* Government critic becomes influential Muslim leader
* Backers of late emir's son protest, are dispersed
* Sanusi suspended from bank job in February
* Will be key player in confronting Islamists
(Adds protests, paragraph 4)
By Haruna Mohamed
KANO, Nigeria, June 8 Nigeria's ousted central
bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, was named Emir of Kano on Sunday,
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
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.
There is no automatic father-to-son succession, but
candidates have to come from leading families.
Sanusi, whose policies are credited with stabilising the
naira currency and bringing inflation in Africa's second biggest
economy to single digits, told Reuters in February his position
in one of Kano's leading families had given him a psychological
"If you're a prince you don't have fear of power. You are
not intimidated by authority because you've grown up around it,"
Government figures and analysts will be looking for any
change in tone from his great-uncle Ado Abdullahi Bayero, who
ruled as emir for half a century before dying in his palace at
the age of 83.
Ado Abdullahi Bayero steered clear of overtly political
statements and won praise for his efforts to ease tensions
between Kano's majority Muslim population and minority
The new emir was suspended from the bank after presenting
parliament with evidence that the state oil firm Nigeria
National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had failed to pay $20
billion into federal coffers.
NNPC has repeatedly denied Sanusi's allegations, which
brought him into conflict with Jonathan's administration a year
before the elections.
The administration of Jonathan, a southern Christian, denied
any link between Sanusi's removal and his allegations and went
on to accuse the central bank of procurement irregularities
during Sanusi's tenure. He has dismissed those charges.
The Emirate of Kano was one of the great Islamic empires
that dotted the Sahara from medieval times, profiting from
caravan routes connecting Africa's interior with its
Former colonial ruler Britain kept most of the northern
hierarchy in place and the emirate continued to hold sway over
the largely underdeveloped region after independence in 1960.
(Additional reporting by Isaac Abrak in Abuja; Writing by
Andrew Heavens; Editing by Stephen Powell and Eric Walsh)