Opinion: The Case AGAINST Sanusi Lamido Sanusi As Emir of Kano

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“Ba ma yi! Kano Sai Dan Sarki Wallahi! Gwamma ba haka mukayi da kai ba”

Roughly translated into “We don’t support this. We want the son of the Emir (Ado Bayero). Governor, this is not what we agreed with you”.

These were the cries that spontaneously greeted the announcement of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (SLS) as the emir of Kano. In Kano, SLS has always been a divisive figure. People in Kano admire him as SLS the thoroughbred professional, and his achievements over the course of his career speak for themselves. However, a sizeable majority of people especially those close to the Kano Emirate are not fans of SLS, the prince. If Kano royalty was as straightforward as politics, then maybe he would have been the popular choice as emir.

But it is not as straightforward. And he is not the popular choice. Not by a million miles.

This was a clear imposition by the increasingly vindictive Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. It is public knowledge that Kwankwaso never forgave the late emir, Ado Bayero who in Kwankwaso’s view, did nothing to stop his defeat during the 2003 general elections. The slogan “Sabon Gwamna, Sabon Sarki” (New Governor, New Emir) was used abundantly during Kwankwaso’s 2011 campaign actively supported by the man himself. This “beef” was exacerbated by Ado Bayero’s perceived closeness to the former governor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, Kwankwaso’s arch-nemesis and sworn enemy.

It is also public knowledge that Kwankwaso had on several times tried to instigate disagreement (which could eventually lead to dethronement) with the late emir in the past few years (much akin to “Release our girls” protesters trying to deliberately provoke “Bring Back Our Girls” protesters into fisticuffs, designed to herald an eventual ban on protests.). All who know Ado Bayero know him as a mature and peace-loving person, and he always took the option of being the bigger man in the face of deliberate antagonism & provocation throughout his long reign.

Genesis of The ‘Beef’ 

There was the incident shortly after Kwankwaso’s swearing-in in 2011 where the late emir Ado Bayero wrote to him informing him of his inability to engage in the Hawan Nassarawa, part of the traditional Sallah festivities, due to his illness becoming increasingly severe. The Hawan Nassarawa (which was modified by the colonialists to include royal horseback visits to colonial authorities first in their initial headquarters at Bompai, then later moved to Nassarawa) is a grueling 6-hour horseback ride around town in the hot sun, which involves visiting the Government House and paying homage to the Governor.

Though the letter clearly stated that the emir would not be embarking on Hawan Nassarawa ONLY (due to its length and general wahala not compatible with his deteriorating health) and would participate in other less grueling tasks, the governor took this as a slight and issued a statement in which he cancelled Sallah festivities in its entirety giving the official reason as due to the emir’s poor health. This was not what was agreed and the emir went ahead as he had planned, further creating lot of friction. Kwankwaso then made several subtle threats to the emir through intermediaries that he would be dethroned if he dares continue the festivities. It is a testament to Ado Bayero’s maturity that he instructed his entire district heads and titleholders to drive along with him in their cars along the same routes usually plied on horseback to go and pay homage to Kwankwaso. This defused the situation, but left Kwankwaso presumably bemoaning his inability to dethrone Ado Bayero.

Another incident still fresh in the memory of Kano people (and perhaps the most painful) is how shabbily Kwankwaso treated the emir in the last few days of his life. Ado Bayero had written to the governor informing him of his intention to turban a new Wazirin Kano, a position left vacant since the death of the renowned Islamic scholar, Mallam Isa Waziri. The governor allegedly wrote back to the Emirate asking it to suspend the turbanning for security reasons. The governor claimed to be acting based on unfavourable security reports of violent protests which may erupt following the turbanning,as the new Waziri was considered as an unpopular choice  (ironic now isn’t it?). In a classic display of treachery, it was alleged that the councillor who handles administrative matters in the Emirate (himself an aspirant to the Emirship) withheld the letter and gave the late Emir fabricated news of Kwankwaso’s “approval”, all in a bid to further strain their relationship. There is the unconfirmed allegation that he even forged a letter conveying approval.

The announcement of the planned turbanning of the new Waziri two weeks ago therefore presented an opportunity for Kwankwaso to exact his much sought revenge.  Kwankwaso’s deputy, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, a gentleman to the core, and a polar opposite to his boss tried to intervene by heading to the palace at 7am on the Friday the turbanning was to take place, one week before the Emir passed away. He was there to advise the Emir to postpone the event in the interest of peace. The same councilor who withheld the original letter kept the Deputy Governor of Kano waiting for more than 3 hours, without informing Ado Bayero. It was only at 10am when the emir came out for the turbanning scheduled at 11am that he saw Ganduje and was surprised and visibly displeased they had kept him waiting outside for so long. Having heard what Ganduje had to say, he apologized to him saying that the communication he got from Government House conveyed approval, and that having called people from all over Nigeria to witness it, it would be unfair to turn back now. He asked Ganduje to convey his apologies to the governor.

The turbanning went on as planned. What happened next is public knowledge, with Kwankwaso giving Ado Bayero a 24-hour ultimatum to reverse the turbanning or be dethroned. He also allegedly threatened to suspend the Emirate Council itself and freeze its bank accounts. It is worth noting that former Kano State Governor Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau was turbanned as Sardaunan Kano and member of council in the twilight of his administration by Ado Bayero, and this no doubt hurt the massive ego of Kwankwaso.

It was in the midst of all this turmoil that the late Ado Bayero passed away a few days later, having been forced (by the intervention of some elder statesmen) to reverse himself on the appointment of the Waziri, to avoid embarrassment to the throne. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso flew back from Rivers State upon hearing of Ado Bayero’s  death but still REFUSED to attend the funeral of the late emir. It is also worth recalling that this public display of enmity happened despite the fact that Kwankwaso’s father, Majidadin Kano, was upgraded from his Village Head status and appointed District Head of Madobi LGA by the late emir in a display of magnanimity towards Kwankwaso (during his first term), and at the request of Kwankwaso who drove to the palace at night in a single car and sought that favour from Ado Bayero. All these things happened while the common man on the street watched with keen interest. But for the Islamic faith which strictly preaches total belief in destiny, I am sure many would have concluded that the intense  antagonism displayed by Kwankwaso towards Ado Bayero finally pushed the old man with a weak heart off the cliff.

Anybody conversant with Kano knows that historically, nobody, no matter how highly paced, (from Abubakar Rimi to Muhammadu Buhari to Sani Abacha and now Rabiu Kwankwaso) moves against Ado Bayero without the common man taking his side. This is because for the half-century he ruled, he had generally sided with the cause of the downtrodden. He was a man of justice and equity, and was loved by all his subjects and commanded unparalleled respect.

This brings us back to SLS. Why are Kano people angry at his choice?

He was never popular within Kano metropolis mainly due to the fact that he was always rancorous, argumentative and disrespectful right from childhood and was never seen to be a genuine person with genuine friends or genuine intentions. He is seen as everything a Kano prince should not be. The behaviour of a Kano Prince is guided by the 16th Century treatise, “On The Obligation of Princes” written by renowned scholar Muhammad Al-Maghili at the behest of the then Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Rumfa who contracted him to draw up a code of conduct for the Emirate.

An emir of Kano should exhibit maturity, tact and bridge-building traits, which his subjects usually draw upon for inspiration. Lamido Bobuwa (as was his derisory nickname in childhood) is not believed have those traits, based on his antecedents. People from outside Kano may think SLS is popular there, but it was a common sight during the few durbars conducted in the last few years for a sizeable chunk of spectators lining the routes to be brandishing new N1,000 notes chanting “Kudin Mu ne, zaka dawo da su wallahi” roughly translating into “it is our money, you shall return it” in reference to his renowned ostentation. He was even stoned and insulted publicly on horseback during the Hawan Daushe of Sallah 2012 at Galadanci Quarters, a sight rarely associated with traditional titleholders.

Secondly, the imposition of his candidacy after the king makers had submitted a shortlist of 3 names, consisting of the first three sons of the late emir, leaves a bitter taste. The first being Ciroman Kano, Sanusi Ado Bayero, second being the Sarkin Dawakin Tsakar Gida, Aminu Ado Bayero and the third being Turakin Kano, Nasir Ado Bayero. The kingmakers in consultation with the Sultan of Sokoto, Emir of Gwandu and other highly placed northern emirs settled for the eldest of them, the Ciroman Kano and communicated same to Kwankwaso on the night of Saturday, June 7, 2014. The people were generally happy with the choice, and celebrations began. So unlike the belief that it was a PDP ploy to cause public disaffection on SLS’ selection, it was actually in response to the very public knowledge within the metropolis that Sanusi Ado Bayero had been selected. That same night, Kwankwaso allegedly called the kingmakers and asked for the list to be revised and for Sanusi’s name to be included, even if Ciroma was to be the next emir, so as not to convey a feeling of disrespect to the Sanusi lineage by them not being considered entirely. The list was modified, with Sanusi Ado Bayero still as the preferred candidate, at the behest of Kwankwaso. He then allegedly refused to see the kingmakers the next day when they went to Government House to await the announcement. Allegations of financial inducement, harassment and threats to the kingmakers have been making the rounds, but cannot be taken as gospel.

The third is more sentimental than anything. The general feeling on the streets is that Ado Bayero was betrayed by both the governor and his acolytes, and do not feel SLS is mature enough to handle the throne. They feel the late emir was not treated fairly by Kwankwaso (when alive and now in death) by overlooking his sons for what seems like a vendetta against Ado Bayero coupled with political calculations. It could be seen more as an incident of Kwankwaso cutting his nose to spite his face by appointing SLS to spite his Abuja detractors. The cry of “Kano Sai Goodluck” by protesters yesterday after the announcement was made and today drives home the point. There is no place Goodluck Jonathan is more despised in Nigeria than Kano. Kwankwaso is, by this absurd appointment, certainly on the verge of displacing him in the unpopularity stakes.

The deed has been done but it is indeed a very bitter pill to swallow. With the politicization of the selection of an Emir by Kwankwaso, what we fear now is the demystification of the revered office of the emir and bringing it into disrepute. What happens now if the Presidency decides to move against him? What happens if the Emir of Kano is arrested by the SSS or EFCC and is made to come and testify in court? What happens to the common man now when his only ally and resort against injustice is now firmly and permanently indebted to Kwankwaso? Or worse still, what happens when the next governor in 2015 adopts “Sabon Gwamna, Sabon Sarki” as his campaign motto?

I wrote this piece to counter the absurd suggestions making rounds yesterday that opposition to SLS is was a PDP financed plot or that it is opposition to modernisation of the emirate and the North, opposition to girl-child education and all of that emotional blackmail. The simple reason why Kano Emirate remains such a big deal is because it has remained what it is: a TRADITIONAL institution warehousing a people’s collective culture and heritage, and has not gone down the “hip & cool” route.

The simple truth remains that Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is not popular with the very people he was imposed to rule.

I even make bold to predict that Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso will be the first person to regret this appointment. There is abundant precedence here.

May the soul of our late emir rest in perfect peace..


Article read and culled from Aguntasolo Blog with the Permission from the Editors


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