The dethronement of Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is still a talking point within the Kano Emirate and Nigeria at large.
In this interview, Senator Rufai Hanga maintained that the action of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje was done in bad fate out of political vendetta, saying it was an unpopular decision.
What is the implication of the deposition of Emir Sanusi for the Kano emirate?
The only implication for the emirate is the division in the emirate. They have set precedent that anybody anytime can come in the future to do anything. They have certainly denigrated and destroyed the image, the dignity and cohesion in the family and the emirate. That is unfortunate. I think that is the implication for now. As for the Emir, there is nothing left for him than to pursue justice in the law court. Before now, there was a court order that status quo should be maintained. But because the governor believes he has a lot of power, he went ahead to do what he did in defiance of the court order. I know the governor is not alone in doing this. He must have the encouragement and confidence of somebody somewhere in support of what he has done. In fact, he implied it because he said he had met with President Buhari and the president told him that it was not his business to intervene in a matter between him and the Emir. He said he wouldn’t want to poke nose into what was happening in the state. I think that was what gave him the courage to defy court order.
Given the importance of Kano State in the Nigerian politics, do you think that attitude of the president was right?
No, it was wrong. The president is the father of all Nigerians and he claims Kano is one of his strongholds. If what he claims is true, then it is his responsibility to intervene in whatever is happening. Nobody will like to see his son fight and turn away. It is his business as a father; it is his business as a leader. He should have taken it up as his business, if truly he sees Kano as his stronghold.
What is the attitude of the kingmakers in Kano Emirate to this development?
The hands of the kingmakers are tight. They were not happy with the way he scattered the emirate into four and they went to court to challenge it. They went to court to declare that what the governor did was wrong. But beyond that, they have no power to do anything other than to accept it or play a waiting game; after all, the man has already been deposed. There is nothing anybody can do other than to wait for what court will do or what tomorrow will do because tomorrow will come and nobody can stop it from coming. Nobody knows what will come along with tomorrow. God is the only final authority.
To the best of your knowledge, why do you think the difference between the emir and the governor was irreconcilable?
The difference is not irreconcilable except that the governor did not want to give room for reconciliation. He was suspecting that the Emir was against him, that he preferred the PDP candidate to him. That was what he was told and he believed it. He started antagonizing the emir after the 2019 elections. And the Emir is not that kind of person who can keep quiet. He is outspoken, he is an extrovert. No matter what you do, you can’t stop him from talking. He will never keep quiet. If he sees something going wrong, he will talk about it. That is his fault. And that is what our leaders don’t want. They don’t want anybody to correct them. To them, who is he to correct them. Who is he to tell them that something is wrong? I think there is some complex somewhere. You must have seen it the way he was humiliated. Apart from the presence of the police and state Commissioner of Police himself, thugs armed with weapons were taken to his palace. It’s very unfortunate.
How popular is this decision that governor has taken to the people of Kano Emirate?
It is very unpopular, nobody in Kano likes it. Ganduje believes he can do anything and get away with it. And I think he will do worse now because of what happened during the 2019 elections. He hired thugs from outside the state to perpetrate what they wanted and nothing happened. Now, they have seen it that they can do anything and get away with it. Sometimes ago, a lecture was supposed to hold at Mambaya House, they brought thugs to prevent the people from entering the place because they believed it was against their interest. If you are in government, you are free to do anything. The way things are happening now, my fear is about pushing people to the wall. If they push people to the wall and they decide to push back, it will be very disastrous. The people are more than 100 times more than the security forces. I won’t like to see the patience of the masses being exhausted. People are being patient, but they don’t want to change. Somebody should advise them to stop it. Enough is enough!
How sustainable is the peace in Kano with this scenario now?
People are angry and I hope they will not be pushed to the wall. I have heard the people say, ‘how many are the police, we are tired, they can’t overpower us.’ When people are talking like this, it is dangerous. One day, they may want to push back. I pray it doesn’t happen.
What is the role of the state assembly in all of this matter?
The House of Assembly members have destroyed themselves. Even though they did not do what the government wanted them to do because there was rancour and the minority took away the mace, all the same, they are already in trouble. Their names have been written, and people are watching. Time will come when you will pity them because tomorrow is going to come. I assure you, some people will regret going to that house.
The falling price of crude oil is a big threat to the 2020 budget now. What are your expectations of the government plans?
It is a terrible thing. The price has come down to $30 and nobody knows how long it is going to continue. In fact, it may even go a little down again. That is double jeopardy. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. I doubt if it will soon change. It may even go further down before they go back to the drawing board to reconcile.
The president has already set up a committee to review the budget in line with the new trend. It there anything they can do to mitigate the effects of the low price on the overall performance of the budget?
I can’t see any significant thing they can do now. Part of the measures to implement it is to borrow and they have gone ahead to borrow. Now, the price has crashed by about 70 per cent. What they projected to get from oil has gone down to about 20 per cent. Where are they going to get money to supplement? It is difficult. All these years, what percentage of the budget have they implemented? Again, they have started playing game because I heard Fashola say they could not complete Lagos-Ibadan Expressway because of Coronavirus. The same thing Amaechi said about Lagos -Ibadan rail project. When did Coronavirus come? They are saying all this because they know they may not have the money to implement the budget. And this will go round other sectors like education, agriculture and soon on. People have been crying in the last four years because of hardship. I don’t think there is anything much they can do now because the government’s capacity to implement its plan has further dwindled. So, we just watch to see what will happen to this 2020 budget.
What is the future of the Nigerian economy?
The future lies in agriculture and industry. Unfortunately, we don’t have stable power to have a thriving industry. We have to go into agriculture. Countries that don’t have the kind of resources we have are surviving based on agriculture. We have lots of minerals, but we are not investing in them. It is high time government changed its plan. It should not be about oil alone, we have to go into agriculture, mineral exploration and development. We have a lot of them, we are endowed with them. We must begin to do something now because that is our future. Even in agriculture, what they are saying on the pages of newspapers is not a reality.
What then is the fate of the masses in this new emerging economy?
My fear is not so much about the difficulty masses will face as for the escalation of crimes and criminalities. We may have escalation of the crimes we have already. These bandits go about burning villages because of peanuts. The little they see is a fortune to them. These are signs of poverty and unemployment. So, my fear is escalation of crimes because people go into crimes for lack of what to do. The only lucrative thing for them to do is to take up arms. We in the North see it happen every now and then. And it is terrible. Even in Kano now, about two villages were attacked last week. That is why we have to pray hard and advise the leadership to please listen.
Is there a way the governor’s action can affect the politics of 2023 in the state and even beyond?
What Ganduje has done has seriously affected the popularity of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in Kano. People are seriously talking about him because they see him as the chief ally of Ganduje. They see him as the henchman of the governor and all the electoral manipulation that took place during the last rerun election. They see him as his godfather. In fact, when the PDP in Kano State decided to take the governorship petition back to the Supreme Court for reconsideration, Ganduje had to fly to Lagos and people saw him flown to Abuja in private with Asiwaju. It went viral. There was insinuation that they went to Abuja to see some judges. I think it was coincidental anyway. Ganduje may have gone there to do a private business, but it was everywhere that they went together. People are happy now that Asiwaju is in trouble. They are saying he is a friend of the Emir, but betrayed him because of his ambition. There was a lot of support for him before, but now it has seriously affected his popularity.