CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
By Chuks Okocha
In another no-holds-barred social commentary bound to raise dust, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Monday night, called for the ban of Arewa Consultative Forum, Ohanaeze, Afenifere, Jamatul Nasril Islam (JNI) and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
His statement came on the heels of another one made by the former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Audu Ogbeh, who said security challenges in the North had set the region on fire, while the former chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Alhaji Ahmed Joda, accused political leaders of overheating polity and tearing the country apart.
The three of them spoke at the dinner organised by the Northern Reawakening Forum (NRF) where Sanusi, who was one of the guest speakers, said such bodies are no longer religious or cultural in nature but political associations masquerading as socio-cultural or religious organisations.
He said that the groups have constituted themselves into cults and business enterprises that have nothing to contribute to the government.
“These religious organisations, the Arewa, Afenifere, including Jamatul Nasril Islam (JNI) and CAN, should be banned because they are not religious organisations, they are not culture organisations, they are political associations under the guise of religious organisations,” he said.
The CBN governor noted that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that the Federal Government must promote associations that cut across ethnic groups and the religious divide, adding, “But what we have are religious organisations that invite government officials to speak and the organisations honour them. They are just glorified institutions.”
The CBN governor said that the difference between a Muslim and a Christian in the North is nothing compared to the wide gulf between the rich Muslim and the poor Muslim, which also applied to the Christian in the North.
He said that the North is sitting on a time bomb waiting to explode, noting: “Agriculture farming there is subsistence. There is no development, no education, no prospect for employment and therefore we are sitting on a time bomb.”
Sanusi also cautioned Nigerians against eating cow-hide (in local parlance known as ponmo), insisting that a policy should be put in place to export cow-hide as Nigeria “imports 30 million pairs of shoes from China. However, the same quality of shoes that can be produced in Nigeria.”
On his part, Joda lamented the security situation in the country, especially in the North, stating: “We are presently being torn apart and destroyed by religious and tribal antagonism.
“When we were truly Northerners, we behaved as one people facing and desiring one destiny. Today, we are being torn apart by our political leaders in search of power by any means. If we allow them, they will destroy us.”
He said Nigerians should make it clear to their leaders that they could no longer tolerate their unbecoming conduct, adding, “We must not leave this situation unattended for street mobs to impose a solution.”
Joda warned that leaders and leadership with great potential should be allowed to emerge freely without manipulation by remote and anonymous leaders, operating in the shadows.
In the same vein, Ogbe said that the North was on fire, adding that the crisis in the region was a clear sign of economic failure.
He said the nation, especially the North, arrived at its present state possibly because the country was too comfortable to know what was going on, stating, “What happens to us in the North is a Northern albatross and we are becoming refugees in the capital city.”
The National Chairman of the NRF, Hon. Mohammed Umara Kumalia, said the region had evolved from a people with a great and enviable culture and tradition to the present state where acute poverty, ethno-religious conflict, insecurity, disease and erosion of core values had taken over the life of many and made economic progress almost impossible in several parts of the North.
He said that the forum was established to offer support to other stakeholders to elevate the North to its glorious days when peaceful coexistence, tolerance, hard work, service, respect, equity, honesty, humility, trust, brotherhood, commerce, agriculture, trade and above all pride were the values and culture of the people that today populate about 76 per cent of the geographical entity called Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, has said the “madness” occassioned by the activities of Boko Haram in the state would “evaporate” once the youths are gainfully engaged.
Shetimma who spoke at the signing of tripatite agreement for the establishment of the CBN Entrepreneurship Development Centres (EDCs) in three geo-political zones, including the North-east, North-central and South-south zones, Shettima, said he believed the insecurity and hardship in the state would be a thing of the past once it was able to create jobs and engage the youths.
He said: “We are going to partner with the CBN to see to the realisation of this very noble and lofty initiative of the central bank towards ameliorating poverty and creating employment opportunities in the northeast sub-region of the country.
“We are not going to disappoint you; we would fulfill our own part of the bargain of the EDC and create the enabling environment for the EDC in the North-east sub-region,” he assured.
“Believe me, beneath the mayhem of Boko Haram, beneath the madness, lies extreme poverty and joblessness and hopelessness of the people. Once we create jobs, once we engage the youths, believe me, this madness will evaporate,” the governor stated.
He said he believed the issue of Boko Haram would be a thing of the past within the next two years.