Emir Sanusi: Controversies that trail his fall

Muhammadu Sanusi II (born Sanusi Lamido Sanusi on 31 July, 1961) was the 14th Emir of Kano from the Fulani Sullubawa clan. He ascended the throne in 2014, following the death of his great uncle Ado Bayero  I. Prior to his accession, Sanusi was an economist and banker. He served as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 2009 to 2014, when he was suspended by President Goodluck Jonathan after raising the alarm on the US$20 billion NNPC scandal. His father, Aminu Sanusi, was a career diplomat who served as the Nigerian Ambassador to Belgium, China and Canada, and later served as the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was also the Chiroma of Kano. His grandfather, Muhammadu Sanusi I, was the 11th Emir of Kano from 1953 until 1963, when he was deposed by his cousin Sir Ahmadu Bello.

Sanusi was educated at King’s College, Lagos, where he graduated in 1977. He then proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, where he received a Bachelor’s degree in economics in 1981. He later received a Masters’ degree in economics two years later from the university and lectured at the faculty.

In 1985, Sanusi was hired by Icon Limited (a subsidiary of Morgan Guaranty Trust) and Barings Bank. In 1997, he joined the United Bank for Africa, working in the Credit and Risk Management Division. He rose through the ranks to the position of General Manager. In 2005, Sanusi became a board member and Executive Director in charge of risk and management control, at First Bank of Nigeria. First Bank is Nigeria’s oldest bank, and one of Africa’s largest financial institutions. In January 2009, he was appointed CEO. Sanusi was the first northern Nigerian to head the bank.

On 1 June 2009, Sanusi was nominated as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua; his appointment was confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on 3 June 2009, during a global financial crisis.

Emir Sanusi was very outspoken as his late Grandfather, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi I. He is a fierce critic of the northern conservative system which borders on child upbringing, marriage and education and that did not go down well with a section of northerners.

Speaking during a forum, Emir Sanusi spoke sarcastically about the northern system, especially the Almajiri system vis-à-vis what Islam recommends.

“Islam is so concerned about the kind of child you are giving birth to. We should all understand that feeding is not the only thing to take into consideration, when having a child. There is also the education, clothing, moral upbringing and many other things besides. It would surprise you to see a labourer, who is earning very little salary and finding it difficult to feed his wife and educate his child, marrying another wife.

“We shouldn’t be carried away by our sexual desires. After such a person has satisfied his sexual desire, he doesn’t care about what follows. And sometimes as time goes, he would divorce the new wife. Islam does not condone such behaviours.

“We all know we don’t run systems that look after our kids. I don’t understand the way we are thinking— to give birth to a child and then send him to the street as a beggar, and subsequently get him engaged in other criminal activities. Since you cannot take care of him, it simply means you cannot control him. You don’t care about his feeding, his health, education and clothing and you still think you can earn his respect. Every right thinking person knows it is wrong to abandon one’s child”, he queried.

Added to that, an analysis of the issue by Premium Times say: “changes to the architectural and other heritages of the palace he introduced brought internal opposition, and his revolutionary, even if foolhardy, decision to engage governments publicly on matters of policies pitched him against the political class…Mr. Sanusi’s strong rhetoric against societal dogmas and cultural practices in northern Nigeria generated enemies and admirers in equal measures”.

Meanwhile, Emir Sanusi is a fierce critic of the establishment and some pundits say his excessive political statements was the ‘banana peel’ that finally brought him to infamy.

For instance, the Emir, while speaking during the Kaduna Economic Summit in 2019, openly criticized the leadership of Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje over its plans to contract a light rail system in Kano to the Chinese, which he perceived to be against the interest of the State.

“We have governors; they go to China and spend one month on a tour and what do they come back with, MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) on debts.

“China will lend you $1.8bn to build light rail. This light rail will be done by the rail workers from China. The trains will come from China. The engines will come from China. The labour comes from China. The driver is Chinese.

“At the end of the day, what do you benefit from it? Your citizen will ride on a train and when you ride on a train, in northern Nigeria, in a state like Kano or Katsina, where are you going to? You are not going to an industrial estate to work. You are not going to school?  You are not going to the farm. You borrow money from China to invest in trains so that your citizens can ride on them and go for weddings and naming ceremonies”, he stated.

It is widely believed that those statements he made were the trigger that pitched the Kano Emirate Council under Emir Muhammadu Sanusi and the Government of Abdullahi Ganduje.

Consequently, as a way of hitting back, the Ganduje government initiated a policy to create more Emirates out of the only Kano Emirate.

The House of Assembly approved the amendment of the Kano State Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs Law to give way for the creation of the emirates to be headed by first class traditional rulers. The Kano Emirate was split and new Emirates were created namely: Bichi, Gaya, Karaye and Rano.

Although the lawmakers said that the exercise was carried out to bring development to the grassroots, some stakeholders believe that it was designed to whittle the powers of the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II.

Under the unfolding arrangement, Sanusi will henceforth have jurisdiction over 10 of the 44 local government areas of the state, which falls into the Kano Emirate Council. The remaining 34 will be under supervision of the four emirs to be appointed soon by the governor.

It is against this background that some stakeholders in the state see Sanusi as the target and victim of the new order.


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