OPINION: How Sanusi Lost The Throne, By Michael Onjewu
When Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) became the 14th Fulani Emir of Kano on the 9th of June, 2014 after the death of his grand-uncle, Alhaji Ado Bayero, many looked forward to a reign that will stand the test of time just like that of his predecessor who ruled for 51 years.
Before his ascension, Sanusi was suspended as the governor of the apex bank by the Jonathan administration in 2014, after raising the alarm on the US$20 billion NNPC scandal. The allegations by Sanusi according to political watchers contributed to the electoral defeat Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) suffered during the elections of 2015. Former governor Kwankwaso at the time was part of the PDP members who led a rebellion against the party before defecting to the newly formed opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
So when it was time to appoint a new emir, Kwankwaso opted for Sanusi, a move seen by the ruling class as politically motivated to appreciate Sanusi for exposing the Jonathan administration. It was argued that one of Bayero's sons, should have been made emir and not Sanusi.
When Kwankwaso left the scene as governor in 2015, Ganduje, his deputy and long time political ally became governor of Kano, signaling the beginning of the end for Emir Sanusi.
After the fallout between Ganduje and Kwankwaso, it became clear to many that Sanusi must trade carefully especially on matters relating to politics.
On ascending the throne, Sanusi spoke out against some government policies, criticizing the Ganduje administration of misplaced priorities. His body language towards Ganduje and government functions also showed a lack of synergy between the emirate and the state government. He was also accused of divided loyalty to the governor. It was believed that the Emir never wanted Ganduje's re-election bid.
The first attempt to depose Sanusi started in March 2017, when the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission opened an investigation into the accounts of the Kano Emirate Council over alleged questionable expenditures of about N6 billion. The investigation was later called off following intervention by the ruling class.
The House of Assembly also suspended its investigation of Sanusi on the request of Governor Ganduje after the intervention of the then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, former Military President Ibrahim Babangida, ex-Head of State Abdulsalami Abubakar, ex-Senate President Bukola Saraki, ex-Speaker Yakubu Dogara, business moguls Aliko Dangote and Aminu Dantata as well as APC national leaders.
Despite several attempts to broker peace between Ganduje and the emir, the feud intensified leading to the creation of four additional emirates to whittle down Sanusi's powers to just 10 local government areas out of 44. All efforts to stop the creation of the new emirates remained futile with the government dodging legal hurdles.
That didn't achieve the desired result as the Emir continued his evangelism against corrupt officials and societal ills. His utterances on polygamy and family planning were also regarded as controversial in conservative northern Nigeria. He also spoke against divorce, early marriage, almajiri education and the need to empower the girl child. His views did not sit down well with some hardliners in the north who accuse him of eroding the culture and tradition of the people.
Sanusi had this to say on Polygamy: “There are people who cannot afford to feed one wife but are ready to marry three wives and have more children that they cannot feed, talk less of paying for their school fees. The poverty level of the North is 80 percent; while in the South, the percentage is 20 percent simply because of the culture of marrying many wives and producing many children who at the end are left on the streets to beg for what to eat.”
His consistent views on societal issues coupled with allegations of insubordination and disrespect for constituted authority led to his dethronement as the 14th Emir of Kano by Governor Ganduje on Monday, March 9, 2020. He was subsequently banished to Loko, Nasarawa State on exile.
Sanusi was deposed as Emir in a similar fashion as his grandfather Emir Muhammadu Sanusi I who ruled the ancient city from 1954 to 1963.
The power tussle between Emir Sanusi I and his distant cousin, Sir Ahmadu Bello the Sardauna of Sokoto is believed to have resulted in his dethronement and confinement in Azare, present-day Bauchi in 1963.
Now banished to Loko in Nasarawa State, Sanusi is expected to live in exile for the rest of his life. Constitutionally, he may appeal his banishment as citizens have the right to freedom of movement and association. Nigeria will indeed the global community have a lot to tap from his depth of knowledge.
Muhammadu Sanusi II will be remembered as a reformist and evangelist who paid the price for speaking truth to power.
Michael Onjewu is a journalist and public affairs commentator. He tweets @MichaelOnjewu