Monday, 27 May 2024 04:37

Kano’s Game of Thrones and our National Anthem - Hassan Gimba

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Hassan Gimba Hassan Gimba

What is happening in Kano should be of concern to not only the Kanawa or Northerners but to all Nigerians. Kano, as we all know, is the heartbeat of the North. If Kano is economically buoyant, it cascades down to the rest of the North and reflects on the nation’s GDP.

Conversely, any chaos or breach in security will affect other parts of the North, thereby stretching the capacity of our security agencies with all the attendant consequences.

This is why the ongoing ”Game of Thrones” in the ancient city of Kano should concern every Nigerian.

There were some misgivings in some quarters when Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, popularly called SLS - fresh from a controversial sacking from the office of the governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank by then President Goodluck Jonathan - was made the Emir of Kano, against all odds, by Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso on 8th June 2014, in a move that lends credence to the saying that there is no permanent friend or enemy in politics but permanent interests.

In Kwankwaso’s first tenure as governor, he and SLS, then with the First Bank, were more like “enemies”, which made the government of Kano State close its account with the bank as its request for Sanusi’s sack was not acceded to.

Yet there were misgivings too when, again against all odds, he was dethroned by former Governor Abdullahi Ganduje on 9th March 2020. To get at him, Ganduje “shattered” the revered Kano Emirate into five pieces.

Now there are more misgivings after the current governor of Kano State, Abba Yusuf, himself a Prince, dethroned the five Emirs created by Ganduje and reinstated SLS and returned the emirate to its former status.

The issue, ordinarily a state affair within the governor’s authority, is threatening to escalate and burst onto the national landscape. That is, if it has not already,  what with the National Security Adviser (NSA) weighing in.

The thing is, the princes’ insatiable greed for power, influence, relevance and wealth has made them rush open-eyed into the crossfires of ambitious and unscrupulous politicians who keep no captives. To quote from 'Macbeth', the Kano princes have “murdered sleep and so shall sleep no more.”

However, the most pitiable here is the common man who whatever is happening in Kano will neither put garri on his table nor solve any of his mammoth and growing problems. It is the common man who would be used as a foot soldier to disrupt the peace of the community.

Welcome back, “Nigeria We Hail Thee!”

It is no longer news that the National Assembly will bring back our National Anthem at the birth of our nation. It is a welcome development.

On 10 August 2020, I wrote a piece entitled “Pray, who wants Zulum dead?” and I said, “Anybody who chooses to write the truth about our dear country, Nigeria, does so with a heavy heart. You cannot write about your beloved with no degree of passion. The love for it, the sadness at its travails, the fear for its future, and the cry for its affairs to be done right cannot be written dispassionately. Bewildered many a time, you just write for record purposes, knowing that it may change nothing.

"We grew up with the national anthem, 'Nigeria We Hail Thee', which was adopted on October 1, 1960. It was our anthem until 1978. The anthem was written by Lillian Jean Williams, a Briton who lived here at the time of our independence, while the music for it was composed by Francis Berda. In the first stanza, there was a rallying exhortation. After saluting the great mother country – 'Nigeria we hail thee', it went on to call us to unity and oneness – 'Though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand…'

“A three-stanza anthem designed to whip up our patriotism, the third stanza struck a chord with me. In it, we supposedly beseech the Creator to help us build a nation where no man is left behind. “O God of creation, grant us this our one request, help us build a nation where no man is oppressed…” In my childish imagination in the early 70s (I was barely ten) I always romanticised that to mean we were imploring God to help us build a real wall of steel, mortar and cement strong enough to withstand external enemies and tall enough that no Nigerian can be thrown over it to the wolves.

“Now, while the first national anthem spoke of Nigeria as a mother, the second spoke of it as a father. The last verse in the first stanza of the earlier anthem was “Nigerians all and proud to serve our sovereign motherland” while the second verse in the first stanza of the later anthem said, “To serve our fatherland”.

“While the mother fiercely loves her brood and can stake her life for them, the father’s love is less sentimental but intense. By nature, he provides for both the mother and the kids and can break his back so that they can have something. He can move mountains to protect and preserve him. And so the child sees its father as stronger than Hercules and richer than Mansa Musa.

“There may be many reasons why General Olusegun Obasanjo's regime decided to change the anthem to the current one. Chief among them could be nationalism; after all, why should foreigners decide our national anthem, they might have reasoned. But did they put side-by-side the meanings, imports and differences between “motherhood” and “fatherhood” in their decision to adopt the current anthem? Or perhaps they felt that likening Nigeria to a father would make its children revere and work to make it proud of them while in return giving them the love, support and protection only a father can?

“You see, a citizen sees his country in the image of a father. Children begin to lose hope in a father who shirks his responsibilities. They begin to see him as the anonymous lover who, heartbroken, wrote: 'I am afraid to love you again. But whenever I see you, I just want to hold you in my arms forever. You had promised to protect me forever and never to hurt me for once, but you have broken that promise, just the way you have shattered my heart, too.'

“The yet-to-be-found Chibok girls and all their loved ones can say these words about their fatherland. All Nigerian children and their loved ones kidnapped or killed by Boko Haram in the North-East or its other arm, the bandits in the North West and North Central, can borrow these words too. Even those released after their people have paid their ransom can adopt these words. All Nigerians who believe more could have been done will be at home with these words. Do you think those appalled at how Boko Haram terrorists who were “rehabilitated” and released into society disappear will not see these words as apt?”

On 12 December 2022, writing on “CBN, Qatar 2023 and time to rekindle our patriotism (1)”, I said, “There is nothing more touching than watching fans at the ongoing World Cup shed tears when their national anthem is being sung, or crying when their national team loses a game or even wins. Such a show of intense emotion comes as a result of substantial love for one’s country. It is a sign of unbridled patriotism. You begin to wonder if a Nigerian would cry on hearing our national anthem or cry if we win or lose a game.

“But you must ask yourself whether such love for the country has something to do with the anthem or with how a country’s managers manage it.

Now, many things have happened that have made a lot of Nigerians want to give up because, sadly, the managers of our country have so bastardised our psyche that many of us are afraid to cry for a country those milking it have no sympathy for. Last week, I saw a video clip of a serving minister boasting to his audience that he cannot be defeated in an election because he had “amassed money”! How insensitive can one be!

We all had hopes for this nation. We still have, and we all want it to be the greatest in the world. However, this hope is fading for some, even as many of us still hold on to the dream of a greater Nigeria because we have no other country to call ours.

** Hassan Gimba is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Neptune Prime.


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