While the ongoing debate generated by Sarkin Kano Muhammadu Sunusi’s social reform proposals is gradually subsiding, one can’t fail to observe how what was supposed to be an intellectually rich debate degenerated into a free-for-all argument replete with disparaging innuendoes and even explicit insults.
Incidentally, though Sarki’s proposed solutions to some negative social practices in the society that triggered the controversy can be described as radical, yet, I, for one, consider the amount of the ensuing controversy too disproportionate. Besides, I believe that, should those proposals be exhaustively and objectively scrutinized under relevant Islamic jurisprudential standards, and in the context of our peculiar socio-cultural circumstances, most of them will certainly turn out to be compliant with the intendment of the relevant Islamic provisions.
Besides, contrary to the wrong assumption that Kanawa are inherently reform-resistant, the reality is that, most of them are open-minded enough to welcome any socio-cultural and even political reforms even if they defy their traditions provided they (i.e. reforms) don’t contradict the unambiguously categorical of Islamic sanctions.
In a nutshell, basically, Sarki’s views and proposals per se aren’t the source of the controversy after all. Instead the source of the controversy is actually the underlying insensitivity he consciously displays or unconsciously betrays towards the sensibilities of the people he supposedly targets in his advocacy of socio-cultural and religious reforms. This explains the apparent underlying narcissistic tendency that seemingly motivates him, as it equally explains his apparent penchant for stirring unnecessary controversy just for the sake it. By the way, this observation may not sound strange to those familiar with his peculiar approach as a public commentator in the past.
Anyway, unsurprisingly and indeed quite understandably, many people rebuke him and indeed feel too offended to take him seriously. They question his claim to moral high ground to be an advocate for these reforms in the first place, citing some alleged inconsistencies between his advocacy and his actual deeds. For instance, they cite the fact that he has never had any philanthropic initiative to support, say, vulnerable children’s education in Kano state or elsewhere. This observation was particularly emphasized following the emergence of a report indicating that Sarkin Gombe Abubakar Shehu Abubakar III is sponsoring the education of three thousand vulnerable children in his domain, through his philanthropic foundation, the Shehu Usman Abubakar Foundation. In fact, many Kanawa and indeed many others elsewhere also question Sarki’s sincerity in his advocacy of prudence and transparency in handling public finances citing his disproportionately expensive lifestyle, as they also cite his other alleged inconsistencies and even some alleged scandals also.
However, inasmuch as no one can deny the fact that Kano and indeed the Muslim North need socio-cultural reforms to address some persistent negative social practices that undermine their ability to leverage their potential in order to improve their socio-economic conditions, one can’t dismiss Sarki Sunusi’s advocacy towards that end, anyway. Yet, one can’t deny the fact his approach in this regard isn’t helping matter, either.
Therefore, instead of this rather confrontational approach, Sarki Sunusi ll should, first of all, engage relevant public figures in the state among the reputable Islamic scholars, sociologists, educationists, thought leaders and other experts, to come up with a collection of balanced and realistically implementable social reform proposals. He should also make use of his obviously unrestricted access to government’s corridors in the state to quietly but determinedly lobby for its adoption as the basis to formulate appropriate legislative provisions that will address the persistent negative social phenomena in the state. By leveraging his enormous influence, he will certainly be able to facilitate the achievement of this objective. After all, he is no longer Sunusi Lamido Sunusi; a mere social commentator and critic, but Sarkin Kano who enjoys huge influence in Kano and indeed in Nigeria at large.
Meanwhile, he should focus on reforming the Masarautar Kano where he alone has all the powers to do and undo as he pleases, hence he can introduce and implement whatever reforms he desires. Because, the Masarautar Kano, which was founded by Shehu Usman Danfodio on the bases of Islamic religion, and which is expected to uphold and represent Islamic values and the good traditions of the Kanawa, does indeed need comprehensive reforms to rid it of the many extremely negative traditions, heretical practices and superstitious beliefs that crept back into it over the decades.
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