Last Friday, Emir Ado Bayero, the longest reigning monarch in the history of the ancient city of Kano passed on to the great beyond. The monarch’s death followed prolonged illness that may have been exacerbated by the traumatic experiences of the Boko Haram attacks in and around the palace and the ancient city of Kano.
But Ado Bayero could not have chosen a better day to join his maker: a holy Friday. And in line with Islamic doctrine, the man, who only last year marked his golden jubilee on the throne of Kano, was interred. The demise of this venerable and quintessential bridge-builder marked the end of an era. And on Sunday, maverick former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (SLS) was named in his stead as the 14th Emir of Kano. His appointment as Emir, in fulfillment of a life-long ambition, was victory for his supporters and bookmakers, who had wagered their money on him. But it has left butterflies in the stomach of his opponents, who find it inconceivable that they may have to eventually bow before Sanusi.
Sanusi knew what he wanted and had started very early in life to make real his ambition. His ascension to the throne lends credence to the postulation by Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist and poet, that “the only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be”. Sanusi did not become the Emir of Kano by accident. Though he is qualified by virtue of his lineage (being a grandson of Muhammadu Sanusi, the 11th Emir of Kano) to make a bid for the exalted throne, it was indeed, ironically, the actions and inactions of some of his opponents that helped him in achieving his life-long ambition. In this category can be counted the Jonathan administration, in particular, some of his aides who acted as if they were fifth columnists in his government and the erstwhile BamangaTukur-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Sanusi’s path to becoming emir started to become easy last August 31 when former Vice President Atiku Abubakar led the G7 in a walkout at the PDP national convention in Abuja. The resultant split paved the way for the formation of the New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), which members were later to find permanent residency in the mega opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC). The Bisi Akande-led opposition party was too willing to open its doors to political heavyweights that included Atiku Abubakar Governors Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko (Sokoto), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), among others. And soon, the opposition party was further buoyed by the cross carpeting of 11 senators, 49 members of the House of Representatives, ex-governors and ex-lawmakers. For the APC, there seems to be no end to its fishing for new members from the ranks of the ruling party.
If the mismanagement of the PDP crisis that led to the split of the party and defection of some of its key members to the APC was a tipping point, the suspension of Sanusi as the helmsman of the CBN by President Jonathan on February 19 elevated the administration’s “political potholes” to “political craters.” That suspension, which was a culmination of the face-off between Sanusi and the Jonathan administration over unremitted oil proceeds totaling $20 billion ensured a convergence of opposition in that flank of the many battles of the administration. It was only a matter of time before the APC, which now has his state governor, Kwankwaso, in its fold, took ownership of Sanusi’s battle.
Reminded of William Shakespeare’s exhortation that “it is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves,” Sanusi, now out in limbo, was too willing to align forces with the opposition party. For the party and the pariah, it could only have been a win-win.
I am not in a position to verify if those who wanted Sanusi’s head ever read the “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. If they did, then they would have been in the know about the Chinese writer’s counsel to “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” Out of job, Sanusi had plenty of time to fraternize with the opposition and learn one or two tricks from them.
It needs no telling that the relationship that benefited him the most was that between him and Governor Kwankwaso, the man who would have the last say on the appointment of a new Emir of Kano. Of course we all knew that late Emir Ado Bayero was ill but no one except the clairvoyant could have had a sense of his passage. But keeping tabs with the power bases, if and when the need arises, is a sine qua non in these matters and Sanusi did just that.
The scenario would surely have been different if Kwankwaso did not defect to the APC. That would have made it an uphill task for a sitting PDP governor to make one of the harshest critics of the Jonathan administration the Emir of Kano when the stool became vacant following the demise of Emir Ado Bayero. As they say in PDP parlance, the issue would have been handled as a “family affair” and perhaps Sanusi’s dream of mounting the throne of his forebears would have gone up in smoke.
By now I am sure that the Jonathan administration must be bemoaning a lost opportunity arising from the wrong choices it made. If the government had not been focused on humiliating Sanusi by bundling him out of the CBN, the banker would have quit the plum job on June 1 and Godwin Emefiele would still have stepped into his shoes. Sanusi’s exit date from the CBN was just five days before the demise of Emir Ado Bayero last Friday. The truth is that a battle-weary and damaged Mr. Sanusi may not have been an attractive and preferred option for the coveted throne.
The Jonathan administration made a hero of Sanusi by its mismanagement of the crisis over the missing $20bn. Because of the manner the controversial banker was booted out, he attracted huge deposits of sympathy to his bank of goodwill. And don’t we all love the seemingly oppressed? It was no secret that Sanusi wanted to be Emir of Kano more than anything else. The man himself had said so in an interview in 2009. His appointment as Dan Maje Kano in June 2012 was to ostensibly prepare him for the office. He walked with the swagger of royalty and was not shy to show off his regalia at the CBN headquarters in Abuja. That was how much Mr. Sanusi desired the Kano stool. His desire was, however, matched by his determination to make his dream come true.
Now his harshest critics would know that in preparation for this journey from banker to the throne, Sanusi had as far back as in 1997 obtained a degree in Sharia and Islamic Studies from the African International University in Khartoum, Sudan. Sanusi was destined to be Emir of Kano and was ironically helped in his quest by his opponents. Mr. Kwankwaso’s defection to the APC and the controversial former banker’s humiliation out of CBN all worked in concert in his favour.
Paul Ibe is a member of the Editorial Board of PREMIUM TIMES