Sanusi Lamido Sanusi: The Return of the Colorful Kano King 


Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II, the reinstated Emir of Kano, was dethroned in one of the fiercest political and traditional institutional clashes in the modern era. Essentially, nobody, at that distant time would have predicted that the ex-CBN governor would one day return and regain his position as Kano’s foremost traditional ruler.


But in one of the most surprising modern twists, and with the exchange of political power and authority between Umar Ganduje and Abba Yusuf, Muhammad Sanusi is now royally, majestically, and magisterially back on the throne of his forebears.


‘A return to the throne’


The Kano state government’s reinstatement of Muhammad Sanusi quickly jolted many, sparking widespread debate among the people. As anticipated, the state government quickly came under simultaneous criticism and praise from the people, with many commending the government for boldly walking the difficult path of ‘righting’ the wrong of the previous administration, while others faulted the move as utterly political.


In effect, the reinstatement of the Emir, Muhammad Sanusi, marked a turning point for the ex-banker, who will now be addressed as the 14th and 16th Emir of Kano, a record that will set him apart in the long history of modern monarchs. Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, GCON the Awujale of Ijebu Ode, is another prominent traditional ruler to have been dethroned and later enthroned in moments marked by fate and political influence and interference.


From the bank to the throne


Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso installed Muhammad Sanusi in 2014, and his six years at the helm of the Kano emirate were characterized by controversy. As CBN governor, Sanusi was an outspoken public servant, often critical of former President Goodluck Jonathan. In a way, his open criticism of the government led to his sudden removal, a move that coincided with the death of His Highness Ado Bayero, the 13th Emir of Kano.


Muhammad Sanusi, vocal, visible, and unsparing of the government’s contentious politics and policies, particularly the administration of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, would eventually find himself embroiled in a fierce political battle between Musa Kwankwaso and his estranged godson, Umar Ganduje.


Following Sanusi’s backing of his former benefactor, Musa Kwankwaso, in the battle for Kano political supremacy against the sitting governor, Ganduje’s government contested the future of the king. The result was the destruction of Sanusi’s power and the degradation of his influence. To further clip his growing wings and reduce his soft power, Ganduje’s administration surreptitiously reviewed Kano’s chief law, thereby dividing the Kano Emirate into four: Bichi, Rano, Karaye, and Gaya.


Not satisfied, the government proceeded to level accusations against the King, and in a decisive move, it removed the economist from the throne. The government installed Aminu Ado Bayero as the new king. Sanusi’s removal marked a momentous moment for the country’s traditional institutions. In some ways, that incident stripped monarchs of their invincibility and reasserted the unimpeachable power of a sitting governor. Many observers contended that the removal of Sanusi was motivated by politics and that a favorable political climate could potentially benefit him in the future.


Legal fireworks loom


In order to facilitate his reinstatement, the Kano State House of Assembly swiftly repealed the State Emirate Council Law 2019, which had previously permitted former Governor Abdullahi Ganduje to expand the Kano emirate to four regions. Abba Yusuf, the governor, quickly assented to the amended law. “A moment ago, I exercised one of my constitutional duties by signing the Kano State Emirate Amendment Bill 2024 into law,” the Kano state governor told newsmen. “By this law, and with the full support of the kingmakers, I have approved the reappointment of Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, also known as Muhammadu Sanusi 11, as the new Emir of Kano.”

It is however not a done deal yet as far as the reinstatement of Sanusi is concerned as a federal high court in Kano has ordered the state government not to enforce the Emirate Council Repeal Law 2024.


While fingers are crossed waiting to see how the legal fireworks will go, observers believe the reinstatement of Sanusi is a show of power and the extent to which politicians can go to satisfy their whims and caprices.


They caution politicians to be wary of posterity as no Governor nor King reigns forever, no matter how powerful and influential he is.


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