You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2017 04 26Article 532331

Opinions of Wednesday, 26 April 2017


Thoughts of a modern muslim King on achieving success in life

The Emir of Kano State in Nigeria, Mallam Mahammadu Sanusi II, has taken a swipe at conservative Muslims leaders who discourage attitudes and activities that would enliven people of Islamic faith.

According to him, but for some Muslims leaders’ opposing civilization and modernity, a situation he described as un-Islamic; Muslims dominated communities, particularly in northern Nigeria, would not have found themselves in present retarded state.

Born Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the astute economist and former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, said the challenges facing most Northern parts of West Africa countries, particularly Nigeria, is “because we have adopted an interpretation of our culture and our religion that is rooted in a 13th Century mindset that refuses to recognize that the rest of the Muslim world has moved on.”

Citing examples of the destruction of romance and love books by a Former Governor of Kano, and, response by the Zamfara State Governor to meningitis outbreak in Nigeria, the Emir said what exists in Northern Nigeria is “a complete failure of social policy.”

Mallam Mahammadu Sanusi II, who is the 14th Emir of Kano, made this statement while delivering the keynote speech at KADINVEST 2.0, an event organized by the Kaduna Sate Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, to encourage trade and investments.

Read parts of Mallam, Mahammadu Sanusi II’s address below…

Let me remind everyone that I publicly opposed that opposition to the movie industry. Because as an Economist, I know that setting up; building Kannywood is one of the major strategies that would have led to the growth of the economy of Kano, we already had the comparative advantage.

An industry that would have created jobs, we already have a youthful population that is being imaginative; that is producing good movie ideas that are popular.

We are producing actors and actresses, costume designers, photographers and that entire industry is now being moved to Kaduna. I am sad that Kano has lost it, but I am happy Kaduna is getting it.

But this brings me to the next level of discourse of my submission which is Northern Nigeria because we need to understand the roots of the problems of Northern Nigeria. Kannywood is one example. Many years ago, maybe a decade or little more than a decade ago, in Kano, a State Governor who was a University graduate, who was a teacher, organized a public event at which books written by Northern Nigerian authors were burnt.

We set fire to books; you know the kind of things the medieval churches do in the dark ages, burning books of science; it happened in Kano.

Burning books; what is the crime of those books? They are writing about something called Soyeya and love apparently is supposed be a very bad word.

In a society where you don’t love your women and you don’t love your children, you allow them to beg me and beat up your women, why should anyone talk about love? Why?

Because we have adopted an interpretation of our culture and our religion that is rooted in a 13th Century mindset that refuses to recognize that the rest of the Muslim world has moved on.

Today in Malaysia, you wake up and divorce your wife; that is fine but you give her fifty percent of all the wealth you have acquired since you married her. It is a Muslim country. In Nigeria, you wake up after 20 years of married you say to your wife, “I divorce you” and that it is.

Other Muslim nations have pushed forward girl child education, they have pushed forward science and technology, they have pushed forward the arts, and you know we have this myth in Northern Nigeria where we try to create an Islamic Society that never existed.

You tell me that we should not write books on love in Nigeria! I don’t know, how many of you have read “A thousand and One Nights”.

Have you heard of it “A Thousand and One Nights”, a book of Arabic love and erotica? That entire story was around the palace of Caliph Harun al-Rashid, an Abbasid Caliph.

The scholars that lived in the Abbasid period that we are quoting, the great scholars were alive when “A thousand and one nights” was written. We are fighting culture, we are fighting civilization.

Now this is the context that Kaduna State finds itself in where the greatest challenges we have are, one: We must wage and intellectual war because Islam is not univocal; there are many voices, there are many interpretations, there are many view points and we have for too long allowed the most conservative view point to be in the ascendency. And the consequences of that are that there are certain social problems.

In 1960, land per rural hector dweller in Nigeria was 2.0 hectors, today, it is 0.9 hectors.

In a decade, it will be 0.5 hectors. Some of these have been environmental desertification, desalination. Some of it has been huge demographic explosion and we do not want to address.

The age at which girls get taken out of school and married, the number of children that they have; having babies every year, the number of wives people have when they cannot maintain them and their children; these subjects have been tabooed but we cannot fix the North and get investments into the North until we confront these subjects.

What are our attitudes towards educating our girls? What are our attitudes towards child spacing so that we can financially maintain and educate and bring up children? What is the purpose of a large population that is not educated, that is jobless, that is unemployed?

Of what benefit is it to the North to have three million children out of school roaming the streets begging? I can’t think- I can’t conceivably think of any benefit to us, us human beings or Nigerians or as Northerners or as Muslims of having this army of unemployed beggars.

And the system cannot cope. You have 250,000 out of school children today, you build the schools; by the time those schools are built you have 500,000 waiting on the doors.

So there has been, for me, in Northern Nigeria a complete failure of social policy and for us to address social policy, we have to reclaim our religion. We have to look at what our religion actually says as opposed to what culture says.

And we have to have the courage to go through the path that all societies went through, which is to stand up and challenge, intellectually, world views. I mean some of the examples are horrendous. I am, sorry but a current issue yesterday, if it is true what I read, 200000 people died of meningitis in a State, the Governor was asked and he said it is God’s curse on us for the sins; for the sin of fornication which apparently does not happen in America which is why they don’t have meningitis. I mean look- how have we reduced ourselves? What have we done us a people that we have placed ourselves in this situation where simple things; is a medical issue. You don’t have vaccine; you don’t have vaccine, go and find vaccines.

Treat those who have caught it, don’t give these kinds of explanations; but this is the mindset, and I have a degree in Islamic law and I can tell you that is not an Islamically correct statement to make.

But these are the kinds of these we have and I think when we talk about a difficult environment, we will realize that ninety percent of that difficulty we can address because it is self-inflicted.

So how do we attract investment in this environment because remember that people still invest in Afghanistan.

They invest in Russia, they invest in Iraq, those environments are not necessarily better or less corrupt or safer than our environment. I think summits such as this are the beginning, I think this attitude that Governor El-Rufai has taken where he appoints himself as chief marketing for Kaduna State has to continue.