anusi Lamido Sanusi, outspoken former governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank, self-appointed whistleblower and now Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II of Kano was to many Nigerians an unquestionable patriot. Now the human infallibility which he so easily purchased only two years ago seems to be up in smoke.
As the Central Bank governor, SLS as he was fondly called engaged the establishment. His usually divergent approach to the work of the economic team almost sent the fiscal and monetary policies of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s government in different directions but the government at that time found ways to manage his inputs, drawing on the vast experience of other members of the team.
Many were his public lectures on politics and economy at which several excoriating remarks were thrown at the administration he was serving. His unprecedented act of unilaterally doling out hundreds of millions of public Naira as donations to various institutions and persons of choice really opened a strange vista to the known functions of the Central Bank of Nigeria. While the government frowned at this and some of his other actions and methods, a cross section of the population led by the All Progressive Congress which was already catching at any straw to discredit the then government saw a compassionate patron and willing ally in government. The North saw a man perfectly guarding its interest, a forthright reformer and an unrepentant patriot.
Once Sanusi alleged a certain number of billion dollars oil revenue was being hidden from the apex bank by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation. In the succeeding days he severally adjusted the unaccounted figure downwards until he lost his voice in the face of hard facts from both the oil corporation and the finance ministry, but his cheering crowd had fun nevertheless. It was therefore a sort of political orgasm to them when he returned with a missing $49.8 billion allegation, about three times Nigeria’s annual budget.
Just like Oby Ezekwesili, Chukwuma Soludo and other critics of Goodluck Jonathan’s management of the economy, Sanusi was striking only the right chords at least to the entertainment of the right audience. Their continued swipe at the government was weakening Jonathan’s his hold on power in favour of the opposition desperate to replace him. Sanusi was regarded by political opposition as the only clean guy at an assembly of corrupt people, the only good fellow among devourers. His strange but also arbitrary donations of public money were argued to be in order and his numerous efforts to frustrate the government he served were only interpreted as sacred duties of an incorruptible patriot. National chairman of the APC, Mr. John Oyegun would later on at a political party campaign rally refer to the CBN governor as a member of his party. His sack from government was therefore taken personal and interpreted as an indication of Jonathan’s hatred for truth and the north.
As his eventual suspension from office on Thursday February 20 2014 was almost coinciding with his tenure end as Central Bank governor which was only months away, the message needed to be sent out to his “enemies” that Sanusi Lamido Sanusi would not be left unemployed. The story of his being next in line as the Emir of Kano therefore gained prominence in the media. And in a seeming acquiescence of nature, the 83 year old Alhaji Ado Bayero, Emir of Kano died of a heart related ailment on Friday June 6 2014, paving the way for Sanusi to be turbaned Emir three days later. There was of course no chance for the twenty nine other candidates to the throne, as it was time to pay the former CBN boss back for his loyalty so far, moreso, as he was expected to among other things, sustain the fight for APC and Northern interest from the palace.
Emir Muhammadu Sanusi ll has since then failed contrary to expectations, to fire in one direction: when he goes after the former government in which he served, he is the people’s emir. When he warns of the huge theft of public funds occasioned by Buhari’s meaningless foreign exchange policy, then, this Emir has derailed, is talking too much and should restrict himself in his own interest. But he continues.
Miffed by the sheer number in millions of school age children milling around the north and its social-economic consequences, he calls out rich northerners who besiege him requesting permission and space to build more mosques. He advises them that there are too many mosques already. He asks them to rather build schools so that the millions of Kano destitute, tramadol-addicted children can be redeemed through education to become useful to themselves and their society. His majesty’s street and institutional supporters become further exasperated. But there is more to come.
Shortly after this was the outbreak of meningitis in the north, Zamfara State was worst hit by the epidemic with over 200 people dead. The State governor, Abdulaziz Yari had told journalists that Nigerians were facing divine punishment for their sins.
Days later, speaking in his keynote address during the opening ceremony of Kaduna state's investment programme titled 'Promoting Investment Amidst Economic Challenges' Emir Sanusi said the governor’s comment was an example of “a complete failure of social policy.” “We are fighting culture and we are fighting civilisation,” he said. “For us to address social policy, we have to reclaim our religion.” “Don’t give these kind of explanations. “That is not an Islamically correct statement to make”. “You don’t have vaccines, you don’t have vaccines; Go and get vaccines,” the emir concluded. His reaction was received with fury across the north.
Done with that, he delved into the economic situation of the North. According to him, northern Nigeria will be the poorest if the country is broken into components. With these, he had lifted the lid on many of those rather open secrets he was primarily turbaned to keep. Surely he would not have the last say on that. From the barrage of criticism and attacks by mainly Northern politicians on the once upon a time defender of truth, I can surmise the feelings thus:
How dare this man say to us the northern gods and our acolytes that there can be too much religion for the youths? Who told him that the children of the poor ought to get any education except religion, or that western education is good for the poor? Is he blind to see how young ladies in the south obscenely make public show of their half nude bodies as a product of western education? Is he expected to let the poor northern masses know that their plight was not divine or that government had a responsibility to fight meningitis and other diseases ravaging them? Does he even know that part of why he receives a huge monthly allocation and royal regards is to perpetuate ignorance using religion and poverty? How can a royal father regarded as a member of the national ruling party criticize a messianic president who happens to be a fellow Northerner?
And what is that thing about the north being poor when he is aware of the famous groundnut pyramid? How can he for a minute contemplate a split of Nigeria? Is he too young to forget the history how the groundnut money was paid to Shell BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron etc to build the oil facilities including refineries in the Delta? How did he even arrive at the arithmetic who will be rich or poor in case of a split? Knows he not that in reaction to stoppage of oil money to the north, it can immediately stop the trucks conveying cows, tomatoes, onions and other farm produce and keep them for the millions of jobless and uneducable northern youths to buy and eat?
Emir Sanusi betrayed his office once he began to mute his poisonous ideas of a people-focused government in the North. He has been struck by the disease of massive economic empowerment like the infidels of the lower south. He seems to want to democratize western education and public opportunities so that members of the Northern elite and their families would eventually have to rub shoulders or struggle with talakawas. Does he know how much the Northern oligarchy would lose in both political and economic mileage if the commoners acquire education? He conspires with himself to rudely rouse a lion put to sleep by the conspiracy of a larger number in his class. And then some of his statements could embolden centrifugal elements in the south to agitate harder to take away the North’s oil money.
Currently, the Emir of Kano, Emir Sanusi, the once incorruptible administrator, unrepentant patriot and political catalyst of APC and the north is under investigation as the Kano State House of Assembly has set up an eight-man committee to investigate allegations leveled against him, bordering on his purported misconduct and alleged misappropriation of funds belonging to the Kano Emirate Council.
A few of the other charges against him include sending his daughter to a function and she did not wear “full traditional regalia”. He is also accused of introducing religious views that are contrary to the teachings of Islam, getting involved in political issues, the misappropriation of the Emirate Council’s funds and making statements against President Muhammadu Buhari.
If Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had committed all of these horrendous crimes in 2014, whoever as much as mentioned them would have been attacked even physically and the allegations waved aside as nothing by the same people who now feel violated by his criticism. As he now seems sure to go the way of his forefather who was dethroned in 1963 as Emir of Kano, I urge him to reflect on his public life in the past eight years. Even though Jonathan’s era kept stronger economic stability and therefore a better standard of living for citizens, yet his sustained attacks and insubordination from his office of CBN governor did not endanger his job or reputation until the report of the Financial Reporting Council came. The government took his excesses in its stride and labored to find whatever good he meant. In spite of his shenanigans, he ran his full five year course in his position.
Those who goaded him on, in whose ears his diatribe against Jonathan sounded like sweet music, who agreed that Nigeria’s budget for three tears could be stolen in one, who celebrated him as a man incapable of joining in the fathom billion dollar looting spree at NNPC, now accuse him of stealing a few million Naira at the Emirate council. They enjoyed and made political benefits from the rebellious activities, if not outright sabotage of the government by a central bank governor who all but abandoned his primary duties to play politics. Now there are prospects of he will be disgraced for asking the government he helped into office to quit medieval policies of backwardness.
Today when Emir Sanusi realizes that more harm has been done to this economy than he fought two years ago; today when it dawns on him that the future of street children in the North has been decided long ago to be doomed, Now that he knows that the North cannot make any economic plan outside the pursuit for more Niger Delta oil money, as he now discovers that nothing really works for Nigeria in the eyes of his people except it is a lie, as he has now realized that his primary role as Emir is to keep and protect things as they are, as he now faces an even more humiliating sack from his exalted position for asking a little love for the hungry, homeless, illiterate and disease-ravaged children of the North, as his head goes into the gallows waiting for his trusted allies to pull the stool from his feet, I urge him to take a sip of water, ask for forgiveness and pledge to always do and say as he is told.
All through history, there is a steep price for treachery, sometimes paid when life is sweetest.
Emmanuel Onuoha Esq. is corporate and real estate attorney based in Lagos, Nigeria.