Ogbuagu Anikwe Viewpoints

Emirate Conspiracy

The choice of a new Emir of Kano State was the first battle to test the power of the new APC coalition against the Jonathan presidency. With assistance from Gov. Kwankwanso, the coalition successfully installed an ambitious prince of the Emirate who also worked hard for the opposition by laying all manner of outlandish claims that put Jonathan in bad light among the electorate.

I am going to attempt a profile of the frenemies who conspired to sack His Eminence, Muhammadu Sanusi II, Emir of Kano, and banish him to Awe in Nasarawa State. This effort is merely to set the records straight for posterity, by providing a summary background account of the political undercurrents that led to his ascension to the throne and the reason for his ouster by the same people who helped him up.

Once upon a time, precisely on 6 June 2014, the kind old man and progressive Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, joined his ancestors. The Emir could not have died under a worse political climate. The problem was not that an immediate struggle ensured over his successor; this is normal in all monarchies. The problem was the politics of who will become the President of Nigeria in 2015.

Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, a charismatic Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governor, was the Chief Executive of Kano State at the time. Goodluck Jonathan, a meek and humble man, was the President of Nigeria. Two Muhammadus were desperately angling for both seats – the Presidency and the Emirate.

First was Muhammadu Sanusi. Even when he was presiding over two successive financial empires – the First Bank of Nigeria Plc and later the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi, a prince of the Emirate, would tell anyone who cared to listen that he preferred to sit on the throne once occupied by his grandfather, Muhammadu Sanusi I, who was also dethroned and banished.

In less than two years, Kwankwaso had, as expected, fallen out with the new Governor. This is the way of Nigerian politicians; with the possible exception of Lagos State, hardly is there any other state in Nigeria where the political godfather fought and was able to win a battle of supremacy, leadership and influence with a successor.

On his own, Muhammadu Buhari, a retired General in the Nigerian Army and former military head of state, had made three desperate and unsuccessful attempts to become civilian president and was looking forward to a fourth attempt through a coalition that managed to couple together a mega party called the All Progressives Congress (APC). This coalition comprised determined heavyweight politicians and intellectuals that teamed up with the sole purpose of unseating President Jonathan and installing Muhammadu Buhari in his place. Its members were drawn from Bola Tinubu’s Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), and his old party, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). They were later joined by a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and by defectors from the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).

Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso was one of the PDP Governors who turned coat, working from within to undermine and weaken his party for the opposition. For the record, others were Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), and Aliyu Wamako (Sokoto). Two other Governors, Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu (Niger) and Sule Lamido (Jigawa) dithered over the choice but eventually remained in the PDP, from where they were humiliated when the polls closed in 2015.

For the PDP deserters, their mandate was to stay within the ruling party and weaken it. And boy, did they succeed! By January 2015, the new mega party, which had never contested an election before then, counted five new governors and assumed a majority of 15 seats in the House of Representatives while struggling to gain a majority in the Senate. Strong PDP parliamentarians such as Senator Bukola Saraki (Kwara), and Speaker Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) defected at the last minute and were rewarded with juicy public offices after the 2015 elections: Saraki became Senate President while Tambuwal became the Governor of Sokoto State. Kwankwaso, who had finished the mandatory two terms as Governor, easily won election to represent the APC in the Senate. Through their efforts, PDP not only lost the presidency in 2015 but was also defeated in majority of states it held at the time.

The choice of a new Emir of Kano State was the first battle to test the power of the new coalition against the Jonathan presidency. Everything was thrown into the fight to rubbish President Jonathan and humiliate him at the polls, including frustrating every effort made to intervene in the family feud over which prince of the Kano Emirate will occupy the ancient seat. With the assistance of the Gov. Kwankwanso, the coalition successfully installed an ambitious prince of the Emirate who had prior to that time not only expressed his craving for the position but also worked hard for the opposition by laying all manner of outlandish claims that put Jonathan in bad light among the electorate.

In Nigerian politics, the friend of your enemy is automatically your enemy, even when both of you ate from the same plate two days ago and began quarrelling yesterday. The former Emir’s sympathy to Kwankwaso cost him favour with the new King at Government House and a battle line was thereafter joined.

How it all started

President Jonathan felt so bad about it that he decided to stay away from Sanusi’s installation as Emir. Victorious opposition politicians who participated in the conspiracy did not have this inhibition; they were all over the place, from the presumptive presidential hopeful, Muhammadu Buhari, to party stalwarts such as Bola Tinubu (national leader), and Chief John Oyegun (party chair) and some rogue PDP governors.

Kwankwaso completed the rout by successfully installing Sanusi as Emir, Abdullahi Ganduje as Governor, and he himself as Senator of the Federal Republic.   

All good things must come to an end one day, alas.

In less than two years, Kwankwaso had, as expected, fallen out with the new Governor. This is the way of Nigerian politicians; with the possible exception of Lagos State, hardly is there any other state in Nigeria where the political godfather fought and was able to win a battle of supremacy, leadership and influence with a successor.

Two things happened thereafter. First, Senator Kwankwaso returned to the PDP to lick his wounds, and from there tried to use his formidable political machine to crush Ganduje. He could not succeed because the wily old man wisely turned to and clung tightly to the apron strings of power brokers at Aso Rock. The Emir, on his part, never hid his disdain for the Governor who was caught on camera accepting bribes in foreign exchange at one point but still went ahead to power his way through to win a second tenure. The Emir went around the country not to criticize his Governor but to criticize how states of the North (most of which are governed by APC) and the APC Presidency under Gen. Buhari were being poorly administered.

In Nigerian politics, the friend of your enemy is automatically your enemy, even when both of you ate from the same plate two days ago and began quarrelling yesterday. The Emir remaining sympathetic to Kwankwaso and using his knowledge of management and governance to fire pot shots at northern governors as well as the APC Presidency automatically made him an “enemy” to Gov. Ganduje and the northern conservative establishment. In particular, the former Emir’s sympathy to Kwankwaso cost him favour with the new King at Government House and a battle line was thereafter joined.

From baptizing the Emir with queries, balkanizing the Kano Emirate to make Sanusi preside over only a fifth of his former kingdom, to dragging him to a judicial panel to answer to corruption charges, it was a matter of time before the Governor laid the biggest stick on the Emir’s back by giving him the same humiliating treatment that his grandfather suffered: dethronement and banishment.

All good things come to an end.

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oanikwe
Ogbuagu is a prose stylist and a cross-cutting media manager with hands-on experiences in print, online and broadcast media management in Nigeria. He interrogates sociopolitical issues and communicates solutions with his trademark simplicity and disarming depth.
https://www.oanikwe.com