The return of Khalifa Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II

The eventual reinstatement of Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II to the revered throne of his forbears after four years of dethronement was very much anticipated. When some anonymous groups sent letters to Kano State House of Assembly early this year calling for review of the Kano Emirate Council law 2019,  it was clear the move was meant to wet the ground for the bigger plan. By signing into law the New Kano Emirate Repeal Law 2024, by Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf, the former emir stands reinstated and all the five new emirate councils created by Abdullahi Umar Ganduje are thereby dissolved. Kano is now under one emirate council. 

Attribute it to the handiwork of Allah or simply fate in action – it is a new dawn. The twists and turns of events on the choreography and politically induced melodrama featuring Kano Emirate Council is an interesting watch. Many Nigerians saw the dethronement of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi by former Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano state as an affront to the traditional institution and unwarranted witch-hunt. Coincidentally, he was dethroned in the same month and in a manner almost similar to the ground of accusation against his grandfather. That singular act of Ganduje was viewed by many as politically motivated, poorly executed and a vendetta taken too far. It was one seed of political-cum-traditional discord sowed to break the existing peaceful ranks of the entire Kano royal family. The sanctity of the traditional throne was defiled by that show of shame, exhibition of raw political power and brigandage.

That notwithstanding, supporters of Sanusi strongly believed in the reinstatement of the deposed emir when the time is ripe. Therefore, when Allah eventually opens the doors of opportunity for a man, nobody can shut it. This gives credence to the popular Hausa aphorism – naka sai naka. Ultimately, change is the only constant variable in life. While the course of ones’ destiny can be altered; it cannot be totally denied. Sanusi has fought many battles, won some and lost on many fronts. He has oftentimes in his behaviour and actions refused to see himself as a dethroned king. It was said that a high ranking government official in Kaduna was removed from office for addressing him as former emir while making reference to him in an official engagement. 

Immediately Abba Kabir Yusuf won the governorship election in 2023, it was clear that something has to give. Very early in the life this administration in Kano, Rabiu Kwankwaso had alluded to the reversal to status quo of the emirate councils while interacting with journalists. The fact remains that when Kwankwaso speaks, it is simply the governor’s opinion he echoes and the governor’s duty is basically to concur. 

Nobody begrudges Aminu Ado Bayero but the odds of retaining the crown were obviously against him after the exit of Ganduje. The pendulum swung largely towards the reality on ground today. Even Bayero must have had the premonition before now that a day like this will surely come. A statement by the spokesperson of the governor, Sanusi Bature, said the return of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II back on the throne will propel peace and prosperity. It added that the repeal of the council law was in realisation of the governor’s campaign commitment to restore the lost glory of the state and its rich heritage.

Losing the throne is not the end of the world. Aminu Bayero was a victim of Kano political intrigues. Nigerians are called upon to salute the humility of this man who even as emir remained humble, taciturn and apolitical. Appreciate him for the maturity to accord due respect to his nephew, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. He accepted the crown with simplicity, grace, candour and equanimity. 

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi should also be commended for distancing himself from anything concerning the emirate since he was banished to Loko in Nasarawa state four years ago. This brought the needed sanity and peace to the palace and Kano in general. However, this battle was not one physically or psychologically fought between the royal brothers, who many say respect each other, and the throne of their forebears but that of Ganduje and his estranged friend, Kwankwaso. Governor Yusuf is simply a political pawn deployed to implement the wishes of his godfather and in-law, Kwankwaso.

While Sanusi Lamido Sanusi in his characteristic manner became too loquacious to the extent of exceeding his boundaries, Ganduje felt clipping his wings and whittling down the influence of the man who he felt represented the face of Kwankwaso at the traditional and Islamic institutional levels in Kano can only be done by balkanizing the entire emirate. He got it all wrong. During the 2023 elections, Ganduje was convinced beyond every doubt that Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna his deputy who he solidly supported during the election will coast to victory with the needed support from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the federal government. 

This he thought will help in sustaining his legacies – good or bad! Unfortunately, Ganduje’s camp was jolted and their expectations dashed. The political calculation failed flat. They lost. Before emerging as the 14th Emir of Kano, Sanusi was suspended by the then President Goodluck Jonathan from his top job as the governor, Central Bank of Nigeria. Jonathan preferred Aminu Bayero to ascend the throne in 2014 and exerted pressure on Kano state government led by Kwankwaso but he failed. The game of wits played out and providence positioned Kwankwaso to ensure Sanusi realised his life-long ambition.

Many people concede that Sanusi is an enigma. A lucky chap. He is a brilliant economist and technocrat who should not be holed up in beautifully-well knitted, heavy, traditional regalia and the palace protocols but in the academia where students can draw fresh waters from his fountain of wisdom and knowledge. The government and the good people of Kano state are called upon to handle this change of baton with maturity to avoid any implosion. Emir Aminu Ado Bayero as a muslim should understand that it is God who gives power and He gives to whom He pleases. He should bear in mind that, he was not dethroned for any alleged wrong doing or conflict of interest arising from his actions or inactions per se, but was caught up in the cross fire of political power tussle between two politicians and friends turned foes. 

The royal family in my view has a traditional conflict resolution mechanism of addressing novel and troubling issues of this nature. That mechanism should be activated immediately to accommodate everyone, calm frayed nerves and reduce tension. The reinstated emir should also be mindful of his utterances and body language as he returns to the throne he cherishes so much since his adolescent days. He should remember that east or west, home is the best. And home cannot be the best when brothers are not at peace. One more thing Sanusi should bear in mind and respect while taking any action as emir is the fact that Aminu’s younger sister, Hajia Sadiya, is his first wife. In the end, it is a win-win situation for the royalty; blood, they say, is thicker than water.

Sunday Onyemaechi Eze is a Lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, Coal City University, Enugu