Who says the Hausa/Fulanis are seriously at a disadvantage in education and wisdom compared to their Igbo and Yoruba brothers and sisters in the South? Whoever is saying that is probably living in the past or is totally out of touch with the reality of the Nigerian situation or has never met distinguished northerners like Alhaji Dangote, Lamido Sanusi, late Abubakar Rimi, Professor Jega, Professor Yadudu, El Rufai, Jerry Gana, Kwankwaso and Dogara to mention a few.
Anyone saying that can be said to be very insular in their views and perception or has not been sufficiently exposed to the great progress the North has made in the last 40 years to wipe off the yawning gap between the North and the South which existed as of October 1st 1960 when Nigeria finally gained independence from Britain.
We must keep in mind that Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo had gone to Lancaster House in London to initially make a case for Nigeria to gain her independence before Ghana got her own in 1957. They both failed because of Sardauna Bello and his northern delegation who shot their proposal down on the grounds that the North was far from ready.
The Sardauna was right. The man did not have multiple University degrees like Obafemi Awolowo and Ogbuefi Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, but it was his very thoughtful deposition and submission that carried the day at that Conference presided over and moderated by Britain.
The Northerners have managed to maintain their stranglehold on Nigeria since 1914 despite the disparity in their educational qualification and capacity compared to their southern counterparts. The quiet but strategic creation of 19 states in the North and 17 in the South without pulling punches would appear to have further accelerated the rapid progress of the North and to have tipped the balance in favor of the North with regards to the 6 states in the North and 6 states in the South. The South took a nap and by the time they woke up the North had consolidated its strategic edge based on their questionable projected population and their land mass or size.
Many in the South have argued that it was the British covert support and favoritism for the North that put the North at an advantage. But there’s more to it than that. The descendants of Uthman Dan Fodio had their own raw native intelligence from the beginning. You can tell from some of their proverbs and words of wisdom, like “Gajere ba yaro ba,” which simply means in Hausa that the fact that a man or woman is short does not determine his or her age and maturity.
The Northerners are as smart if not smarter than the Igbos and the Yorubas. Wisdom is not the exclusive preserve or monopoly of any tribe in Nigeria. There is no northern state today where University or NCE graduates are totally in short supply, as was the case in 1960. The North has come a long way for sure. Islamic education, which was their strong suit, had its own merit, which many of us always tend to overlook or underestimate much to our own peril.
Northerners like Lamido Sanusi, the star of this article, can be found everywhere you look in each of the 19 states of the North and in more than half of the 776 Local Government Areas in Nigeria. Lamido Sanusi is probably one of a kind and arguably one of the best educated among them in Western and Islamic education.
That man can stand his own anywhere in the world. You hear the man speak and you cannot believe your ears. He is so eloquent and sounds just like late Abubakar Rimi, Jerry Gana, Professor Yadudu, Professor Jega, and Balarabe Musa and a host of them I have met in my life journey.
I had the rare privilege of serving my pupillage under a good number of Northerners, starting with legendary Sule Katagun who was Chairman of the Nigerian Civil Service Commission for many years with the first Nigerian medical doctor, Sir Manuwa from Ondo State, as his Deputy. Alhaji Sule Katagun and Sir Manuwa were two of a kind even though one was a medical doctor and the other was an experienced school teacher/administrator like the first Nigerian Prime Minister, the late Sir Tafawa Balewa the eloquent golden voice of Africa who spoke English with the dexterity and eloquence of a Winston Churchill.
I served under Permanent Secretary Alhaji Damcida, late Yusuf Gobir, a dapper don lawyer from Ilorin, and later on under Permanent Secretary Abdul Azeez Attah, the first son of Ohinoyi the Atta of Egbira Land. The Northerner that made the greatest impact on my growth and development in the Federal Ministry of Education, however, was Ahmed Joda from Girei in Adamawa State.
The man who is now 86 had taught me a lot of what I knew and he was not even a university graduate. He earned a Diploma in Journalism and was the Chief Information Officer and later Permanent Secretary of Information under the late Sardauna Bello as Premier of the Northern Region. He became one of the Federal Permanent Secretaries fondly referred to as the 4 musketeers or super Permanent Secretaries at the time. The 4 were Allison Ayida, Philip Asiodu, E. M. E. Ebong and Ahmed Joda. The star of this article in some ways is a star performer like Ahmed Joda.
Lamido was born the grandson of His Royal Highness Sanusi the First, the deposed Emir of Kano, a great aristocrat who had a chance to regain his throne like the late Olowo Olagbegi but turned down the offer on principle. All he wanted was for his body after death to be returned back to Kano for burial with his ancestors. Can you believe that? The powerful man had a premonition that one day another Sanusi would emerge in Kano inshallah to redeem his name and reputation.
He was never bitter about the fact that he lost his throne based on some political persecution by the then Sardauna Bello as Premier of the defunct Northern Region. He bore no animosity against his distant cousin, the former Nigerian Ambassador Ado Bayero who was picked to replace him.
Sanusi the First was exactly right. Guess who took over from Ado Bayero a few years ago? It was his grandson, the star of this article, Lamido Sanusi who received his High School education from King's College Lagos and later graduated from an Islamic University in Cairo. He later became an activist lecturer at Ahmadu Bello University, attended many Diploma programs, in-service trainings, and seminars in some of the most prestigious universities in the world, including the London School of Economics and Harvard.
He did not have to pad his resume by claiming to be a graduate or alumnus of all of those institutions like the abrasive Senator Dino Melaye has done. Lamido ended up becoming the governor of the Nigerian Central Bank at the pleasure of President Umaru Yar’Adua the highest educated Northerner so far to be elected President of Nigeria. Umaru Yar'Adua had earned a Master’s degree before becoming President.
Umaru was not your average Nigerian Politician. He, in fact, was picked to become President as a compensation for his late brother Brigadier General Musa Yar’Adua who was number 2 to General Olusegun Obasanjo up to 1979 and who remained very loyal to Obasanjo to the very end. He did not flaunt his northern origin or connection to intimidate or undermine the authority of General Obasanjo like a few other Northerners would have done.
Most Northerners instinctively knew that the North held the secret key to power in Nigeria as far back as the Amalgamation Proclamation fraudulently imposed on Nigeria by Lord Lugard way back in 1914 as recently revealed by Richard Osuolale Akinjide in a public lecture. Umaru Yar’Adua saw in Lamido Sanusi a virtue and an expertise that most Nigerians can now see clearly.
Lamido Sanusi belongs to that high caliber of Nigerian bureaucrats and Northerners in his role as the Governor of the Nigerian Central Bank and before elevation and coronation as the powerful Emir of Kano.
I quite often wonder aloud if Nigeria gained or lost by having a young man as dynamic as Lamido Sanusi settle for an anachronistic traditional title for the rest of his life. But if we keep in mind that Sardauna Bello had a choice to become the first Nigerian Prime Minister but chose instead to remain Premier as he was fixated on becoming the Sultan of Sokoto. That would tell you the value system of the average Northerner may be slightly different from the value baseline of the average Igbo or Yoruba man.
On reflection, I cannot blame Lamido for rating the title higher than any position he has ever held in government. I am like him in some ways; I value tradition and want to excel and exceed where my father, the pioneer Olugunshin of Igunshin in Akure Local Government, and where my grandfather, ”Erinlakatabu Ogiso Otolu Apaara,” Kabiyesi Deji Afunbiowo Adesida, the greatest Deji of Akure, have left off, but I would not trade off a job as lucrative as the governor of the Central Bank for the job of a traditional ruler even though one is a transient job and the other is for life. If you are a good governor of the Central Bank, you are forever going to be in demand if you know what you are doing.
I have a strong suspicion that part of the reason Lamido Sanusi had wanted that title so bad was to fulfill the dreams of his grandfather the deposed Emir of Kano. He probably felt he had reached the peak of his career as an economist and as governor of the Central Bank, the equivalent of the chairman of the Federal Reserve in the United States.
He probably wanted a title where he no longer has to kowtow or carry the bucket for anyone including his State Governor or even the President of the Republic. I think he proved that beyond all shades of doubt when after his suspension by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, he was turbaned the powerful Emir of Kano and guess who came to town to pay him homage and shout “Ranka Dede” to him a few months later?
It was Goodluck Jonathan who was kept waiting at the Emir’s Visitor’s Lounge for the powerful Emir to emerge from the inner chamber of his Taj Mahal Palace to say hello to the President who was there to beg for the Emir’s support to enable him win a second term in office. “Allahu Akbar,” God is truly awesome!
President Jonathan had to know that power has changed hands. You don’t fool around with powerful rulers like the Sultan of Sokoto, the Emir of Kano, the Etsu Nupe, the Emir of Daura to mention a few and expect to win in the North. By the same token, you don’t fool around with powerful rulers like the Oba of Benin, the Obong of Calabar, the Amayanabo of Buguma, the Oonirisa of Ile Ife, the Alaafin of Oyo and expect their people to vote for you in the South. No way.
Lamido Sanusi is therefore right on that score to probably value the title more than his transient position as governor of Central Bank or even president of the Republic. I personally thought he should have joined one of the major political parties with a chance to win the presidency of Nigeria where he can bark and bite and not the title of the Emir where he can only bark but not bite. He probably knew he might not win the presidency in a country which is notorious for electing mediocre and compromise choices who fumble more often than not. I thought he could have done more good for Nigeria as president because the man is as tough as a nail and could have made a difference as president.
I call Lamido Sanusi a breed apart not because of his royal pedigree but because of what he has done and has been doing with his powerful title. He has built a reservoir of goodwill for himself in the North as the former governor of the Central Bank and a very competent and brilliant one who has received all the awards and recognition there is to receive as a world renowned economist.
While I have never met him personally, I knew his senior brother, Ambassador Sanusi, the former Nigerian ambassador to Morocco, very well. He was the ambassador when I served for 3 years as the delegate representing Nigeria on the Board of Trustees of CAFRAD (African Training and Research Center in Administration for Development) based in Tangiers, Morocco on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea in North Africa.
Lamido Sanusi shared the same DNA with his brother the ambassador. The man was a lion who could not be intimidated by anybody. His brother did something for Nigeria I was very proud of as a delegate of CAFRAD. He stood by Nigeria like a Rock of Gibraltar when I moved a motion on behalf of Nigeria to rotate the chairmanship and the meetings of CAFRAD between member countries instead of permanently ceding the chairmanship to Morocco for more than 45 years. Nigeria won the motion by a landslide and it was my finest hour as the delegate of Nigeria. I could not have done it without the support of Ambassador Sanusi.
That was how Chief Oluyemi Falae became the first Chairman of CAFRAD in 1981 when Nigeria hosted CAFRAD as the first member country to do so outside Morocco. It would not have been possible if Ambassador Sanusi had caved in to the pressure put on him by Morocco to side with their delegation. They told him that he as a Muslim by faith could not afford to oppose another Muslim country. Ambassador Sanusi much to his everlasting credit refused to buckle under pressure.
I have the greatest respect for the man for that reason and his younger brother, Lamido Sanusi has convinced me he is a lion like his brother. You don’t fool around with the Sanusis of Kano. They are all as principled as their patriarch, the deposed Emir of Kano.
Lamido Sanusi left his footprints on the sands of history in the Central Bank. He stood his ground and called the bluff of Goodluck Jonathan and Sambo Dasuki his fellow Sokoto Prince, and the son of former Sultan of Sokoto for looting the Nigerian Treasury and he did it with clarity, courage and conviction.
He went to the floor of the House and the Nigerian Senate as governor of Central Bank to call their bluff and to tell the senators and the legislators to their faces they were stealing Nigeria dry and he cautioned that their heavy salaries ought to be cut in half if not more to provide employment for Nigerians roaming the streets without jobs.
He made concrete suggestions first to Jonathan and now to Buhari on what should be done to restore sanity to the Nigerian economy. He practices what he preaches and does not suffer fools gladly. He has continued with the crusade and mission as the powerful Emir of Kano.
He challenged and condemned a tradition or culture in the North that forces underage girls into marriages with cradle snatchers who are old enough to be their fathers. He preached reconciliation and peace between the North and the South by making overtures and courting the friendship of his peers in other parts of Nigeria. He visited his colleagues like the Oba of Lagos, the Awujale of Ijebu Ode and he welcomed the new Oonirisa of Ife to his domain with pomp and pageantry. He shows he understands his role and responsibilities as the Emir of Kano and the father of all his people and their spiritual leader as their Chief Imam.
Lamido Sanusi has started a quiet revolution to speak the truth to power in Nigeria pretty much like retired Major Ken Chioma Obi has done with his recent posting widely publicized on the Facebook. The brave Major is making pretty much the same case that Lamido Sanusi has been making that the salaries and allowances of our legislators and lawmakers are over bloated and should be cut by half to provide gainful employment to millions of Nigerians who are now going to the garbage dump to look for something to eat because they cannot find employment or afford 3 square meals a day.
He made a very persuasive case that the people the legislators claim to represent are now jumping to the Lagoon and committing suicide in broad daylight while their senators are busy looting the Nigerian Treasury earning 36 million Naira per month per senator while their counterparts in the House of Representatives are taking 25 million Naira per month minus other allowances for doing nothing.
If they cut those salaries and allowances just by half, the Buhari government can employ 70,400 Nigerians with monthly salaries ranging from N90,000 to N92,500 per month. A consensus is fast building up in Nigeria because of the awareness created by powerful individuals like Lamido Sanusi and retired Major Ken Chioma Obi to mention a few.
He has single-handedly embarked on the CBN empowerment loan program in conjunction with World Bank to help boost and empower men/women and Farmers to help limit the problem of unemployment. The loan comes with very low interest. The powerful Emir is doing pretty much what the richest man in Africa, Alhaji Dangote from his city has been doing to help in areas where Government has been failing due to endemic corruption. He and Dangote have become a 2 man Battalion in Nigeria in that regard by doing everything in their power to bail out Nigeria and to save the country.
I take off my hat for his Royal Highness Lamido Sanusi, the charismatic Emir of Kano, and so should Nigerians.
I thank you for your time.