Praying for a better Sanusi

Olumide Iyanda

Buzz by Olumide Iyanda

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Olumide-IyandaIt was a straight fight between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) as former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Lamido Sanusi, emerged the 14th Emir of Kano last Sunday.

Some people within the PDP actually thought their party had won the “election” and proceeded to issue a statement congratulating Alhaji Sanusi Bayero, son of the immediate past emir Alhaji Ado Bayero who died on Friday, June 7. In a statement later withdrawn by the party, its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, “praised the kingmakers for their wise decision in choosing Alhaji Ado Bayero, the heir-apparent to the throne, adding that in so doing, the kingmakers have preserved the sanctity of the throne and the confidence reposed in the revered traditional institution.”

If the move to congratulate the wrong emir was designed to pre-empt the Kano State Government on the choice of who becomes the second most important Muslim figure in Nigeria, it has since turned out to be a woeful failure. Governor Rabiu Kwankwanso who was attending a retreat of the Rotimi Amaechi-led faction of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) in Port Harcourt when the late emir passed on could not have found a better opportunity to twist the knife in his former party – PDP. Having been publicly labelled disloyal and corrupt as recently as in April by President Goodluck Jonathan it was a no-brainer that the governor would use any means necessary to get back at Aso Rock. With the solidarity of fellow APC governors, choosing the emir was down to a man in whom Abuja was not well pleased.

A statement by the Secretary to the Government of Kano State, Rabi’u Bichi, on Sunday reads: “Under state customary law, the kingmakers comprising the Madaki, Sarkin Bai, Makaman and Sarkin Dawaki Maituta had sat down and forwarded three names to the government to choose the one that will succeed the Late Emir Ado Bayero. Out of these three names the government has approved Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Dan Majen Kano, and former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as the new Emir of Kano.” That decision was taken with APC governors and other chieftains of the party from across the country present in Kano.

Sanusi’s emergence was immediately greeted with protest by supporters of the eldest son of the late emir who took to the streets to demonstrate against the rejection of their (and PDP’s) preferred candidate. Like he has done for most of his adult life, the former CBN governor continues to divide opinions.

Born into the Fulani Sullubawa clan of Kano on July 31, 1961, Sanusi was appointed CBN governor by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua on June 3, 2009 for a five-year term. He was suspended from office by Jonathan on February 20, 2014 after alleging that a 20 billion dollar fraud was committed by the President’s associates in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). His tenure as the nation’s number one banker often lacked the magisterial elegance the office required. He got involved in one controversy too many and could not seem to keep his mouth shut even at the risk of causing a crisis in the financial system.

He famously “rescued” Afribank, Intercontinental Bank, Union Bank, Oceanic Bank and Finbank in August 2009 by bailing them out with N400 billion of public money, and dismissed their chief executives. Some bank executives are still in court as a fallout of that action, which critics say has religious, ethnic and other unethical colourations.

Named Central Bank Governor of the Year by The Banker in 2010, Sanusi carried out far-reaching, if sometimes unpopular, reforms within the sector. He was also not one to deny his faith publicly. With a degree in Sharia and Islamic Studies from the African International University in Khartoum, Sudan the incumbent emir is an unapologetic defender of his faith. It is however in the complex nature of almost everything about him that he also had some form of Christian education.

Possessing an intellect (and ego) as conspicuous as his bow ties, Sanusi was a crusader against what he described as financial illiteracy on the part of investors and criminality on the part of money managers. Ironically, he was suspended from office in controversial circumstances by Jonathan for “financial recklessness” an allegation many believe is as strong as the naira against the dollar.

With his emergence as emir, the least Nigerians expect from Sanusi is to be a formidable force for peace and reconciliation, especially with the tragic events in some northern states. One may question the motive of the PDP, but the words in the congratulatory message the party eventually sent to the new emir on Monday, June 9 that he should “remain non-partisan,” a position deserving of the exalted and revered office like his predecessor is apt.

Like the party at the centre, this writer is very much aware that Sanusi’s status has changed and “pray the Almighty Allah, who alone confers authority, to grant him the ‘wisdom and good health’ to lead his people to peace and prosperity.”