“…And beware of a calamity that may not spare even the innocent ones among you, if it descends; and know that Allah’s retribution can be very severe”. Qur’an 8: 25
For obvious reason, today’s article in this column is deliberately given the title seen above. The word sphinx simply means a winged monster, in Greek mythology, which had the head of a woman and the body of a lion. That symbolic monster was noted for terrorizing people who refused to subject themselves to the scourge of its spell. Anybody who had an encounter with the mysterious object became like a rider of tiger who ended up in the belly of that vicious animal.
Genesis of Sphinx
Nigerians who are well familiar with European literature must still remember an historical riddle of a sphinx in the city of Thebes. That city, on the island of Ithaca, was once the capital of ancient Greece. In a tragic drama entitled ‘Oedipus Rex’ and produced in 411 BC by a Greek dramatist called Sophocles who lived between 496 and 406 BC, we learnt of a curse that once befell the land of Thebes. As a result of the curse, not only were citizens afflicted by mysterious ailments that were killing them in droves, the cattle and the herds therein were also gripped by an epidemic of reindeer-pest just as the crops in the farms were terribly blighted.
It was at about that precarious time that one young man whose name was Oedipus emerged as the king. He had earned his people’s trust with a reputation of integrity and was he determined to solve the prevailing insuperable problems which he inherited from his predecessor.
At a Younger Age
As an adolescent, long before he became the king, Oedipus had saved Thebes from a strange calamity wrought by a monstrous sphinx which mysteriously took its permanent seat on a rock by the roadside in the middle of the city. The sphinx had divided the city into two thereby splitting the citizens into separate camps where no side could interact with the other. An example of that scenario can still be found in today’s capital of Cyprus called Nicosia.
The Sphinx’s Riddle
The mysterious sphinx in Thebes had a coded riddle with which it confronted every passerby. And it promptly devoured any accosted person that failed to decode the riddle. Thus, for a long time, the city of Thebes remained under the plague of the monstrous sphinx which was feeding fat on the blood and flesh of the citizens.
For quite some time, the sadness and hopelessness engendered by that unprecedented calamity turned Thebes into a permanent mourning city for its inhabitants.
The Kano Jinx
The similitude of politics in today’s Kano State is like that of the sphinx in Thebes of yore. Any good political observer must have noticed that politics in Kano State, currently, has a superficial democratic face that is combined with a despotic heart. While the face is visible, the heart is invisible.
Yes, it is possible for any Governor intoxicated by power in that State to discard the memorable effect of history while basking in a vainglorious euphoria of an ephemeral office, but the indelible rule of posterity will eventually remind such a Governor that he will also be discarded sooner or later by history at a time when there may be no room for repentance after exit from office.
Politics as a Phenomenon
The world of humans is predominantly governed by a pervasive phenomenon called politics. No individual or group or even family can escape the web of that phenomenon no matter how strong or weak he may be. Overtly or covertly, politics, particularly in Africa, is without doubt, a devastating cankerworm cruising recklessly through the veins of most living men and women and eating greedily and deeply into their fabrics. In the continent of the black race, where resignation from an office or abdication of power is an aberration, Politics is one phenomenon that permeates all spheres of human life directly or indirectly and showers those spheres with a dew of acid.
In Nigeria, like in some other countries of the world, there is as much politics in economic, social, cultural and religious aspects of life as there is in education and even sports.
Travails of a Monarch
Contrary to speculations and rumours flying about from certain quarters, the travails that led to the deposition of Mallam Muhammad Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II as the Emir of Kano, neither started in Kano nor in recent time. Those travails had rather started about seven years ago (2013) in Abuja with a probing letter written by Mallam sanusi to the Presidency as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and dated September 25, 2013. It was in that letter that he formally complained patriotically about the failure of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to remit 19 months proceeds of oil sales to the Central Bank as statutorily required by the constitution. The political backlash of that patriotic disclosure later denied the man of a second term of five years in office and it almost cost him the stool of royalty in Kano. It was therefore not surprising that such a personality would come under the eagle’s eyes of politicians as he later did as an Emir.
The Beginning of the End
When the late Tai Solarin was writing an article with the title (The Beginning of the End) towards the twilight of the 20th century, hardly did he know that the backlash effect of that article would manifest at the dawn of the 21st century. In his heydays as a versatile newspaper columnist, Tai Solarin, a renowned educationist and atheist, had a way of casting the titles of his articles to suit his ideas and thoughts. It was to an article he wrote in 1974 as a reaction to General Yakubu Gowon’s U-turn on his earlier promise to return democracy to Nigeria in 1976 that he gave that title. In that year (1974), General Gowon suddenly told Nigerians in a nation-wide television broadcast that his promise of returning power to civilians in 1976 was unrealistic after all. He did not mention a new date.
And, incidentally, that article was the premonition that culminated in a military coup that swept General Gowon out of power in July 1975 after nine years in office as a military Head of State.
Silencing the Oedipus
From the look of things, the country called Nigeria seems to have penchant for silencing the voice of progress which, in other words, means a preference for retardation. At the twilight of the 20th century, an Oedipus emerged in the name of MKO Abiola to kindle the light of hope for Nigeria. He was not only silenced but killed in detention.
At the dawn of the 21st century, another Oedipus emerged in the name of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to right what is perennially wrong. But those who enjoy monopoly of power think he should be silenced. And, incidentally, the two (Abiola and Sanusi) are Muslims and their silencers are also Muslims. Where are we going from here? If these great Nigerians are deemed to be silenced can the truth they vividly represent be also silenced?
Essence of History
The real essence of history is for human beings to learn from its lessons. Without such lessons, history would have served no purpose in the life of man. Governance is like driving on a high way where no one, including the driver, can claim to know all or see all. The essence of having people around you as a leader is to seek and utilize the constructive advice given by those people so that if any failure occurs you will not bear the brunt all alone. No human being has monopoly of wisdom and nothing in governance is as destructive as unilateral decisions taken for selfish reason. To think and concentrate on personal benefit momentarily is the height of folly in human life. It must always be remembered that office will surely outlive the officer.
In Islam, the theory of ‘giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s’ holds no water because both Caesar and whatever he portends to own belong to God alone who is never tired and will never seek rest. Thus, in a situation where public funds are brazenly stolen with impunity in public glare, genuine Muslims cannot and should not keep silent. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) once counseled Muslims about this kind of situation through Hadith. He said:
“Whoever sees something obnoxious among you should change it (physically) with his hands. If he is incapable, let him change it with his tongue (by condemning and admonishing against it). And if he is still incapable of doing that, he should then endeavour to change it with his mind (by tacitly rejecting it or by praying for its stoppage)”.
The Prophet however added that “the last option signifies the weakest level of faith”.
That is the situation that Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II could not stomach which led him to blowing the whistle unprecedentedly from time to time. He believes that it is a sin for a true Muslim to keep silent on such criminal acts.
At about the same time that Mallam Sanusi wrote the referred historic letter to the Presidency, as the CBN Governor, an Ex- President, Olusegun Obasanjo, also wrote a similar letter to President Goodluck Jonathan on December 2, 2013. It was a kind of epistle loaded with undisguised missiles of allegations that came frontally to the public through the media. The main gist of Obasanjo’s letter, as usual, contained allegations of corruption, bad governance and insecurity. It was heavily pregnant with political bile the summary of which can be called tit for tat. The contents of the letter were a bundle of messages that conspicuously outweighed the messenger. And, reading carefully between its lines, the letter could be compared to a pot trying to paint a kettle black. In a nutshell, the addresser and the addressee in that letter could be described as two sides of an un-spendable coin.
Uniqueness of Sanusi’s Deposition
Although Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II is not the first or only Emir to be deposed in Northern Nigeria, the courage and gallantry with which he received that fate distinguished him as a great leader. He knows that even Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was forced to migrate from Makkah to Madinah in his mission to propagate the truth, it was that same migration that paved his way to a triumphant reentry into the same Makkah after eight years of suffering. And, in emulation of that greatest man that ever lived, Mallam Sanusi believes that nothing, including a triumphant reentry into Kano, can be ruled out in the program of Allah.
Effect of Whistle Blowing
Although the message in Obasanjo’s letter generated a loud brouhaha across the land, it nevertheless remained a mere rhetoric with which Nigerians were already familiar. If anything sounded strange in that letter at all, it was the mention of a killer squad allegedly being kept by the then Presidency against about 1000 political opponents and other perceived enemies of the government. It must however be remembered that by the time of writing that letter, Obasanjo had torn his Peoples Democratic Party’s membership card and had surreptitiously crossed over to APC unofficially.
The only seeming benefit of that letter to the public was the washing of the supposed leaders’ linens in the open which the populace watched with unreserved amusement. It gave the impression that the only expected legacy from this crop of leadership is nothing beyond despair in spite of the rare opportunities they have in preserving the tranquility of the country. What lesson can the youths learn from such a gang of political cultists?
For Nigerian politicians, political drama can never be strange. But the peculiarity in this case is the tacit mobilization of the suffering masses as archers deployed to forage the grassroots on foot while the gladiators keep galivanting on horses. Like an accursed nation, Nigeria has the misfortune of engaging misfits in the name of leaders to pilot their affairs especially in a very cloudy environment. Or how can one classify a situation where two supposed national leaders decide to strip naked for competitive dance in a market place and expect sellers and buyers in that market to clap for the winner. Isn’t that shameful?
Like in the past, Nigerians have once again found themselves in a hollow ship wandering through an implacable Atlantic ocean. The destination of that ship remains unknown. Its pilots seem to have lost the compass. An urgent need for a Noah to sail this drifting ship to the Cape of Good Hope should now be a matter of priority if this country will continue to be called Nigeria.
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