Emir Sanusi II, Ganduje, and the night of the long knives
This was the unkindest cut of all;
For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors’ arms,
Quite vanquish’d him: then burst his mighty
Heart. . . .
It was bound to happen. It was just a matter of time. They said that, like Abiola, he had also ridden the back of the tiger. Their instruments for the final onslaught were ready and had been ready for a long time. In fact, they had begun to sharpen their cutlasses and knives right before the last general elections. Nothing he said or did thereafter was going to save him. He should have known. If he knew and still continued to stand against the decadence of the past and present, then he was truly an apostle of change in a northern region that is truly on the path of self-destruction. If he did not know, then he was guilty of the worse form of naivety: standing against a raging storm and believing that the waves will leave him unscathed. When two powers clash, there is bound to be casualties.
The man in dark goggles started it all twenty-four years ago. People who should have listened did not when he said “We came to power through force and can only be removed by force” By the time the late Sani Abacha was finished with the then Sultan of Sokoto, Ibrahim Dasuki, it was clear that the military institution, long under the control of northern hegemonic kingship had asserted itself and was no longer under the dominant control and influence of the traditional and spiritual powers of the caliphate. Sani Abacha no longer believed that the Sultanate, without direct control over the armoury of the country’s armed forces, had the authority and capability to dictate the direction of the federal republic. For those who missed it, the significance of that move had repercussions over the entire traditional institutions in Nigeria regardless of the dynamics of either military or civilian dictatorships.
How history repeats itself, most times, tragically in our country. We saw the worst form of governmental abuse during the illness saga of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua as ghosts and phantoms ran the Nigerian state on his behalf, signing the national budget and other instruments of statecraft in his name while he was absolutely incapacitated. And because nothing was done to punish this most brazen violation of our most important institution, (the presidency), shortly after that, we saw this exact perfidy repeat itself in Dambaba Suntai’s Taraba State where a new set of ghosts and phantoms manifested once more to run the state following Suntai’s ‘vegetative’ state of health.
So we are not surprised when history repeats itself in such an uncanny manner as that of the former Emir of Kano. Twenty four years ago when Abacha decided to banish Dasuki to Jalingo, he had a ready-made successor in the person of Muhammadu Macciddo who was said to be the legitimate successor to the throne of the Sokoto caliphate but passed over for political reason by the Babangida dictatorship. Twenty four years later, this time in Kano, the ‘dollar-chasing’ and dollar-obsessed’ Ganduje had another ready-made successor in Aminu Ado Bayero who was again said to be the legitimate successor to Emir Ado Bayero, his father who was passed over for political reasons by Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. Cry for our country Nigeria, a country ‘flowing with milk and honey’ but in reality wallowing in abject poverty and in a near state of hopelessness as political scavengers continue to tear her to bits. Perhaps pity the northern region of our country even more, as that part of the country continues to manifest an existential threat to all of us as one corporate political entity.
As citizens of the federal republic, we have all been created from the proceeds and benefits of our national patrimony by a thieving, conniving, and unpatriotic social class. But perhaps, these acts of banditry have been more pronounced in the north – a north that has held on to power for so long in the country and yet has generated so much hunger, poverty, and insecurity as millions of young idle youths roam the streets of northern Nigeria, hungry, hopeless, helpless, and desperate. What then is the true purpose of power? The deposed Emir of Kano had his failings and weaknesses, traits that define all of us as human beings. Some people remember what they term as his ‘unhealthy’ disruption of the banking system as CBN governor. Perhaps they are right. Perhaps they are wrong. Sanusi might be many things, but he was not a coward who would hide under the cloak of political correctness to maintain studied silence in the midst of the myriads of socio-economic contradictions that are killing all of us. With his temperament and a mindset that sought to express himself at all times and in whatever manner, he was a strange fit as governor of the CBN and a stranger fit as Emir of Kano in the times we find ourselves.
Today’s people of privilege, pomp and pageantry do not really care what happens to the poor, the destitute, the hopeless and helpless. Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II, the 14th Emir of Kano from the Fulani Sullubawa clan cared. He cared about his north. He cared about the girl child. He cared about education. He cared about the wrong but deliberate use of religion to keep potentially good citizens of the country down for the purpose of wilful control and manipulation. He cared about the hunger and poverty ravaging his people and he cared about the insecurity that has emanated from the north and taken so many lives in our country. I pity the north because one of the most strindent, powerful, compassionate, genuine, and privileged voices for true, progressive change has been silenced (not the deceitful, retrogressive, unhealthy change that one political party promised us in 2015). The light has once more given way to darkness and the region that produced Maitasine about 40 years ago and generated today’s Boko-Haram, herdsmen, bandits and other social malcontents is set to generate more unsavoury elements to destabilise us all. Let all those in the north who see power as an end in itself realize that they have sown the wind. They will surely reap the whirlwind. The little upheavals we see today in the north is just a little breeze compared to the coming hurricane. This is also a warning to the people of the south. As for Lamido Sanusi, former Emir of Kano, rest assured that history will treat you ever so well as the consequences of your unheeded warnings unfold in your beloved north.
Many more tears!
Chude, human rights activist, wrote from Lagos.