By Amatesiro Dore
About a year ago it was reported that the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was getting married to an under-aged bride. There were denials from the Emir’s palace and Nigerian media were relieved. Our national image was already being disfigured by the kidnap of the Chibok schoolgirls, the terrorism of Boko Haram, and the elected presence of a renowned paedophile in the Nigerian Senate.
It was as though the agitation for a Nigerian President from northern Nigeria resumed the competition between the North and South on how to destroy Nigeria. The Niger Delta militancy, oil theft and kidnapping industry had earned the South-South region a Vice Presidential position. And the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua led to the ascension of Vice President Goodluck Jonathan. From a restive and murderous Islamic sect, Boko Haram metamorphosed into an international terrorism organisation during the re-election campaign circle of President Jonathan. From the expulsion of Southern Christians and violence against indigenous Northern Christians, Boko Haram began a full scale onslaught on fellow Muslim establishments. That was when the consciousness of Northern leaders woke up to the sufferings of their people. Even when the Chibok schoolgirls were kidnapped, the Jonathan presidency perceived it as a northern conspiracy to tarnish his political image. Most importantly, after a Boko Haram bomb killed hundreds in Abuja, President Jonathan travelled the next day to sing and dance at a political campaign rally in Kano. That was the beginning of the end of his presidency.
The root of Boko Haram was ignorance. Ignorance was the number one tool of Nigerian politicians and power figures to control people. Aside from Chief Obafemi Awolowo and the Western regional government, most Nigerian governments and leaders promoted a state policy of destroying public education infrastructure in Nigeria. Public schools were starved of funds, teachers were unpaid for months and intellectuals were frustrated out of the system while the wards of powerful citizens went abroad to receive the best education money could buy. That was why the First Lady from an oil rich Southern state couldn’t communicate in English despite her university degrees. And in northern Nigeria, ignorance was art.
There was a sense of national victory when Sanusi Lamido Sanusi became Muhammadu Sanusi II of the largest city and commercial capital of Northern Nigeria. Finally, Nigerians heaved, an inspiring Northerner who would break the jinx of poverty and ignorance perpetuated by Middle Eastern religions and atavistic cultures in a region where the dominant mantra was “western education is evil”.
Alas, while the Chibok schoolgirls remained in Boko Haram captivity and hundreds of Nigerians were killed during hajj, the head of the Nigerian delegation to the Islamic pilgrimage and educated Emir of Kano married an under-educated eighteen year old Muslim schoolgirl whose mate from Pakistan was already a Nobel Laureate. In his defence, he stated that his marriage wasn’t something he expected a “western trained or feminist mind to appreciate or endorse”. Then he lashed out against “homosexuality” and “America” as though they had any connection to his libido. About his secondary-school-level bride, he said: “I see a princess of noble birth whose mother is also a princess, and who has been brought up in a good Muslim home. This is the kind of woman that is prepared for giving birth to princes and bringing them up for the role expected of them in society”. About his daughters, he added: “they know they can only marry from certain backgrounds”.
Most of the missing Chibok schoolgirls were the same age as Emir Sanusi’s fourth wife. Did his royal eminence send the biggest endorsement for Boko Haram terrorists to marry off the Chibok schoolgirls? Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II has become an embodiment of the northern establishment that impoverished northern Nigeria. They received the best western education while their subjects could only obtain an Islamic education that couldn’t equip them for the modern world. They married the maximum four wives while their subjects grappled with the economic impracticalities of polygamy in a poverty-stricken land. The population boom, financial woes and widespread illiteracy were the breeding ground for Boko Haram terrorism.
With his words and actions, knowingly and unknowingly, the Emir of Kano has promoted the principles that enabled the spread of Boko Haram. And in these circumstances, his personal life has become an issue of national security.