Former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II puts up a spirited defence for Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai.
“If you have an opinion, people will either agree or disagree with you. But a man who has an opinion that can be agreed with or disagreed with is always better than a man who has no opinion at all.
*L-R: Sanusi, El-Rufai*
“Nasir has always had opinions. He knows what his position is on things. He says that position very clearly. People will like it, some people will not like it. And that is what people call being controversial, being controversial is actually having an opinion. If you don’t want to be controversial, you just behave like these teflons, flexible, just flow with the wind and nobody knows where you stand…
“I think the case of the crisis in Kaduna, first of all is something that predates this government. It has been on for a long time. And the governor is doing something about it. The North as a whole suffers because we have people who profit from division. We have divided ourselves against each other, whether it is ethnicity of religion.
“And when you have someone who says I am simply going to stand for justice, for the rights of human beings and doing what is right, some people who are not used to things being done in that way are going to object. I am sure that His Excellency knows that with every single issue, there will be people who will object.
“I read the petition. I was looking for the specific allegation. You said somebody does not respect the rule of law, what is the specific instance of disrespect for the rule of law. You say somebody has mishandled a crisis. What is the specific manner in which he mishandled the crisis?
“If you going to take action on people based on allegations, the President of the NBA himself has allegations against him that have not been proven, but nobody has said anything about him because it this is a matter that is before a court of law, and people will wait for the court to decide because everybody has a right to fair hearing.
“More important for me, if you feel that the governor of Kaduna State is not doing well, you should invite him to your conference and ask him and let him explain what he is doing and tell him what you think he is doing wrong. You will learn something from him, he will learn something from him. Disinviting him is not the path of people who actually want progress. Because if you disagree with someone , having him in your hall where you can tell him your view is the best way and he can defend himself. And if there are things he needs to improve he will take them on board. And if there are things that you don’t know that he is doing, you can be better informed. That is the best way to handle issues like this.
“I hope that this matter will not be turned into a religious and ethnic matter. It should be a matter of principle. I think it is their loss because if he was there he would add value to the conference and they would learn something about what he is doing.
“It is sad for the NBA itself and it is sad for freedom of speech, and also fair
“I have known Nasir since we were 16/17. He is a nationalist. He has never been associated with any ethnic or religious bigotry. All our friends are Nigerians. People don’t even think of us as northerners because really we are just Nigerians.
“Anybody who knows him will tell you that he is just a Nigerian. Look at the people that he works with, look at the people around him, look at his friends. He has not surrounded himself with people from a particular ethnic group or a particular religious persuasion. He has friends all over, pastors, reverends, imams. It is is sad that anybody can accuse him in any way of being partisan in the matter.
“One of the lawyers made a comment and I think it is something that we should bear in mind. He is a governor in charge of lives and property in the state. He is the number one person concerned with peace in Kaduna because if there is no peace, he is responsible. You can’t have people crying more than the bereaved. If we do not assist him, the least we can do is pray for him, and give him a chance and advice him.
“Needless to say, this is a sad thing. I am his friend, but His Excellency is wrong, I will say it. If I am wrong, he will say it and we would still be friends. But on this matter, it does more to the discredit of the NBA. This is one less speaking engagement.
“The most important thing that Kaduna State should have peace. We should not complicate efforts at peace-building. I read today that the groups are meeting and I hope and pray that they will reach a compromise and we will see peace in the state. That is the most important thing, not speaking at NBA or what NBA says, but that there should be peace in Kaduna State and in this country.”