Muhammad Sanusi II, the emir of Kano, says the north would destroy itself if it does not address the challenges of poverty, millions of out- of- school children, malnutrition, drug problem, and Boko Haram insurgency.
Sanusi made this known in Kaduna state on Monday, February 17, at an event marking the 60th birthday of Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufa’i.
Sanusi said leaders must follow the example of El-Rufa’i by investing in the education of the northern children, which he said, is the only thing that would save the region.
According to him, “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 northern Nigeria today can afford to be happy. You cannot be happy about 87% 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 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.
“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.
“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 healthcare. And the truth is if you look at what Nasir is doing in Kaduna, with 40 per cent of his budget in education, that is the only thing that is going to save the North. I know that, when we say these things, they don’t go down well.
“We have been saying this for 20 to 30 years. If the North does not change, the North will destroy itself. The country is moving on. The quota system that everybody talks about must have a sunset clause.
“The reason that people like Nasir stand up and they are nationalists is that they don’t have any sense of inadequacy. 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 our 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 the quota system and federal character.”