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Yakasai and the monarch



Going by the culture of the Yoruba with which I’m very versed, there’s no greater insult that a younger person can hurl at an elder than to tell him, especially to his face that his mouth smells.

And I honestly believe the same thing applies in cultures across Nigeria and indeed Africa no matter how barbaric and backward.

It doesn’t matter if such an elder has either in a one-off situation or repeatedly crossed the boundary of self-respect and honor, such a youngster stands reproved.

That’s not to say the grouse of the youngster is not deserving of attention in the court of public opinion. That’s not also to say the concerned elder cannot be corrected or cautioned as it were.

But when a subject addresses his monarch either to his face or by some other mechanics of communications as may be convenient that his mouth his filthy just because his line of thought diverge from his, it is the height of contempt imaginable, to say the least, and must not be taken lightly. 

I say this with every sense of cautious neutrality not forgetting that traditional institutions in the country are subject to constitutional authorities of elected public officers.

To say they are permanently sidelined and sometimes intimidated in the scheme of things is not debatable.

At the same time, the same political authorities often count on their supports when things go awry whether it is in the area of security, social mobilization, and youth restiveness name it.

That’s the lot of Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II in recent times whose Kano Emirate has been split into five by the Kano State Governor, Umar Ganduje during what appears to be a politically motivated attempt to whittle down his power and influence not long ago.

The latest of his ordeals happened in the hand of Salihu Yakasai, the Director-General, Media and Communications, Kano State government.

To be sufficiently availed of what went down between them, let me quickly background the originating issue at dispute.

There has been a heated debate across the country and especially in the North in recent times about the abductions of some children from Kano State specifically to the South-east where they were given Igbo names and converted to Christianity.

In the manner of journalists possibly on an all-out for a scoop, the view of the once and still respected first-class monarch concerning the incident was sort.

“And not only did he caution his subjects against attacking the Igbo, he went further to lay the blame on the parents of the affected children.

“He insisted that many northern parents had the bad habit of allowing their children roam the streets, to which I can attest though I only arrived in the FCT which is but a peripheral of the core north a little while ago, tarrying till odd hours to beg thereby making them vulnerable to kidnap.

Worrisomely, I’ve seen children with parents living and productive at odd hours left to the mercy of both the elements and ill-fate practically scavenge the streets to survive. Nothing can be more irresponsible. To be more reflective, I’ve seen nothing like it in my life.

If you ask me, agreed that the matter just like others on which the vocal and liberal-minded Emir had bared his mind is a sensitive one that touches on the nerves of the conservative north, still, there can be no fairer response than the position he took. It’s all about perspective.

You may, however, say it sounds fault-finding like blaming a rape victim for dressing indecently or the person whose car was stolen for not fitting a car tracker in his vehicle. But there’s always a cause and effect to every event in life. And some though are inevitable.

The position of the Emir may not be the whole truth surrounding the incident. But it is a good starting point pending the determination of the circumstances in which the children in question were kidnapped.

And one must be reminded that to become a victim of one social vice or the other it takes either being at the right place at the wrong time or at the wrong place at the right time.

Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
However, abandoning the basic tenets of conventional media practice which he represents, Yakasai acerbically tweeted at the Emir:
“A very reckless comment to make. I wonder if any of his relatives get kidnapped or stolen, he will act the same way. The kids are not almajiris for goodness sake. SLS (Sanusi Lamido Sanusi) should have kept quiet instead of opening his filthy mouth to make such insensitive remarks. Nonsense! “

The reaction is rudely punchy and emotive considering the puny nature of the Emir’s position. It also has an undercurrent of a seething dislike and disregards for the progressive Emir whose well-weighted commentaries for some time now on the state of the north have been met with unreserved and rumbustious outrage and backlash.

It clearly suggests two things. One, that there are still outstanding issues between the Emir and Governor Ganduje despite a series of parleys to bring them to a truce and a middle point.

Two, it is possibly a continuation of the seeming political war between the governor and the Emir though there appears to a calm of sort in the frontiers lately.

So, therefore, the statement from the Director-General, Media and Communications, Kano State government must be official and endorsed.

Trust Nigerians especially online, they have expressed outrage at the insult hurled at the Emir. At the same time, Yakasai too was not without support.  This underscores the popular saying that ‘if you’re good you will have enemies and if you’re bad you will have friends.’ That’s life for you.

But again, something tells me Yakasai may as well be acting his own script. Why did I say so? There is a cache of controversial statements linked to him which clearly characterized him as a man who loves controversies.

I could recall that during the presidential election in February, the Yakasai did opine that the south-west did not deliver enough votes for President Buhari. How he arrived at the votes delivered not being sufficient is still a mystery. 

In his political ignorance, the south-west geopolitical zone got more than deserved in terms of appointments and developmental projects and, he specifically mentioned the ongoing rail line, so its people are duty-bound to cast all their votes for the president.

Doesn’t that amount to wishful thinking? Doesn’t that also amount to an insult to the individual and collective choice of the mass of its highly literate yet partisan voters?  

Would something not have been deemed wrong if the region with the highest number of educated people in the country go to the poll and there’s no marked signpost to the intellectual engagement with issues underlining the election from its voters unlike what obtained in other regions?

He, of course clearly, failed to realize that by carrying out the developmental project so mentioned and others, the president is not doing the south-west any favour. Rather he’s merely fulfilling his electoral programs and programmatic.

More importantly, it is for the purpose of national socioeconomic advancement to which he has sworn to undertake if he’s to leave any legacy behind at the completion of his presidential two terms.  

In September, Yakasai also derogatorily characterized Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo as the ‘Vice-president academics. ‘The term, of course, is used by the critics of the president.

It could well be interpreted to mean that he does not align with the president even as he goes about portraying himself as a Bonafide member of the ruling party, The All Progressive Congress.

Whereas he Yakasai has a right to his opinion, it must be calibrated in such a manner that it would give sound representation to the exalted office which he occupies. 

Unlike traditional stools, Yakasai must be reminded once again that political office is transient. He would one day leave that cozy office in the statehouse and goes out to confront the reality of being an ordinary citizen without the trappings of power.

And here’s the crux of the matter, finally. When the Yoruba say that a younger person cannot just berate the elder, it sprung not out the slightest believe, imagination or insinuation that the elders are infallible. Far from it!

But it is out of the recognition of the need to promote civility in social interaction, especially between the senior citizens and those ones we may call the little-uns.

In a nutshell, the idea is not to silence or gag the youths’ right to free expression but to teach good manners and lessons in reciprocal respect.

Besides, there are, like I hinted above, more civil ways to air discontent and engage both the elders and contemporaries alike.

And no efforts must be spared to democratically explore them no matter how disagreeable the task; divergent and contentious the points of view. 

More so because a day is coming when there would be a change in status, naturally - they too will grow old.

Would they appreciate it if they’re randomly insulted by somebody that’s younger?  The answer would be a no, regardless of what transpires.   

I hope Yakasai relearns this because I know for a certainty that the north and northern elements are known for the culture of groveling deference to the elderly and more importantly its traditional and political authorities.

Above all, he should learn to use words to good effects as a communicator, democrat and a public officer appointed at that. He should not be so officious and consumed in the temporarily petty politicking to override his sense of judgment.  

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