Sanusi said this while delivering his speech at the Inaugural Annual Chibok Girls Lecture held in commemoration of the third anniversary of the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls from Chibok Government Girls Secondary School by terrorists in Borno State.
The event, which was held in Abuja on Friday had the theme, ‘Where goes our girl child, our nation goes.’
The monarch, who was represented by his daughter, Shahida Sanusi, said he deliberately stayed away from the event because of the sharp criticisms he had received from northern leaders following his statement of last week wherein he criticised them for being responsible for many of the North’s social maladies.
The emir noted that his daughter was the first female to ever represent him at an event.
Sanusi said rather than address the important issues, ‘anti-intellectual’ persons were trying to silence him.
He said, “Our colleagues and compatriots among the elite do not like statistics. Numbers are disturbing. I recently gave a speech in which I said the North-East and North-West of Nigeria are the poorest parts of the country. This simple statement of fact has generated so much heat, the noise has yet to die down.
“The response to this speech has been a barrage of personal attacks and insults aimed at silencing any voices that dare shine the light on the society to which we are saying Bring Back our Girls.
“There are those who believe these attacks are aimed at discrediting me personally but even if that is the objective, it will not work. I can only be discredited by what I have done and not by insults and lies on the social media. And in any event, personal criticism has no impact on the issues.”
The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria said during his time at the CBN, he ensured that women were put in influential positions.
He said he had been championing the cause of the downtrodden all his life. Sanusi added that even if he was dethroned, he would continue to speak for the rights of the helpless.
1,500 girls carrying B’Haram babies, says Sanusi
Sanusi also said there are at least 1,500 girls either carrying or nursing babies fathered by Boko Haram fighters at the Dalori 2 Internally Displaced Persons camp near Maiduguri alone.
He, therefore, called on all Nigerians, especially members of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group to do everything possible to protect the girl child or face another existential crisis in the near future.
While reading a speech titled, ‘Chibok and the mirror in our faces: Some reflections on gender in our society’, Sanusi said, “As we remember the girls captured in Chibok three years ago, we must remember that they constitute only a fraction of the victims of this insurgency.
“I would urge BBOG, while you keep this issue of Chibok on the table, to broaden your message to cover all girls and boys abducted by Boko Haram, and also draw attention to the condition of girls and women in our society in general.
“To give you an idea of the extent of this problem, as of today, in Dalori 2 IDP camp near Maiduguri alone, there are over 1,500 BH-abducted girls who are either pregnant or carrying babies, who have been freed by the military.
“Hundreds of orphaned children are being carried away to unknown destinations and they are all gone into oblivion due to society’s neglect. It is therefore critical, for the BBOG to gain much broader support in the populace and be more effective, to use the dramatic case of the Chibok girls as a reference and a plank, but not the exclusive focus of its struggle.”
The monarch maintained that northern leaders were not doing enough to protect women and children and this had deepened poverty.
My father’ll keep speaking even if deposed- Daughter
Sanusi’s daughter, while delivering her personal speech, said her father’s life-long dream had always been to become the Emir of Kano. She, however, stated that even if he was deposed for defending the helpless, he would continue to speak truth to power.
Shahida said, “My father is not afraid of giving up his throne if it stands in the way of speaking the truth. I know that if my father has to choose between the throne and his conscience, he will happily give up the throne.
“He has already accomplished his ambition of succeeding his forefathers and frankly he is the same person I knew as the banker and central bank governor. As an emir, he has not changed and he will be the same person even as an ex-emir if it comes to that.
“When Mrs. Patience Jonathan called those of us in the North almajiris, we got angry, but come to think of it, is that not what we really are? We give birth to children and just abandon them. There are no schools for the poor. There are no hospitals for the poor.”
Also speaking, the Chairperson of the event, Prof. Grace Alele-Williams, who is also the first female Vice-Chancellor of a Nigerian university, noted that the government had failed for being unable to rescue the Chibok girls.
Abduction of Chibok girls, most disgraceful Nigerian event
Alele-Williams, who is 84-years-old, said the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls and the failure of the government to rescue them after three years is the most disgraceful event to ever take place on Nigerian soil.
She added, “Even though our troops go to Central Africa and other parts of West Africa and are seen as gallant soldiers who can do anything, we cannot go out and bring back our girls and bring joy to their poor mothers in three years. When I think about it, I can’t understand.”
Chibok girl’s mother in tears
A mother of one of the Chibok girls, Rebecca Samuel, who spoke on behalf of the other mothers, burst into tears midway into her speech.
She said the government had failed to rescue the girls because they were not the children of the elite.
The mother said it is better for the girls to be dead than to remain in captivity where they would be subjected to suffering by the terrorists.
She said, “Three years is not three minutes; three years is not three months. We are in great pain. Were it not for Oby Ezekwesili and the BBOG family, our daughters would have been forgotten. Is it because we are poor? Is being poor a crime. We pray every day that God brings back our girls safely.
“I am calling on the world, the international community and most especially the Nigerian government to do all they can. Every day we ask do they eat, are they feeling alright? How do they sleep? What do they wear? It is hard for us to eat. I would rather my daughter was dead and I buried her than for her to be in the wilderness for three years. Government of Nigeria, international community, please help us, we are poor.”
Co-convener of the BBOG, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, said the Federal Government would be joking if it thinks that the protests would stop because three years had passed.
The former Minister of Education said the group would not waver in its demands, adding that as long as the parents of the Chibok girls are not sleeping, the government would not also be allowed to sleep.
Ezekwesili said beyond the demand for the return of the Chibok girls, the group would expand its agitation towards the rights of the girl child.