Last Friday, Alhaji Ado Bayero, the Emir of Kano died at the age of 83. He had reigned for 51 years, and with his death, a most significant chapter in the history of leadership, sourced from the traditions of the Sokoto Jihad, closed.
Emir Ado Bayero served with tremendous grandeur and because he was a modernising emir as much as a man of tradition, he provided a remarkable bridge of comforting leadership in a period of often, very turbulent changes.
He sustained the myth of the royal institution by the force of his personality, which seemed so unflappable in different circumstances of existence; as well as showing fidelity to the traditions which made the stool of emir one of the most enduring institutions of leadership in West Africa.
The fact that he reigned for over half a century, made him the constant in a society of fast-paced transitions of leadership types, and the dislocations associated with the bumpy phases of modern Nigerian history. Alhaji Ado Bayero built friendships spanning the length and breadth of Nigeria, that made him the quintessential bridge providing accesses of reconciliation, when the fault lines of Nigeria threaten to tear the country apart.
While Alhaji Ado Bayero has been sincerely mourned by his people in Kano and by others all over Nigeria, the fact of existence, is that a new Emir had to be named as soon as possible, since the institution, just like nature, abhors a vacuum. By Sunday afternoon Malam Sanusi Lamido, former Governor of the Central Bank was named the new emir.
Desperation seems to be the motif of the next couple of months in our country: desperation to retain or win Bola Tinubu and Bukola Saraki, to influence the choice of Kano’s new emir. They made it too obvious that they were interested parties in Kano to mobilise for Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s emergence.
But beyond the political controversy, I feel extremely delighted that Sanusi Lamido finally emerged as the Emir. Apart from the fact that he coveted the position and was eminently qualified for it, I think he is the type of Emir that will be in tune with the needs of contemporary kingship in Kano and Northern Nigeria.
Even his most unrelenting critics agree that Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is an incredibly intelligent individual who gives his all to everything that he lays hands on.
Sanusi Lamido’s critics cannot stand his guts and bravery and they probably also loathe his excessive self-assuredness, which many of them have wrongfully described as ‘arrogance’. But those are the essential ingredients of the complex persona that define the man.
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi will be a modernising emir without forgetting the roots of the institution that he leads. He will grow into his role as emir and will be the poster boy of the creative blend of the traditional and the modern.
What I cannot talk about with any amount of confidence is how he will be able to refrain from commenting on the most contemporary challenges of the day. He had been a public intellectual with an impressive range of writings devoted to detailed analyses of some of the most important issues in the world of the past couple of decades.
He balanced his passionate devotion to scholarship, to polemics, with a very sustained display of competence in his vocation as a banker, rising steadily to become the Chief Executive of First Bank of Nigeria before being appointed as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
His devotion to the betterment of the Nigerian public space was central to his combative posture, whether he was confronting the “old boys network” that Nigeria’s National Assembly seemed to have increasingly metamorphosed into or daring to challenge the executive arm of government, in the manner that public funds were not accounted for under the watch of Diezani Maduekwe, the sacred cow of the Jonathan administration.
When Goodluck Jonathan exhumed some obscure report to remove Sanusi Lamido Sanusi from office, he couldn’t have envisaged the turn of events that made Sanusi Lamido Sanusi the new Emir of Kano. Allah yajikanSarki, Ado Bayero; Allah yajazamaninSarki, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi!