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[Opinion] 160 Million Dumb Nigerians

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Bayo Oluwasanmi

 

Despite its very evident prosperity, many people in Nigeria are in excruciating pain. That distress is most visible to the poor majority while the ruling elites do not see it or pretend not to see it.

The broken covenant – the social contract – between the government and the governed illuminates the ineptitude and callousness of those elected by the people to fight on their behalf.

Romantic yearning for Utopia and revolt against a polluted society are the two poles which provide the tension of all militant uprising or civil agitation.

We see things differently. While the psychiatrist sees the craving for Utopia and rebellion against the status quo as symptoms of social maladjustment, the social reformer sees both as symptoms of a healthy rational attitude.

Max was right when he said that a moribund society creates its own morbid gravediggers. Revolt against injustice is not only honorable but it is imperative.

Since independence, Nigeria has been blessed with nonentities as leaders. Leaders who perceive no need-spots for specific problems. Leaders who possess no gift and no competence to address the needs of the people.

Leaders who cannot persuade people. Leaders who are not able to attract others to join a cause. Leaders who pursue no purpose and employ no measures to accomplish the desired goals.

We lack a strong leader who could cast a national vision. In these days, there is no one in charge in Nigeria: everyone and everything seem to thrive in chaos.

The federal economic and finance minister/coordinator, manipulators, and other self-styled economic gurus, continue to deceive Nigerians with voodoo economic analyses that things are not as bad as they seem. But behind closed doors, they sing different tunes.

One thing however they cannot refute is the reality of the perpetual chasm separating the poor and the ruling class. The ruling class inflamed the anger and the pain of the working class by refusing to talk about it and being disinclined to listen.

The impoverishment of our people keeps me awake at night. I hear them in the darkness around me. It is the cries of these countless victims which rouse me in the long watches of the night.

It is the willing silence and sheepish submission to subjugation, poverty, and oppression that infuriate me to write today and always. It is thinking of the martyrs who fought and died for the starved and strapped Nigerians that egg me on.

The members of the ruling class have destroyed the vision of the future. They have turned their backs on the future and embraced the past. The addiction of these vultures to corruption and wickedness frankly and nakedly set them against all human values and democratic norms.

The slightest opposition and the merest criticism expose the few Nigerians who dare the authorities to the severest penalties. People in our reform social ladder are instantly suppressed and those who stand out independently are mown down.

Nigeria is in a mess. Able-bodied Nigerians turned beggars wandered through the streets. Petty street hawkers of underwear, socks, rubber heels, corsets, silverware, and other ancient objects appeared like a rash over the face of Nigeria towns and cities.

Graduates at all levels across disciplines drive danfos, molues, and bolekajas for a niggardly amount. Others settle for the “Area Boys” specialties and dark alley businesses of assorted brands.

Our unemployed youths in the millions have become a wild and homeless lot, socially disinherited, candidates for Aro, morgues, prisons, and the electric chair.

Our elderly are hungry. They depend on public charity and their Good Samaritan neighbors for food and for a place to sleep.

Days of somber discouragement follow our pensioners. Some died in penury, of hunger and disease. The rest of them live a vagabond, lonely, and perilous lives. Their depression soon reached that extreme stage when the will is paralyzed and physical resistance suddenly gives way.

Like inflated currency, Nigerian workers have lost the real meaning of living. They look like a huddle of stragglers from a beaten army. Irony and shame kept intruding in their chosen vocations and careers. Their former passion for dignity of labor has turned into perversion.

The once virile and vibrant Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) of Michael Imodu and Wahab Goodluck has become a castrated giant whose brag and bluster only served to cover its lost virility.

Oil – our commonwealth – has been cut into cubes and blocks shared among the military hyenas and civilian vultures.

Nigerian governments – federal, state, and local – always stand for swindling, intrigue, and privilege. They could not stand for anything else. Neither law nor force can change it. If retribution occasionally catches up with them, this can only be by the dispensation of God.

The hopelessness of Nigerians’ limited lives – lives truncated and impoverished by the oppressors – keeps the rest of us wondering what next?

Majority of Nigerians live on less than $2 a day. And it is their starvation wages which permit the swollen pay packets of the ruling class and other privileged economic saboteurs.

Once Nigerians started on the slippery slope, nothing could hold them back. At every turn, they are forced to advance, sliding further into the abyss of shame.

Each federal legislator takes home N29 million every month. The governors, state legislators, and local government chairmen and council members receive criminally huge compensations. The same governors said they couldn’t afford the minimum wage of N18, 000.

The ruling native tyrants have seized as it were, all available prime land and jerked up prices everywhere in the country. Few days ago, I read that a plot of land in Banana Republic in Ikoyi sells for N1 billion while the landless poor have nowhere to lay their heads.

Also last week, I read that a village head in Akwa Ibom State had begun a three-month hunger strike in protest of a dilapidated high school building erected 31 years ago. He said the governor had repeatedly ignored his pleas to visit the school. Here is a story on Governor Godswill  Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State reported by SaharaReporters June, 30:

“Three stewards working in the Akwa Ibom state governor’s lodge in Asokoro, Abuja was on Friday summarily dismissed by the governor, Godswill Akpabio, over missing bundles of mint fresh dollars valued at over  $250,000 (N40 million) kept in the governor’s bedroom.

The governor who reportedly issued the instruction to dispense with the services of the political appointees personally found out on Wednesday during his visit to Abuja that four bundles of the foreign currency he left in his bedroom had been stolen while he was gone to a dinner with President Goodluck Jonathan at the Aso Rock Villa.

Saharareporters gathered that the bundles of dollars kept in the drawers in the governor’s bedroom were leftovers from stacks of hard currency stashed away in a private security safe.”

Instead of building new roads, the rulers have resorted into buying jets with stolen money from our treasury. As at the time of writing, 400 privately owned jets were reportedly parked at hangar of Abuja International Airport.

The death trap roads are now exclusively reserved for the poor. Meanwhile, Nigerians are dying in abnormal numbers every day on these roads.

Our local schools, colleges, and universities are but wastelands of academic refuse. The institutions have been abandoned long ago by the children of legislators and other robber barons.  Our hospitals have become death houses for the poor – the only patients that still patronize such institutions.

As humiliated and downtrodden people, Nigerians endure the worst abuses without complaint. One would have expected Nigerians to develop a strong hatred and dislike of the obviously rich- the thieves, crooks, scammers, embezzlers, looters, and leeches – of the economy, not because they could afford to buy things at any price, but because they were able to do so without a guilty conscience.

Few among the suffering Nigerians deny their anger even as they show it. A large number has been beaten into almost numb submission into accepting poverty as an act of God and that they’ll never reach the goals they once thought possible.

But the few, very few, refused to accept being treated as lesser human beings and they respond to the insult with furious indignation by brief sporadic, uncoordinated, protests and resistance.

For a moment or so, the cultural atmosphere would be saturated with experimental resistance, protests, and movements. With the exception of one cleric who always pitches his tent with the poor masses, the rest of legion of jet pastors would admonish the poor to embark on marathon night vigils and fast for their deliverance from the oppressors.

For once – Occupy Nigeria – looked indeed as if Nigeria convulsed after the subsidy removal, underpinned by scourged inflation, depression, unemployment, and the absence of a faith to live for.

Composed mainly of handful of Nigerians, Occupy Nigeria attests to the all time truth that at all times and in all creeds only a minority has been capable of courting trouble and committing emotional hara-kiri on behalf of the proletariat.

The bedroom confidence of the protesters soon evaporates like a puddle under a scotching desert sun. The protest was high jacked by lukewarm labor leader corrupters.

The uncompromising fire of radical, and purist zealotry lit by the organizers was instantly put out by the union bosses who clung to the empty shell of greed driven by polluted civilization.

After Occupy Nigeria protest (and like many previous protests) had been effectively neutralized and vanished like a tantalizing mirage, social life went back to normal.

Nobody asked: Why can’t the oppressed prolonged and sustained the protest longer? Why can it not become a permanent basis for the reorganization of our public life?

It is not a false interpretation to conclude that the major obstacle to Nigeria’s version of Arab Spring is fear. Nigerians are cowards, spineless, and weak.

Have you ever tried to hammer a nail with your shoes? Or tighten a screw with a fingernail file? Or shield yourself from a rainstorm with just a newspaper? When do you need a hammer or screw driver or umbrella?

The ruling class has provided the ingredients necessary for their successful overthrow. So far, Nigerians are substituting lethal weapons generously supplied by their oppressors with shoes as hammers, fingernail files to tighten screws, and newspapers as umbrellas for rainstorm.

The rigor of the economic clime, the poverty colony, and the harsh living conditions should have made Nigerians one of the toughest, hardest, and enduring protesters and resisters in the world.

The cautious, calculating, submissive, nervous time-server Nigerians watched their steps, looked over their shoulders, loudly professed loyalty, and monotonously repeated the official propaganda in exchange for crumbs from the master’s table.

Everything about Nigeria is different. Everything is in the reverse. Things that worked in other countries won’t work in Nigeria. Which is why the country is not moving forward and it would take eternity for it to advance with the rest of the developed world.

Nigerians are afraid of police arrest, police clubbing, police shooting, afraid to be handcuffed afraid to endure the sun or the rain for a little longer than necessary, and afraid to confront their oppressors.

They are easily cowered and easily bought. They forget that freedom is not free. And that the only language that oppressors understand is force or fire.

A poor, powerless Black woman by the name Rosa Parks ignited the American Civil Rights movement. She risked her life when she dared the white oppressors by refusing to give up her seat for a white passenger. Men, women, and children were killed, maimed, beaten, and jailed in the fight for racial equality.

Steve Biko and other countless patriots sacrificed their lives to end Apartheid. Of course our legendary President Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison for the cause of freedom.

Not long ago, a young unemployed Tunisian graduate preferred to be immolated than surrender to the oppressive Tunisian regime. His personal sacrifice gave birth to the Tunisian Revolution.

Egyptians have taken to the streets again calling for the ouster of their newly elected President Muhammed Morsi. Brazilians came out in thousands to protest against increased fare in public transportation. President Dilma Rousseff had since bowed to the people’s will.

Remember President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines whose wife owned 2,000 pair of shoes? Well, the dictator was brought to his knees by the People Power Revolution in 1986 comprised over two million Filipino civilians as well as several political, military, and including religious groups led by Cardinal Jaime Sin, the Archbishop of Manila.

Lech Walesa the unemployed Polish electrician organized the illegal 1970 strikes at Gdansk Shipyard in protest of government’s decree raising food prices. Because of his singular act of bravery, the Solidarity Trade Union grew into a10 million-member movement. The government was forced to accede to the workers’ demands.

The list goes on and on, and on.

The world watched with disdain and mockery at the stupidity of oppressed Nigerians:

If these native oppressors are worst than colonial masters, why didn’t they rebel?

How could small band of thieves in government enslave so many people and exert complete control over the rest 99.9 per cent of the 160 million people?

How could they have successfully immobilized and sterilized so many Nigerians mentally, spiritually, and physically?

How could they have successfully perpetuated a blend of covert and overt tyranny, public policy, and secret alliances with the very oppressed?

Why didn’t the tyranny, humiliation, and primitive stagnation of life of the poor caused by these vultures in government provoke a rebellion on the part of the oppressed?

The answer to these and other nagging questions could be summed up in one sentence: 160 million dumb Nigerians!

 

byolu@aol.com

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. unique

    July 2, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    A that putts rebbels,millitants and terrorists in payroll,but arrests unemployed graduates for protesting for lack of job opportunities.
    A country the senate president vehemently refuse to pay the unemployed graduates a token but receives #29 million monthly.
    May God come to our rescue

  2. tos

    July 2, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Bayo oluwasanmi, this is the real situation in the country called Nigeria. however, the truth is that the collution btween the yorubas, hausas and the minority tribes in Nigeria to decimate the igbos is a great atrocity that even you will stand to defend whenever is brought to public sphere. it is arant hipocricy. and i tell you, the blood of the innocent igbos is what will make sure nigeria will remain like this till thy kingdom come. if that atrocity is not addressed whatever anybody does is more or less window dressing. God’s vengeance visits the offsprings of those who pepetrated atrocities on innocent people.Ask mr. gowon what is happening in his hometown with regards to fulanis. the first step to fruitful revolution is for the youths of those mentioned tribes whose fathers went on a killing spree to come out and ask their fathers questions regarding their atrocities, by so doing you will observe positive changes in Nigeria

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Opinion

Who Will Explain Coronavirus To Buhari?

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Coronavirus (COVID-19), an exorable doom, threatens life on the planet. It is exorable because it is conquerable. This explains why world leaders are taking the charge to combat this ominous apocalypse. It is a time for leadership from the fore-end; a time when citizens must hear their leaders speak to them; see them take action, making assurances and fulfilling those promises. The counsel, consolation and firm statement of a leader is imperative at this moment.

In Canada, Justin Trudeau, prime minister, despite being in self-isolation and his wife battling the virus after contracting it at a conference in the UK, is leading the fight against this dreaded disease from the fore. He is providing regular updates of the efforts of his government to roll back this scourge, listening and speaking to citizens.

In a popular broadcast on March 13, Justin spoke to citizens of Canada announcing measures to relieve the financial stress brought on by the pandemic on Canadians.

“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members. We need to make sure that Canadians have the options and the ability to follow the best public health advice and keep themselves safe,” he said.

In the UK, Boris Johnson, prime minister, leads the struggle against coronavirus. He provides updates, alongside health experts, on the measures his government is taking to tackle the spread of the disease. And in the US, Donald Trump is not shying away from speaking to Americans on the virus.

As a matter of fact, President Muhammadu Buhari’s lapses are often easily dismissed by his supporters or by Nigerians who do not know better. Some of them say, ‘’ Why must the president speak when the minister of health and the NCDC DG are already doing that?” This is a contemptible rationalisation of incompetence. Are they suggesting the president lacks the capacitance to understand the issues?’’

Really, I surmise the president has been walled off the ‘’candid cameras’’ over the years by his handlers – not just now – because he lacks the intellectual propensity to understand and discuss incisive issues. The last presidential media chat he held was in 2015 and it was a woeful outing. Also, his non-choreographed media interviews have been abysmal to say the least.

The truth is the unfiltered Buhari is a vacuously gaffing one. On October 14, 2016, standing beside Angela Merkel, German chancellor, Buhari said his wife, Aisha, ‘’belonged in the kitchen and the other room’’, when he was asked to comment on the first lady’s criticism of his government.

On April 18, 2018, at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London, the president said the young citizens of the country he leads are lazy.

“More than 60 per cent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free,” he said during a panel appearance with world leaders at the forum.

In a February 2016 interview with UK Telegraph, Buhari dropped another clanger. He said the young citizens of his country have a knack for criminality and should not be granted asylum in the UK.

With the Buhari experience, it is indubitable that Nigerians must place a high premium on education — not just certificate – in choosing their leaders. The cost of electing leaders who do not have the intellectual grit to understand and handle matters is far too high.

The senate has asked the president to speak to citizens on this threat, and Nigerians are also asking the president to speak to them. This is an abnormality. Citizens must not beg to hear from their president. But because it is Buhari involved here, we have to beg and even excuse the crass inefficiency and vacuity.

Perhaps, the president is still trying to get a hang of it. I think he has ‘’capable handlers’’ who can break it down to him in ABC.

Mr President, speak to your citizens. The words of a leader are more resounding and assuring than the blandishment of proxies.

PS: Let’s follow all health protocol as advised by the NCDC.

• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water.

• Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.

• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

• Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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Opinion

Sanusi: Once Upon An Emir, By Wole Olaoye

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Dethroned Monarch, Sanusi

We are all potential Ex-es: ex-student, ex-director, ex-lecturer, ex-senator, ex-governor, ex-president, ex-oba, ex-emir…. The inimitable Zik famously reminded us when he had a spat with Ukpabi Asika that Ex was an inevitable prefix for any human being as was evidenced by the fact that a certain young man who would someday become an ex-Administrator, was the son of an ex-postmaster!

So, what’s so apocalyptic about Sanusi Lamido Sanusi joining the ranks of ex-potentates? Nothing? Everything! Don’t ever think that bell you are hearing is tolling for the former Emir of Kano. No. It could be signalling the beginning of a comprehensive demystification of traditional rulership by plebeians holding tenured political power. In centuries past, no plebeian messed with the traditional institution. The halo of nobility, the sheer vastness of a prince’s hereditary powers, rights and privileges, made the subject know his place.

Yesterday’s subjects are today’s political sovereign. They make no pretences to sophistication. They load a gun to kill a spider. When you dethrone a monarch and then deprive him of his liberty, forcefully banishing him to a place without electricity and potable water, you are playing god. If it was all a public relations Olympics, the calm dignity with which Sanusi handled the humiliation made people all over the world admire his chutzpa and hand him the gold medal. A

Life and its many puzzles! Why is it that for some men and women, “their sleep is taken away unless they cause some to fall”? What do you do about an ego that knows no satiation? As the Preacher in the Good Book timelessly says, “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full… The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear content with hearing… there is nothing new under the sun”.

The Yoruba have a poem that says just that. “The horse struts and frets and then dies. Being a veteran walker is no immunity to getting lost. Nothing new under the sun. I’ve seen kings reduced to slaves; and servants who mounted the throne. Haven’t my eyes beheld both river and sea? Haven’t I seen a hunchback on spindly legs, and a midget climbing a ladder to add condiment to the soup pot? Tell me, has anyone ever started a building from the roof?

The new Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, is a cousin of his predecessor. As royal intrigues go, when the dust is settled the sword will be sheathed and brother will embrace brother. That is the way of princes. Eventually, outsiders will realise that all they can ever be in palace politics is outsiders. Our very own Nobel prize winning Kongi was not amused by the scandalous extra-judicial detention of the former emir.

He put the emir’s travail down to his progressive stance: “Emir Sanusi was a one-man EFCC sanitisation squad in the banking system, taking on the powerful corrupters of that institution…. “Most important of all, and most pertinently for the nation, Sanusi was one of the early warning voices against religious extremism whose bitter fruits the nation is currently reaping….

The doors of enlightened society remain wide open to Muhammad Sanusi. As for his current crowing Nemesis, a different kind of gates remain yawning to receive him when, as must, the days of governorship immunity finally come to an end.” Support for Sanusi is not limited to radical voices.

Veteran technocrat Alhaji Ahmed Joda penned a panegyric in support of the ex-emir: “The purpose of this letter to you is not to commiserate with you, because I know that you must have known the likely consequences  of the principled position you have taken. The reality we must face in Northern Nigeria is that the evil forces of feudalism that have kept us in bondage for so long are still there and fighting. You have been the only voice that has been telling us this truth….”

It is easy to kick a man given a pin-fall by fate, or piss on the grave of a fallen warrior. Dead men don’t bite. Real friends show up when you are in life’s valley. Say what you will, I would rather have a friend like Nasir el Rufai when the chips are down. In the midst of all the turmoil, conspiracy theories have surfaced to the effect that the dethronement is but a political sleight-of-hand to propel Sanusi to Nigeria’s presidency in 2023. Caution! Let’s separate the issues. Political succession is totally different from fundamental human rights. Sanusi is not my next president.

My views on power rotation are well documented. The ex-emir will go down in history as a champion for the rights of the poorest of the poor. He advocated for a new Northern Nigeria where old backward practices such as the almajiri system and irresponsible parenting will be abandoned. His was the voice crying out in the desert, lift my people up from the cesspit of penury. The attempt to demonise him after dethronement through various allegations, including one on religious fundamentalism, is dead on arrival. The same fate will befall the vilification of El Rufai on account of his loyalty to Sanusi. Please quote me: Modern challenges can never be resolved with a resort to medieval solutions.

Christopher Hitchens’ Q&A may someday apply to the ex-Kings College boy who’s now an ex-king.

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Opinion

Sanusi Dethronement: The North Only Beheads The Bearers Of Truth

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Emir Sanusi

By Fredrick Nwabufo

Northern Nigeria is prostrate. It is the axis of uglies – banditry, insurgency, kidnapping, diseases, ignorance, and drug abuse. Alas! The region’s elite are aware of the problems, but look away because the disequilibrious status quo sustains them. What is petrifying, however, is that they maul and clobber at anyone who spits the truth in their faces.

I think, this is the mortal sin of Muhammad Sanusi II, emir of Kano – beyond his politics with Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano.

But wait!

The World Bank says 87 percent of Nigeria’s poor are in the north. And that while poverty is plummeting in the south, it is rocketing in the upper region.

READ: Dethroned Sanusi Will Be Under House Arrest – Ganduje’s Aide

“Poverty in the northern regions of the country has been increasing especially in the north-west zone. Almost half of all poor lived in the north-west and the north accounts for 87 percent of all poor in the country in 2016,’’ the Bretton Woods institution said in its report entitled ‘Advancing social protection in a dynamic Nigeria’ in February 2020.

In August, 2019, the federal government revealed that 1,460 people were killed by bandits in seven months. And that the north-west is the worst-hit by this bloody enterprise. The killings have steadied, expanding in proportion and execution in the region.

In his accustomed manner, Sanusi recently vocalised these depressing figures of retrogression in the north – as regards the World Bank report — earning himself praise from progressive Nigerians and reprimand from the usual suspects — those stuck in the cesspit of bigotry.

Also, the gadfly emir of Kano, whom I regard as the John the Baptist of the north for his vociferous condemnation of this status quo, is alone in his advocacy against irresponsible polygamy, Al-majiri and child marriage – practices the northern elite espouse. He is the face of a progressive north; the northerner of the new age.

As a matter of fact, on different occasions he had complained about the northern elite whom he said wanted to silence him for speaking the truth about the region.

‘’Our colleagues and compatriots among the elite do not like statistics. Numbers are disturbing. I recently gave a speech in which I said the north-east and north-west of Nigeria are the poorest parts of the country. This simple statement of fact has generated so much heat; the noise has yet to die down. The response to this speech has been a barrage of personal attacks and insults aimed at silencing any voices that dare shine the light on the society to which we are saying Bring Back our Girls,’’ he said at a lecture held to commemorate the Chibok girls abduction.

READ: Sanusi Breaks Silence After Dethronement As Emir Of Kano (Video)

And I guess they can only take the throne away from him but cannot take away his royalty in the community of decent humans. Really, I believe the emir would rather give up his throne than be gagged by the shareholders of iniquity.

To say the least, Sanusi’s dethroning was not unexpected. Ganduje had always shown his hand in this plot. Really, the emir of Kano never hid his dislike for him. But what is there to like about a governor who was allegedly caught on camera stuffing wads of dollars into his babariga? In the build-up to the 2019 governorship election in the state, the emir was not shy in expressing his disapproval to Ganduje’s candidature.

So, Ganduje, who considers Sanusi a ‘’loud mouth’’, plotted a bitter revenge after he was re-elected. He had moved to remove the emir in 2018 but for the intervention of some ‘’higher powers’’. However, he whittle-down the power of the emir by creating new emirates from his domain. He was not done though. He rustled-up allegations, set up probe panels – all in the desperation to embarrass Sanusi.

But Sanusi was still talking.

Really, one of the most abrasive places to exist is in the circle of non-progressives. You talk different, think different or act different, they will feel threatened. Even when you try to clown around; the aboriginal clowns will still feel threatened because you do not look the part.

I think, Emir Sanusi is light-years away from the people he is dealing with in Kano government. He is needed more at the top echelon of government where he can contribute more meaningfully to the development of Nigeria.

Northern Nigeria is not ready for an emir like Sanusi. He is ahead of his time.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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