The Last Emir of Kano, By Majeed Dahiru
The tragedy of this inglorious end of an era is that it will be recorded in history that the ancient Emirate of Kano was reduce to rubble by the same hand that was caught on tape receiving and stashing dollar denominated bribes into his pockets. And for Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II, Governor Ganduje has secured for him a special place in history as the last Emir of Kano.
The death of Emir Ado Bayero of Kano in 2014 coincided with a defining moment in Nigeria’s political history, with certain individuals from his domain playing central roles in what eventually culminated in the loss of presidential power by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 general elections. Two of these individuals were the then Central Bank of Nigeria governor and a prominent member of the ruling house of the Kano Emirate, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and the governor of Kano State in that period, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
The failure of PDP, after 16 years of dominating political power in a Nigeria, to record satisfactory achievements in socio-economic and infrastructural development, was easily attributable to the corruption and financial recklessness of its members who were in office. This led to the disappointment and dissatisfaction of a lot of Nigerians with the party.
Therefore, when Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as CBN governor raised an alarm over the non-remittance of billions of dollars from crude oil sales into the federation account, this resonated with a large section of the Nigerian public, even though his allegations were proved inaccurate by other corroborative authorities. The embarrassment that this alarm on grand heist caused the Goodluck Jonathan administration, even if false, was unfortunately aggravated by the mismanagement of the situation by a government whose public perception was at its lowest, after being rocked by a series of corruption scandals.
The Goodluck Jonathan administration, clearly believing Lamido Sanusi’s false alarm to be a deliberate act of sabotage scripted by the opposition APC to bring it down through an irredeemable reputational haemorrhage on the eve of election 2015, launched a counter offensive against him. The marking of Sanusi Lamido as an enemy of the government and his hounding out of office as CBN governor on a counter-accusation of financial recklessness, boomeranged into a public relations fatality for the Jonathan administration, and presented a situation that was exploited to the fullest advantage by the APC.
By mistaking Sanusi Lamido as a friend, who was an enemy of their enemy, the then Kwankwaso-led APC government of Kano State made the political miscalculation of appointing as emir of Kano, a man imbued with the restless spirit of intellectual activism and social reform advocacy, who was not likely to conform with the norms and royal etiquettes expected of the head of a deeply conservative traditional rulership institution.
Pushed away by the government of the day and pressed towards the then opposition APC, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, a man whose ultimate desire in life was to be the emir of Kano just like his grandfather, Muhammadu Sanusi I, emerged the preferred choice of the Kwankwaso-led APC government of Kano State to succeed his recently departed uncle and father-in-law, Ado Bayero. In addition to spiting the Goodluck Jonathan administration, the appointment of Sanusi Lamido, a man who was considered an outsider to the royal court of the Kano Emirate, by then Governor Kwankwaso, as the emir of Kano over his other rival claimants to the throne who were better groomed in the etiquette of the conservational traditional leadership institution of northern Nigeria, was borne out of the political expediency of securing the Nigeria’s largest voter demography for the APC in the epic battle ahead of the 2015 presidential election.
Whereas, the role played by Kwankwaso in the “change” revolution of 2015 was by design, that of Sanusi Lamido was by default. The alarm sounded by Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was not a deliberate act of insider sabotage but an unintended error of arithmetic arising from a genuine concern about the possibility of unremitted monies from crude oil sales; an act that shouldn’t have been met with hostility by the Goodluck Jonathan administration but appreciated as a precautionary effort in what was supposed to be a collective war on corruption. By mistaking Sanusi Lamido as a friend, who was an enemy of their enemy, the then Kwankwaso-led APC government of Kano State made the political miscalculation of appointing as emir of Kano, a man imbued with the restless spirit of intellectual activism and social reform advocacy, who was not likely to conform with the norms and royal etiquettes expected of the head of a deeply conservative traditional rulership institution. Emirs are to be seen but not heard, as symbols of tradition, and must maintain political neutrality at all times. And when Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II of Kano began to live up to this reputation as a traditional ruler that would not only be seen but heard loudly and clearly, his former friends became his enemies. It wasn’t a matter of “if” but “when” Muhammadu Sanusi II, the 14th emir of Kano would be dethroned from the largest and most important emirate of the Sokoto caliphate.
However, the contemporary socio-economic conditions of the Muslim north of Nigeria is an emergency situation that makes the royal etiquette of silence no longer a golden virtue but a conspiracy with the region’s corrupt political leadership to condemn the people to perpetual poverty, illiteracy, disease and insecurity. As a result of the 84 per cent poverty rate in the Muslim north, Nigeria is today the poverty capital of the world. Plagued by a complex web of complicated security challenges, ranging from the Boko haram insurgency in the North-East, cross-border banditry in the North-West and killer herdsmen in the North-Central, Nigeria is now designated the third most terrorised country on earth.
At the root of these socio-economic crises is the low level of education in the region, coupled with a tradition of archaic religious and cultural practices that have greatly impeded the socio-economic development of the Muslim North. The religious and cultural self-immolation of the Muslim North has potentials of incinerating the entire Nigeria, except urgent systemic reforms are carried out. It is these reforms that Emir Sanusi consistently called for by speaking truth to power and constituted authority, even at the risk of committing class suicide, as a reformed society in line with Emir Sanusi’s vision would signal the end of the feudal privileges that define the current emirate system in Northern Nigeria.
Five years after the “change” revolution, the ruling APC has surpassed the record of PDP’s previous 16 years in every aspect of misrule and administrative banditry… In all of these, Emir Sanusi, who was rewarded with the prestigious throne of Kano Emirate for his role in the “missing” oil money saga in the previous administration, was expected to keep mute with a royal veil wrapped around his mouth.
Emir Sanusi’s call for the unreserved embrace of education and a rollback of the menace of out-of-school children through responsible parenting, while also drawing from his experiences as an economist to offer pragmatic solutions on the economic management of the revenue challenged states of the Muslim North, clearly stood him out as a one of Nigeria’s foremost reform advocates. The educational backwardness in the Muslim north has limited its socio-economic advancement, necessitating the obnoxious affirmative action of quota system and federal character that has arrested the collective development and progress of the educationally advanced parts of Nigeria; a situation Emir Sanusi warns as no longer sustainable, evident in the sustained clamour for the restructuring of Nigeria.
However, after six years as an activist traditional ruler, Emir Sanusi was cast aside from the throne in a move that followed a predictable and familiar pattern. Five years after the “change” revolution, the ruling APC has surpassed the record of PDP’s previous 16 years in every aspect of misrule and administrative banditry, in addition to breaking new grounds in unbridled corrupt practices and graft. In all of these, Emir Sanusi, who was rewarded with the prestigious throne of Kano Emirate for his role in the “missing” oil money saga in the previous administration, was expected to keep mute with a royal veil wrapped around his mouth.
APC’s Governor Umar Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, who was caught on tape pilfering public funds through kickbacks from a government contractor, was sufficiently incensed enough to go after Emir Sanusi, for his alleged refusal to support his re-election bid. In a fit of rage, like a bull in the China shop, Governor Ganduje, in the effort to reduce the influence of Emir Sanusi, broke the largest and most important Emirate of the Sokoto Caliphate into five splinters, bringing an inglorious end a royal heritage that has survived several centuries in the process. Not done yet, Governor Ganduje eventually dethroned Emir Sanusi via executive fiat and banished him from Kano Emirate all together. The same “truth” he spoke against the previous PDP administration that made his dream of being an emir come true is the same truth that got him into the nightmare of dethronement and banishment. The tragedy of this inglorious end of an era is that it will be recorded in history that the ancient Emirate of Kano was reduce to rubble by the same hand that was caught on tape receiving and stashing dollar denominated bribes into his pockets. And for Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II, Governor Ganduje has secured for him a special place in history as the last Emir of Kano.
Discernibly, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was neither a foe of the PDP nor a friend of the APC. His only friends are his convictions, no matter how flawed or inaccurate.