By Bashir Bello
KATSINA — Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Emir of Kano, Dr. Muhammad Sanusi, yesterday, called on all concerned to ensure political leaders sign peace pacts against use of youth for violence during the polls to help the nation’s democracy to mature.
Sanusi spoke in Katsina while delivering an address, entitled: “Youth, Security and National Development in Nigeria” an annual lecture organised by the Katsina Vocational Training Centre and late M. D. Yusuf Research and Documentation Centre to commemorate the International Youth Day in the state.
He said: “We call on all those concerned, as a matter of urgency, to encourage political leaders to sign peace pacts before the 2019 general elections that would ensure peaceful elections and discourage the use of youth to perpetrate violence. This would help our democracy to mature.
“The North is still lagging behind in Nigeria while the youth needed for the development of the region must be well taken care of. “Many of the security challenges Nigeria is facing are as a result of none involvement of the youth in the productive sector of the economy. The insurgents in the North-East and Niger Delta, recruit youth who cannot be productive to society because of their ideology or lack of education.
“Most of those who join in the insurgency are economically disadvantaged. This threat to national security cannot also be overcome unless these issues of ideology and lack of access to quality education are addressed.
“Nigeria with its 36 states as a federation has diverse socio-cultural legacies. The challenges faced in these states are also different because of the demographic, cultural and religious diversities.
‘’The responses of the youths to their social conditions in these states have adverse effects on the overall national development of Nigeria as well as our national security. Since independence, Nigeria has been overtaken by other countries that were behind it in the 1960s, especially the Asian countries; South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia let alone the other tigers such as Taiwan and Singapore.
“Although these countries are more homogeneous than Nigeria, they took a development path that was more realistic while Nigeria remained trapped in the natural resource quagmire.” Hence many youth have remained unemployed because the rate of economic growth is lower than the rate of population growth.
“Poverty rate is much higher in the North than in the South from most, if not all available statistical information. The ten poorest states with more than 50% of their population as destitute are Borno, Kano, Taraba, Gombe, Katsina, Sokoto, Jigawa, Kebbi, Bauchi and Zamfara which has the highest of population as destitute 74.1%.
‘’The national percentage is 34% but no state in the South has 30% the highest percentage in the South is Ebonyi State 26.6%. The best state in the North is Kwara State with 7% and it ranked tenth in the country. The best is Lagos State with 1.3%. Therefore, the bulk of the poorest people (destitutes) in Nigeria are concentrated in Northern Nigeria.
“Corruption and bad governance are prevalent in some states of Nigeria. This invariably affects the quality of education, science and vocational education and other aspirations of the youth.
But why is poverty not evenly distributed? The simple reason is that the people in the southern states give high priority to education at private and community levels. ‘’whereas in most of the North, the people depend on the state to fund education. For example, there are less than 500,000 pupils in public primary schools in Lagos State and almost 3 million in Kano State with an estimated one million roaming the streets as beggars.
‘’This means that most parents in Lagos State sponsor their children. There are historical reasons for this attitude. Apart from the fact that education has been a state responsibility in the North since the Sokoto Caliphate when Sultan Bello established the first University Center, western education came through the Christian missionaries hence the Muslims became skeptical and did not accept it.
‘’But times have changed and we need to change our attitude as well. So what are the solutions? The society and state have roles to play to overcome these challenges. As leaders in our domain, we cannot entirely blame the state for our present predicament, it is also our responsibility to find solution and to mobilize our people.
“Hence when we assumed the Emirship, we embarked on reforms of our family structure, education and economic well being based on Islamic precepts because we are a predominantly Muslim society. ‘
’In collaboration with Bayero University, we established the Social Reform Committee, headed by Professor Muhammad Sani Zahradeen, the Grand Imam of Kano. Three sub- committees were formed on Islamic Family Law, Education and Zakat and Endowment. “Reforming the family is crucial in preserving the sanctity of the family and protecting the rights of women, children and orphans. It would reduce the rate of divorce and broken families.
‘’We all know the devastating consequences of broken homes, whereby children are abandoned and they become liabilities to the society. The law has been drafted after an in depth study, research and discussions with various stakeholders generating lively discussions and debates.
‘’Most of the disagreements and misperception have been resolved. And it is worthy of note that recently, the President of the Republic of Niger invited us to explain the law to the stakeholders of his country since both Northern Nigeria and Niger Republic are faced with the same challenges.
‘’Discussions are going on how to implement the law in Niger Republic and in Kano State, the State House of Assembly would also enact it to become a law. Our education sub committee has also identified the key areas that need attention.
‘’Kano State has the highest number of pupils in public primary schools and like most other states, the conditions of the schools are deplorable. Most importantly, we have to address the attitude of our people towards education. Kano Emirate under the leadership of Sarkin Kano Alhaji Abdullahi (1926-1953) established the Kano Judicial School and later the School for Arabic Studies the first schools that integrated Western and Islamic education.
‘’The schools produced some of the best minds in Nigeria, including Islamic scholars (for example Shaykh Abubakar Gumi and Prof Shehu Galadanci); diplomats (Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero and Ciroman Kano Alhaji Aminu Sanusi); jurists (Justice AB Wali JSC) and many university professors (Prof Yadudu and Prof Rasheed).
‘’The strategy of integration is important because it absorbs Qur’anic Schools students or Almajirai, some of whom have been subjected to inhuman condition of begging. As many people as possible must be given access to education if we are to achieve our human development goals and reduce the security challenges we are facing.
‘’One of the easiest ways is to absorb the millions Qur’anic school pupils into the formal system. It would also address the issue of ideology and reorientation and this was one of the reasons we suggested that mosques should be used as classrooms in areas lacking the facilities.
‘’This would make people know that the Boko Haram ideology is actually anti-Islam. The sub- committee on Zakat and Endowment was mandated to suggest ways of improving Zakat collection, encouraging endowment and establishing foundations to cater for the extra needs of the community and reduce poverty.’’