ByÂ Yemi Adebowale; firstname.lastname@example.org
The latest in the series moves aimed at humiliating the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II commenced on Thursday when the Kano State House of Assembly constituted an eight-man committee to investigate the moot allegations of funds mismanagement against the Emir. He was accused of misusing N4 billion which he inherited from late Ado Bayero, his predecessor. I listened to the Kano legislators at the plenary devoted to the issue, and I was particularly miffed by the contribution of Ibrahim Gama, who made a number of humdrum allegations against the Emir. Gama listed the accusations against Sanusi to include spending funds without the approval of the state Governor, Abdullai Umar Ganduje; attacking polices of the Buhari administration and sending his daughter to represent him at a function without wearing full traditional regalia.
This preposterous development from the Kano lawmakers is part of the tenacious campaign of calumny against Emir Sanusi, who has been exhibiting uncommon courage in challenging the status quo in the North since his emergence. The oppressors and beneficiaries of the backwardness in this part of the country canâ€™t stand Sanusiâ€™s fierce criticism of the underdevelopment, poverty, hunger and disease in the North. They find it difficult to phantom that this Emir, who is supposed to be a key member of the club of Aristocrats, is challenging the oppressive system that has pauperised the majority in the North.
Now, letâ€™s take a critical look at some of Sanusiâ€™s patriotic battles, for which he is now being persecuted. Emir Sanusi has persistently spoken out against the raging poverty in the region, saying the North-west and the North-east remain the poorest parts of the world. He contends: â€œWe are living in denial. The North-West and the North-East, demographically, constitute the bulk of Nigeriaâ€™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.
â€œAs far back as 2000, I looked at the numbers – Borno and Yobe states – and 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 South-East, 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.â€
Sanusi maintains that for the region to leap forward developmentally, it must fix its social and religious problems. He points out that women and children must be loved, not beaten, adding that the region must do away with the 13th century mindset of religion and culture.
â€œOther Muslim nations have pushed forward girl-child education; theyâ€™ve pushed forward science and technology. They have pushed forward the arts. We have this myth in northern Nigeria, where we try to create an Islamic society that never existed. The northern Muslims have adopted an interpretation of culture and religion that was rooted in the 13th century mindset, which refused to recognise that the rest of the Muslim world had moved on.â€
At the national level, the Emir of Kano has persistently faulted the Buhari administrationâ€™s economic model, saying it would not work. Only evil people will refuse to fault policies that have brought untold hardship on Nigerians. Just take a look at the level of inflation and unemployment in the country and you would understand what I mean. Millions of Nigerians have lost their jobs in the last two years, mainly because of the jaundiced economic policies of this administration. Emir Sanusi has been particularly against stifling skewed forex policy and subsidy regime. He is also against binge borrowing by this administration.
Sanusi, at the Kaduna State Economic Summit, said: â€œThe Federal Government of Nigeria is spending 66 per cent of its revenues on interests on debts, which means only 34 per cent of revenues is available for capital and recurrent expenditures. That model cannot work. In the 2017 budget presented, the amount earmarked for debt servicing is in excess of the entire non-oil revenue of the federal government, but that is not the problem. The problem is that it is a budget that is even going for more debts.â€
The Emir said government at all levels should realise that borrowing had reached its limit and should therefore look for ways to attract investments.
â€œGrowth can only come from investments. It cannot come from consumption. It cannot come from government balance sheet. It cannot come from borrowing because you cannot borrow unsustainably.â€
Emir Sanusiâ€™s battle is obviously a just one. He wants Northern elites to stop playing politics and tackle the copious challenges facing the region. He wants Nigerian leaders to halt muddy politics and tackle the economic crisis bedeviling the nation. So, how have these amounted to corruption and an attack on Buhari? When did it become a crime for an Emir to express his opinion about the economic policy of a government? In this part of the world, it is a crime to always say the truth; more so, when you dare the establishment. All those aiming to humiliate Emir Sanusi shall fail. Their evil plot shall fall into pieces. It will collapse like a pack of cards. May Allah continue to protect our courageous Emir of Kano.
Lamentations of Rabiu Kwankwaso
Of recent, the immediate past governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso ( APC Kano Central) has been lamenting lack of respect for the Rule of Law under the Buhari administration. Kwankwaso, one of the key actors of the â€œChangeâ€ movement is disappointed that the â€œChangeâ€ he and others aimed to effect in the country remains an illusion. This former Kano governor, a man I have so many questions for, was unaware of the high level of impunity in the country, until the recent siege by security operatives on the house of his brother in Kano. The policemen were said to be looking for huge cash allegedly stashed in the house by Kwankwaso. Nothing incriminating was found after hours of ransacking the house. Kwankwaso remarked in an interview with the BBC Hausa Service: â€œWeâ€™re very disappointed that impunity is now the order of the day in a country we invested a lot to bring change; this is not the change we bargained for because weâ€™re now in a helpless situation. If it were the previous government thatâ€™s doing this, we would not complain. Alas! This is being orchestrated by a government we worked to entrench.â€
My problem with Kwankwaso is that he did not join the voices against impunity under the Buhari administration until he became a victim. We should not wait until we become victims before fighting impunity. What is evil is evil. There are no two names to evil. Lopsided appointments, illegal detention (as we have in the case of Sambo Dasuki and El- Zakzaki), disrespect for the Rule of Law and courts, killings by Fulani herdsmen and attempts to muzzle the Legislature and the Judiciary are some of the impunity under this administration. We must all rise up against them, irrespective of party affiliations and personal relationships.
Revenue Target and the Shame of Customs
The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali was a pitiable picture when he, lately, appeared before the House of Representativesâ€™ Committee on Customs to defend the Customs 2017 budget estimates. This was because the agencyâ€™s revenue for 2016 fell short of its target by N216.5 billion. According to the custom boss, the NCS only succeeded in collecting N720.7 billion, representing 76.8 per cent of the target revenue between January and December last year. The 23.1 per cent decline was against the original target of N937.3 billion set for 2016 by the agency.
The Customs boss gave a number of inexplicable reasons for his failure to meet the revenue target. However, he did not talk about corruption in the NCS under his watch. This is the main reason the NCS will never meet revenue target. Itse Sagay, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption was right when he remarked that â€œit is still business as usualâ€ at all Customs formation across the country. The bulk of the revenues collected in our ports go into the private pockets of Hameed Aliâ€™s men. This is why the Customs canâ€™t amass just N1 trillion in a whole year. I strongly believe that a well-managed and corruption-free NCS can generate at least N5 trillion annually for this nation. In this light, I think this government should start thinking about privatising the collection of Customs and Excise duties as being done in some developed countries. This is the only way forward for our country.
Curbing Truancy of DISCOs in Electricity Chain
If this administration is genuinely interested in easing the power crisis being experienced in this country, Power Minister, Babatunde Fashola must move swiftly to ensure full implementation of the transparent revenue management model proposed by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission. While the 26 power generation companies (Gencos) are bleeding, the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) are living big. They collect huge revenues and send chickenfeed to the Gencos, with all sorts of lies attached. The Discos are opposed to transparent revenue management because it would expose them. They have remained financially-irresponsible in their obligations to the electricity chain. It was revealed recently that Discos paid for only 24 per cent of electricity wheeled to them in 2016.
The Executive Secretary of the Association of Power Generation Company of Nigeria, Joy Ogaji was apt when she remarked that concerns raised by the Discos on the proposal were worrying, and that the revenue in question belonged to the entire market and not just for Discos.
Ogaji said: â€œThe recent development to escrow the account of the distribution companies is not just a welcome development but also a wake-up call to all participants in the electricity market. The electricity sector is a value-chain which needs to be remunerated as applicable, covering the cost of generation, transmission and distribution. The Gencos are entitled to 60 percent of market remittance as they do not just generate power but also pay for gas supply and gas transportation. Transmission charge cost 11 percent; distribution gets 25 percent while the remaining four per cent is meant for regulatory charges and NBET. The revenue referred to by the distribution companies are not their personal revenue but market funds to which they were made trustees to collect and remit.â€
The Gencos have made valid points. I fully support moves to escrow Discos accounts and the funds shared according to the guidelines governing the power chain.