Friday, 24 May 2019 14:25

[OPINION]: Beyond Ganduje and the Emir - Akin Osuntokun

“I have reflected over and over on my speech and I still don’t see what I said that is so wrong and offensive. I didn’t say the North cannot survive as a country. After all, Niger Republic is there with some help from Paris. I didn’t say that the North in the past had no glory. I know it has a rich history. I didn’t say the North cannot be rich and better. In fact, I think it can and it is a disgrace we are where we are” – SANUSI LAMIDO SANUSI

“It is instructive to know that the 19 Northern states which accounts for over 54 per cent of Nigeria’s population and 70 per cent of its landmass, collectively generate, only 21 per cent of the total subnational IGR in the year 2017. Northern Nigeria will continue to fall behind if the respective states governments do not move to close the development gap” – ALIKO DANGOTE

It is not a coincidence that Alhaji Aliko Dangote and the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, have been the weightiest and most critical voices enacting the role of the conscience of the North and reformer extraordinaire. They are merely acting out the logic and orientation of their role model background as icons of modernisation and the development ethic-to fill a (socio-economic development role) vacuum that is desperately yawning to be filled. And it is a priority role fulfillment that should trump any other considerations or petty concerns with character imperfections of either of the two symbols- if we are truly committed to salvaging the little that is left of the potential of society to break out of the cyclical underdevelopment trap.


In the governorship of Umar Ganduje, Kano State has reached a nadir, where something has to give-one way or another. It has reached a stage where the Kano State of Ganduje must now stand up in the city centre to square up against the Kano State of Dangote and Sanusi. Either of them would have been the ideal presidential candidate from the North-more so Aliko. His even temperament and unfathomable humility are the qualities needed to perfect the imperfections of Sanusi.

Sustainable socio-economic development of society is rooted first and foremost in a mind that is predisposed to the acculturation of the work and development ethic-governed by the principle of a positive correlation between productivity and reward. And this is where President Muhammadu Buhari, advertently or inadvertently, has failed the North, going forward-a presidency that is long in pampering and indulging the worst instincts of the Northern elite for consumption politics and short on the administration of the cane to whip errant behaviour into line. It is called tough love. The cornerstone of his political ideology is populist partisanship towards the North-fair enough, to the extent that such partisanship is not irreconcilable with the development of the North and Nigeria at large. What is not fair and is indeed self-destructive is his personification of the notion that somehow between 1999 and 2015, the North had suffered political patronage marginalization bordering on persecution; and the prioritisation of the overcompensation of this unfounded injury as his political agenda. It is a grudge that has no basis in reality but quite profitable as a tool of political demagoguery.

President Olusegun Obasanjo who governed Nigeria from 1999 to 2007 is ideologically incapable of marginalising the North or any other part of Nigeria, for that matter. Ironically, it is his inherent sensitivity to this perception and going out of his way to deliberately cultivate the profile of politically distancing himself from the ethno regional anxieties of his Yoruba origins that has rendered him prone to the allegation of kowtowing to the North. It will almost amount to a contradiction in terms to suggest that the interest of the North had suffered under Obasanjo’s presidency.

He was on record as publicly directing the security agencies to shoot on sight anyone who calls himself “OPC” albeit in the expression of his frustrations with the excesses of the irredentist Yoruba organisation. And we of course remember his infamous stricture of “CAN my foot” to his fellow Christians in the course of arbitrating between the proxies of Christianity and Islam in the Jos anarchy. I should of course not be misunderstood that he thereby gloried in a self-hating sacrifice of the legitimate dues and interest of his religious and ethnic affiliation. What he sacrificed was the posture of being liable to the perception of discriminately pandering to parochial interests. He was succeeded by a Fulani Moslem, Umaru Yar’Adua, who presided over Nigeria for three years from 2007 to 2010. And I wouldn’t know to what extent it is reasonable or logical to accuse him of marginalising the North.

Next was President Goodluck Jonathan. Beyond being the beneficiary of the premature termination of the Presidency of his principal, Umaru Yar’Adua, I remain to be persuaded to discern marginalisation of the North in his presidential incumbency from 2010 to 2015. Unless the inadvertently delayed gratification of the expected two term tenure of eight years incidental on the implicit assumption of the North/South power rotation convention can be attributed as such.

Now, I don’t need to be critical of Buhari to accept the general conclusion that his Presidency has never fought shy of being attributable with the charge of Northern nepotism. This is a fact, what is left to seek is the rationale for this conspicuous governance lapse. And the most compelling inference from this reactionary attitude is the belief that a perceived injustice has to be addressed and doing so requires that the North must be pampered whilst other Nigerian stakeholders must be made to dutifully understand and accept the need to pay penance. Before his arrival, the disappointment of the North (in not wielding the Nigerian Presidency to perpetuate parochial indulgence and favoritism) was turning into the blessing of being under positive pressure to develop a competitive spirit and outlook towards bridging the meritocracy gap between the region and the rest of Nigeria. This positive momentum is what has suffered course reversal under Buhari’s indulgent and overly discriminatory patriarchy.

I have not undertaken a conscious classification but I will not be surprised to find out that many up and coming Nigerian private sector players of Northern origin had abandoned the competitive and meritocratic model of Aliko Dangote to take up shop at the Buhari growth industry of nepotism laden misrule. It is a sad commentary that by the default of omission and commission, Buhari has not only abdicated the guardian angel role, he has actually become a stalwart in the camp of those thwarting it. This is my own understanding and perspective on the deepening development crisis of the North lately symbolised by the notoriety and accelerating political regression of Kano State.

There is no way to sugarcoat the mercenary role that Sanusi played in the national elite conspiracy against Jonathan in the 2015 presidential election. What is of imperative, right now, is the manner in which he has compensated for this chicanery by holding fire to the foot of the backward see-no-evil ideology that is sinking the North. It is erroneous to believe that Sanusi is somehow oblivious of the risk he takes and that those risks are not worth taking for the betterment of society. It would similarly amount to the height of hypocrisy for anyone familiar with his antecedence to imagine that he would behave differently especially when it is the right thing to do.

The vicarious responsibility of Buhari for what has become of contemporary Kano began with the cheerleader role he played at the wedding ceremony of Ganduje’s daughter over a year ago. This was how one of the most sincere friends of the president, Pastor Tunde Bakare, captured the folly: “And somebody came to say, let me explain to you, it is Islamic tradition, before this time, they had agreed, that he (Buhari) will be the one to give the bride away and (Bola) Tinubu will be the one to pay the dowry, and present the son. I looked at him and said the president of Nigeria wanted to come to my daughter’s wedding, and I said to him, sir, don’t come. That is beneath your office. Face the work of the State and keep serving. And 22 governors showed up to mark register, when 110 daughters of citizens of your nation were captured by Boko Haram that you said you have already technically defeated?”

Is a development in which the governor of the same Kano State is caught on video clip stuffing dollar bribes into the expansive folds of his babaringa not gross enough to merit a commensurate drastic response from a responsible Kano and national political elite?. Here was the chief public servant of Kano State caught, on audio visual device, (in first hand evidence), mocking the anti-corruption rhetoric of Buhari with this shameful barbaric deed and what was the President’s response? He denounced the evidence as suspicious and contrived by cut and paste technology-thereby prompting the puzzle of why he was this eager to give a peremptory premature exculpation? Rather than utilize the weight of his office to err on the side of promoting the culture of technology as a force for public good, he was more interested in de-marketing technology as prone to abuse and misuse-to preempt any other conclusion that may not serve the end of Ganduje’s exoneration.

Is this what the Buhari Presidency is all about? Is this how to validate an ostensible reputation as promoter of the interests of the masses against a thieving reprobate political elite? This instructive display of moral ambivalence was the precursor to the outright and violent subversion of the general elections in Kano State by Ganduje- attaining a dangerous crescendo in the bloodthirstiness of the supplementary governorship election. Fresh from this governorship equivalent of armed robbery, he followed up with more of the same and sought to settle scores with his immediate powerful nemesis with dispatch; and capped his impunity with uncommon disdain for the rule of law. Thumping his nose at the restraints of civilized society, he charged ahead to become a trail blazer on how to subject the rule of law to the reign of a rampaging rogue leadership-claiming that the court ruling restraining his overreach came too late!

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