New Telegraph

Kano: As Sanusi Returns To The Throne

FELIX NWANERI reports on Emir Muhammad Sanusi’s return to the throne of the ancient city of Kano that has its history dated back to the 6th Century after his dethronement four years ago, following the supremacy battle between him and then Governor Abdullahi Ganduje

In what could pass as a twist of fate, a former Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi, last week, returned as one of the powerful triumvirate rulers in Northern Nigeria.

The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), emerged as the 14th Emir of Kano on June 8, 2014, after the death of his grand uncle, Emir Ado Bayero, was dethroned on March 9, 2020.

The consummate banker is the grandson of the 11th Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi, who was deposed by the then governor of Northern Region, Sir Kashim Ibrahim, in 1963.

His appointment was on the heels of his ouster from the nation’s apex bank and the legal battle against his suspension. The four kingmakers of Kano Emirate considered a number of names and put four of them forward to the state government for approval.

They were Sanusi; the late emir’s eldest son, Sanusi Lamido Ciroma; Wamaban Kano, Abbas Sanusi and Galadima Kano, Tijani Hashim. Sanusi’s emergence was after 72 hours of frantic lobbying, and reports had it then that it attracted some of North’s most powerful traditional rulers, who pressed for a less divisive candidate in one of the former emir’s sons.

However, the former CBN governor had high level support from politicians across the country and the then governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, who had the final word on the matter.

Kwankwaso was said to have been influenced by his compatriots in the then opposition political party – All Progressives Congress (APC), who drummed it on him that Sanusi’s sympathy for their party was among the reasons why the then Goodluck Jonathan-led presidency moved against him as CBN governor.

The APC’s chieftains were also said to have worked assiduously for the emergence of Sanusi to take their pound of flesh from the Jonathan administration and consolidate their grip on the state.

However, the choice of Sanusi, who was in 2013, installed as the Dan Majen Kano, did not go down well with some youths in the state, who immediately after the announcement, trooped to the streets to protest his appointment instead of the late Bayero’s son.

However, the resentment by supporters of the late Bayero’s son did not alter the choice of Sanusi. Consequently, the former CBN governor was placed as one of the most influential traditional rulers in the North, second to the Sultan of Sokoto. Despite his ascension to the throne, Sanusi remained the activist

This for me is a continuation of service that I started, it is also an opportunity God has given me to improve on my previous tenure

many know him to be. He never refrained from championing causes that have bearing on the masses, particularly the Talakawas of the North.

He seized any opportunity that came his way to drum it on the region’s political leaders that they are responsible for the plight of their people. Sanusi stoked fire among Islamic scholars at a time, when he called on governors of northern states to convert mosques to primary schools.

His argument was that mosques were not initially meant for prayers alone, but used for other things like marriages, scholarly activities and leadership trainings. Sanusi did not also spare the governor of his home state at the time, Abdullahi Ganduje (now national chairman of the All Progressives Congress – APC).

This informed the frosty relationship between the duo, and its aftermath was the passage of the Kano State Emirs Appointment and Deposition Amendment Bill by the state House of Assembly, which Ganduje assented to in 2019. The law made provision for the creation of additional four emirate councils in Kano – Gaya, Rano, Karaye and Bichi to bring to the number to five.

Though there were series of interventions by some prominent individuals to stop the governor from creating the new emirate councils, he explained that with the expansion and importance attached to the institution alongside preserving the cultural heritage, there was the need to bring forth the all-important institution to serve the people better.

Despite Ganduje explanation, many smelt politics and it did not take time before the real intent and purpose of the law became clear, following the disclosure by the then chairman of Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, Muhiyi Magaji, that his agency will investigate alleged “questionable expenditures and financial misappropriation” against the Kano Emirate Council.

The move by state’s anti-graft agency was after Sanusi had earlier scaled the hurdle of a 2017 probe by the House of Assembly over alleged misappropriation of N6 billion belonging to Kano Emirate Council, Though Magaji ruled out any political motive in the probe, saying that the decision was borne out of the need to ensure fairness, Sanusi declared that he was ready for any probe on his expenditures since he became Kano’s emir.

Amidst the claims and counterclaims between the Kano State Public Complaints and AntiCorruption Commission and the emirate council, emerged another move to investigate Sanusi by the state Assembly. The House, like the commission, also hinged its plan on allegations of misappropriation of funds of the Kano Emirate Council.

The House decision prompted the Complaints and Anti-corruption Commission to suspend its probe of Sanusi. While the House committee was given two weeks to do its job and report back, the legislators later made a detour. The Assembly’s decision to end the investigation followed a letter from Ganduje.

The then governor said that halting of the investigation was necessitated by the need to respect the intervention of some notable Nigerians on the issue. No doubt, the lawmakers heeded the governor’s request and called off the probe, but it was clear that the supremacy battle between Ganduje and Sanusi was far from being over.

Efforts made by the General Abdulsalami Abubakar led reconciliation committee and interventions by some eminent Nigerians to resolve the crisis but Ganduje refused to revert to status quo on the Kano Emirates Council. The aftermath was the dethronement of Sanusi by the Kano State government on March 9, 2020.

Reasons the state government gave for its action were alleged insubordination, refusal to attend official meetings and breach of Kano Emirate Law. The statement further noted that Sanusi’s removal was a unanimous decision of members of the State Executive Council, adding that “a new Emir of Kano will soon be appointed.”

The puzzle over who replaces Sanusi was resolved hours later, when the state government announced the appointment of Aminu Bayero (son of late Emir Ado Bayero – Sanusi’s predecessor). Many had then expected that his dethronement would dampen his activism spirit but that was not to be.

Even out of the palace, Sanusi did not cease from making interventions on issues of national concern. However, with Ganduje leaving office on May 29, 2023 and APC’s loss of the Kano governorship position to Kwankwaso-led New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), the coast became clear for Sanusi’s possible return to the throne.

As expected, he was re-appointed as the 16th Emir of Kano on Friday by Governor Abba Yusuf, following the repeal of the Kano Emirates Council Law, 2019, by state Assembly. This was after the House had on Thursday, May 23, dissolved all the five newly created emirate councils in the state and passed the Kano State Emirate Council (Repeal) Bill 2024 which replaced the Kano State Emirates Council Law, 2019.

Handing Sanusi his letter of reinstatement, the governor said, “By the powers conferred on me by the Kano Emirate Council Law of 1984 and 2024, and supported by the recommendation of the kingmakers, I have the singular pleasure of confirming the reappointment of Muhammadu Sanusi II as the Emir of Kano and the head of the Kano Emirate Council.”

The governor, who maintained that Sanusi was victimized, said his reappointment was based on his competence, credibility and popularity. He therefore urged the new Kano Emir “to be guided by the principles of Islamic teachings and to use his position to unite the emirate, fostering harmony among the Islamic sects in the state.”

Sanusi, on his part, described his return to the throne as a correction of injustice done to the people, culture and tradition of Kano.

His words: “As you know, I was appointed the 14th Emir of the single emirate of Kano in June 2014 and now I am reappointed as the Emir of the single emirate of Kano. “In between that period, we did not have a single emirate.

We had five balkanised emirates and this was an injustice to the history of Kano. It was an attack on our history, our culture, on our traditions, and it was an act of betrayal to our family.

“We thank Allah that today, the emirate has been unified again, its people have been brought together, that an injustice has been corrected because as you know, I was dethroned on an allegation of insubordination which was never specified. “I was never given an opportunity to defend myself but I have never spoken about it because I’ve always assumed that when the time is up, it’s up.

Today, I thank God that God has remained as we know, a faithful God who stands by justice. “This for me is a continuation of service that I started, it is also an opportunity God has given me to improve on my previous tenure.

We all learn from our mistakes and it is our responsibility to improve on the things we did well and avoid those things we did not do well. Life is a continuous learning process. I’ve enjoyed the break of the last four years.”

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