By Hamisu Abubakar
With the death of Alhaji Ado Bayero in the past week, the Kano Emirate lost unarguably one of the finest traditional rulers it would ever produce. And in the same vein, the Nigerian state lost a patriot, a moderating influence in the predominantly Muslim North and a father figure. The passing of the emir further impoverishes our country in a season when strong voices like his in the North have largely remained mute in the condemnation of the Boko Haram group.
Although the late emir was said to have died after a prolonged battle with cancer, what many Nigerians would remember though is that the revered traditional ruler’s death was announced a few days after the governor of Kano State, Alhaji Rabiu Kwakwanso reversed an appointment made by the sage and threatened him with deposition or balkanisation of the Kano Emirate. Whatever was the immediate cause of the demise, Dr. Ado Bayero, who sat on the throne of his forebears since 1963, has exited this earth into the pantheon of his forebears.
In accordance with tradition, it was expected that the kingmakers would name a quick replacement for the late Ado Bayero. Yet what was really unexpected was the manner in which the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, turned the selection of the new emir into a do-or-die contest. Reports have it that the entire leadership of the APC together with their governors emptied into the ancient city of Kano ostensibly to condole with the people of Kano when their real mission was to ensure the emergence of the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as the new emir of Kano.
The same party that pontificates daily on the democratic ideals of freedom of choice and the evil of imposition could not even allow the good people of Kano enough ambience to choose their traditional ruler. Newspaper reports have detailed how the like of Tinubu, el-Rufai, Rotimi Amaechi, Bukola Saraki and his boy the governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed, and other APC stalwarts forced the hands of a willing accomplice, Kwakwanso, in endorsing Sanusi as the new Emir of Kano.
The reality today is that Kano Emirate has a new emir in Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who, apart from being legitimately qualified for the position, can point to extraneous support for his emergence. Never before in the history of northern emirates had outsiders significantly influenced the choice of an emir as in the case of the new emir of Kano. Of course, the widespread protests all around the city of Kano speak to the politically motivated interference in the primordial affairs of the Kano people. Many Kano youths are angry perhaps not essentially with the choice of Sanusi as their emir but are justifiably infuriated that their kingmakers and their governor were externally influenced in what is simply a traditional matter.
Yes, the APC have succeeded in foisting Sanusi on the people of Kano, but they have equally robbed the new emir of the much-needed legitimacy to rule his people. It is a pity that a man who did not hide his dream of becoming emir in Kano even when the incumbent was alive has had that dream realised now and the very people he wants to rule would not even allow him access to the palace. Reports coming out from Kano claim that the new emir is operating from the government house while the security agencies are having a hellish time trying to put out the disturbances. Is Sanusi’s case like the man who stole the king’s trumpet?
Through their interference with what is purely the internal affair of the people of Kano, APC has put a new emir in office, but not in power. Even more worrying is the security challenges the manner of selection of the new emir has thrown up in Kano and its environs. Already, there have been too many security issues in the northern axis which have stretched the capabilities of the armed forces. To open up another axis of unrest anywhere in the North is not in the interests of anybody.
It is most ironic that the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, whom the choice of Sanusi as emir is targeted at, is the one now cleaning the mess in Kano. Yes, as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, it is his primary responsibility to protect lives and property. It does not matter whether the lives are those of APC or PDP members. It is quite reassuring that the President has risen above petty sentiments and the divisive politics of APC by ensuring that things do not get out of hand in Kano and that the new emir is well protected until all frayed nerves are calmed. This is his moral victory over his little-minded opponents.
All said, it behoves Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to choose to be the people’s emir or the continued mouthpiece of the opposition party as he was in his CBN days. As he would soon come to realise, his main headache in the days ahead will certainly not be President Jonathan, but the man who is all over him at the moment for his own selfish reasons. Governor Kwakwanso wants to emerge as APC’s presidential candidate for the 2015 elections; so helping Sanusi to the emirship eliminates one of his potential challengers to the ticket. But in the day-to-day running of the emirate, Sanusi needs to be consulting the governor – and therein is the minefield!
It is rather difficult to understand what the APC is gloating about with the announcement of Sanusi as emir as if that has foreclosed Jonathan from winning the 2015 presidential election. The truth is that Jonathan did not win in Kano in 2011 and yet he is the President. Besides, what is this infantile fuss by people like el-rufai all about? Sanusi has just been announced as the Emir of Kano, not the President of Nigeria!
Hamisu Abubakar, a political scientist, contributed this piece from Kaduna.