Former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi, has said that Nigerian Muslims, especially in the northern part of the country must begin to treat their women and children with respect and dignity.
This was part of the Monarch’s keynote address at the ongoing Kaduna Investment and Economic Conference codenamed KADINVEST, on Wednesday in Kaduna.
He called for a better understanding and interpretations of Islamic laws and rules especially with regards to better life for women and children, especially the girl-child.
The traditional ruler said: “We need to understand the roots of the problem of northern Nigeria. Burning books, it happened in Kano, what is the crime of those books? They were writing about (love), and love apparently is supposed to be a bad word.
“In a society where you don’t love your women and you don’t love your children, you allow them to beg, you beat up your women, why should anyone talk about love?
“We have adopted an interpretation of our culture and our religion that is rooted in the 13th century mindset that refuses to recognise 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 50 percent of all the wealth you acquired since you married her. It is a Muslim country.
“In Nigeria, you wake up after 20 years of marriage, you say to your wife, ‘I divorce you’, and that’s it.
“Other Muslim nations have pushed forward girl-child education; they’ve pushed forward science and technology; they have pushed forward the arts.”
Sanusi noted that it seemed the type of Islam being propagated in northern Nigeria, is “an Islamic society that never existed” as it appeared that “we are fighting culture, we are fighting civilisation.”
“We must wage an intellectual war, because Islam is not univocal; there are many voices, there are many interpretations, there are many viewpoints, and we have for too long allow the ascendancy of the most conservative viewpoints.
“The consequencies of that is that there are certain social problems,” he said.
The former CBN governor further stated that the North West and the North East regions, despite making up a significant population of the country, are the poorest in every aspect.
“We are in denial,” he said. “The north-west and the north-east, demographically, constitute the bulk of Nigeria’s population.
“But look at human development indices, look at the number of children out of school, look at adult literacy, look at maternal mortality, look at infant mortality, look at girl-child completion rate, look at income per capita, the north-east and the north-west Nigeria, are among the poorest parts of the world.
“As far back as 2000, I looked at the numbers, Borno and Yobe state, UNDP figures, Borno and Yobe states, if they were a country on their own, were poorer than Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
“Nobody saw this because we were looking at Nigeria as a country that averages the oil-rich Niger Delta, the industrial and commercial-rich Lagos, the commercially viable southeast, and you have an average.
“Break Nigeria into its component parts, and these parts of the country are among the poorest, if it were a country. And we do not realise we are in trouble.”
Sanusi maintained that citizens in the Northern region of the country must begin to develop a change of mindset with regards to certain issues that are currently viewed as taboo.
He maintained that the region must begin to make the numerical strength count for something, else, it is useless.
Some of the challenges facing the region, according to Sanusi, include: “environmental desertification… the age at which girls get out of school and married, the number of children that they have; having babies every year.
“The number of wives people marry 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.
The Kano monarch asked some thought-provoking questions which he said leaders of the region must find answers to in order to ensure a better society.
They include: “What is our attitude towards educating our girls? What is our attitude 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?”