The Kano State House of Assembly recently set up an eight-man committee to investigate Emir Muhammadu Sanusi for allegedly “ridiculing our culture and tradition”, criticizing Governor Ganduje for seeking a foreign loan to build a monorail system. Going through the list of allegations however, one can at once discover the political motivation of the effort, as it’s glaring.
One of the allegations is that the Emir has been criticizing President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic policies at public forums. Then he is also accused of offending the tradition and culture of the Kano people by sending his daughter to represent him at a women’s event in Abuja.
Let me deal with these issues one by one. When has free speech become a punishable offence under our constitution? Emir Sanusi is not only an economic expert, but he is also a stakeholder as a citizen of Kano State. Should a man be punished for advising the government to choose its priorities correctly? Where were these lawmakers when Sanusi started the Buhari alternative campaign as far back as 2002? Sanusi used his intellectual energy to start the campaign to remind Nigerians that in view of the corruption level in the country, we needed a man like Buhari to restore sanity in public life.
Even brothers may agree with each other over the methods of achieving the same goal. Emir Sanusi holds President Buhari in the highest esteem, and his disagreement with the government strategies does suggest that he has something personally against the President. By dragging the name of President Buhari into their allegations against Sanusi, the Kano State House of Assembly Members have made a fundamental mistake which has grave implications.
By inciting Buhari supporters in Kano State against the Emir, the House of Assembly Members are potentially risking the relative peace of Kano State. Kano State should not be needlessly dragged into tension or crisis because of the politically motivated investigation launched by the Assembly.
Peace should not be endangered under any circumstances. The Emir of Kano is one of the leading traditional rulers in Northern Nigeria and ridiculing his office is the worst form of insult on our culture and tradition. Why should a traditional ruler be humiliated for political reasons? Again, using the House of Assembly to install their own candidate as Emir is another insult on the institution of traditional rulers. Emir Sanusi has not harmed public interest because of his criticisms of certain policies, especially foreign loans that carry future burdens.
It is evident that some people are determined to sabotage any effort towards reconciliation between Governor Ganduje and Emir Muhammadu Sanusi. You cannot despise peace and pretend that you mean well for Kano State. The House of Assembly has a lot of governance issues to worry about than destabilizing Kano State.
I am worried by this issue because it may ridicule the people of Kano State in the eyes of other Nigerians. How can a man be punished for exercising free speech in a democracy? Does the constitution deny traditional rulers a say in public affairs? If traditional rules are reduced to praise singers, won’t we have a situation where nobody can advise leaders even men they are going wrong?
My greatest worry, however, is that the House of Assembly has allowed itself to be used to undermine the peace of Kano State. If anybody has an ambition to become Emir, using the House of Assembly to bring down Emir Sanusi is not the way to go. Public interest should supersede personal ambition. If Sanusi’s choice wasn’t popular, the people of Kano would have rioted when he was appointed Emir by former Governor Kwankwaso.
Governor Ganduje should not allow himself to be misled by sycophants who are more interested in winning favours rather than public interest. The Governor should avoid any course of action that may politically cost him more enemies than friends. He should be guided by higher public interest such as peace and stability of Kano State. Any move that may create acrimony, distrust, animosity and disharmony among the people of Kano State should be avoided at all costs.
Rimi wrote in from Ungwan Rimi, Kaduna.