KANO – (AFP) – Nigeria’s ousted central bank chief was on Sunday named Emir of Kano, the country’s number two Muslim leader, following the death of the previous incumbent, the state government announced.
“The state government received their recommendations and Allah has conferred on Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the former governor of the central bank, (the post of) the successor to the late emir,” said Kano government secretary Suleiman Bichi.
Sanusi was suspended in February on government charges of financial recklessness and misconduct, soon after he alleged that the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) misappropriated $20 billion in public funds.
The previous emir, Ado Abdullahi Bayero, died on Friday aged 83 after a long battle with cancer. His funeral was attended by hundreds of thousands in Kano, an ancient city noted for its Muslim scholarship.
The appointment was announced at the state government headquarters in the northern city in the presence of the four so-called “kingmakers” — royal officials who meet in closed session to decide on the succession.
The kingmakers considered a number of names and put them forward to the state government for approval.
Sanusi had been tipped to be in the running, as he is the grandson of the late emir’s brother, who had a short-lived reign in the 1960s.
His appointment to the distinguished role comes after a turbulent few months in which he has fought court cases against his suspension and mounted a legal challenge against the confiscation of his passport.
The Emir of Kano is the second most-influential of Nigeria’s triumvirate of Muslim leaders: at the top is the Sultan of Sokoto and number three is the Shehu of Borno.
All three traditional Muslim monarchs are custodians of Islam and lead clerics in their areas. They have also been seen as key figures bridging the often fractious divide between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria.
But they have recently come under pressure to speak out more against the threat posed by Boko Haram militants waging an increasingly violent insurgency in the north.
The previous emir and his counterpart in Borno both survived assassination attempts by Boko Haram, angered at their co-operation with Nigeria’s secular government.
Internationally-respected Sanusi brings a high profile to the role and has previously been unafraid to challenge the government of President Goodluck Jonathan.
His suspension was widely seen as politically motivated because his highlighting of graft had earned him powerful enemies.
Some in Nigeria attributed his outspoken comments to his background and allegiances to the country’s Muslim-majority north.
Jonathan is a southern Christian and the country is almost evenly split north-south along religious lines.
Sanusi told AFP in an interview soon after he was ousted that Jonathan was a “simple man” trying to do his best but was surrounded by incompetent, fraudulent aides.
His successor, former Zenith bank chief Godwin Emefiele, took over as Central Bank of Nigeria governor, last Tuesday.