Dr Umar Ardo is an academic, a stalwart of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former governorship aspirant of the PDP in Adamawa State. In this interview, he spoke on the recent dethronement of former Kano Emir, Muhammadu Sanusi II and why he sees him as an asset for the PDP; his political aspiration and his position on zoning of presidency position in 2023,amongst others.
The recent dethronement of Mohammad Sanusi II as the Emir of Kano has been generating debates amongst Nigerians. How would you react to the development?
Well, I can intuitively say that the deposition of Emir Sanusi within the context of our politics is a big political blunder by the APC Administration. The government first balkanized the strong united Kano Emirate, thereby weakening the institution, and then later deposed the emir. This is actually stabbing the caliphate establishment.
No caliphate member will be happy with these unfortunate turns of events except perhaps the direct beneficiaries, or the caliphate’s enemies. Such a big blow at a time when the caliphate is under concerted vicious attacks from all over the place is proof that the APC government does not even understand the issues. But on the other hand, the deposition could also well turn out to be God’s solution to North’s leadership problem.
We all know that there has been leadership vacuum in the North for a long time now. Yes, it’s a northerner that is now president, but his failure to address the basic needs of the country and especially of the North’s, such as security, corruption, poverty, critical infrastructure, along with his poor leadership style, left virtually the entire North disappointed.
Within a short time, poverty increased, security collapsed with no existence of governance in virtually all rural communities. Anywhere one goes, there is only one narrative on the regime, and it’s negative. Everybody is concerned, longing for a purposeful leader around whom people would rally. Almost spontaneously, the deposition seems to have prodded up former Emir Sanusi for that purpose.
The general condemnation of the deposition, the appointments both local and international that followed it, are points to note. May be, it is in this sense that President Obasanjo described the deposition as “both bad and good”.
In the wake of the dethronement, some Nigerians have been urging the deposed emir to come out for presidency in 2023. What are your thoughts on that? I think it is a bit too early to start this debate. Maybe, Nigerians should allow him gather himself about and collect his bit and pieces of what has become of his life now.
Let him settle himself and his family down first, then look forward to what he will make of life out of the palace. But having said that, let me put it on record that I am against the deposition and sympathetic to the ex-emir.
I think he’s a very intelligent, patriotic and courageous man. I personally like him and I believe he can be a great president if ever given the chance.
The fact that people are already calling on him to contest tells you that he is not without credence. If he ultimately heeds to these calls and contests, that will be good and I believe he will win.
I see him to be the most viable candidate in the race, no matter those contesting on the other fronts. I don’t know what they maybe planning with his friend, the Kaduna State Governor, but whatever it is, the chances of him successfully contesting are under PDP’s platform and not APC’s. So you believe Sanusi is an asset to PDP? Yes, I believe he is.
If PDP can build a consensus on his candidature, things will be easier for the party in 2023. Why do you say so, sir? For many reasons; if you take into account, the complexity of our politics. First, Emir Sanusi by birth represents the northern elites and aristocracy, while by inclination and disposition, he seems progressive. Sanusi therefore can be supported by both the northern conservatives and the progressives, both of which have the ability to mobilize the northern masses.
He is an intersection between the two extremes. Second, as an economist and high level operator in the establishment, Sanusi understands the issues. Third, Sanusi is a Lagosian, so to speak; meaning he is both cosmopolitan and nationalistic. He can therefore be easily accepted across the south.
Fourth, his appointment as Advocate for Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations illustrates the intrinsic confidence reposed in him by the world body, and therefore the international community.
Fifth, being a professional banker, both in private banking and Governor of Central Bank, his support in the business community at home and abroad is simply given.
Sixth, with the poor state of the economy against mindless debts being heaped on the nation, Nigeria needs a practical economist who understands the international monetary system well to pull her out of the quandary. Seventh, with a known and noble parental background and a progressive inclination Sanusi can be a major agent of change for the North and the nation, culturally, socio-economically and politically.
He can easily drive a complete change of the nation’s political-economy. Eight, the North has realized that Nigeria is ripe for real change one way or the other. Given the conservative nature of the North in resisting changes, it will take only a person of Sanusi’s background and courage to successfully drive the modernization process with least resistance.
Sanusi would thus be more valuable to the North and the country as President than as Emir of Kano. There has been clamour for zoning of the presidency slot to the south in 2023. As a stalwart of the PDP, is this your position not opposed to the zoning principle of your party?
To tell you the truth, I don’t know.
All I know is that the northern candidate we fielded in the last election did not win the contest. I think until a candidate wins election and the party forms a government before the zoning formula becomes operational, not just nominating candidates.
In the context of power contest between the PDP and APC by 2023, I suppose political expediency of how to win should take precedence over other considerations. In its present state as a main opposition party, the primary consideration of the PDP is to regain power.
What is politically expedient to attain this important goal must strategically be paramount to the party. To this end, the PDP can do well in nominating a northerner, since the APC must nominate a South-westerner if it would have any hope in the contest at all.
With power in its hands, the PDP can then work out a fair zoning formula with high degree of success in transferring power to the South. This is the most practical way to actualize the recurring drum beats of Igbo presidency.
What in your view are the major problems with Buhari’s presidency? Judging by the apparent inability of his administration to resolve the core problems of the country, it is clear that there are certain underpinning leadership failings on the part of the president himself personally.
And, until these failings of the man are resolved, his government will be unable to achieve anything meaningful throughout its tenure, and the country will continue to live in poverty, crimes and insecurity. First, there is his failure to provide strong personal leadership.
Maybe this is because of his poor health. Whatever the real reason, there is lack of firm leadership from the president. After nearly five years on the saddle, the president can be termed as a passive leader – one who allows problems to solve themselves and intervenes only when compelled to. Second, over the years, it became clear that there is lack of harmony and coordination among the various appointees of government agencies that poorly affect the regime’s general output.
In all these, the president remains aloof with minimum or no intervention from him. The latest rancour between the president’s Chief of Staff and the National Security Adviser is a point of note. Third, the president places little value to ideas and innovations.
The essence of collective decision-making in a government is to aggregate various ideas from cabinet members and the general public with a view to evolving best policy options to problems at hand.
As we all know, there are plenty of good ideas out there if only they can be harnessed, listened to and put to use by the leadership. But it seems Buhari after becoming president turns out to be a non-listening leader. What is your own political ambition ahead of the 2023 election?
I have always wanted to be governor of my state (Adamawa) to prove the point that things can actually be made to work properly in our society with clear, purposeful and good leadership, anchored by example, action and sacrifice. But right now, I’m less concerned with my personal ambition.
My main concern is how the country would reach 2023 given the serious state of insecurity where governance is virtually absent in all rural communities of Northern Nigeria, most especially in my state of Adamawa.
I am concerned if we would be able to conduct transitional elections in 2023. Without us succeeding in transiting the country, neither mine nor anyone else’s ambitions would be attained. Some people believe that Buhari wants to Islamize and ‘Fulanize’ Nigeria.
What is your take on that? These are the views of ignorant Nigerians or extremists. You know the main problem of Nigeria is the existence of two extremists’ elements – religious extremists in the North and ethnic extremists in the South.
The views and actions of both are actually the key problems of the country. While the former often raise armed revolts against the country in the name of religion, the latter propagate jaundiced diabolical ethnic narratives.
It has been like this for long; it didn’t start with President Buhari and it won’t end with him. As a young military Head of State, it would have been easier for him then to push forth his agenda if he really had any than now as an old man presiding over a constitutional democracy.
If he did not do it then, how could he do it now? Any critical evaluation of the man and his leadership style would conclude that he does not have any agenda of any sort; not the so-called Islamizing, Fulanizing, nor even democratizing, nationalizing, etc.
Nigeria. Whoever ascribes to him any such agenda either fails to read him well or is simply being mischievous. The truth is that the Islamization and Fulanization narrative is a propaganda stunt of religious and ethnic extremists.
These extremists situate all the problems of the country on ethnicity. Overtime, they singled out the Fulanis as the major culprits just like the Hutus then did against the Tutsis in Rwanda. And until this false narrative is halted,