Exclusive: Deconstructing and caging of Emir Sanusi

By Muyiwa Olayinka

Emir Muhammadu Sanusi

The Kano State House of Assembly constituted an eight-man Committee to investigate the allegations of funds mismanagement levelled against the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II.

Sanusi, the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has been accused of mismanaging N4 billion which he inherited from Emir Ado Bayero, his predecessor, he has since denied the allegation.

This is the beginning of Emir Muhammadu Sanusi’s travails.

Who is Muhammad Sanusi

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was born (31 July 1961), also known as Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II, is the Emir of the Kano Emirate serving since 8 June 2014.

He was crowned as Emir of Kano, after the death of his grand uncle Ado Bayero (who died on 6 June 2014).

Mallam Sanusi was a successful banker and was a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. He was appointed on 3 June 2009 by late President Umar Yar’adua for a five-year term, but was suspended from office by President Goodluck Jonathan on 20 February 2014 after claiming that a $20 billion fraud was committed in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Mallam Sanusi is the grandson of Muhammadu Sunusi (The 11th Fulani Emir of Kano ). He was a career banker and ranking Fulani nobleman, and also a respected Islamic scholar.

He is the direct son of Ambassador Aminu Sanusi, a career diplomat and technocrat that served as the Nigerian Ambassador to Belgium, China and Canada, who later served as the Permanent Secretary of Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He became the Central Bank Governor of Nigeria when there were systemic problems in the banking sector. The banking sector was battling with liquidity problem and many were struggling to meet their financial obligations.

He launched a crusade aimed at sanitising the banking sector which was at the edge of collapse going by the result of the joint audit conducted by the banks depositors’ insurance scheme (NDIC). He achieved his aim of transforming the banking industry along the lines of good corporate governance and international best practice.

He returned the banking sector to profitability by removing the toxic funds with the establishment of AMCON (Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria).

The radical Muhammadu Sanusi

Kano state, a state in Nigeria, is noted for producing radicals in the Northern Nigeria. The politics of Kano seems to be different from the mainstream Northern establishment that is conservative and promoting the bourgeoisie.

The foremost late politician, Aminu Kano promoted the politics of the “talakawas” in the first and second republic. He led the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) during the First Republic against the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) in the 60s, and Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) against the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the late 70s.

Malam Aminu Kano, believed that the poors “Talakawa ” must be truly and genuinely represented at all levels of governance to reflect their yearnings and aspirations. Sanusi Lamido aligned with this philosophy.

Late Dr Bala Usman was another radical that had a great influence on him. Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II makes no bones about his radicalism. His Royal Majesty admits openly and unabashedly that he is a radical and he is quick to credit late Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman, as the patron saint of his radicalism.

Late Dr Bala Usman, was a one time head of History Department of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the one of royal blood from Katsina who decided to pitch his tent with the commoners and who freely espoused the radical philosophy of socialism and the rights of the downtrodden. He became famous for speaking truth to power and for his radical views as well as his exemplary conduct in the pursuit of what he believed in. The late Bala Usman was truly a man of the masses who lived by what he preached.

The Emir graduated from the same University, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Economics in 1981.

Sanusi took his radicalism to the banking world. As the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, he was expected to be the banker of the government and be loyal to the President. His radicalism made him to criticise the government he was serving, publicly accusing that monies were missing from the account of the state owned oil company, Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC). He made this revelation when he was being queried about his financial expenditures as the CBN Governor.

The National Assembly invited him to shed more lights on the allegation because it became a national embarrassment. The government viewed this as an act of disloyalty and he was subsequently suspended from office.

While in suspension, he was appointed the Emir of Kano when his predecessor died in office.

The role of traditional rulers in a democratic setting is expected to be a linkage between the government and the grassroot. They are custodian of culture, mores and values, promoting community development, and maintaining peace and stability in their domains.

Radicalism is at variance to the function of a traditional ruler because it is view as antagonistic to constituted authorities. In the case of Emir Sanusi, he was unable to manage this role effectively.

The Western-educated ruler broke with royal tradition, speaking out about the need for social reform in a deeply conservative region, pitching him against political and religious interests.

He was condemning policies and programmes of the state government at public fora.

He made some critical and inflammatory comments on religious and family issues.

In one instance, he called for the regulation of marriage to second wives. He warned men who could not cater for their family not to marry more than one wife.

He blamed the conservative Northern leaders and elders for the under development of the Northern region.

In another breath, he criticised the Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, a Northern state, for saying the outbreak of meningitis in his state was God’s punishment for peoples’ sins, insisting “That it is not an Islamically correct statement to make.”

He accused the Kano state Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and the lawmakers of mismanaging the state resources on a trip to China to secure $1.8 billion in funding for a light rail project, at an investment forum attended by Ganduje and other Northern governors.

The continuous public criticisms of the Emir was pitching the people against the government of Kano state. The constituted authorities were alarmed!

However, Muhammadu Sanusi being the Emir of Kano, is also the head of the Kano Emirate Council.

Sanusi’s predecessor, Ado Bayero oversaw the transformation of the Emirate under Nigeria’s federal constitution that subjects Northern Nigeria’s Emirates to political leaders. He also supervised the management of funds of the Emirate council.

In the administration and supervision of the traditional institutions in Nigeria, the local government was given the supervisory authority with the backing of the state government through the state assemblies.

In exercising its authority, the Kano state Assembly inaugurated an 8 man committee to investigate eight offences allegedly committed by the Emir of Kano.

Some of the allegations were:

Accusing the state governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and the state legislators of mismanaging state resources while on an official visit to China.

*Making remarks in Kaduna on the proposed Kano light rail project which had tarnished the image of the government and the assembly as well.

*Allegation by the Emir that the state governor and his entourage wasted one month in China seeking for loan to construct the light rail in the state.

* Intentionally attacking President Muhammadu Buhari whenever he got an opportunity to speak at a public gathering. This contravened the culture of traditional institution.

*Embezzlement of funds belonging to the emirate council.

*Tarnishing the image of the emirate by assigning his daughter to represent him at a public function, introducing strange religious issues and involvement in politics.

Also, the Kano state Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission initiated an investigation on Kano emirate council over alleged embezzlement of over N6bn in three years.

The probe centres on the use of six billion naira ($19 million, 17 million euros) of palace funds to pay for luxury cars, chartered flights, phone and internet bills as well as other personal expenses. He was accused of living ostentatious lifestyles by acquiring state of the art automobiles and flying in chartered private jets to functions both within and outside the country

There is no doubt that the Emir had been extravagant in his spending and it remains yet to be seen, any visible projects he has inagurated or supported since he became the Emir, to bring succour to the poor he claimed to be defending.

The grandfather to Emir Sanusi, Muhammad Sanusi I was dethroned under a similar circumstance in 1963 by the then Northern government headed by Sir Kashim Ibrahim during the British colonial rule.

The grandfather subsequently resigned from office, to avoid disgrace and chose to go on exile in Azaure, Bauchi state where he spent 20 years and died.

Is history about to repeat itself?

To save the Emir from the looming disgrace of being removed from office, the probe panel was suspended following the intervention of several prominent Nigerians including acting President Yemi Osinbajo, former military rulers, General Ibrahim Babangida, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III.

The prominent Nigerians prevailed on the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, to ask the state assembly to let go of the probe in the interest of peace in the state.

Ganduje accepted and appealed to the lawmakers to “temper justice with mercy” and allow peace to prevail.

It was reported that the Emir had admitted his mistakes and apologised to the Governor.

I beleive this act is contradictory of a government that made fight against corruption a strong pillar of its administration.

How could they succumb to the pressure of not investigating the Emir?

This is the second time the Emir will be accused of allegation that borders on financial improprieties, but none have been successfully concluded.

With the current state of affairs, it seems the oligarchs have triumphed over Emir Muhammadu Sanusi. He has been caged and humbled. His holier than thou attitude has been put in check.

Like a wounded lion trying to take his pound of flesh, The Emir sacked his Senior Private Secretary, Alhaji Isah Bayero, over what was described as alleged sabotage.

Isah Bayero was sacked after he was accused of leaking information on the expenditure of the council’s funds to the media.

This is the reality of our times in Nigeria. There is no sincerity on the part of our leaders. Every action taken is always sacrificed on the altar of politics, self interests and are self serving.

We are watching if the Emir has been finally caged or would he damn the consequences and continue with his radicalism?

Time will tell


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