Will Emir Sanusi Lamido Be Controversial? By Tonnie Iredia
The expectation in some circles, the other week, that Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the immediate past Governor of our Central Bank may not be selected as the new Emir of Kano because of his controversial nature is now stale. Only last Monday, he formally took over as the new Emir of Kano succeeding his uncle – the great Ado Bayero who died a few days earlier. Some analysts had opined however that he was not really or properly selected because of the riots which followed the announcement of his appointment.
The viewpoint is rather simplistic because with the current political divide in Kano, there are enough destructive elements on each side of the divide that would have organized riots irrespective of who among the candidates emerged as Emir. As one commentator testified during the week, riots greeted even the appointment of the last Emir over 50 years ago.
In the case of Lamido, the suggestion that the riots were a smokescreen cannot be wished away. According to the new Emir himself, protests against the selection process were not from the children of the late emir or other princes. As he confidently put it: “whenever we hear some insinuations in some quarters about the Kano Emirate we are always taken by surprise because we are all united as one family”. Whatever contrary view anyone chooses to hold, the Emirship of His Royal Highness, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, is a reality and a fact of history; opening a new chapter in the life of the hitherto seasoned technocrat. Whether or not this new position will change his adversarial life style; whether he will still be open to accusations of partisanship or whether he can still afford to face constituted authority in an open battle will have to be left to time to determine.
If His Royal Highness does not change, no one should be surprised. This column made this point some months back when the ruling party instead of appreciating Lamido for what he has always been, imagined that his criticisms of government were instigated by the opposition. The truth is that the man is not malleable; he says whatever he needs to say as he sees it no matter who it concerns. It is probably relevant to at this point recall his famous lecture at the Convocation of the Igbinedion University, Okada, in October 2010, where he raised an alarm that our legislature was consuming 25% of our budget.
The statement drew considerable anger among legislators who immediately summoned him along with the then Minister of Finance, Olusegun Aganga, who reportedly made a similar negative remark about the legislature to explain their comments. While Aganga did what many Nigerians do by claiming to have been misquoted by the media, the embattled Lamido admitted his statement which he claimed he lifted from page 861 of the 2010 Appropriation Act that he obtained from the Budget Office. All face saving efforts including a subtle sack threat by the Senate to cajole him to apologize for what was said to be a technical error in his assertion failed. Instead he said the following: “By my nature, if I am not convinced that I’m wrong, I do not apologize and this is really where the point is. I’m not tired of my job, but if you want me to resign, I will resign. The Central Bank is not my life,”
There is some level of veracity in this position because Sanusi Lamido had much earlier showed the stuff he was made of when at the Senate screening for the post of Governor of Central Bank he virtually rubbished the 7-point agenda generally known as the pet project of late President Yar’Adua who in earnest nominated him for the CBN post. Lamido remained the only public officer who had the guts to criticize the idea of government seeking to bite more than it could chew by squeezing everything in life into 7 points. He was vindicated in later years when the agenda clearly metamorphosed into a slogan rather than a programme of action.
Against this backdrop, supporters of Governor Kwankwaso of Kano who think the Emir would be the friend of their principal for long, because he appointed him, need to watch it as there is no proof that a permanent friendship situation is in the offing in Kano. Here again, history is our guide. In August 2001, Sanusi Lamido, then an Assistant General Manager at the United Bank for Africa (UBA) published an article in the media titled “The Kwankwaso Phenomenon” in which he described the Kano State Government of the time as practicing “Ajino-moto economics” – another term for “motor park economics”. The bone of contention was a plan by the State Government to spend about N719 million to construct a Governor’s lodge in Abuja which Lamido felt was an unwise investment. He prosecuted his opposition to the subject the same way he fought the federal government over alleged missing oil money describing the Kano State executive council as made up of “rocket scientists”. The conflict was so fierce that the State Government allegedly closed its huge accounts in the UBA, but Lamido insisted that what propels him is education which he said “ gives one the capacity to reply every insult, revenge every injury and stand firm on principle”
Kano appears to have been the main beneficiary of the developments because today the giant strides in education made by Kwankwaso in his second coming has created several Lamidos. In addition, the Governor’s high profile in transparency and accountability has set an indelible bench mark which future politicians may have no option but to uphold otherwise they will become unpopular. Meanwhile, what else could be better for a city to get a great man of knowledge and financially comfortable former CBN Governor as Emir? Of course unlike many other places in the nation where traditional institutions are pocketed by politicians, Kano is likely to be a place to look up to for an ideal system of checks and balances especially if Emirship does not change Sanusi Lamido.
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