Decoding the Sanusi Conundrum, By Kenneth Gyado
I am not an advocate of vendetta but I do not blame Governor Ganduje for reacting against an influential figure who was seen to be actively working for his removal from office. There are stories of Sanusi’s prominent role in influencing the outcome of the supreme court judgement in favour of his preferred political party. A lot of the people condemning Ganduje for sacking Sanusi are hypocrites who will do worse than he did…
In the last few days, I can say without equivocation that I have lost friends; I mean very dear friends and soulmates. This is not as a result of any personal offences against each other but on the basis of the sharp division occasioned by the long forseen removal of His Royal Highness, Muhammadu Sanusi II, the 14th emir of the Great Kano Emirate.
Nigerians are sometimes very emotional people and in making their positions known, logic takes the back bench. Some of them who have a slight semblance of education are willing to go the extra mile to paint one side of the picture, while arrogantly denying others the right to expose the other side. It is really difficult to hold dispassionate conversations sometimes.
Muhammadu Sanusi means different things to different people. He is blessed with a persona that can never be ignored. He has presence, is a brilliant thinker, a gifted orator, has a sartorial appearance and is a cosmopolitan royal. Sanusi comes from a part of the county that is backwards in Western education but I have not seen any Nigerian who can defeat him in a battle in which the weapons are words and the intellect.
Sanusi’s long standing ambition to sit on the Kano throne was realised in 2014 in a hail of controversy, just the same way his dethronement has divided friends and families. When the legendary Alhaji Ado Bayero joined his ancestors after 51 glorious years on the ancient Kano throne, the matter of his succession became a bitter political tussle reflective of the tense atmosphere of the later years of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
The demise of Ado Bayero provided an opportunity for the political gladiators of the time to test their strengths on who would gain the upper hand in the installation of a new emir for the very influential emirate. Nigerians will recall that the then governor, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso was one of the five governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who defected to the burgeoning All Progressives Congress (APC) that was primed to kick the then ruling party out of office.
Even before the king makers of Kano had met to consider a successor, the PDP, through its now convicted spokesman, Olisa Metuh, issued a mischievous congratulatory message to Sanusi Lamido Ado Bayero, who is the eldest son of the late emir and the Ciroman Kano. At that time, the APC battle machine, comprising Nasir El Rufai, Rotimi Amaechi, Bukola Saraki, Rabiu Kwankwaso and Kashim Imam, relocated from a very crucial party meeting in Port Harcourt to Kano, to ensure that the PDP mission of choosing an emir did not prevail.
Governor Kwankwaso then addressed a press conference dismissing the PDP congratulatory message, saying that the Kano Emirate Law vested the final decision on who would be emir in the governor. A few days later, the State governor announced Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the erstwhile governor of the Central Bank and holder of the prestigious title of Dan Majen Kano as the new emir.
However like all mortals, Sanusi began to exhibit tragic flaws that eventually led to his sudden ouster. First of all, it appeared he misconceived his role being a ceremonial one and began to act like a constitutional monarch. Rather than collaborate with constituted authorities, he engaged in a race, which made him appear to be competing with government.
That announcement left the PDP federal government with a bloodied nose and a draconian reaction followed. Sanusi’s exposure of sleaze in the oil sector had left the government with credibility issues to grapple with and his abrupt sacking as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. The dust of this earth-shaking revelation and eventual sack had also hardly died down when the announcement was made of Sanusi being the new occupant of one of the most influential traditional stools in the country.
All hell broke loose. A detachment of heavily armed riot policemen sealed the Emir’s Palace and the new emir was forced to operate from the foyer of the Government House in Kano. Emir Sanusi was holed up in the Government House for weeks because the then federal government was not favourably disposed to his emergence. The charming emir was not alone in being a victim of the rage of the Jonathan regime. The APC turks who were in Kano to ensure his emergence were equally prevented from using the Aminu Kano Airport because the government had ordered a closure of the airport. The then governor of Rivers State and declared enemy of the State number 1, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi turned into a chauffeur and drove his colleagues by road through the night from Kano to Abuja.
Muhammadu Sanusi became emir because the governor of Kano stood firm behind him. Such is the power a governor exercises in chieftancy matters. Not even the might of the federal government, with the control of the repressive apparati of state could stand in Sanusi’s way.
When the dust eventually settled, Sanusi resumed in the palace and brought his charming personality to bear on the throne. I admired the flamboyance and elegance Sanusi brought with him. I cannot recall any other traditional ruler who had his taste and his touch of class. Sanusi’s appearance dwarfed every other ruler standing side by side with him. He had it all. A tall trim frame, impeccable royal robes, unequalled diction in English, Arabic, Hausa and French; urbane tastes and a brain to be envied by all. My admiration of this gem of a man reached its highest peak when he held the entire Muslim ummah spellbound by delivering his first Friday sermon in flawless Arabic. Even the diplomats from Arab countries could not hold back their admiration for this legendary scholar.
However like all mortals, Sanusi began to exhibit tragic flaws that eventually led to his sudden ouster. First of all, it appeared he misconceived his role being a ceremonial one and began to act like a constitutional monarch. Rather than collaborate with constituted authorities, he engaged in a race, which made him appear to be competing with government. Every human being as knowledgable as Sanusi has a tendency to operate with a level of arrogance. He showed his steely side by removing the Ciroman Kano, Sanusi Lamido Ado Bayero for insubordination. The emir actually knows what insurbodination is!
He began to comment freely on topical issues and started issuing public criticisms of government’s activities, when he had all the avenues to offer such advice in private. It is against the Northern culture for a monarch to turn into a chatter box like Sanusi became. The elegant turbans on their heads extend to cover the mouth as a symbol that emirs should be seen, and not heard. He created the reputation of an activist king and this won him numerous applauses from people who had axes to grind with government. Without apologies, Sanusi began to talk like a Sowore would. That wasn’t part of his mandate. If he wanted to do so, he had the option of voluntarily renouncing the crown and become a social crusader. You cannot be a rebel in a system that you are a prominent part of. As a King, Sanusi owed his society the existence of a peaceful social order, even if his constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression is there.
Sanusi’s frequent rantings attracted the attention of the Kano State Government, which in reaction set up several committees to whittle down his influence and whip him into line. It took the intervention of several statesmen and Kano elders to restrain Ganduje from wielding the big stick earlier than now. When Governor Ganduje took the unprecedented step of balkanising the Kano Emirate by creating four other emirates, a lot of us felt it was taking this personal fight too far. I personally reasoned that you cannot punish the Emirate for the perceived sins of the emir.
I am pained that Sanusi’s ouster has robbed the traditional institution of the colourand glamour he brought but I make bold to say that he became the architect of his fall. Those who applauded him into exile will not be there to share the latest pain. His descent from the highest of hieghts to a dingy abode…is a tragic reminder that no condition is permanent.
For a lot of Sanusi’s admirers, his reported alliance with the PDP, now led by Kwankwaso, against the reelection bid of Governor Ganduje left a sour taste in the mouth and diminished the aura of the Kano palace. The great court of Kano, previously occupied by Ibrahim Dabo and Ado Bayero, became a conclave venue for a political party. The gates of the palace were no longer a unifying force but fortresses of division. Partisan ones at that.
Gradually, the emir was perceived as alienating some of his subjects who belonged to other political parties, different from the one he preferred. He stopped attending state functions because he disagreed with the incumbent governor.
I am not an advocate of vendetta but I do not blame Governor Ganduje for reacting against an influential figure who was seen to be actively working for his removal from office. There are stories of Sanusi’s prominent role in influencing the outcome of the supreme court judgement in favour of his preferred political party. A lot of the people condemning Ganduje for sacking Sanusi are hypocrites who will do worse than he did, if they find themselves in the same circumstances. Unfortunately in a fight like this, there can be only one winner and one loser. There can never be a draw.
We should recall that Sanusi assumed office due to the support and steadfastness of a sitting governor. He probably forgot that there is still a governor in place who also has the power to remove him. The deposed emir is no doubt gifted with an intellect that is rare to come by but he has also proven that intelligence and wisdom are sometimes not mutually inclusive virtues.
I am pained that Sanusi’s ouster has robbed the traditional institution of the colourand glamour he brought but I make bold to say that he became the architect of his fall. Those who applauded him into exile will not be there to share the latest pain. His descent from the highest of hieghts to a dingy abode, where trumpets no longer sound and where beautifully decorated horses and camels no longer reside, is a tragic reminder that no condition is permanent.
Could this have been avoided? YES. A little humility and a wise application of intellect would have rendered the emergence of this sad era unnecessary.
Kenneth Gyado is a Public Relations Consultant based in Abuja and a public commentator email@example.com.