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Kano emirate: Three for the price of one

By Leo Sobechi (Assistant Politics Editor)
13 March 2020   |   3:19 am
As the dust raised by the dethronement of Muhammad Sanusi II as the Emir of Kano begins to settle, it is becoming clearer that the entire episode had the imprint of divine orchestration.

•Tracking the imminent political insurrection in the north

As the dust raised by the dethronement of Muhammad Sanusi II as the Emir of Kano begins to settle, it is becoming clearer that the entire episode had the imprint of divine orchestration. All the parties to the historical mishap seem to be happy and relieved at the turn of events. To a large extent, the dethronement of Muhammad Sanusi II qualifies for the Nigerian civil war phrase, ‘No Victor, No vanquished!’
Out of the throne has come something unique and refreshing to Kano people. Justice has been served, ambitions realized and dues paid for the exalted seat left vacant six years ago with the demise of the iconic Emir Ado Bayero, who played peripheral, but crucial roles during the Nigeria versus Biafra civil war, as well as the Rheinhard Bonke riots of 1991.
Even in his grave, the late emir must be feeling fulfilled and relieved by recent developments around his stool. With the dethroning of his immediate successor, the threats of dismemberment of the Kano Emirate, which begun from his days in office, seems to have turned full circle.

Out of the very same stool have come three princes of the royal lineage. And, this is why the perceived political violation of the stool has come off without bitterness: Muhammad Sanusi II, who was not the prime candidate for the position, has gone ahead to experience what it feels like to be an Emir of Kano. Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, the heir apparent, has taken his rightful position, which was supplanted in 2014 by political calculations. His brother, Alhaji Nasiru Ado Bayero, does not have to wait for his turn, because by virtue of the uprising against Muhammad Sanusi II, who was seen as an usurper, the Bichi Emirate was created for him to preside over.
If the Kano Emirate has flowered and fructified into these multiple chiefdoms, it could be said that all is well that ends well. The sons of late Ado Bayero, Aminu and Nasiru, have been recognised as emirs by the government of Kano State.

Reward, not reprimand
FOR Muhammad Sanusi II, the dethronement comes off more as a reward rather than a reprimand for the sundry unbecoming social excesses for which he was accused by the appointing office, the state governor. Having gone into the palace and savoured its royal grandeur and aristocratic trappings, the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor must have come to the realization that nothing is so disenchanting like attainment.

Most of those who relish the man’s intellectual displays, especially when the issues of socio-economic parameters for growth and development are involved, wondered why a man with such erudition and global acclaim should elect to have himself trapped in the archaic monarchical system subsumed under the office of a local council chairman, who may have only an affidavit, the equivalent of a certificate in that part of the world.
Sanusi must have come back to ‘life’, freed from the restrictions of palace life. Having gotten back his freedom, the nearly six years of his sojourn as Emir of Kano, represent an interregnum, a stop-gap in his trajectory as public intellectual. He sounds fulfilled. He should be, because when a man dreams to be a Napoleon Bonaparte, he would never be happy with whatever he is until he becomes Napoleon.
But released into the world like a bird trapped in a cage, concerns are that the former CBN governor does not allow ambition to steer him towards Elba. Minutes after he was dethroned, the former Emir of Kano interpreted his ouster as the outcome of the interplay of political forces in and around Kano State.
Although Sanusi has reminded traditional rulers to be wary of their associations with politicians, there is no doubt that in the days to come he could be involved or dragged into one political tendency or another. By congratulating his successor and cousin, Sanusi showed that he harbours no ill will towards the new king or the political foot soldiers in Kano that executed the coup that removed him from the ancient palace.
In his brief concourse with the traditional ruler of Loko village in Nassarawa State, Alhaji Abubakar Ahmed Sabo, MSII showed that he garnered some rich experience from his sojourn in Gidan Sarki, Kano. That makes him now a rich resource in traditional governance system, thereby disposing him as a good teacher to others who still hold forth in the ancient governance system.
Most Nigerians welcomed his decision not to challenge his dethronement in court as wily Nigerian politicians are wont to, but rather “accepted his dethronement as the will of God.”  Alhaji Abubakar, who spoke to the BBC Hausa service, disclosed that the former Emir “was not disturbed at all, (but) has accepted his destiny. Emir Sanusi does not have any regret; he said he did not commit any offense.”

Stirring political waters
THE near unanimity of opinions on the likelihood of Muhammad Sanusi II plunging into the murky waters of politics, especially with the 2023 election cycle becoming a dominant topic, shows that MSII has succeeded in making himself a brand.  
But until he identifies with a particular political party, it would be left in the realms of conjecture whether the MSII brand is programmed for civil society activism or partisan competition. At least, it is an open secret that during the build up to the 2015 General Election, the former Emir was beholden of the inchoate amalgam of opposition parties called the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Now, having been stung by some of his former friends in APC, MSII’s dethronement and issues around it do not seem to dispose him to further dalliance with the ruling party as presently constituted. That leaves him with two auspicious options-the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or the weak Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).
The enthronement and removal of Emirs of Kano have always been shrouded in political undertones. For instance, when attempt was made by former Kano State governor, the late Abubakar Rimi, to dethrone Alhaji Ado Bayero, it was the conservative National Party Nigeria (NPN) that held sway at the federal level that served as a bulwark against Rimi and his PRP.
Given the speed with which the Governor Nasir Ahmad el Rufai splashed two appointments on the deposed Emir, there is every likelihood that should APC end up in the much anticipated implosion, it would be left to anybody’s imagination what kind of impact both MSII and El Rufai would make in northern politics should they decide to join the likes of the former Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega on the PRP platform.  
The question is therefore no longer whether Sanusi would partake in political schemes, but how soon. Former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Bayero University and Emeritus Professor of English, Professor Munzali Jubril, aptly fingered politics as the reason behind Sanusi’s dethronement.
Prof. Jubril, who is also a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) told interviewers on Arise Television programme that Sanusi’s degradation was not based on his criticism of the economic policies or other activities of the current administration, but his perceived role in the 2019 election.
Kano has always played strong ideological politics that veers towards the socialist bent. In 1983 when Rimi decided to stretch his luck too far and broke from the PRP stable with its Aminu Kano’s NEPU (Northern Element Progressive Union) tendencies, the electorate did not endorse him and the Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) he contested on.
Second republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, told The Guardian that Sanusi’s removal would not spark off any ideological confrontation in the state, stressing that the fact that the masses failed to riot after his removal shows that he lacks the ideological purity to champion any political insurrection.
Some disgruntled voices complain the President Muhammadu Buhari has not done enough to reward the Kano voters for their massive support in successive election, including the failure to pay condolences on the family of the late Dan Masanin Kano, Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule and roles in the dethronement of the Emir.
But, whether such complaints would help to mobilize the electorate against APC, particularly the perceived average performance of the Buhari administration, could not be established. However, what nobody could discount is the possibility of bandwagon effect should PRP aggregate credible leaders from the state.   
Dr. Mohammed contended that Kano voters have a mind of their own and as such would not likely flow with persons with suspect ideological and character flaws. He said that former Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso’s claim that President Buhari actually ordered the removal of MSII was neither helpful nor intended to solve the puzzle surrounding Sanusi’s comportment and carriage as occupant of a very ancient public office.
Although Bauchi voters emulate their Kano counterparts, part of the anticipated political realignments in the north would definitely take root in Kano. And how Sanusi factors into the emerging dialectics depends on what manner of conversations he would be undertaking with elRufai, whose political double speak smirks of defeat or frustration within the APC hierarchy.

For whatever it is worth, His Royal Highness, Sanusi Lamido Muhammadu Sanusi II’s removal as Emir of Kano opens the window for many political conjectures. Did the former Emir lobby to deputize Prof. Yemi Osinbajo when President Buhari was critically ill?
If he did, what it suggests is that he aligns with the idea of power shift to the South after Buhari’s Presidency. By extension, would the same Sanusi be disposed to deputizing Prof. Kingsley Moghalu on a joint PRP presidential ticket in 2023? How far could such hypothetical joint ticket fare against a possible Osinbajo/Boss Mustapha ticket on the APC platform?
In the event of such possibilities, where would PDP find its footing? The bottom-line is that in the final analysis, the north appears to be shaping up to perform the office of kingmakers more than becoming the king. 2023 battle could be prosecuted on the basis of ideas and that would make a new Nigeria possible.