Emir of Kano: How Sanusi walked into dethronement
THOUGH not unexpected, given the various face-offs between the now deposed Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Muhammadu Sanusi II and the governor of Kano State, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, his eventual removal on Monday came so soon to many Nigerians. Announcing the removal of the emir, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Usman Alhaji, accused Sanusi of “disrespect to lawful instructions from the office of the state governor and other lawful authorities, including his persistent refusal to attend official meetings and programmes organised by the government without any lawful justification which amount to total insubordination.”
The SSG, who said the removal was with immediate effect, went ahead to declare that Sanusi’s action was in violation of Part 3 Section A-E of the Kano State Law. Accordingly, Usman Alhaji added that the emir’s removal was “after due consultation with the relevant stakeholders.”
The removal of Sanusi as the 14th Emir of Kano was sequel to the sitting of the state House of Assembly where the lawmakers approved the request by Governor Ganduje for his removal. The legislature had, two weeks ago, set up an eight-man panel to investigate the allegation of “unethical conduct” leveled against Sanusi. The panel was under the headship of the deputy speaker of the state Assembly, Hamisu Chidare.
Chairman of the House Committee on Local Government and Emirates, Zubairu Masu, claimed that two persons, Muhammad Mukhtar of Ja’en Yamma Quarters in Gwale Local Government Area and Muhammad Bello-Abdullahi of the Kano State Society for the Promotion of Education and Culture had submitted petitions against the now deposed emir. He said the petitioners wanted “a necessary and thorough investigation” of the allegations and that the emir’s actions were contrary to the culture and tradition of Kano people.
Sanusi and his many controversies
The aforementioned was the second time the state lawmakers would constitute a panel to investigate the former traditional ruler: The first was in 2017 when the House set up an eight-man committee to investigate an allegation of fraud against him. Then, he was accused of mismanaging N4 billion, an allegation Sanusi denied.
On June 8, 2014, Sanusi, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was appointed as the Emir of Kano, following the demise of his predecessor, Alhaji Ado Bayero. Before becoming the CBN governor, he had in June 2009, resigned his appointment as the Managing Director of the First Bank of Nigeria Plc. While at the helms at CBN, he took some decisions considered controversial by many players in the banking industry and which led to the removal of the chief executive officers of five major banks.
Vocal and audacious, Sanusi, as a critic, does not shy away from making his position known on burning national issues, ranging from the economy to politics and religion. His fate appears tied to controversies, suspension and removal. Prior to his becoming a traditional ruler in 2014, he had been suspended as the CBN governor by former President Goodluck Jonathan. His tenure was alleged to have been “characterised by various acts of financial recklessness and misconduct, which are inconsistent with the administration’s vision of a Central Bank propelled by the core values of focused economic management, prudence, transparency and financial discipline.”
Once seen as a friend of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, many Nigerians were taken aback by his present stand on the Federal Government. He, at various times, admonished the government to stop blaming the previous administrations for the country’s woes. Rather, he told Buhari to find ways and means of putting Nigeria back on track and on the path of development.
Sanusi asked Nigerians, in the face of the rising security challenges, to stop relying on the government and its security apparatuses in a bid to defend themselves from attacks from terrorists, kidnappers and bandits. “People must not wait for soldiers to protect them. There are even instances where soldiers on the ground ran away in the face of attack,” he once alleged.
The former CBN governor had, on several occasions, summoned the courage to speak to northern governors and the elite to handle the issue of education for the masses with more seriousness. He consistently lamented the huge out-of-school children population in the North, thus advocating the arrest of parents of children seen in the street begging for alms during school hours.
He called on the northern ruling class to convert mosques to primary schools, especially in the villages. For him, mosques were not for prayers alone, but also for some other things like scholarly activities and leadership training and development. He accused the political class of destroying the country, alleging that the political elite were manipulating the call for restructuring for their selfish ends.
Face-offs with Ganduje
His cold war with the Kano political establishment started almost immediately Governor Ganduje assumed office. The relationship between them was akin to that which exists between a cat and mouse. He was critical of almost all the governor’s actions and was suspected to be the force behind the massive loss of the governor at the last governorship election in the Kano metropolis.
Indeed, what played out in the state in the last one year is seen as a concerted effort by the governor to cut the emir to size. Sanusi was caught up in the web of deep political intrigues between former Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso and Ganduje. Kwankwaso was the governor who gave Sanusi the staff of office as the emir. In spite of some opposition, Ganduje won his re-election, last year and thus set the stage for his perceived revenge on the emir.
The governor allegedly started with an allegation of misappropriation of funds and followed it with an attempt to balkanise the Kano Emirate. This climaxed with the recommendation by the state Assembly for the suspension of the emir and his eventual deposition on Monday.
The Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, led by Muhuyi Magaji, reported that it uncovered the misappropriation of N3.4 billion by the Kano Emirate Council under Emir Sanusi between 2014 and 2017. According to the commission, the emirate council allegedly spent over N1.4 billion without appropriation. It also claimed that over N1.9 billion was spent on personal effects, a contravention of Section 120 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 8 of the Kano State Emirate Council Special Fund Law 2004. It also alleged that the action of the emirate council violated Section 314 of the Penal Code, as well as Section 26 of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission Law 2008 (as amended). The commission therefore asked for the suspension of the emir and others involved, pending the outcome of investigations into the allegation.
Ganduje, relying on the Kano State Emirs Appointment and Deposition Amendment Bill 2019, acted on the commission’s report and appointed four first-class emirs in Gaya, Rano, Karaye and Bichi to have the same status as Emir Sanusi. Justifying his action, the governor had said: “We created the emirates in order to reduce the burden on the Kano Emirate. The challenges are too weighty on Kano Empire. That is why the emirate is running away from centralisation of the system.”
Kano elders’ intervention
However, Justice Usman Na’Abba of the state High Court ruled against the creation of the new emirates. Also, some Kano elders, under the aegis of Advocates for United Kano, urged the governor to repeal the law that created the new emirates. The group, led by a former presidential candidate in the Third Republic, Alhaji Bashir Tofa, said the law would rather destroy the tradition of the ancient Kano City.
The group said: “The governor, for political reasons, has deliberately overlooked the numerous words of wisdom written to him formally and/or expressed through various media and went ahead to sign into law the obnoxious bill creating four additional emirates within the historical jurisdiction of the Kano Emirate.
“Unfortunately, the actions of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje which, to a greater extent, border on personal margins are unequivocally bent on destroying that legacy. The governor has severally been cautioned to apply reason and rectitude in contemplating dissecting the Kano Emirate to meet certain political ends. But political impunity and vendetta have beclouded his good senses of reasoning and judgment. Clearly, he is resolute in the mission of destroying the legacy of Sheik Usman Dan Fodio, which Kano Emirate duly represents.”
Eroding a legacy
The removal effectively brought to an end the reign of Sanusi as the 14th Emir of Kano. The removal was a repeat of history as his grandfather, Muhammadu Sanusi I, who reigned between 1953 and 1963, was also dethroned and banished as the Emir of Kano in 1963 by the late Premier of the Northern Region and the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello and was replaced with the late Alhaji Ado Bayero. He reigned until his demise in 2014. It was also an irony of history that Sanusi was appointed the emir at the demise of Bayero in 2014, a position he held until yesterday.
The deposition and banishment of Sanusi II, may signal the end of a legacy. As a proof that it is a long war with history, a former governor of the old Kano State, the late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, had, in an NTA Ibadan Personality Interview, Speak Out, conducted by Chief Lekan Alabi in 1982, spoken about a revolution, aimed at changing the old order.
When asked to speak on the declaration by his deputy, Alhaji Dawakin Tofa, that the state government could afford to do away with the emir, if the need be, the late Rimi said: “Why are you worried about the Emir of Kano? What makes you doubt my deputy’s statement? On this emir thing, I have spoken so much about this Emir of Kano thing that you are really trying to make something but which is not. Let me tell you something, my friend: I will advise you to stop talking about this issue of the Emir of Kano.
“The way you Press people and the way our political opponents want to regard the Emir, that is not the way we regard the Emir. As far as we are concerned, we the elected government of Kano State, as far as I, the governor of Kano State, is concerned, the Emir of Kano is nothing, nothing, nothing but a public officer. I read it in the paper that somebody claimed I said he is a civil servant. I never said so. I didn’t say he is a civil servant. He is not a civil servant. He is a public officer who is holding a public office holder and he is being paid from public funds and whose appointment is at the pleasure of the governor of the state and who can be dismissed, removed, extradited, suspended if he commits an offence. And there is nothing absolutely unique about Ado Bayero, the Emir of Kano. He is equal to any other emir. Believe me, if he commits an offence that would make it necessary for us to remove him, we will remove him and we will sleep soundly.”
Again, Sanusi, as an emir, seems to have crashed from an Olympian height. Will he rise again?