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An opinion on their Comrade Lamido Sanusi
ONCE again, I yield this column to another of its compulsive readers, Chief Etinosa Omuemu, the Omuemu N’ Uselu of Benin Kingdom. His piece is delightfully self- explanatory:
The series on Lamido Sanusi has been a compelling read. In and Out smoked and raged with the furnace of righteous indignation. As I wrote in my text message as a way of initial response to the series by Tony Afejuku, the piece has the eloquence of oratorical presentation, the candour arising from the strength of conviction and the finality and aplomb of a sage.
In a democratic culture as obtains in Nigeria today, every one is guaranteed the right and freedom to express his or her opinion on any situation. But one very important thing is that freedom comes with certain burden and responsibility to make the fine “distinction between sense and nonsense.”
‘As the Governor of our apex bank, coupled with his religious persuasion as a Muslim from the Northern Region, the utterance of Lamido Samusi cannot just be ignored, especially his lampoon of the Yoruba and Ibo ethnic nationalities. In his diatribe against what he perceives as the threat from these dominant ethnic nationalities, Lamido positions himself as the spokesman for the Northerners.
According to him, the Ibos were responsible for the 1967-1970 civil war as well as the first (January 1966) military coup while the Yorubas dominate every aspect of our lives. He also added that the Ibos can achieve integration, not by “crying Biafra” but by seeking “alliances”. Tony Afejuku replied very well when he asked rhetorically what were the princes of Kano doing with the proceeds from the groundnut pyramids in the North when late Obafemi Awolowo was busy using the “proceeds from cocoa to do all the magnificent things” he did as the Premier of the Western region. What I will add is that what accounted for the difference in the result of the leadership which the Northerners provided and that of Awolowo was that while the former was geared towards positioning their people for political leadership, the latter was geared towards empowering the individual through education so they can be a leader any where he finds himself in.
The manner Lamido Sanusi dismissed the Ibos and their Biafra cause is arrogant and cocky. Every one knows that by “crying Biafra”, the Ibos are not planning to take up arms against Nigeria but merely trying to draw strength from their collective memory of the Biafra experience in order to draw attention to their present condition of perceived marginalisation.
On the whole, Sanusi still comes across as brilliant. But it is a brilliance that is suspect. It is the brilliance that comes from a tunnel vision of Nigerian history; the brilliance that comes from viewing contemporary Nigerian politics through the narrow prism of ethnic profiling and jingoism; the brilliance that comes from selective historical amnesia and warped reasoning when logic is stood on its head.
The past experience of Nigeria has affected our present. But we cannot become prisoners of the past. A careful analysis and conscious response to the present will determine our future. At independence, we inherited an amalgamated country called Nigeria with many economic and political fault lines which created reversed Robinhood Complex among Nigerian leaders. By reversed Robinhood Complex I am referring to a situation when a leader steals from the poor and gives to the rich to become richer, contrary to the original Robinhood who stole from the rich and gave to the poor.
The situation is made possible by the unitary system of government that makes the position of the president or the Head of State a treasure hunt for coup plotters. This was the situation before the first coup.
Not only has this situation impoverished Nigerians more, it has equally brought out the beast in Nigerians. From North to South, East to West, poverty is not a respecter of any tribe. There is no greater marginalisation than a people who live in abject poverty in the midst of so much wealth. More than ever before Nigerians are united in poverty. This was evident in the last nation-wide protest against increase in fuel price. Against this background, when the likes of Sanusi begins to play the ethnic card as he is doing with his diatribe against the Yorubas and the Ibos, one begins to suspect an ulterior motif. The manner he goes about it is not different from what the Boko Haram is doing. His caustic utterances are even more searing and devastating.
In spite of the numerous problems we have as a people and a nation, I am very optimistic about the future of this country. Despite the horror and nightmare of the past and the pains of the present what is needed are visionary leaders who can interpret the pains to engineer the right political framework to bring about a new envisioned reality. The process of new birth comes with pains. One philosopher said, “I feel pain therefore I am alive”. There is pain in the land. There is a saying that every nation gets the leader it deserves. One thing we have not equally thought of is that every nation gets the pain it deserves. When the late Ken Saro-Wiwa began his peaceful crusade to liberate the Ogoni people from environmental degradation wrought by the multinational oil companies, nobody paid him any attention.
He was a prophet of hope and peace armed only with his intellectual faculty and power of persuasion. When the military junta headed by the late Sanni Abacha discovered that he was winning more followers, they found a way to set him up and went for his head. But he had warned that his kind was the last to use peaceful means to draw attention to such issues. He was prophetic. When militants took over the creeks, they were not carrying smoking pipes like the late Ken Saro-Wiwa, they were armed with smoking guns and bazookas. The pipe-smoking Ken didn’t get the amnesty the militants got.
For now the guns are silent in the creeks. Kidnapping, which was introduced in the heady days of militancy in the Niger Delta has come to take permanent dwelling on our shores. The late frontline nationalist, Chief Anthony Enahoro, through Movement for National Reformation (MNR) clamored for a national conference to allow the various ethnic nationalities negotiate the terms of their co existence. He saw the pain in the land and wanted to use their platform of MNR to heal the nation. He died without achieving his dreams. Today, Boko Haram is not only throwing bombs at innocent Nigerian men, women and children, it is issuing threats to the president to become a Muslim as a condition for a reprieve. The interesting thing is that the government is willing to negotiate. The late Ken Saro-Wiwa and Chief Anthony Enahoro did not achieve this “feat.”
Let’s doff our hats for Boko Haram! By default, the pains we experience from the Boko Haram saga is today the most eloquent demonstration that a national conference is long over due. The pain has lasted this long because dialogue with those in the corridors of power has turned into monologue as it is like dialogue with the deaf.
Now that the pain of Boko Haram has jolted us out of our collective vulgar inertia and complacency, this is the time we need healers, visionary leaders and diviners. Not zealots who will rupture old scars and fan the embers of ethnic discord. While well meaning and concerned patriots are advocating for one form of conference or the other to have a meaningful discussion among ourselves as a people, Lamido Sanusi is hurling verbal missiles at other ethnic nationalities and inciting northerners against southerners.
I will give him one credit though. He has succeeded in using his position as the Central Bank Governor to raise his profile as a protector of Northern interests.
The sad thing is that his emerging profile is that of an intellectual terrorist and purveyor of inanities and primordial ethnic sentiments. Who ever trades on these to gain attention and power is only a political charlatan.
When the history of the true Nigerian heroes will be written, he will only be lucky to have a slight footnote as a political dinosaur trapped in the glacier of primordial history.Share