Ganduje, Sanusi And The Farce of History, By Tunde Asaju
POLITICS DIGEST – Two wishes have been on a collision course in Kano. On Monday, the more temporally powerful wish won. Unfortunately, in our clime, equity does not always follow justice and the dethronement of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the Emir of Kano maybe legal, but it is not justiciable. In a clash between authoritarianism and justice, history is the ultimate arbiter.
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s ultimate wish was to ascend the throne of his grandfather. He achieved that dream for five years and a few months. It was obvious from how both the deposed Emir and Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje carried on, that two masters would not remain captains of the trado-political boat of Kano for long. Ganduje has succeeded in repeating farcical history in sending SLS to follow the sad footsteps of his grandfather. For scores of his fans, SLS would remain the Emir of Hearts, the excellency of erudition and the consistency of progressive ideals.
It is better to die for what you believe than be a slave of what you loathe. Sanusi loathed injustice; he berated the backwardness that subterfuge has imposed on Kano and indeed the rest of our northern Nigeria. He spoke his mind and in doing so, he was not unaware of the grave consequences – kudos to the Amr of Hearts. SLS is a lucky man. Born into royalty, he grew up seeing politics clashing with tradition. The 1,000-year Kano emirate has survived socio-political and religious turbulence. Sanusi’s grandfather was a casualty of that clash but that did not kill his grandson’s ambition – it fuelled it.
The colourful Kano Emirship institution is perhaps the most powerful surviving traditional institutions in northern Nigeria today. It survived the wily shenanigans of colonial overlords, pulled through several years of military interventions and political perturbations to get where it is today. Sanusi’s short reign redefined its relevance in a modern world. Lots have been written on the influence of the Emirship in Kano on the political evolution of northern Nigeria.
The revival of that age-old historical beauty would be attributed to Sanusi. He was not afraid to ruffle feathers. He refused to be a palace ornament, an appendage of history.
Even as a privileged citizen SLS was not known to shy away from socio-political or traditional controversy. While he continued to carry himself with princely sartorial panache he was always on the side of modernity and the upliftment of the downtrodden. He was grossly misunderstood most times by those living in the 21st Century but operating with arcane intellection.
As the Central Bank Governor operating under a veritably profligate and misanthropic government led by Goodluck Jonathan, Sanusi spoke out instead of being cowed into princely silence. He expressed worry about financial mismanagement and its effects on the hoi polloi positions that has cost him powerful positions.
It is better to be dethroned for ‘disrespect to the office of the governor’ than to go down in history indicted in the minds of people as a leader caught stuffing cash into one’s taub and excused by immunity. Sanusi must have paid the big price for breaking with tradition and convention and for being non-diplomatic in his demeanour.
In an interview with Daily Trust, long before he was candidate for the Emirship, he openly told his interviewers that his life ambition was to ascend the throne of his fathers. That was not diplomatic but it was vintage SLS! He was, at that time contender to the throne still occupied by his late uncle Alhaji Ado Bayero. In military terms, that was pure sedition.
Before ascending the royal throne, Sanusi the prince assumed the prestigious title of Dan Majen Kano. He wasted no time in crowning his wife as a titled Queen breaking with the tradition where the wives of Emirs’ remained in the shadows. Invited to give a talk in Abuja, Sanusi sent his young daughter whose measured speech again ruffled feathers –he paved the way for young women to speak out.
With a degree in economics and sharia many expected Sanusi to join forces with the purveyors of political sharia, instead Sanusi broke ranks with them. He vehemently opined that the north had better fishes to fry in the 21st century than stay calcified in arcane tradition even one with seeming religious backing.
Lately, he reiterated his displeasure at almajirci and how the tradition of following polygamy with uncontrolled breeding has made the north the laughing stock of the nation and a stain on progressive Islam. Betrothed a young Adamawa princess to cement age-old tradition between two thrones, Sanusi chose to send her back to school than consummate the union. He berated fat-cat institutions that hide under executive immunity to escape financial auditing. All these almost made him the Emir of Kano Guest House as the old regime initially sealed up the palace against him.
In a BBC online article in 2014, former Media Trust MD, Mannir Dan Ali wrote that ‘part of the Emir’s elaborate turban covers his mouth so that courtiers speak on his behalf’. Sanusi adjusted his gag and ensured that his loud voice boomed out. He was a darling of the progressive media, local and international.
Before his dethronement on Monday, allegations of corruption earlier levelled against failed to stick like water on a duck’s back. The balkanization of the Emirate did nothing to diminish his influence where it mattered most in the ancien boundaries and beyond. On Monday, Ganduje fired him for insubordination and banished him to Nasarawa.
Sanusi is fired, but the rebellious spirit in him will not keep him out of relevance. May he live long to see the end of all his traducers – the puppets, the puppeteers and their cheering crowd. Nigeria needs more Sanusis if it is to remain relevant, Kano and the north would never make progress by silencing the likes of SLS, the Amr of Hearts.