Perhaps one of the unintended consequences of the dethronement of Muhammadu Sanusi II as Emir of Kano by the Abdullahi Ganduje administration in Kano State is to create the conditions for a potential game changing political alliance of the deposed Emir Sanusi, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. As the North is gearing up for a distinct possibility of political uncertainty with the inevitable exit of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023, and as the ramparts of the current political order in the country are gradually coming asunder under the weight of irreconcilable contradictions, a probable Sanusi-El-Rufai-Kwankwaso political combination is guaranteed to make heavy political waves in the country.
For one, the trio share similar views about the political and socio-economic situation in the North and the country at large. For another, they all have been having run-ins with the established political and social order in the North. They are outspoken, ambitious, resource endowed, well connected, former or present holders of powerful positions in government and cannot wait to carve their own niche in the political stakes of the country. In short, they belong to the category of “young Turks” in Nigerian politics.
The obvious cat’s paw of the trio is Nasir El-Rufai, the Kaduna State governor. It was he alone among the top political figures in the country who made the most ostentatious efforts to offer the deposed Emir a shoulder to lean on. Before the ink had dried on the paper that the Kano State government had written the deposition order, El Rufai had given Emir Sanusi two appointments in quick succession; vice president of a Kaduna state economic agency and subsequently Chancellor of the Kaduna State University. He also undertook a solidarity visit to the deposed Emir Sanusi to Awe in Nasarawa State where he was first banished. And after the banishment was quashed by a court order, he was on hand to accompany Emir Sanusi on his flight to Lagos where he now resides.
El Rufai’s actions are both charitable and political. On one hand he deserves commendation for his loyalty to a friend in his travails and on another, his action seeks to demonstrate a devil-may-care defiance to those in the northern political establishment who may have sought to give Emir Sanusi his comeuppance. And quite tellingly El-Rufai in showing the middle finger to these category of people by his actions, intended to let them know that he is determined to chart his own political course regardless.
I have it on good authority that El-Rufai is not one of the favourites of some of the grandees at Aso Villa. He is perceived unflatteringly as a loose cannon of sorts. Even before the latest caper with Emir Sanusi, there are those in the corridors of power who took offence at the audience he granted former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo a couple of months ago at Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna. The latest debacle with Emir Sanusi in which El-Rufai was seen to have played such a prominent role hobnobbing with someone who clearly is not in the good books of some in the villa will certainly not endear him to them.
A Sanusi-El-Rufai-Kwankwaso political combination if well-organized will certainly be a formidable alternative to claim a stake in northern politics especially with the looming exit of President Buhari. The combination stands in good stead to inherit a substantial chunk of the guaranteed “12 million safe deposit” northern votes of President Buhari now that the principal is set to quit the stage. The uncertainty and disillusionment that is bound to set in among northern voters at the political vacuum created by President Buhari’s exit can be filled to some extent by this combination.
Kwankwaso and El-Rufai, as the two experienced politicians in this combination, can work together to construct and implement a new northern political paradigm. First, off with his formidable political following in Kano, Kwankwaso can persuade and draft Emir Sanusi to run for governorship of the state in 2023. Emir Sanusi can then implement those critical and necessary social reforms he has been canvassing for the North from an executive position starting from the most politically significant state in the North.
Secondly, the trio collectively have a considerable network and political clout which when effectively deployed can game-change the northern and Nigerian political firmament. In this regard, with the two mainstream political parties widely expected to hit heavy political headwinds sooner or later on account of their internal contradictions and the political realignments that will follow, the trio can begin to construct a formidable political platform that will attract and offer an alternative for expected political decampees and the non-aligned from the two major parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the run up to 2023. This platform will be both a vehicle for political negotiations with other political platforms and also for elective purposes.
I am not oblivious of the fact that this combination may not even come to be or if it does, may not be as plain sailing as I am musing out here. The greatest drawback that may stymie this potential political project will be the huge egos of the identified personalities. Rabiu Kwankwaso runs a personality cult of Kwankwasiyya which revolves around him complete with dress and all. El-Rufai believes there is none more intelligent in the whole universe than him. Sanusi is all about Sanusi. Modesty and self-effacement are not his strong points. My fear and that of others is that it will be a herculean task to get these gentlemen to collapse their egos and do the needful. But our hope, forlorn as it is, is that they heed the admonition of elder statesman Ahmed Joda to Emir Sanusi asking him to gather like minds and continue the crusade for social justice in the North and Nigeria.