Nigeria has wasted 40 of her existence without any significant progress, a former emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, has said.
Speaking at a colloquium to mark his 60th birthday in Kaduna yesterday, he said, “Nigeria has problems.”
He added: “In 1980, Nigeria’s GDP per capital on purchasing power parity basis was $2,180. In 2014, it appreciated by 50% to $3,099. According to the World Bank, where were we in 2019? $2,229. At this rate in the next two years in terms of purchasing power parity, the average income of a Nigerian would have gone back to what it was in 1980 under Shehu Shagari. That means, in 40 years, no progress, we made zero progress, 40 years wasted.
“Between 2014 and 2019, on the basis of this index of the purchasing power of the average income of an average Nigerian, we have wiped out all the progress made in 35 years. We have a responsibility as a people to rise and improve the lives of the people of this country.
“It is no longer about government, political parties, traditionsl rulers, Emirs. The days are gone of saying one class of people whether they are emirs or civil servants cannot talk. When there is fire, everyone has to go with a bucket of water. We need to understand how our economy works as a people, we need to understand our choices. 70% of our challenges in this country from insecurity to herder/farmer clashes, all have their roots in the economy. Even this shout about restructuring is about economics, it is about resources. We need to grow this economy and make it work for the poor people”.
The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) whose tenure brought a lot of financial transformation also recalled that His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, recently said the country has a problem, stressing; “We cannot ignore the fact that things are not working. When you are in a society that is so abnormal, you cannot afford to be a conformist, because if you all conform things will not change.
“Many years ago, when I was screaming about the billions being spent on fuel subsidy, I remember there was an attempt to arrack my house in Kano, then I was in the CBN. Where are we today? We are face to face with the reality. That fuel subsidy is unsustainable. Now when the decision is taken, it will be more painful than if they had removed it five or 10 years ago.
“I only speak to the best of my understanding what I see about the country and I have paid the price, but Nigerians are the ones paying the real price. It is the price you see in increased poverty, it is a price you see in insecurity, in high rate of inflation, in loss of value of our currency, in the numbers around malnutrition, unemployment, out of school children, maternal mortality and infant mortality.
“Calling me controversial or calling me an enemy or critic will not make those facts go away. So, anywhere we go, we must face these facts. Am I happy about it on my 60th birthday? No. Because, 60 years ago when I was born, the United States government advisory was telling investors that Nigeria had a better economic future than Japan. Today where are we and where is Japan?
“It is not about one or two governments, it is about decades of a people throwing away opportunities and every time we are given a chance to make a change, we go back to the same old things.
“And you know, when I have a platform like this, I have to talk. I have tried not to say much not because there is nothing to say or because I am afraid of speaking. The reason I have not spoken much in the last two years is because I don’t even have to say anything anymore, because all the things we were warning about have come.
“So, what I will say briefly in all these 60 years is that my dream in life has always been to remain the same person, to live by the values I set for myself, stand by those values and be ready to face the consequences.
“But if there is anything that I have to share with the younger generation, especially that I now consider myself getting old, is that the fears that we have are grossly unfounded. As Kingsley said, when we started the banking reforms. On the eve of the banking reforms, every day, on the front pages of newspapers, the banks CEOs were at the Villa. They were the friends of the president, they were oligarchs, they were untouchables.
“I remember when we started going after the bankers, someone called me and said, you know you are young man, you don’t know what you are doing, you will not succeed. What have we done today? So far, three or four of the wealthiest and powerful bank CEOs in this country have gone to jail and nothing happened.
“You can fight any system, you don’t need a large number. People can have temporary powers to use but the truth will always prevail. So, when I was suspended as CBN governor, I made a famous statement that you can suspend a man, but you cannot suspend the truth. And this is the truth that has come out,” he said.
Various speakers including Kingsley Moghalu and several others bared their minds on various topics at the colloquium that had in attendance the governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, emirs of Zazzau, Ringim and Awe among several other traditional rulers and personalities of repute.