by Fola Ojo
The desideratum was unmistakable, the determination was indubitable, and the expectation to have it signed, sealed and delivered by the kingmakers was without an iota of doubt. The immediate past Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, verbalised it publicly that he wanted to be the Emir of Kano and he did. His upstep unto the throne of his forefathers was greeted with much bickering, wrangling and haggling by those who wanted the same sceptre as widespread violence spread from uptown to downtown Kano after his ascension. The new Emir had to take a quick flight from his new palace-home so that the irate mob would not run him over as he took refuge in the Kano State Government House which became an annex of the Emirate. “I may not be the best of the candidates, but I am the one God has chosen to lead”, he had said in a sermon to his faithful.But not many people bought this talking point.
Politicking of course was not unexpected in the city that has a large number of voters. All political parties threw their hats in the ring to gain an upper hand as they also keep their eyes as a flint on 2015. Nigerians know Sanusi, but not this Emir of Kano. Sanusi and the Emir of Kano could be two different people, but his crowning attempts to merge both chores and personalities under one indivisible and inseparable royal authority. What is the difference between Sanusi and the Emir of Kano?
The Sanusi we know is a cerebral economist, an erudite bluestocking, and a man of immense understanding of banking credo, creed and cannon. I love his chatty loquacity, his convincing, sometimes voluble smooth-talk, his passionate delivery of facts and figures, his blunt dare of the adversaries’ daggers, and robust boastful rhetoric. Amidst innuendoes and unproven allegations, he was evicted from office as the CBN governor by a President who may end up being one of the finest political calculators that ever lived. Sanusi never believed President Goodluck Jonathan had the guts to greet him with a sack or suspension letter. But the President did.
Sanusi knew his onions in the banking industry, and he knows people. Two years in a row, he was named in Emerging Markets Magazine as the World’s Central Bank Governor of the year. In 2011, he was Times Magazine’s one of the 100 most influential people in the world. The same year, he was Forbes magazine’s Africa’s Person of the Year. He was probably right about his claim that there is fraud in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and corrupt escapades in Diezani Alison-Madueke’s Petroleum Ministry, probably right about financial waywardness of our leaders. He was an activist who was relentlessly active about unearthing activities of frivolities in government. I watched many of his videos and listened to his talks splitting up the guts of the rot that has swallowed up the Nigerian nation and how the country can stride on forward, and I wondered why this guy wanted to be Emir, not the president of Nigeria. But he insisted he loves Nigeria.
What was Nigeria to Sanusi? Was it extreme Islam where one day everybody will be made to worship the Fulani god? And when did the love for Nigeria begin in him? Definitely, not in his days at the Suleiman Hall or Ribadu Hall at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and definitely not as an activist in the Muslim Students Society in Zaria, a group he helped form. He hated Nigeria then. He was an adjutant at the MSS, he helped conceive ideas how non-Muslims would be cowed down. At the King’s College in Lagos, he was shy, very austere with words; ask those guys who were in I. Johnson Hall in KC. Ask Senator Bukola Saraki who was one year behind Sanusi in the college. Sanusi was a sansui of strange and surreal Islamic fundamentalism. When he got to ABU, he became shrill with his faith.
What was Sanusi’s role in the public beheading of one Mr. Gideon Akaluka in Kano in 1995 on a false allegation of desecrating the Muslim holy book? His unabashed religious extremism got him cooling his heels in a Sokoto prison for two years under Sani Abacha. He had boasted that he would pay his way to the prison if he was found culpable in any mess as the CBN governor; according to him, prison was “just a location”. That’s him! So, he’s been there before? Does this then make him the first jailbird to become an Emir? Kano people can answer that.
With guts as the CBN Governor, he insisted on Islamic banking; with reprehensible and condemnable poltroonery, he donated N100m to Muslim victims of home-town Kano bomb blasts, then another N25m to the Christian victims in Madala, Niger State. Sanusi’s people (whoever they are) are better than anyone else, and the rest of us are serfs destined to serve forever. That was the doctrine of Sanusi, and he was unrepentantly haughty about it. This is the Sanusi we know. Now, no one can ever ask him to address any of these questions because Sanusi has melted off into the past, cloistered, swathed and swaddled up under the weighty and powerful regalia of the Emir of Kano.
The late Ado Bayero who Sanusi succeeded, was a different being who carried no baggage. He was Ado Bayero the banker, state representative, Kano police chief, and Nigeria’s ambassador to Senegal who cut out respect and reverence for himself and the territory he represented. His past was not divisive but very inclusive; a mediator in conflicts not a generator of one. A man of very few words yet endowed with a vast knowledge of the goings- on around the globe. Bayero was about freedom and fairness and was above board.
For 51 years, he etched his footprints on the sands of time in his domain where all-comers flourished and relished to reside. He was Emirs’ Emir! Knowing what we know about Sanusi, it’s fair to ask: What kind of fit will he be as Emir? What kind of world will Southern and Northern Christians live in in Kano under him? We don’t really know; all we knew was Sanusi, but time will soon reveal who this Emir is. Without any feeling of foreboding, I hope that this new Emir will not be a Sanusi!
Dr. Fola Ojo is President, Gravitas Communication, Hartford, Wisconsin, USA, and Senior Pastor City of Praise Milwaukee, WI.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.