KANO, Nigeria, (Reuters) – Nigeria’s ousted central bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, was named Emir of Kano yesterday, making an outspoken government critic one of the most influential leaders in the largely Muslim north.
Sanusi, who regularly railed against the government’s record on corruption, was suspended from his post at the bank in February by President Goodluck Jonathan in a decision that alarmed international investors.
His move into such a revered position, after the death of his great-uncle the last emir on Friday, could unsettle some in Jonathan’s administration which rules over a religiously divided country and is facing national elections in 2015. The emir is the second-highest Muslim authority in Nigeria.
Underlining local politics also raging behind the decision, several hundred supporters of another hopeful candidate – the late emir’s oldest son – massed outside the state government building, destroying street signs until police fired in the air to disperse them, witnesses said.
Sanusi’s switch from the offices of the capital Abuja to the palace in Kano will make him a central player in confronting a mounting insurgency by Islamist Boko Haram militants in the northeast.
The fighters have set their sights on toppling the traditional Muslim hierarchy, accusing it of failing to enforce what they see as their true interpretation of the Koran.
“Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is the new Emir of Kano,” the state government said, using a fuller version of his name.
Sanusi took the throne, which has few constitutional powers, amid tight security.
Soldiers manned major road junctions in the north’s main city that has suffered a string of bomb attacks blamed on Boko Haram.
He had been shortlisted by four “kingmakers” – part of ancient succession rules set up by an emirate known for its sumptuous displays of royal regalia and ritual.