even Britain (with the separate Parliaments for the Welsh, the Northern Irish and the Scottish in addition to Westminster introduced by Tony Blair) are all evidence of the forward thinking that shows how a Constitution can face the reality of internal diversity consistently with One Nigeria. If Sanusi's concern is that it would be too difficult an exercise he need not worry as the Constitution for that more equitable Nigeria has already been drafted. Copies are in Aso Rock; it is only waiting to be implemented.
Finally, it must be said that Sanusi is still thinking in the past when he says that "there is no country in the world where resources are found in everybody's hamlet". He is wrong because the resources of the modern world are not those under your feet or above your head but those between the ears of every human and they are to be found in every hamlet. This is why the members of the Alumni of Katsina College who are still on the political stage must urgently and unequivocally commit to the education of the masses in the North so as to release the neglected potential for greatness that exists in every man, woman and child to produce, as he says, “the progressive Muslim intellectuals of the type that we have in Egypt and India”. If he can persuade his brothers in the Northern elite to bring themselves to think beyond their narrow interests the poverty in Maiduguri that he speaks of will be no more and we can stop blaming the British.
So Sanusi should reframe his question as follows: “Members of the Katsina College Alumni, are you truly ready to develop and unite Nigeria?
Dele Ogun [email protected] www.deleogun.com