Emir Muhammadu Sanusi: The once and future emir


By Huzaifa Dokaji

Many things are now clear. People are beginning to understand why Khalifa Muhammad Sanusi II (Henceforth MS II) was critical of the APC regime, to the point of risking his throne. It is as clear as day that the government has no respect for the masses and accords zero honor to anyone who does not support it in its institutional sabotage and often treasonous policies. It has failed woefully in every aspect except in failure, where it has passed with distinction. Many Kano elites who supported the APC in Kano for example are now regretting it. The peak of governmental decay was when Governor Ganduje described Kano elites, the state that has supported Buhari all his life more than any, as datttijan wukari. One cannot think of a more derogatory term for an elder in Hausaland. But what does MS II say that they despise him so much? Why were his remarks the most worrisome to them? It couldn’t be only because of his position as Emir of Kano. It has to do with the unusual insight he studies things, the confidence he says them and the length and breadth of truth in his submissions. Today, we are already in the mess he foresaw, and warned us. More so, he is telling us this is just the beginning of that terrible end, tragically, no one is listening till today.

When he commented on the economic recklessness of the regime, he spoke as an expert who knew the system and understood it was on the verge of collapse more than at any time in history. When he comments on political decay, he speaks as an emir with privileged information on the machinations of politicians hell-bent on keeping power by hook and crook. His sin was speaking out when his people were decimated like Christmas chickens to salvage the career of a failed politician. When he challenged our intellectual docility, it was not because he saw himself as more learned than every other but because he felt his society ought to explore beyond its comfort zone. When He spoke on social issues, he spoke as a king whose home is filled daily with sight of languishing mothers whose children were/are dying because they could/can not afford $2 medication, or whose female subject daily troop to his palace to shed tears on how their husbands are getting them pregnant every other year, and then abandoning them and their children like savage beasts. It is easy for people who have not witnessed parental abandonment to think he is wrong to call for more reform within the explorable boundaries of Islam. It is even easier for men, whom impregnant those women, or are planning to, to force them to have kids they know they cannot carter for and abandoning the women and the kids at will like the heartless humans Islam asked them not to be. Some scholars who opposed him refused to participate in the production of the new family law because, perhaps, it was not really about Islam or Muslims but a war of ego and interest- a battle to make sure no one becomes the champion of what they could not foresee or reform.

Some of his adversaries, however, were insecure and feared he would perpetually eclipse them as a mobilizer, pushing his people to heights they barely imagined. The weak and vulnerable saw him as a reformer, and this unsettles his adversaries that competed with anyone they feel is taking away their birthright to dominate the political, intellectual, and royal arena. It is indeed meaningful that the Kano State Government, with the tacit blessing of the Federal Government, desperately deposed him. It is the only thing that makes sense, for one would be skeptical of MS II’s personae, if he had lived in peace with someone like Ganduje, or supported Buhari’s Psychiatry LTD… sorry… I mean government. One could argue that he could have tolerated them, which he did, until they embarked on a reckless, heartless, myopic, and thoughtless plunder of state resources and the lives of their/his subjects. It is a tragedy that we have become so docile that it is a crime to resist docility, even if one has the ideal platform to speak truth to power. Nigeria is one of few countries where speaking truth to power is equated to partisanship and encouraging one’s subjects to vote for good leaders is a crime. It is no surprise then that the loudest opposition came from the elites, rather than the poor, who were the sole beneficiaries of the brazen madness going on in the country. They felt he was opening a dangerous door that would compel traditional rulers to assume their logical role as outlined in Dan Fodio’s Bayan wujub and stressed in Abdullahi dan Fodio’s Diya’ul Hukkam, rather than the Quranic صُمٌّۢ بُكْمٌ they have become, all in the name of royal orgueil and unrewarding silence.

I do not intend to make this comment long. But about the point you make on envy, MS II has everything to be envied. As a career banker/regulator, he led the nation’s apex Bank. As a prince, he became the Emir of Kano, an emirate described by a 19th-century British explorer as the London of Africa. More so, he became Emir at a time when the vibrant city needed a powerful figure to replace its late revered Emir Ado Bayero. As a Sufi, he became the Khalifa of the Tijjaniya Sufi order in Africa, a position his grandfather held. It would interest one to know that MS II’s role model as he has always said was his grandfather Emir Muhammad Sanusi I. His life was molded in similar fashion, from scholarship to might and erudition. Like Emir Sanusi I, he is, arguably, one of the most learned and influential princes of his time. He became an emir, even though his father wasn’t, becoming the first grandchild of a king or Emir to become one. He also became Emir while holding the “Dan” title that was prophesized to never produce a king/Emir in Kano. At a point in time, his grandfather was the highest-paid civil servant in colonial Africa and the Acting Minister of the then Northern Nigerian region. Not only did MS II led the Central Bank in postcolonial Nigeria, but he also represents Nigeria on the international stage as a United Nations SDG advocate. They thought they could deny him a platform in Kano, only for him to be offered another in Africa as Khalifa of the most influential Sufi order in the continent, and a global one, as UN SDG advocate.

Lastly, MS II might have many faults. But one cannot deny the exclusivity of his achievements, the profundity of his intellect and sincerity of his appeal. Without an effort to overlook the numerous brilliant and hardworking nobles that are making strides on their own paths, I dare say no one comes close. The polyglot and polymath exemplify the traits expected of them: learning, intelligence, brilliance, sincerity, acumen, honesty, class, elegance, might, honor, dedication, cosmopolitan outlook, and disturbing commitment to excellence. It is no big claim to say MS II is one of few nobles who could become whatever they wanted without their family name playing a role. His success is well planned and well deserved. What remains to be seen is if his next calling is returning to Karagar Dabo or clinching the position of Secretary General of the United Nations. Think of it, if that position is coming back to Africa, how many Africans are more qualified than the Philosopher King? He has the intellectual qualification, the professional experience, the global presence, transregional networks, and the vision to occupy the position. His appointment as the UN’ SDG advocate is no coincidence. His brilliant performance at the last UN session will herald something new. The future of some is easy to read. MS II is just started. The best is yet to come.

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