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Sanusi’s Dethronement: The Silver-lining – By Professor Phil Alalibo

By Professor Philip Alalibo | NNP | March 14, 2020 – The dethronement of the flamboyant Emir of Kano, Mohammadu Lamido Sanusi, should not be taken at face value. In the universe that is Nigeria, such events always have deeper meanings that become apparent in the grand scheme of things with the passage of time. Nothing happens in a vacuum in Nigeria, for all events, especially one as significant as the dethronement of a powerful traditional and religious leader, ought to be put in the proper perspective, considering the antecedence.

Today, Sanusi is facing public scorn after his dethronement and banishment, tomorrow, the same Sanusi, will be held shoulder high as a political juggernaut, after he joins the political party of the day. At such time, all his political “sins” will be instantly washed away by the blood of the political forebearers. This disposition of erring public figures finding political favour soon after their public spanking, is not far-fetched. Nigerians have seen many politicians fall on the wrong side of the law, or aggrieved the powers that be, but after they switched to the “right” political party, their political cup “runneth” over, with political appointments dangled before them.

The case of the former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, holds true here. After switching parties from PDP to the ruling APC with grand celebrations at the Ikot Ekpene Township Stadium, and subsequently losing his seat in the Senate with seemingly nowhere else to go, he was given a lifeline by Buhari, who appointed him Minister of Niger Delta Affairs. Today, Akpabio, once disgraced and thrown out of the Senate, accused of stolen election, has navigated his way back to public reckoning.

The case of former Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, is even more intriguing. Amaechi took good notes during the “lecture” on how to switch political parties to wash away one’s political “sins,” when he boldly and unapologetically pitched his tent with the APC. During this time, Amaechi, a lifelong PDP member, as Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly, and as two-term governor, was fighting with Jonathan’s government (and the First Lady), and later with his successor, Nyesom Wike. With APC in power, Amaechi’s political fortunes suddenly became plentiful, being appointed two-term minister.

Similar good political fortunes would appear to be at the end of Sanusi’s political ordeal at the hands of Gov. Ganduje and his administration. His abrupt dethronement may very well be the precursor to his presidential run in 2023, to keep power in the north. Sanusi would likely be courted to join the “right” political party and do the needful. We have seen that in the last two days, since his dethronement and banishment to the rural and uncouth confines of Nasarawa State, many prominent Nigerians have come to his aid, giving him and his family what could be deemed as soft-landing.

In less than 48 hours after his dethronement, Sanusi has been appointed vice chairman of Kaduna State Investment Promotion Authority as well as Chancellor of Kaduna State University by Mallam El Rufai, the Kaduna State governor. On March 13, he led Friday prayers in exile and has been invited to chair the convocation lecture in honour of Tinubu (APC  Chieftain and kingmaker)  at Lagos State University. It is expected that the outpouring of goodwill will continue well into the political season. Sanusi is well-liked, popular and reckons with the masses. This fact is not lost on the kingmakers, and may very well be in the calculus for the 2023 presidential run.

But why Sanusi? What does he have to offer? Well, there are many reasons why a Sanusi candidacy might be the best option for the north. While Buhari is ineligible for a third term, if the north must hold on to power, or make a strong case for it against the agitation of the southern regions, it needs a candidate who is the polar opposite of Buhari. Indeed, a candidate who would calm the nerves of Nigerians across all ethnicities and religions, who are increasingly disillusioned by Buhari’s poor performance.

To these kingmakers, Sanusi has the right name, linkage, experience and hails from the right part of the north, Kano, which happened to be the home of another beloved son of the north, the late maverick, Gen. Murtala Mohammed. Going in his favour is his age. Sanusi is still in his 50s, a charmer, a technocrat, highly educated, he is a progressive-minded person, well-traveled and spoken, quite exposed and acutely aware of the economic challenges confronting the nation as an economist and former Central Bank Governor. Sanusi is not a religious zealot, but rather a moderate and in fact, does have pragmatic ideas and solutions about the myriad of challenges confronting the north.

As it stands now, the north, which will face strong opposition from other political zones to retain power beyond 2023, has no suitable candidate it can sell to the rest of the country to hold onto power, but the likes Sanusi. This presupposition makes ample sense when Nigerians carefully examine the subtext of the reasons adduced by the Kano State Government for his dethronement. It is noteworthy that such reasons do not include any criminal acts, either from his time as CBN Governor or Emir, that may disqualify him from contesting the presidency. These reasons are rather based on  “disrespect” for duly constituted authority and “insubordination,” and leave ample room for conjecture and political spinning, opening the door for a possible presidential run.

Sanusi, a straight shooter and often controversial and fearless in his utterances, has made no secret of his political ambitions since he served the Jonathan administration as CBN Governor. He was suspended by Jonathan after he blew the lid on the missing S20 billion NNPC scandal. He has been very vocal of the leadership lapses in the north, invariably accusing the northern states governors of ineptitude and inability to effectively address the social, economic and religious albatross that have shackled the region for decades and fanned the embers of the Boko Haram insurgency.

He stated in a recent speech to governors and top politicians – “…if you look at all the poverty indexes in the world today, you find that in southwest Nigeria, the instance of poverty is 20%. In the northwest it is 80%. The northeast is 80%. Why is it that the poorest part of this country are the Muslims parts?” He further stated, challenging the powers that be, that Zamfara, the state that started Sharia in 1999, is not the most educated state in the north. In 2017, only 24 students graduated from secondary school with five credits. He allegedly stated that mosques in Zamfara should be converted into schools to give the citizens opportunities to compete with the rest of the country. He was accused of working against the reelection of the state (Kano) governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, a development that may have contributed to the loss of his throne.

Sanusi, it was alleged, lobbied Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to select him as vice president when it appeared that Buhari would not survive another day in office, with constant medical trips to London. There may be a silver-lining in Sanusi’s dethronement, and such conclusion would not be alien in the unpredictable political wilderness known as Nigeria.


Professor Alalibo teaches political science/global politics and is the Coordinating Professor for General Education and Liberal Studies at Ontario’s oldest public college, Centennial College of Applied Arts & Technology, Toronto.

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Posted by on Mar 14 2020. Filed under Articles, Columnists, Headlines, NNP Columnists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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