Emir Sanusi’s Curious Deal, And Perils He Must Avoid, By Garba Shehu
It is welcome that the new Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi 11, as he prefers to be called ( he was known as Sanusi Lamido Sanusi until his coronation), landed on the throne of his forefathers in the vast entity called the Emir’s Palace. This followed the dramatic end to the siege on the palace, which made it impossible for the newly-appointed ruler to take his rightful residence.
For those unfamiliar with Kano, this massive compound is by every estimate, a standalone town, complete with thousands of homes, schools, a clinic and a social centre. That Sanusi rode around the city on horse back to various parts of the city unmolested, receiving praises and cheers, without being heckled or abused is an indication that indeed the initial crisis that followed his choice in now over. As he huffs his way through armour and mythic roles, including a reported three-day seclusion in a mystical room, senior members of the community have been warning the new ruler to tread softly and to not allow himself to be provoked. He will face provocation. When a man has a reputation for short fuse, you will expect this to be a severe test. As Commander-In-Chief, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan had hoped that his word would be scripture on this and other matters all over the country. It must have been a bitter blow when Governor Rabi’u Kwankwaso surprised him with the choice of a bitter enemy.
As it is, it cannot be said if the withdrawal of the policemen from the palace was out of love for peace in Kano or a tactical withdrawal. If this was a tactical retreat – to bid their time and strike again – then the Emir must be careful and avoid making wrong moves if he is not to invite the fury of Abuja, or reopening old wounds in his community. Although the Governor has made his move, giving a clear indication that he means business, Kwankwaso is bound to leave office in less than a year. It does not matter whether he is succeeded by a man or woman from his own party or the opposition. New challenges will arise from the Emir’s tormentors especially in a situation where he fails to rise above the fray of politics.
As for the government in Abuja, you can be sure that they will chose their moment, and strike if they will. These are rulers well-schooled in the methodology of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Obasanjo will do you a favour that you can’t refuse. But be sure that one day, he will come back to demand a return that you cannot say no to. If you say no, the President who did not forget will remember that you had a blemish under the shirt, perhaps an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) matter that had been kept in the oven. From that point, it is given a new life all over again. Recall that a former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor, had a corruption issue junked for 10 years in an EFCC warehouse. When he disagreed with the tenure elongation bid of Dr. Jonathan, the case was called back, leading to his loss of office and his ongoing trial.
If rumours are to be believed, both Emir Sanusi and the government that appointed him are in a different kind of bind. In this case, it had been said that they were all over former President Babangida, General Gusau and the National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), making all sorts of commitments and pledges, the bottom-line of which was that they would henceforth be good boys as far as dealing with President Jonathan is concerned.
There are also suggestions that the Security Services in Abuja may have stumbled on deals between a certain candidate for the throne and kingmakers and some persons in authority in the state, leading to the outcome we are dealing with. These sordid details, if true, would have the long term effect of diminishing not only the person involved but the revered institution of Kano Emirate. Kano Emirate is a different kind of emirate. This Emirate is pre-eminent, almost the last one standing. While tales abound of sold kingships all over Nigeria, somehow, and miraculously too, the impeccable persona of the kingship in Kano has remained, until now, without any blemish.
Happily though, as I said from the beginning, it is important that the storm has settled and the Chief has a free hand to rule as he wishes, subject of course only to the law of the land.
He gave a good account of himself last Friday when he led the prayers and gave a sermon without a written script. The whole city has been impressed by this dazzling show of brain power. His supporters must however tread softly on other Imams who are being cast as being brainless and unworthy. In the long run, these Imams are the Emir’s pillars of support. He therefore needs them.
While it will take time for the Emir to deal with these and such other issues, it is important to warn that he must avoid three of the minefields that visibly lie in front of him.
One, as is well known, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi has a very strong sense of himself. This makes him to face issues frontally without strategy or tact. You don’t throw volleys just anyhow and for this, let’s hope that the kingship as an institution will help to mollify him.
Two, as many have said, he talks too much. I wrote about this too. In that column, I cited the famous aphorism that says that no one gets into trouble for saying nothing. Malam Adamu Adamu, that famous Daily Trust writer, put it better to the new Emir where he said that the tail of the turban drawn over the chiefs mouth was intended to impose a restraint on their speeches. They are not known to talk just anyhow.
Three, it is equally evident that the Emir has an appetite for grandeur. Recall the dramatic outfits he wore to work as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. The trouble is if you covet grandeur, it becomes wily and wild. But if we learn from history, the best thing is to ignore any such feeling. If you ignore grandeur, it has a way of coming across in a way that is inoffensive and acceptable .
As the whole country congratulates Kano for having an enlightened ruler who ran the Central Bank with a keen eye on accountability and due governance, his own job is clearly cut as one of reviving the cherished values of the people. A good government at the state and the centre is important but it is hard to have progress in a society without good people as well as good values.