The emergence of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the Emir of Kano has opened another political front in the battle between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC) for the soul of our nation at a time we are experiencing one of the worst national security challenges since the Civil War. As we speak, protests are reported to be going on in Kano following the Kano state government’s announcement of the former CBN governor as the new Emir.
Here is my take. If Sanusi was one of the three names submitted by the Kano kingmakers to Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, then the governor’s right or duty to choose one of the three having been exercised by the choice of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has to be respected by all. If Kwankwaso made the choice of Sanusi based on political considerations, this should be left to his conscience. Yes, if as reported, APC bigwigs lobbied hard for him to get there, we have to leave that to the governor’s conscience because he is a Kano man and he will have to live with his decision whatever it is and whatever his motivation.
However, having said the above, the people of Kano over whom this man must rule as traditional ruler for life have the ultimate say. If the riot or opposition to his enthronement is the voice of God, the people will ultimately prevail. It would not need the intervention of Abuja forces for this to happen. It will happen. The Kano people will not allow any person to be imposed on them by any agenda-driven governor. It might take sometime, but their will ultimately will prevail. I mean, IF this is an imposition against the will of the people, their will ultimately will prevail….
For now, let the rest of us who are dancing around, celebrating the enthronement of Sanusi as the downfall of Jonathan step back a little from the brink. Nigeria is bigger than these people. The Emir of Kano is not bigger than the President or the institution of the presidency. The Emir of Kano may be influential, but he has no lawful jurisdiction outside Kano. His job is to keep that place safe, to exercise his power as a traditional ruler that accommodates all in the ancient and cosmopolitan city of Kano and environs.
For me, the most crucial issue now is the place of Kano in the national security radar. We are very much aware that the late Ado Bayero was an implacable enemy of Boko Haram, the terrorist group that has laid siege to Kano and the nation for sometime. That group, as we know, attempted unsuccessfully to assassinate him. He showed his true national colours throughout and every true Nigerian respected his stance. It wasn’t a stance he took conveniently. From day one, he had showed that he believed in one Nigeria and that was the way he ran his domain, even in the heydays of the Maitatsine crisis, despite the fact that he never had a great relationship with the Abubakar Rimi government, just as he didn’t have a great relationship with Kwankwaso.
But basically his disagreements with the governors were precisely because he was no politician and never allowed himself to be used to serve partisan ends. He came to the throne from the relatively low-key position of Ambassador of Nigeria to Senegal in 1963. Sanusi is not exactly that type of character. He’s coming to the throne fresh from the position of the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria and he left that post as the most controversial head of the Central Bank we’ve ever had. He’s coming wearing his political colours on his sleeves, having showed he has no scruples being used politically against the central government, at least. It is instructive that his grandfather, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi was dethroned after about ten years on the throne and banished to Azare by the Sardauna, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello over political differences. If Lamido Sanusi does not want history to repeat itself, he must now begin to mend fences all round.
First, he must start with making peace with the Kano people. Those rioting against his installation are doing so, not because Jonathan or the PDP engineered them, but because of the way he had gone about this business of Emirship, claiming inelegantly that to be the Emir of Kano was his sole ambition when Ado Bayero was still alive and on the throne. Then pursuant to his ambition, he began to bankroll the APC and its candidates massively with the sole purpose of attaining that position once the State governor, Kwankwaso defected to the party from PDP. Now that he’s achieved his aim, he has to realize the limits of politics and play the role of an Emir for all.
Secondly, he must make peace with the Jonathan government and not attempt to play this as some kind of victory over Jonathan or the PDP. He has to distance himself from the APC now and show that he is his own man, because a political Emir of Kano is not good for Kano and Nigeria. He also must strive to convince the central authorities that he would not make Kano a soft touch for the Boko Haram insurgents. The way to prove this is to openly condemn Boko Haram and cooperate with the state and federal authorities to protect life and property in the city and in the state. He must not let Boko Haram celebrate his ascension as a victory for them and their murderous ideology. If he thinks Boko Haram will spare Kano because he’s now the Emir, he’s got another think coming. Boko Haram targets Kano precisely because they know it’s the commercial nerve centre of the North. Crippling Kano is crippling the North, which accelerates their agenda to destabilize the North and by extension, Nigeria.
Thirdly, Sanusi must make peace with the Kano nobility. It’s obvious that there is a huge division now arising from his enthronement. He has a great act to follow in the person of Ado Bayero who came in three months after the dethronement of Muhammadu Sanusi and who stooped to conquer in the volatile atmosphere following that dethronement and the short reign of Emir Muhammadu Inuwa. However, Sanusi understands the traditional Kano institutions enough to know that he cannot rule by imposing his views over and above the institutions that hold the monarchy together in all areas. He might be a royal son, but he’s still a stranger to their ways because of the long time he’s spent outside the emirate. He needs to humbly learn the ropes from those who’ve been around the throne long before he himself was born. The ball is in his court. He can make Kano a beacon of national unity or the flashpoint of division. The world is watching.
Kennedy Emetulu wrote in from London, UK