9 June 2014

Nigeria: Protests Erupt As Sanusi Emerges Emir of Kano

Photo: Leadership
The New Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, right, and others during his arrival at the Emirate of Kano.

Hundreds of aggrieved youths Sunday spilled into the streets of Kano in protest over the emergence of the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as the new Emir of Kano.

The protesters, who set a car ablaze, burnt tyres and carried sticks, tree branches and other dangerous weapons, chanted war songs and demanded the reversal of Sanusi's emergence as the emir.

The former CBN governor was in contention to succeed the late emir, Alhaji Ado Abdullahi Bayero, who died on Friday at the age of 83 after a long battle with cancer.

His funeral was attended by hundreds of thousands in Kano, an ancient city noted for its Muslim scholarship. Another top contender for the Kano throne was the late emir's first son, the Ciroman Kano, Alhaji Sansusi Ado Bayero, who was widely considered the more popular choice than the deeply polarising former CBN governor. But the Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, was believed to have allowed political considerations to hold sway in the choice of the new emir, as Sanusi was suspended by President Goodluck Jonathan from the CBN last February.

Sanusi was suspended following the allegations he had made over the non-remittance of $20 billion by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the Federation Account. However, the presidency had attributed his suspension to allegations of financial recklessness during his tenure as CBN governor.

It was therefore in the interest of Kwankwaso and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which had set up camp in Kano since the late emir died, to ensure that the former CBN governor, who has always been sympathetic to APC, emerged as the new emir, despite his lack of popularity among the Kano establishment and the Talakawa (the masses).

As such, Sanusi's emergence was seen by APC as sweet revenge against the presidency which had ousted him and consolidation of the party's grip on Kano which boasts of having the highest number of registered voters in northern Nigeria.

APC leaders who have been in Kano since Friday included former Lagos State Governor, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu; former Kwara State Governor, Senator Bukola Saraki; Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi; Kwara State Governor, Abdufatah Ahmed; former Gombe State Governor, Senator Danjuma Goje; Alhaji Kashim Iman; and Musa Gwadabe.

Towards this end, THISDAY learnt that Tinubu, who arrived Kano on Saturday and was holed up in the Kano Government House, held a series of meeting with Kwankwaso all aimed at ensuring Sanusi emerged the new emir. In one of such meetings, which lasted for about 20 minutes and also had former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, in attendance, considerable pressure was brought to bear on Kwankwaso to ensure the former CBN governor was enthroned emir.

A source at the Government House said Kwankwaso was under tremendous pressure from Tinubu and others who had thrown their weight behind the former CBN governor.

Their contention was that should Kwankwaso do their bidding, he would enhance his popularity in the state in consonance with the slogan: "Sabon Sarki, Sabon Gwamna", which means new emir, new governor.

Making Sanusi's selection known yesterday afternoon, the Kano State Government, through the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Suleiman Bichi, said: "The state government received their recommendations and Allah has conferred on Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the former governor of the central bank, (the post of) the successor to the late emir."

The appointment was announced at the state government headquarters in the northern city in the presence of the four "kingmakers" - royal officials - who meet in a closed session to decide on the succession. The kingmakers considered a number of names and put three of them forward to the state government for approval.

Sanusi is the grandson of the 55th Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi, who was deposed by the Governor of the Northern Region, Sir Kashim Ibrahim, in 1963.

His appointment to the distinguished throne comes after a turbulent few months in which he has fought court cases against his suspension and mounted a legal challenge against the confiscation of his passport. The Emir of Kano is the second most influential of Nigeria's triumvirate of Muslim leaders: at the top is the Sultan of Sokoto and number three is the Shehu of Borno.

All three traditional Muslim monarchs are custodians of Islam and lead clerics in their areas. They have also been seen as key figures bridging the often fractious divide between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria. But they have recently come under pressure to speak out more against the threat posed by Boko Haram militants waging an increasingly violent insurgency in the north.

However, Sanusi, who was installed the Dan Majen Kano last year, was rejected by several youths who upon hearing the announcement of his selection as the emir, spilled into the streets to protest his emergence.

The protesters, who chanted: "Bamaso, Bamaso", which means we don't want, took to the streets of Kano with leaves in their hands to show their grievances against the choice of the new emir instead of the more popular choice of the Ciroman Kano. The protests, THISDAY gathered, started at the emir's palace among those who had converged to celebrate the selection of the late emir's first son as his successor.

However, when they got wind that the former CBN governor was the new emir, the groundswell of anger grew against his selection.

It was observed that tyres were burnt at the palace, Kuramawa, Soron Dinki, Kofar Nassarawa, Gwale, former Silver Jubilee Roundabout and Chrianchi areas, as well as on all the major roads in the state, while other aggrieved youths also led a protest to the Government House.

However, fierce-looking soldiers deployed around the area cordoned off the official residence of the governor from the marauding youths, while motorists who hurried home were compelled to attach leaves to their windshields as a mark of solidarity.

A motorist who refused to put leaves on his car got his car torched by the irate youths at Silver Jubilee Roundabout. THISDAY however was unable to confirm if any life was lost.

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