by Tunde Fagbenle
If the maverick prince, now King, truly sees the throne as higher an office than any other — be it governor or president, regardless of the contradiction of being sackable by the governor— and carries on in the office with that air or attitude, and also not checking how he “speaks truth to power” as Emir of Kano, then he would be setting himself on a collision course with the politically greater powers sooner than later.
Last Sunday when it became very official and public that Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, aka SLS, is the new Emir of Kano, I received a number of “congratulatory” messages. You would think I was an uncle or tight buddy of his. But I brought it upon myself. Ever since this column ran a number of stories and personal exchanges that suggested an affinity with the young, brilliant, even if brash, erstwhile technocrat, some readers and friends have concluded that neither of the two of us could sleep without the other! Nigerians live on such wild speculations.
In this instance, nothing could be wilder. Yet, I thank you all for the well wishes and here pass them over to His Royal Highness — congratulations!
SLS as Emir of Kano is a worrying accomplishment. Before he became the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, little was known in the public domain of the young prince from Kano. In truth, he had been a faithful radical thinker all along, with considerable intellectual and (deliberately?) controversial outpourings that drew the ire of many a reader.
But at his last post, a brief stint as MD of First Bank, before becoming the CBN boss, we heard little of him. Either he hadn’t spent a long enough time on the seat to start his damning, the-devil-may-care, contributions to national debate, or that private sector corporate height was too conservative to be violated recklessly. But once SLS rose to that lofty height of CBN governor, and freed from the severe checks of the corporate world, we were suddenly confronted with a maverick at his most damning best. The genie was out of the bottle!
This is not an occasion to enumerate them (they are already publicly well known), but his series of curious intellectual interventions and applecart-thwarting practical engagements of the banking, economic, and even political arenas were unconventional and disturbing for the highly conservative office of Governor of CBN. In the end, SLS got relieved of the post a little sooner than his term normally and officially was to end.
What should detain us here, however, is the manner of Emir HRH SLS would be. If the office of CBN governor was conservative, that of the royal institution of Emir of Kano is even more conservative and politically combustible. SLS has always been driven, in his own words, by the necessity to “speak truth to power.” But as if that was not problem enough, his mode and medium of so doing to the public gallery were questionable, and often rash and injudicious.
SLS had told the whole world who cared to listen that his life ambition was to become the Emir of Kano. He once said to me, in reply to a question on the wisdom of declaring such an ambition while the incumbent was still alive: “In our own part of the world, the emir takes it for granted that every prince wants to be an emir and in fact, it would be a sad day if a prince, when asked his ambition in life, ranked another office higher than the throne of his ancestors” – emphasis mine.
A man of dazzling intellect and stupefying oratorical prowess, SLS had been smart enough to assure his road to the throne by being on the good side of the governor, mending fences after some earlier altercation on the state government economic policy, and also by extending huge CBN largesse and goodwill to Kano, especially after one of the devastating Boko Haram attacks.
If the maverick prince, now King, truly sees the throne as higher an office than any other — be it governor or president, regardless of the contradiction of being sackable by the governor— and carries on in the office with that air or attitude, and also not checking how he “speaks truth to power” as Emir of Kano, then he would be setting himself on a collision course with the politically greater powers sooner than later. If the fate that befell his grandfather, the ‘powerful’ Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi, who was deposed as Emir of Kano in 1962 by the more powerful Sir Ahmadu Bello, Premier of Northern Region, were to be avoided, then the young King would need to be more circumspect.
HRH Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, those of us who wish you well stand by you and pray for you. May your reign be long, peaceful and progressive, insha Allah. And that’s saying it the way it is!
Dele Adetiba: 70 at last!
Man proposes God disposes, goes the old wise saying. I had proposed to be at the “surprise” 70th birthday party for (Chief, or is it simply Mr.?) Dele Adetiba on the 24th May (birthday was 21st), brimming with ideas of what ‘surprise act’ to gift the good egbon with, then God chose not to dispose me — perhaps because I had neglected the need to pray for it — and I ended up hurried to England before the day to confront my doctors for issuing me some spoil-sport health alert.
It hurt, for Dele Adetiba is that one big brother of mine I love and admire. And a party, by or for him, was one not to be missed. But as we say to console ourselves: “ao mo nkant’Olorunfi se.”
Organised by his superb Cross–River State wife, Mayen, an engineer of repute, the initial SMS text was an interesting, classy, appetizer: “Shhhhh!!! Can you keep a secret???” it went. “If yes, you are invited to the 70th birthday party in honour of Dele Adetiba. Do come celebrate with us at…” Followed by the venue, date and time. Then, “Do not forget, it’s a SURPRISE PARTY for his very, very, close friends. Let’s keep it that way please!” Signed, “Mayen, For the family.”
Dele Adetiba should need no introduction. In the 70s right up to the 90s or beyond he was the quintessential sports broadcaster and doyen of advertising in Nigeria as CEO of Lintas Advertising — when Lintas was Lintas! Lanky and strikingly handsome he spoke gently, even if haltingly to overcome a hidden stammer, but assuredly with that mien of a cultured and learned gentleman. His repertoire of jokes was endless and rib-cracking. And when joined by my late friend, Yinka Craig, or another friend Chuka Momah, on the tube the delight was complete.
Adetiba is my favourite egbon. He was my elder brother Layi’s classmate at Igbobi College. Egbon Dele and I belong to the same Ikoyi Club where I am a Life Member and he, a former Chairman, is a Life and Honorary Member. We do tennis together, or used to until he found me more than his equal, his superior tennis skills mellowed by age!
I enjoy egbon Dele’s company immensely and, now back and health restored, I can’t wait to cling glasses. Happy 70th!
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.