By Toby Prince
Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, has said that Nigerians from the northern region would destroy themselves if they fail to address their many challenges.
Sanusi spoke on Monday at the 60th birthday of Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, in Kaduna.
His concerns come amid worrying statistics released by the World Bank in a report that 87 per cent of the poor in the country resided in the North.
The World Bank also described the North-West as home to almost half of all the poor in the country.
Sanusi listed some of the challenges as poverty, millions of out-of-schoolchildren, malnutrition, drug abuse, Almajiri and the Boko Haram insurgency.
He said: “Now, because of the condition of Northern Nigeria, it is almost correct now to say that, if you are seen as normal, if you are a governor in the North or a leader in the North, and you are seen as normal in the sense that you continue to do what your predecessors have been doing, doing the same thing, which has been normalised, then, there is something wrong with you, you are part of the problem.
“The real change in the North will come from those who are considered mad people, because you look around and say if this is the way we have been doing things and this is where we have ended up, maybe we need to do things differently.”
Sanusi encouraged northern leaders to emulate El-Rufai, saying the region should not continue to rely on quota system and federal character to get jobs for its children.
He said: “And the truth is, if you look at what Nasir is doing in Kaduna, with 40 per cent 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.
“We have been saying this for 20 to 30 years. If the North does not change, the North will destroy itself. The country is moving on. The quota system that everybody talks about must have a sunset clause.”
Senate President Ahmad Lawan, at the event, likened the frightening number of out-of-school children in the North to a time bomb.
“Until we are able to reverse this kind of trend, no matter how much infrastructure you put, you will still have that social angle that will actually lead to serious insecurity, the kind that we experience or even worse, God forbid. So, we need to look at the people,” Lawan said.