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Ganduje/Sanusi: The portrait of a failed system

After a prolonged disagreement with Governor Ganduje of Kano, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was eventually dethroned as the 14th Emir of Kano for “disrespect to the office of the Governor and other lawful authorities.” In a cavalier manner, he was banished to Nasarawa as the Emir of Bichi– ruler of one of the four rival emirates created by Governor Ganduje– was enthroned. This is awful but sadly, constitutionally right. The debacle of Sanusi is a reminder of how an intolerant governor can abuse power to deal with the traditional authority. If the Nigerian society wants to avoid losing more brilliant rulers, powers of the governor over traditional rulers should be reviewed immediately.

Before he ascended the throne six years ago, Mallam Sanusi was unceremoniously sacked as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria for speaking against massive corruption. He has lost the stool in similar circumstances as it is evident he held a different view on governance with the Kano government and strongly condemned corruption in the corridors of power in the North. It is safe to say Sanusi was a lone warrior drumming the war of revolution on illiteracy, poverty, polygamy, family planning, quota system etc. doomed to lose. In other words, he was a proper traditional ruler in an improper state.

The idea of a servile, fawning traditional institution under the mercy of a state government is a failed system that has successfully rendered their existence useless. In 1963, Muhammed Sanusi 1– grandfather of Mallam Lamido Sanusi– was deposed by the Northern regional government for falling out with Sir Ahmadu Bello. As it was in May 1994 when the military ruler General Sani Abacha deposed Awwal Ibrahim, Sarkin Suleja, and Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki in 1996. Several Nigerian state governments have emulated the odious precedence. As aged as this practice is, it is a desecration of leadership that must be discontinued. Traditional seats are sacred and are symbols of heritage. Hence, they should be accorded due regards.

Well, that is not to say they should be untouchable. We have seen the few times a royalty became power-drunken and how the law burnt his hands. That is the message here– uphold the rule of law–without burning the cultural prestige. Like in the case of Sanusi, whose alleged case of corruption is unproven, many deposed traditional rulers by Nigerian governors are thrown out on political grounds. They are deemed rejected and ripe for death once they disagree with them– the intolerant governors. This is a trending injustice against the collective mandate of the people at the local level these rulers represent. Or will Ganduje and others say they acted in the interest of the people? Which people of Kano support this travesty?

Unless we have decided to throw away the traditional leadership system with all its idiosyncrasies, we must all come around to oppose the ego-driven balkanization of the institution under whatever guise like the one (creation of emirates) done by Ganduje in Kano. Its disadvantages far outweigh the bright points. The last thing this nation needs now is an inter or intra-community rife such an exploit may cause if a group or community decide to show disaffection with the decision.

Therefore, the laws binding the traditional institution should be reviewed and the powers of a governor over the traditional rulers should be whittled down. Except for gross misconducts and abuse of authority which could make them suspended, the dethronement should be pronounced by the court of law henceforth. In another case, a state governor must seek and get the approval of the Senate–which must thoroughly investigate the claims and ascertain the veracity– before he throws a ruler out. The Sanusi–Ganduje saga is a portrait of a dying system needing safety now.

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