The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II, on Monday, February 17; lamented the rising waves of poverty, insecurity, and illiteracy in the North.
Sanusi made this call during the 60th birthday celebration of the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, in Kaduna.
The Emir said no Northern leaders could afford to be happy; in the midst of the socio-economic problems facing the region.
He spoke just as the humanitarian crisis occasioned by the insurgency in the North-east has forced some 1,000 residents of Kayamla in Borno State out of their homes. These IDPs have taken to sleeping on Maiduguri streets; for fear of being attacked by Boko Haram.
Sanusi also warned that the region cannot continue to rely on the quota system and federal character; to get jobs for its children at the expense of the other parts of the country; which are busy turning out graduates.
He said the region would destroy itself if it did not change its current status and address the challenges of poverty; millions of out-of-school children, malnutrition, drug problem, and Boko Haram insurgency.
“Nobody who is a leader in Northern Nigeria today can afford to be happy. You cannot be happy about 87 percent 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 percent 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.”
“Also, you can’t be happy with political thuggery. You can’t be happy with all the issues; the Almajiri problem that we have.
“So, we wish Nasir a happy birthday, but we do not want him to be happy as a leader; because you are happy when you think you have reached a state of delivering and taking your people to where you want them to be.”
He said there was a need to give younger people and women a chance in the governance process.
“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 primary healthcare,” he stated.
He commended el-Rufai’s reforms in the education sector; noting that what the governor is doing in the sector is what will save the North.
“If you look at what Nasir is doing in Kaduna, with 40 percent 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.
“If the North does not change, the North will destroy itself. The country is moving on.”