No doubt, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, is presently passing through a very difficult time. He is a subject of victimisation, intimidation and imposition. The current face-off between the Kano Emirate and the state government is an issue that should be handled with utmost care. Sanusi was appointed Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in June 2009, having resigned his new appointment as the chief of the First Bank of Nigeria Plc, to take up the CBN job. Sanusi II became the 14th emir of Kano in 2014 after his suspension from office as CBN governor. Before his appointment as the emir, Sanusi is reputed to be one of the most active social critics in the land.
For me, what stood him out is his periodic analysis of socio-economic and political events. While some people see him as the ‘voice’ of the downtrodden, the poor and the oppressed, others simply dismiss him as a mere noise-maker and raiser of false alarm. Recalling his controversial moves, the then CBN governor shocked many Nigerians by announcing the removal of chief executives of four big banks and replacing them with CBN-appointed managements. A month later, another four more banks were added to the troubled list. In 2001, Sanusi had described the then Kano state government of practicing “Ajino-moto economics”, which is another term for “motor park economics”, following a plan by the state to spend about N719 million to construct a governor’s lodge in Abuja. In 2010, at the convocation of the Igbinedion University, Okada, he raised an alarm that the nation’s legislature was consuming 25% of national budgets.
The emir once warned President Muhammadu Buhari to avoid repeating the mistakes purportedly made by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan so that his administration does not end up becoming unpopular. The former CBN governor warned the government against blaming previous administrations for the nation’s woes, saying what was important now was for the administration to concentrate on putting the nation back on the path of development. Sanusi had asked the citizens to rely less on the military, defend themselves and “acquire what they need” to protect themselves from terrorists’ attacks.
Ordinarily, when you are a social critic, you are prone to all sorts of hostilities such as gossips, isolation and rejection. At times, you are accorded respect in the community but most often, the dark sides seem to be more than what you benefit from critiquing the powerful and mighty in the society. That is the price of saying it the way it is. I think that is simply what the emir is heavily paying for in his state. There is something that many people fail to realise about social critics. It does not matter whether you are from a poor, rich home, royal family or highly influential class in the society, the passion to cry out when things are not going on well is just natural and in-born.
The moment a social critic is unable to appraise events going around him, he becomes restless, guilty and uncomfortable. The greatest favour you can do for such a creature is to allow him to talk. Talking could be in form of words, writing or arts. Dissipation of energy certainly has to take place. Whether your dissenting voice is reckoned with or not is a different thing entirely. This passion is a rare form of community service. From the pre-Central Bank of Nigeria to post-CBN era to the emirate, Sanusi’s passion can never be taken from him. It is his life, his passion and DNA. He can never be silent.
The Kano State House of Assembly had passed the bill on class emirs for Gaya, Rano, Karaye and Bichi, equating that emirs with the same status as Sanusi’s. The cold war between Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and Emir Sanusi has been on for some time. At the last gubernatorial election, for instance, Ganduje lost the Kano municipal, fuelling rumours that he would eventually come after the emir after the election. The state government may have initiated the project to cut down the emir’s powers and influence, its effects are bound to cause segregation, despite subsisting court interim injunction. Ganduje’s in-law and Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, did a similar misadventure in his state when some high chiefs and members of Olubadan-in-Council were elevated to obaship, due to the perceived hostility between the governor and the Olubadan of Ibadan.
Contrary to such position, anyone that has the courage and temerity to tell truth to power should be at the vantage position to give quality piece of advice that would promote better life for the people. It is this kind of situation that we find ourselves in this country in which sycophancy thrives over objectivity. Emir Sanusi should accord due respect to the governor, but does not deserve any humiliation. The Kano state government should soft pedal by exercising caution so as not to cause mayhem in the ancient town. It is only hoped that all stakeholders in the state would sheathe their swords and allow peace to reign. They should let the emir be.