Everytime it is suggested that traditional rulers be given constitutional roles, I often think of the illogical distribution of our budgets, placing a destructive emphasis on the luxurious pampering of public officials through unconscionable remunerative packages. With due respect to monarchs and the value many people place on traditional institutions, I am yet to find sufficient reasons to robe them with more powers or responsibilities that will result in more budgetary allocations to maintain the excess official paraphernalia that will be thus created. The new Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is one however that may cause me to reappraise my position. His famed intellect, remarkable leadership of Nigeria’s economic renaissance while he held sway as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and his whistle-blowing role while in that position speak volumes and may justify the endowment of some form of constitutional role that borders on economic stability and infrastructural development that we greatly need in Nigeria as a whole, in the North and in Kano to be more specific.
The new Emir has always been a man of intelligent convictions. You may disagree with him more easily on ideological or moral fronts but he puts forth his arguments on monetary, economic or government policy with such profundity and luring ferocity that makes you dig into resources before you utter a reply, if you must give a good one. He was not on the side of the people in the infamous fuel subsidy removal saga of January 2012 but his submissions were not pedestrian, thus making the injurious policy appear for the economic benefit of Nigerians in the long run. When he gave talks at seminars, policy debates and interviews with BBC and other foreign media, he inspired hope in many young Nigerians and was clearly a departure from the rabble-rousing intellectual dwarfs that litter our elective positions. It was thus easy for almost everyone to pay attention to him when he alleged financial impropriety at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and that over twenty billion dollars was unaccounted for. Such outcry by a man by whose position can be said to be part and parcel of government is in itself rare in Nigeria and indicates a difference from the norm. His subsequent suspension from the position of the Central Bank Governor and other political intrigues ever since suggests we need to hear more from the man if perhaps we might begin to clean the stench-laden rot in our public space.
A recurrent thread in public debates around the escalating insurgency in the North is the alleged failure of Northern elders, leaders, traditional rulers and elected officials. With several fickle positions on the supposed nature of Boko Haram for instance, it has been hard enlisting a unison condemnation of the murderous instincts of a crazed group that claims to be against western education. For many years, the terrorist group was allowed to fester, test its wings and soar unbridled in the Northern skies while some notable figures excused the heinous acts of the sect as a quest for justice, likening it to the Niger Delta militants of times past. Only of recent, dazed by crumbling cities and bloodwashed towns, have some respected personalities accepted the calls to condemn the actions of the group. Now that Sanusi is Emir, he may perhaps be able to influence the discourse around developmental leadership in the North, and the need for a proactive approach to addressing the issues of illiteracy and violence. There are of course many older and perhaps similarly or more influential monarchs in that axis but it is hoped that Emir Sanusi’s intelligent, rational and diplomatic voice can help shape conversations and drive action among the noble and political elite to stem the tide of insecurity and under-development. His contributions as CBN Governor towards reliefs for flood victims in the North among other intervention efforts in the education sector are proofs of his passion for infrastructural renewal which the North greatly needs and which he can use his new position to also influence.
There are also perhaps other immediate political implications of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s ascension to the Emirate throne. The hopes of a possible Sanusi presidency are effectively dashed alongside the permutations of his appearance as a running-mate to an opposition aspirant in the 2015 elections. It would have been a delight and a necessary one at that, to have men of great insight and oration like Sanusi dictate the pace of policy formulation and interactions ahead of the general elections. Even though he often times indicated his preference for the Emir’s stool, some of us hoped against hope that some force of politics would lure him to contest for the Presidency or at least accept to be a running mate. In the quickly evolving dynamics of world economy and governance, Nigeria needs more men like Sanusi at the helms. Alas!
There have also been several conspiracy theories about the possible effects of Sanusi being the Emir of Kano on President Goodluck Jonathan’s aspirations in 2015 with regards to votes in Kano State. That is neither here nor there. Public acceptance of the Emir may come to play. If the generality of Kano people wholeheartedly accept the reign of HRM Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and feel slighted by President Jonathan’s treatment of the new Emir towards the end of his time as CBN Governor and immediately afterwards, then Kano might indeed be a tough ground. That is however assuming that majority of Kano voters are largely incapable of individual thought and even unable or unwilling to assess the candidacy and manifesto of Jonathan. This I doubt. As for the common nuance that the President will have to bow down to a supposed enemy when he goes to campaign, I think time will tell. The Emir is expected to be conservative and non-partisan in such electoral issues, besides, the President still ranks far above him legally. They are adults and as political adults, they will conduct themselves well, at least for the people’s sake.
One more thing to consider though, now that Sanusi is Emir, is what happens to the litany of court cases instituted back and forth between him and the federal government? Perhaps we will be seeing the application of the nolle prosequi powers of the Attorney-General or maybe not. I bet for the sake of posterity, many will also like to know what becomes of the allegations of financial mismanagement and abuse of office against the new Emir leveled by the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria. Nigeria is always known to have a big carpet able to swallow anything capable of being swept and whether the peace of that carpet will reign now or the drums of regal war will beat, the spectacle of all of that is what we now wait to watch with bated breath.
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