Mariam Mohammed Maktoub
It is easy to jump into the fray but getting out, most often than not, is near-insuperable. So it is with what has become a tragicomedy in the Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and Emir Muhammadu Sanusi affair which was three years in the running, culminating in the dethronement and subsequent banishment of the Emir to Awe Local Government of Nasarawa State on March 9, 2020.
I had restrained myself from jumping on the hysterical train owing to the fact that the issues needed to be forensically distilled and weighed on the social, legal, political and even cultural scales. Besides, taking measured steps at a time such as this saves one from engaging in historical lapses and capitulating to the vagaries of base sentiments.
Let this be known that this whole sordid drama has been an insufferable one for me as a daughter from Kano State. I have prayed against the fluid nature of the ancient city taking a dangerous turn. So far so good, I am relieved that even those who disagree with the deposition of Emir Sanusi and his banishment have allowed peace to reign and have followed constitutional measures to redress their grievances.
It is instructive to make the point that the whole Sanusi saga is not about him, neither is about Governor Ganduje. The issues are bigger than both. Kano is much more important than the duo. The city of commerce, trade, and even the most vexatious matter of Almajari, will always be higher than any Emir, governor or whatever nomenclature used to describe those that wield power, affluence and influence.
Ordinarily, I should feel no sense of loss over Humpty Dumpty-like fall of Sanusi from his royal perch, but there is this disappointment I feel as a woman from Kano state. This sense of loss is predicated not just on the former Emir’s high-intellectual veneer but also the value addition he brings to the state and his strident agitation for women’s rights. Though some have sniggered at women’s campaign as a façade accusing him of not living the values of his public acclaim. That is a matter of debate and for another day.
There is no gainsaying that Kano, like most if not all northern states, has zero respect for women and the talakawas. It is little wonder that there is an army of the deprived, denied and denuded called Almajari in Kano more than in any northern city. I owe it to Sanusi that his clamour for parity was gaining traction so much so that I started nursing the idea of running for office in a state like Kano. But I am persuaded to note that as much as I respect the dethroned Emir’s intellect, he failed to stand on a utilitarian ground. Perhaps, this is the undoing of most reformers who have their heads in Utopian clouds rather than on the practicability of their Agenda for Change. Without a doubt, there is nothing as good as somebody with good conscience sitting in the decision room. For someone so intelligent I expected more from him.
But what did I find? A man who sees himself as the only reasonable voice. Sanusi lacked the temperament of a royal father. He was not measured. Sometimes, I feared he sounded more like an excited child who having savoured the taste of the finest chocolate can’t help himself from drooling. As a royal, the highest standard of etiquette was expected of him. If there are those who see him as the Reformer of the North, the one who would break the proverbial yoke of a system that has stagnated development and underserved the people, then it was a failure of careful interrogation of the Sanusi persona. Fact remains that the deposed Emir did not act on the things he spoke passionately about. He spoke of women’s rights and sees nothing wrong in feasting on the innocent. Knowing that he should live the conviction of his principle, he takes the innocence and then talks about empowerment. How convenient!
It has remained a puzzle that for a man of such vaunted intelligence, Sanusi lacks the virtue of patience and reticence and the intoxicating nature of power; I mean power with authority. While he had royal authority, he was no husbandman of real power. That resided and still does with Ganduje. For too long, he teased, baited and enticed the governor with imperial punches. On several fronts he made the governor feel less capable. He covertly and openly consorted with the governor’s traducers. What temerity! As a royal father, Sanusi simply couldn’t draw the line between partisanship and royal accommodation of all shades. He was bent on seeing the governor dance in the nude. If one governor could install him as Emir of Kano, who says another cannot upend the installation? And that is the reality.
One would have imagined that Sanusi would have learnt from the seeming unfazed nature of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, BAT. Despite the seeming provocations and ouster of his loyalists from the palace of power and the rumoured presidential smacks now and then, BAT has remained stoically focused and not given to careless bouts of verbal impertinence. Nobody can lay any charge against him of being impudent no matter how unfortunate any action against him may seem. This is because Tinubu understands the power of silence, but not Sanusi.
If he wanted to be an activist royal, he should have either given up his royal status like Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan rather than bring the whole Kano Emirate to such ridicule. Attempting to arrogantly sweep away the mores, values and defining attributes of a people without carrying those whose voices matter is dishonest and irresponsible.
To Governor Ganduje, while it remains within your constitutional mandate to enthrone kings and dethrone them, it should be after wide ranging consultation and on very grievous traditional sacrilege. However germane that the deposed Emir disrespected you, it is not enough to swiftly and magisterially send him packing including banishment. History is littered with the carcasses of bad decisions and the dire consequences. I cannot for sure say if this was an ill-thought decision, but it is one fraught with malice and personal vendetta.
Having removed Sanusi from office, I remain to be convinced on the appropriateness of his banishment to Nasarawa state. If it is convention that “two kings” cannot cohabit within the same locale, why not allow him choose his next destination? Why infringe on his constitutional to freedom of movement and thought?
It will do well if the state government shirks itself of the manacles of authoritarianism as Sanusi has being duly served his comeuppance. Any other thing will, as already see, draw underserved pity to him.
And to the new Emir of Kano and to my dear friend, Nasiru Bayero, the new Emir of Bichi, I hope you all tow in the path of righteousness for the sustenance of the prestige, power, glory and the betterment of the Kano people.
As the weeks will peter out the febrile voices on the Sanusi saga, it is worth reminding all the cast in this epic of the words of Tony Benn that “all war represents the failure of diplomacy.” So let’s keep the conversation on, and nothing more.
––Ms Maktoub is publisher, Maktoub Magazine and Political PR consultant.