Must the President bow to the king?

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Fidelis Duker QEDSince the announcement of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the new Emir of Kano by the emirate council, there have been several controversies trailing his selection amongst the three nominees by the state.

When Sanusi was appointed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor on June 1, 2009 by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, more so in the middle of a global financial crisis, little did many know that some of his policies and actions would earn him the unsavory title of a controversial character. As he was controversial, perhaps innately, so were his actions and policies for the period he reigned as the CBN governor.

As part of his controversies, Sanusi had declared on assumption of office that he would not seek a second term once his tenure expires in June of this year, probably because of his ambition to become the emir of Kano.

Signs that Sanusi’s tenure as CBN Governor would be both eventful and controversial played out during his screening at the Senate. The first person to come under his attack was his boss, Yar’Adua, who nominated him. He started by taking a swipe at his seven-point agenda, described it as “a wasteful exercise” and suggested that a good agenda should not bear more than two points. This, of course, welcomed on set the personality that was to head the apex bank.

But his apologists were quick to argue to the contrary; that the man’s action was radical and the type truly needed to drive change. Few days after he assumed office, Sanusi empanelled a special joint committee of the CBN and the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to conduct a special examination of 24 banks in the country and boasted that some of the bank chief executives would go to jail after the examination.

He defended the reforms in the banking sector that there was the need to attack the many powerful and interrelated vested interests that were exploiting the financial system although it was seen by some as a personal vendetta against some of the bank CEOs who many believed were said to have opposed his choice as CBN governor at the time. One thing was evident during his tenure at public gathering, news hunters swarm around him because there will always be something to write about.

One sore point was that he enjoyed the controversies that trailed him because as a prominent Kano prince, Sanusi was imbued with the courage to defend his convictions no matter what his adversaries feel. Sanusi was Mr. Controversy as his statements transcended banking but delved into politics and power, not leaving out religion which to a large extent was his albatross.

However, I have observed that he has over the years nursed the ambition of becoming the emir of Kano considering the fact that his grandfather was the deposed monarch of the city and he had obviously dreamt of a day he will reclaim the throne and so when the late Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero, made Sanusi the Dan-Majen Kano, a historic title reserved for the royal family, the installation equally attracted critics’ attention, many of whom accused Sanusi of abusing his office by sending invitations out, signed on the stationery of the CBN. It was therefore not surprising that the former CBN governor appeared in full regalia of his new title on his first day in office after the installation.

Quite typically, Sanusi’s recent ascension to the throne of emir of Kano was not without controversy. It was initially rumored that the late emir’s first son had succeeded his father, but a moment later, Sanusi was announced by the Kano State Governor, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso as the new emir. This was followed by protest as supporters of the late emir’s son kicked and took to the streets. Five persons were reportedly killed in the protest, following a counter protest by pro-Sanusi. Strangely and regrettably, the federal government did not congratulate the new emir of Kano as will be expected and for several days the newly installed emir had to operate from the government house as policemen had laid siege at the palace for about six days before a truce was reached by the feuding parties and the new emir finally entered his palace. The Presidency would have earned my respect if they had been neutral in this issue.

The rather funny insinuation is that any day President Goodluck Jonathan visits the emir he will have to bow to him as tradition demands but I have said severally that the President is not even obliged to visit the emir or any traditional ruler when he visits any state in Nigeria. There have been other political insinuations that ahead the 2015 election, the President needs the support of the emir of Kano to garner the state with the highest number of votes but I beg to differ that Alhaji Shehu Shagari in 1979 did not win Kano to become president. Moreover all GEJ needs is 30% of the vote cast which I bet he will secure in Kano.

Now that Sanusi is the emir of an important Nigerian city against all odds, there is the need for him to come down from his high horse, learn from his controversial past and live true to type as the father of all.