Muhammadu Sanusi II: A mismatch of capacity and opportunity
From the leadership capacity perspective, the story of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the dethroned emir of Kano was a case of mismatched potential and opportunity. Sanusi Lamido in the first place failed to take the road less travelled with his ambition to be the Emir of Kano as his topmost priority among being a bank’s managing director and a governor of the central bank of Nigeria. Providence has it that Sanusi who openly declared his vision to be a bank MD, a CBN governor and the emir of Kano to his colleagues when he was none of these dreams got all his desires but ended it as a valiant or a victim when he was dethroned from the palace.
I will be candid in my opinion and draw out lessons that are invaluable to future leaders from Sanusi’s dethronement. Sanusi Lamido is not a man to be pitied. I am sure he is a free man given that his entanglements have been removed and he can now use his capacity to help himself if not others. Given his exposure, SLS, as he is fondly called, has no business to be an emir. He is a cerebral international figure, and I wonder why such a massive capacity could be subjugated to the powers of a local government chairman in Kano state. For your information, emirs are to report to the local government chairmen in their states. But I won’t blame Lamido for failing to be different in his aspiration for power. After all, he is not like Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, who recently see a mismatch in the life they desired and the demands of the monarch’s roles.
An average African man is power intoxicated and will do anything to get to the power. A man of high exposure like the disposed emir should have had the capacity to know that being an emir is a snag on his personality and what he can contribute to the society outside the throne. He doesn’t need the throne to do any good except for his psychological egoism. So, he is a product of power and what made him took him out. That’s simple.
He failed as an emir but succeeded being the person he is by his audacity in telling the truth to the northern political leaders with statistics on how poor the north is in terms of poverty, out of school children and insecurity. How did I know he was a failed emir? In his farewell message, SLS stated the renovation of existing buildings and erection of a new one in the palace as his achievement in six years. Maybe he was still under the shock of his dethronement. It was wasted years for someone who seated on N200 million library and with billions of naira emirate fund (Nigerians’ money) not to have done anything to reduce poverty or advance the education of his subjects except for his open criticism of the government, acquisition of Rolls-Royce and renovation of the palace. Of whose benefits are these?
The reasons for his removal by Governor Ganduje was to preserve the culture and tradition. No one whose stomach is hungry with little hope for survival or, who has children as almajiris begging on the streets of Kano and as expatriate beggars in Lagos cares for the preservation of a culture or tradition that does nothing than giving the state’s wealth as allocations to the emirs. Sanusi’s removal might be justified for insubordination for failure to work and rule in line with the emirate’s constitution but not because of any culture. The elites could not cope with what he was using the throne to do. Sanusi was a radical emir that says the truth to everyone even when he is not living the standard he preaches.
One would have excepted Sanusi to justify his preaching for fairness, education, development and use his knowledge and exposure to radically change the roles of the emirs beyond telling the apparent truth. What if he had spent millions of the emirate fund for which he was accused of mismanagement to train teachers within the Kano metropolis to redeem the failure of the government? What if given his broad exposure he had started what is called the Duke of Edinburgh Challenge in the United Kingdom (a developmental programme for the youth with the royal Princes acting as members of the board of trustees) and spent his allocation of the people’s wealth in a different? The narrative would have been different than the rhetoric’s of six-year criticism of a system that is not ready to change nor develop from its parodied fixation on power, religion and ethnicity at the expense of the population but to the benefit of few political elites.
The dethroned emir words and speeches urging the northern leaders to do something radical on education and reduce the imbalance in Nigeria are no different from Bashir Tofa recent warning to the Nigerian big men to prevent the Rwanda experience. Sanusi’s audacity is not fiercer than that of Olusegun Obasanjo, a man we need more of his kind and less of luck as past presidents. The difference, however, was that the emir’s throne is tied to the political power of the state. The throne was a wrong platform for Sanusi’s motives to make changes which never went beyond courageous words and speeches.
Sanusi tried to tell his political leaders in Kano and across the north what they never wanted to hear. Unlike few other apostles like El-Rufai in the recent time, Sanusi’s audacity is atrocity from a throne being funded by the government. His action is like biting the hands that fed him. No need to argue that the hand that fed the emir was withdrawn and the emir cannot be in the emirate without the support of the one who pays the pipers that must call the tunes.
Sanusi, in my opinion, lived a doubled standard life, though intending to make a difference whichever way you see things. He preaches against marrying many wives and having many children. The preacher has 24 children, four wives, including the one he married as a teenager on the platform of culture and tradition. Maybe he is still producing children like our powerful parliamentary, Alhassan Ado Daguwa with 27 children and still counting amidst of banditry, beggars and people living in the poverty center of the world. I encourage Sanusi to continue to preach against marrying many wives and children for people who cannot fund such a big family. After all, not everyone will be privileged with the backings of the political power and opportunity to use the state fund for recklessness.
However, he should come from the point of conviction to drive his post-emirate messages to make an impact. He should start by acknowledging that marrying more wives in this era is erroneous teachings and state if he would have done things differently if he is to start all over again. He should go beyond rhetoric for his words to cause the change he wants.
The dethroned emir has what it takes to help Nigeria and the world. The two appointments given by El-Rufai matches he experience. However, a man that fell from his greatest desire should do beyond the standard to make impacts. I see Sanusi doing things beyond being a board member or a talking economist to people who are unwilling to change or listen to him.
The time for SLS to make a massive impact is now and what to do is not farfetched. He should create a platform, and I urge his excellence, Sanusi Lamido, to go in his might to something in the areas he has openly condemned the ruling class. Go for making changes in girls’ education, poverty and the security you have spoken passionately about and for which you lost the game of the throne. The best revenge for losing the throne is to make a generational impact in the lives of the people starting from Kano and in the entire north where you are most needed. Enough of the life of opulence for an experience that counts for the people of Kano.
Though SLS has the right to live anywhere in Nigeria, I want him to return to my Kano and live where he is most needed. First, to prove those who disposed and incarcerated him wrong and uneducated. They hold political offices but are more glued to the traditions and are illiterates on what the constitution of the country for which they have sworn oath of allegiance to protect. The decision of Ganduje and his government to banish Sanusi in the era of human rights is like taking the world back to the 18th century in the 21st century.
Sanusi presence in Kano to help the poor, to fund the education of the girls and to help the people not to marry many wives will be more impactful for Nigeria than sitting on boardrooms and in Lagos. The Lagos he will prefer was developed based on the decisions of some people in the past, and he should develop Kano if he is to be counted as a disposed emir with a difference. He lived among the poor and rode in a Rolls-Royce as their emir, going back to help the same community after his freedom from the shackles of the throne will change what is expected from the emirs and other traditional rulers. The traditional offices should begin to think and do more beyond the preservation of culture and traditions.
Conclusively, Sanusi’s attempts to make changes and clamour for a better northern Nigeria with his speeches and words on the platform of the throne is synonymous to an effort to make Abuja, the capital of Nigeria a productive industrial hub like Agbara, Nnewi and Lagos. Abuja talks, make speeches, decisions and spend the money. It is a place where the production process will ever fail even with a perfect combination of the factors of production. The emirate was a wrong platform and a mismatch of Sanusi capacity for the change he desires. Power is not necessarily a tool for making a positive impact; if so, the north will be the most advanced part of Nigeria.
Sanusi Lamido is, therefore, charged to make a meaningful impact with his life outside the throne. He’s with a potential and capacity required to make changes beyond being the custodian of traditions of the emirate.