Former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, has blamed insecurity and 70% of Nigeria challenges on its parlous economy, noting that Nigeria has retrogressed in its GDP and purchasing power parity to what it was 40 years ago.
Speaking in a colloquium to mark his 60th birthday anniversary on Saturday in Kaduna, the former CBN Governor said Nigeria’s economic downturn between 2014 and 2019 has erased all the economic progresses it achieved for 35 years of boom, adding that the farmers/herders clashes, kidnappings and agitation for restructuring are all offshoots of Nigeria’s economic challenges.
According to him, “as His Eminence the Sultan of Sokoto said recently, this country has a problem. We cannot ignore the fact that things are not working. When you are in a society that is so abnormal, you cannot afford to be a conformist, because if you all conform things will not change. Many years ago, when I was screaming about the billions being spent on fuel subsidy, there was an attempt to attack my house in Kano, then I was in the CBN.
“Where are we today? We are face to face with the reality. That fuel subsidy is unsustainable. Now when the decision is taken, it will be more painful than if they had removed it five or 10 years ago. Nigerians are paying the real price. It is the price you see in increased poverty, insecurity, in high rate of inflation, in loss of values of our currency, in the numbers around malnutrition, unemployment, out of school children, maternal and infant mortality.
“Calling me controversial or calling me an enemy or critic, will not make those facts go away. So, anywhere we go, we must face these facts. Am I happy about it on my 60th birthday? No. Because, 60 years ago when I was born, the United State government advisory was telling investors that Nigeria has a better economic future than Japan. Today where are we and where is Japan?
“It is not about one or two governments, it is about decades of a people throwing away opportunities and every time we are given a chance to make a change, we go back to the same old things. I have tried not to say much not because there is nothing to say or because I am afraid of speaking. The reason I have not spoken much in the last two years is because, I don’t even have to say anything anymore, because all the things we were warning about have come.
“In 1980, Nigeria’s GDP per capital on purchasing power parity basis was $2,180. In 2014, it appreciated by 50 per cent to $3,099. According to the World Bank, where were we in 2019? $2,229. At this rate in the next two years in terms of purchasing power parity, the average income of a Nigerian would have gone back to what it was in 1980 under Shehu Shagari. That means, in 40 years, no progress, we made zero progress. 40 years wasted.
“Between 2014 and 2019, on the basis of this index of the purchasing power of the average income of an average Nigerian, we had wiped out all the progress made in 35 years. We have a responsibility as a people to rise and improve the lives of the people. It is no longer about government, political parties, traditional rulers. The days are gone of saying one class of people whether they are civil servants or emirs cannot talk. When there is fire, everyone has to go with a bucket of water,” he said.
The 14th Emir of Kano said it is time for Nigeria to grow its economy and make it work for the poor people, adding that the ‘wrong social system’ adopted by Northerners of having more wives and children than they can cater for, has left uneducated, untrained children that have become problem to the region, engaging in drugs, stealing and kidnapping.
“As an economist and Islamic scholar, at the level of the North and Muslims, we need to look hard at ourselves and questions the choices we have made. As Emir of Kano, we got scholars to sit for three years. We drafted a Muslim Code of Personal Status that began to address some of these issues. That law was ready in 2019, but it has not been passed.
“I sent it to Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum, the Governor of Plateau state and said in case any of the Governors need it, give it to them. I have not heard anything. But we keep talking about poverty in the North. We keep talking about Almajirai. These Almajirai did not produce themselves. The youths that you see on drugs, those stealing and kidnapping are all products of that social system. And we need to ask ourselves, are these the children that Islam said we should have?” He queried.
Sanusi said during his days at CBN, his reform brought down many corrupt banks CEOs, some of who eventually went to jail.
“I have to share with the younger generation, that the fears that we have are grossly unfounded. As Kingsley (Moghalu) said, when we started the banking reforms. On the eve of the banking reforms, every day, on the front pages of newspapers, the banks CEOs were at the Villa. They were the friends of the President, they were oligarchs, they were untouchables.
“When we started going after the bankers, someone called me and said, you know you are young man, you don’t know what you are doing, you will not succeed. What have we done today? So far, three or four of the wealthiest and powerful bank CEOs in this country have gone to jail and nothing happened. You can fight any system, you don’t need a large number. People can have temporary powers to use but the truth will always prevail.
“I told my family during a dinner to mark my birthday that, maybe one of the reasons that I am able to face any challenge is that I know that, no matter what happens, there would be friends who are standing waiting for me: Nasir el-Rufai, Bukola Saraki, Albert Wigwe, Aig Imoukhuede, Aliko Dangote, all of them. So, it is a blessing to have people who are with you in good times and bad times, who are with you for who you are.
“In all these 60 years, my dream in life has always been to remain the same person to live by the values I set for myself, stand by those values and be ready to face the consequences,” he said.
Both governors Nasir el-Rufai and his Sokoto state counterpart, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, described Sanusi as a gift to Nigeria considering his contributions to human development.
Governor Tambuwal said Sanusi has been a very outspoken and distinguished Nigerian who practiced activism where activism is not tolerated.
Former CBN deputy governor, Kingsley Moghalu, in his keynote address, described Sanusi as a man full of Ideas, who changed the Nigerian financial system for good using best global practices.
Top dignitaries in attendance included the Emir of Zazzau, Amb. Ahmed Nuhu Bammali who chaired the occasion, Emir of Ringim, Alhaji (Dr). Sayyadi Abubakar Mahmoud Usman, Kaduna state deputy governor, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, and former Kwara state House of Assembly Speaker, Dr. Ali Ahmad, who represented former Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki.