Some indigenes of Kano State have reacted to some statements by the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, with some describing them as critical and inflammatory comments on religious and family issues.
Mr. Sanusi, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, recently called for the regulation of marriage to second wives. He warned men who could not cater for their family not to marry more than one wife.
The foremost traditional ruler also criticised conservative northern leaders who discouraged attitudes and activities that, he said, would have developed the region.
He also criticised Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State for saying the outbreak of meningitis in his state was God’s punishment for peoples’ sins, insisting “That is not an Islamically correct statement to make.”
Mr. Sanusi had also called on governors of northern states to use mosques as primary schools, especially in the villages.
In separate interviews with PREMIUM TIMES, the Kano residents asked the traditional ruler to stop making statements, some of which they said were critical of Islamic teachings.
A former presidential aspirant on the ticket of the Labour Party, Isa Tijjani, asked Mr. Sanusi to moderate his public utterances so as not to send wrong signals to people.
“I give it to you that you are educationally sound in both the western education and our religious (Islamic) education,” he said.
“Your Highness, I want to say that education must be accompanied with wisdom to achieve a desired goal which in this case I understand it to mean your genuine concern for the deplorable state of affairs in the north.”
Responding to Mr. Sanusi’s claim that the northwest and northeast geo-political zones were the poorest in the country, Mr. Tijjani, an activist, said the emir’s definition and understanding of poverty might be different from his own because he (emir) was an economist.
“In this world where basic survival is the greatest challenge, if a society is able to feed itself without intervention from any donor organisation, it cannot be classified as poor.
“In any case, 90 per cent of our people do not aspire to lead an elite’s life if that is the yardstick of measuring poverty.”
On the Kano rail project, Mr. Tijjani cautioned Mr. Sanusi against condemning policies and programmes of the state government at public fora, saying it was dangerous no matter how the foremost traditional ruler felt about such policies.
Lawan Gamsuwa, a security officer, said Islam had a position on the issue of marriage and therefore by his comment, the emir was promoting divorce.
He said, “Don’t forget the same person was crying against rampant divorces but at the same time he is saying a wife should slap back her husband whenever he slaps her. What do you think this would cause? Indeed, rampant break of more marriages.
“So, the family bond that allows for intervention whenever there is misunderstanding between couples has been clearly spelt out in the Holy Quran.”
On Mr. Sanusi’s position on education and poverty, Mr. Gamsuwa claimed that the emir had merely supported the position of southern Nigerians against the north.
According to him, the south had always believed that the north was a parasite and the traditional ruler’s comments seemed to have supported that position.
“He (Sanusi) exaggerated the situation by linking our Islamic religion to the whole problem as responsible of our predicaments,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.
“Remember the south was talking only on the poverty and probably education but had never attacked our religion because they know the sensitivity of that.”
Mr. Gamsuwa argued that Mr. Sanusi had forgotten that Nigeria never witnessed the Type C meningitis before now and therefore no governor in the country could have prepared for the new disease.
A teacher, Umar Labu, described as “unfair” Mr. Sanusi’s critical stance on state governors over the outbreak of meningitis, saying they (governors) were not prepared for the type of disease that broke out.
He, however, said the governors should not be totally absolved of blame because they ought to have established laboratories that would frequently conduct tests on various diseases with a view to identifying the new ones.
Mr. Labu also said though the issue of Almajiri was a social problem that exposed the north’s economic backwardness, the region had been a hub of commercial activities and produces some essential commodities for the country.
“So, I think the emir should help provide the means of how the problems of Almajiri would be solved so that we will stop being portrayed as being beggarly,” he said.
He also advised the emir to help reform Islamic teachings which for hundreds of years clearly gave a position on family issues. He called on Islamic faithful to stick to the teachings, warning that “any move by the emir to change that will not be accepted.”
However, a businessman, Sani Abdullahi, defended Mr. Sanusi’s positions on the various issues, saying he did not see anything wrong in what the traditional ruler said.
Mr. Abdullahi told this newspaper that the elected leaders had for a long time disappointed the electorate and therefore critics like Mr. Sanusi should speak up.
He wondered why a governor would allow over 300 people in his state, including children to be killed by a disease and went ahead to blame it on punishment from God.
“I salute Emir Sanusi, our revered leader, for being bold in attacking these people,” Mr. Abdullahi said.
On Mr. Sanusi’s comment on poverty and education in the north, Mr. Abdullahi said, “What is the lie about the position of the Emir? Is it not true that the north is suffering from all angles of poverty, lack of education?
“What have these elected persons done for all these years they ruled us? Where is the money they have been allocated? So why shouldn’t a leader in Emir Sanusi stand up to say the truth?”
He also backed the emir’s position on some family issues, saying marriage should be a partnership.
“I stand with the emir because there should be a deviation from the old barbaric way we live with our families, with the husband feeling he is all and all, while even the religion clearly stated that marriage is a partnership. So, why should a partner subject his other half to severe punishment?
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Northern Elders Council, NEC, Tanko Yakasai, challenged Mr. Sanusi and other traditional rulers in the north to contribute five per cent of any funds allocated to them to address the region’s education backwardness.
“The traditional rulers who are receiving substantial amount of money from the public coffers need to come in here to address the problems of backwardness in terms of western education,” Mr. Yakasai, a former presidential aide, said.