A word for Emir Sanusi, by Jaafar Jaafar

Jaafar Jaafar

Sometime in 1960, two ministers and top leaders of the defunct Northern People’s Congress, NPC, the Magajin Garin Kano, Alhaji Inuwa Wada and Ibrahim Musa Gashash, visited the Emir’s Palace, Kano to pay homage to the emir, Sir Muhammadu Sanusi.  They were told the emir had travelled to his riverside castle in Wudil, some 40 kilometres away from the ancient city.

Out of respect, the duo decided to travel to Wudil to greet the emir. At Wudil, the emir kept them waiting for over an hour. When they asked the palace aides who the emir was meeting with, they said it was P.A. David (popularly known as David David in Kano).

P.A. David, a Yoruba man, was a prominent colonial-era contractor and business man.

“So just because of David,” angry Musa Gashash flared up, “the emir is keeping us waiting, despite the fact that we are ministers? I can’t take this! Inuwa, you may wish to stay since you are a title holder. As for me, I will never pay homage to the emir again.”

L-R: Sir Ahmadu Bello, Isa Kaita, Ibrahim Musa Gashash and a police chief, MD Yusufu

Musa Gashash, then minister of Land and Survey and vice chairman of the NPC North, a political schemer per excellence and well-connected politician, walked out on his friend. The minister thereafter started campaigning against the emir.

Years before the Wudil incident, the premier of Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello Sardauna of Sokoto himself once remarked that Ibrahim Musa Gashash, Madaki Shehu and Nuhu Bamali were the three most sophisticated people in the North. Although Musa Gashash never had western education, Sardauna said, his plots and political scheming never failed.

Articles soon began appearing in Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo that Emir Sanusi was autocrat, dictatorial, revoked ownership of lands, squandered treasury, misused cattle tax, siphoned money meant for the establishment of Bompai Industrial Area, among other allegations.

Out there in Kaduna, the ministers and traditional council members too were angry that the premier was showing preference to Sir Sanusi. Although among the emirs, there were ministers without portfolio, Sir Sanusi had portfolio and, to their chagrin, was once made acting governor of Northern Region.

Sir Sanusi, unlike other emirs, used siren in Kaduna and his convoy parked at a space meant for the premier’s motorcade.

Sir Muhammadu Sanusi (left) and Sir Ahmadu Bello (right)

Sardauna and Sir Sanusi’s good relationship began in the 40’s when Sardauna was sentenced to one-year imprisonment for misappropriation of cattle tax in 1943. Sanusi (then Chiroman Kano) and Muhammadu Aminu (then Iyan Zazzau and later emir of Zazzau), joined hands with Shehu Shagari and Malam Aminu Kano to support the legal tussle that led to Sardauna’s acquittal after serving three months of his one-year term in jail.

Worried by Sir Sanusi’s influence and excesses, one day Musa Gashash reportedly led a team of ministers to Sardauna to complain that Emir Sanusi was arrogating himself the powers of the premier. Sardauna therefore succumbed to their pressure and ordered that henceforth no minister or traditional ruler should use siren and fly his car flag in Kaduna.

Although Sardauna was initially ignoring the reports in view of his closeness to the emir, he soon started taking offense when Sir Sanusi ignored the order.

By 1962, the estrangement between the two close friends reached an alarming level, such that Sir Sanusi’s diplomat brother, Ado Bayero (who later succeeded him), had to fly to Kano from Senegal, where he was Nigeria’s ambassador, to plead with Sardauna and reprimand the escort commander of the emir’s convoy against further using siren in Kaduna. But a few months later, the situation worsened.

In November last year, I met one of the political actors of the First Republic and prominent minister in Tafawa Balewa’s cabinet, and sought to know the behind-the-scene issues, the remote and immediate causes of Emir Sanusi’s removal – euphemistically termed as murabus (resignation).

Most published accounts regarding the deposition of Emir Sanusi, in my view, do not capture the emir’s real crimes (as narrated to me by this minister) beyond “misappropriation of Kano Native Authority funds”, as captured in the oft-cited Muffet Commission Report. John Paden however traced the genesis, capturing the Tijjaniyya-Usmaniyya rivalry and establishment of provincial commissioner system in Northern Region in his book, Religion and Political Culture of Kano, as some of the reasons that put the two friends on collision course.

On September 18, 1962, the Northern Regional Government appointed a senior administrative officer, D. J. M. Muffet, to immediately start inquiries into the “deteriorating financial position of the Kano Native Authority”. Muffet was then asked to report to the minister for local government, Sule Gaya, who was also opposed to Emir Sanusi’s attempts to control the NPC in Kano.

On March 28, 1963, after the commission sat for 144 days and invited the emir, Northern emirs, including embattled Sir Sanusi, were summoned to Kaduna for a meeting. On arrival, Sanusi was ushered into the office of then governor of Northern Region, Kashim Ibrahim. According some accounts, Governor Kashim Ibrahim then handed him the resignation letter and asked him to sign, which he did posthaste after uttering “Inna lilLahi wa inna iLaihir raji’un”.

From then, he was banished to Azare. But 20 years later, he returned to his riverside residence in Wudil – the place Musa Gashash began hatching his deposition plot – and died there in 1990.

Now, fast-forward to June 8, 2014, when his grandson, the present emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, was appointed emir. A few months after his appointment, Emir Sanusi went ahead to appoint a top councillor in the emirate, the Waziri and other title holders without seeking the approval of the state governor. The infuriated governor couldn’t stomach it. He issued him a strong-worded query.

Again, a few months after the first query, the emir – who was publicly opposed to begging (almajirci) – began alms-sharing show, drawing tens of thousands of beggars to his palace. This happened shortly after the governor announced banning of begging in Kano. Again, the then governor took offense and queried him.

In a public reply to the governor, Emir Sanusi said “nobody should stop us from giving out our money”.

Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II (left) and Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje

To Emir Sanusi, knowledge of Islam, Shariah, Arabic, philosophy, economy, cosmology, rocket science and what not, starts and ends with him. And all Emirs, Obis, Obas, Shehus, Lamidos are, at best, semi-illiterates.

Last year, local authorities in Danbatta town came up with a kind of family law to reduce some pecuniary requirements and cultural constraints related to marriage. But the emir condemned the move and cancelled the law. A few months later, after encouraging wives to retaliate battery instead of reporting to appropriate authority, the emir proposed his version of family law to be applied in Kano! Danbatta version of the law could have been more practicable in view of the size of the town and its surrounding hamlets.

I was once a fan of the emir, but his painting of impressionistic portrait of himself, cockatooing superfluously and lowering the estimation of the throne are some of my problems with him. From blabbering “I’m a Bellover” with Korede Bello in a viral clip, to endless selfies with every bystander, down to breaching palace protocols, Emir Sanusi is eroding the mystique and the aura of eminence associated with the throne.

After inheriting over N1billion in the treasury of Kano Emirate Council, the emir – an economist – went on spending spree until the council’s accounts ran into deficit. Now if another Muffet-type commission is to be re-inaugurated to investigate how Kano Emirate squandered the treasury on exotic cars, unnecessary ‘restructuring’ of the palace, frequent foreign travels, chartered flights, customised sets of Christian Louboutin spiked shoes and Moroccan costumes, Internet bills, among others, the revelations could be startling.

The deposition of Emir of Gwandu, Mustapha Jokolo, and the unlawful removal of certain Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as governor of CBN because of their public criticisms of government should have served a lesson to the emir.

I just hope somebody is listening.

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  • Khalid Salihu Sule

    The article is rich with substance in history, (interestingly mostly from eye witness account) courage, frankness and mastery in the business of writing.

  • Ak

    “Tao Emir Sanusi, knowledge of Islam, Shariah, Arabic, philosophy, economy, cosmology, rocket science and what not, starts and ends with him. And all Emirs, Obis, Obas, Shehus, Lamidos are, at best, semi-illiterates” This was all the article was gearing up to. Change is the only constant. He is bringing the throne to the people

  • Adnan

    Follow the message, not the messenger….Love him or hate him you can’t deny that his recent utterances which led to this write up are nothing but the truth.

  • D.sani

    I am sure the emir Sanusi is not unaware of the consequences of his actions.

  • Muhammad Auta

    I agree with your submissions. However, I see nothing wrong with an Emir commenting on issues of national interest particularly on those that the vast majority of Nigerians do not doubt his competence to comment on.

    He may have his short comings, but that should not be a basis to denied him is birth right of freedom of expression.

  • Idris Saddam

    Kudos Jaafar Jaafar, everybody is stand to be corrected!

  • Farouk M Bello

    Call his eminence what you want even quote a bit of his ancestral history in order to justify your opinion of him still does not and cannot overshadow 1 fact! The man always uses every platform he has to Tell the truth and speaks truth to power. No matter whose is gored. While i commend your eloquent use of English as writer I utterly disagree and would go as far as saying those types of Royal fathers to whom you want HRH Sanusi to emulate never achieved anything tangible for their people other than dance to the tune of the powers that be. To what benefit is a King if not to his people? Many muslim societies in the world have moved on to achieve great things except ours. Why i hear ask? Because of docile leaders who will rather watch their people waste away in order to preserve them or rather avoid lowering the “estimation of the Throne”

    • Yusuf Musa

      Well said

    • Truth Seeker

      The simple truth.

  • Ameenu A.Aym

    Rubbish.. dethrone him and then what ? Take your peacock throne and give us the man please. He is better placed in public service than kowtowing to scallywogs all in the name of one stupid tradition a d trying to be politically correct !

  • Musa Jibril

    Really the Emir Sanusi is following the footsteps of his father, but he better reserves his utterances because he did not contributed anything to the educational progress in the northern region upon all the golden opportunity and blessed he gained.

  • A research publication. I like the historical background

  • Bulama

    What was wrong with the king comments? Isnt he saying the truth? It could have been interesting if you are able to bring evidence that what he said was all lie. In as much as i like your writeup… The King is absolutely right… Truth is bitter……it must told simple!

    • J. Aminu


  • It’s a symbol of Kano Emirate that Emirs cover their mouths with d tip of their turban. This symbolises that the Emir talks quite less, but his actions are seen openly. The case is different with Emir Sunusi of today who opens up his mouth at any little issue that could simply be addressed by his numerous aids.

  • Ahmad

    I pray history will not repeat itself. Ameen


    At least if he has forgetting, let him be reminded. No matter utterance or the truth, the Governor has final saying on him. He should choose the throne and uplift his emirate whatever they need or resign to criticize or becoming freelancer on government policies. But let him soft-pedding on criticism openly. It will lead to casualties on Emir side negatively!

  • Mohammed

    Stop the political noises and cheap popularity, if you want to be an emir stick to the traditional nums and don’t meddle into politics, commute everything into action e.g.open a foundation to assist the under privileges in kano, not even in northern Nigeria then we shall know that you are out for changes otherwise get down on the throne and be a partisan politician.

  • Abdur Razaq Dikko

    I agree with the writer especially on issues regarding his utterances in public domain. He is too much into public discussion. While we cannot deny him the right of expression bit his position as Emir can be used to infuence those things always see as not working in the systems (the goverment, Northern muslims and even the traditonal aithority) I think some silent discussion with those concern would have appropriate. Especially those issue on Economy. Some may think he want attention but for what????

  • Chukwuebuka Ogbonna

    I must say this platform is a mature one. I must also posit that all the Emir said was true, the vast population in the North is largely uneducated and ignorant, this is a big liability on everyone. Most ‘islamic’ countries have moved on from some practices that I see here in Nigeria. If the message doesn’t come from a revered leader like the Emir, I wonder who else it would come from. Let’s all take the message, it would be very beneficial to everyone.

  • dikkoabubakarDikko Abubakar

    He is garrulous, self centered, demagogic with the attitude of “apart from ME, who else”. If Emir Sanusi is sincere about his public pronouncements, how many times has he ever organized a summit of Emirs, Imams and other leadership of the North to discourse those issues he criticizes almost daily? Who has appointed him a vizier over others that he is passing FATWA on REIGIOUS issues? How better did the Country fair economically when he was Governor of the Central Bank, that he is now telling everyone who cares to listen how the economic recovery blueprint of this Government WILL FAIL? Who does he think he is to rebuff the HADITH of the Prophet, claiming that it is outdated, just because Governor Yari quoted the Hadith? How many Schools, Hospitals or socio economic infrastructure did he build out of the billion naira he found in the treasury of Kano Emirate Council? Sarkin Kano, Neman girma yake, ba Neman gyara ba; ya raina girman da Allah Ya ba shi.

  • ZUBAIRU Yahaya

    When God bestow you with wisdom and knowledge, and he elevated you to a position where you can have contact with the authorities, it will be quite wrong to always publicize their shortcomings especially when you are not a politician. A royal father should be a father to all.

  • Kanon Sanusi Birni

    The article contains numerous inaccuracies…in fact, almost every claim made against MSII is factually incorrect (supporters of the deposed Ciroman Kano, and to some extent, the current KNSG often resort to cooking up such stories). Here are the facts:

    1. The Emirate Council does not pay for the trip of His Highness MSII. He pays by himself. In fact, he also foots the bills (air tickets, hotels etc.) of his district heads (Wambai and DanBuran) who accompany him on trips (even though the expenses of the district heads were supposed to be covered by the Emirate Council).

    2. The two Rolls Royce were NOT bought by the Emirate Council or the State Government…. they were bought and donated to His Highness by some well-wishers. Although His Highness uses the vehicles for official functions, he never once asked the Emirate Council to donate a penny towards the purchase or use of these vehicles.

    3. As regards the renovation of the Emir’s Palace, His Highness took a personal loan to help him (personally) effect the renovations. I challenge anyone to prove that funds from the Emirate Council were (or are being) used for used.

    There are some who, obviously, have axes to grind with His Highness (including some of the boys of the former Ciroman Kano, whom His Highness rightly deposed). Nonetheless, one would expect men and women of conscience to speak only that which is true….and not allow themselves to be used to advance falsehood. His Highness MSII takes his responsibility as the leader (father) of anyone and everyone that lives in his domain….over 10 million Kanorians and counting. He feels obligated (and rightly so) to speak up (and speak truth to power) on issues that directly affect the well-being of his subjects. That’s why he recently spoke up against the KNSG’s plan to borrow N100 billion from the Chinese to effect a light rail project (at a time of such major economic crunch, governments ought to focus on generating investments, rather than adding to the debt).

    His Highness MSII is a rare breed. He speaks truth to power and remains unperturbed by his spirited defence and promotion of the best interest of the people he leads. He is a man of immense faith. He does his very best…and leave the rest to He who puts him there in the first place.


    I so much hope MSII/SLS or whatever name he would come up in the future would listen to J.J advice. His hardheadedness antecedents with his grandfather is so similar. He might end up with same fate as the grandfather if he is not careful. No body deny the precision of his arguments – but precise arguments do not equate to comprehensive ones. I have read almost all his write ups in his hey days and listen to his talks before I got fed up. Well argued articles and talks but so much stitched with arrogance, ego, tribal elitism, religious sentiment, expediency, spurious correlations, unrealistic solutions etc.

  • usman ayo hamza

    Be careful HRH Sanusi Lamido Sanusi,the Buharist will come after you. They have two rule, first Buhari is always right n second if Buhari is wrong, return to the first rule.

  • Ibrahim Mustapha

    Dethron the emir today he will diversify. We should be looking at the positive achievement so far.

  • Aminu Baba

    @Kanon Sanusi Birni: I have cause to interract with MSII personally, through e-mail, even before he became emir in the issue of the demolition of Mosques and Churches in Abuja by Nasir el-Rufai. It is then I knew that his grip on the religion of Islam is callous, to say the least. Mosques with legitimate papers like the one in my area in Zone 7, were being unjustifiably pulled down just to meet up with scores of illegal Church buildings and MSII was justifying the act on the grounds that;”the prophet (SAW) also demolished a Mosque”! Wal eiyazu billah! He repeated a similar blunder in 2015 when he was amirul Hajj, calling on Muslims to skip the Jamratul Aqabah rites in order to avoid being crushed! Every Islamic scholar worth his salt, if truth is what you people are calling for, knows that governor Yari of Zamfara was absolutely correct in his position, as it is supported by Allah in the Qur’an and lucidly explained by His noble prophet. Yet Sanusi, just like in the case of the ARAFAT crush, is ignorantly claiming that the Hadith is OUTDATED!
    This lack of firm grip on Islam, to my mind, largely contributes to the Emir’s erratic and inconsiderate public outbursts. All those talking about the truth here, don’t they know that even in Islam, there are laid down procedures and manners in which one is enjoined to speak the truth. Surely you don’t expect an emir of Sanusi’s stature to keep opening his mouth at every gathering, like a pedestrian, denigrating our culture and religion in the name of talking the truth. People at his level, just like someone observed in this forum, are expected to act in concert with peers to solve these problems and not to keep parroting them at every occasion, in front every audience, simply to entertain people and draw applause.

  • Kanon Sanusi Birni

    @AminuBaba Two quick responses. First, it certainly isn’t true that His Highness “opens his mouth at every gathering”…..he was invited to give a lecture on the economy (a subject matter in which he is reputed to command world-class excellence). He gave a balance, thoughtful, comprehensive and scholarly presentation. Those who disagree with his pronouncements can advance the cause of the discourse by providing a superior viewpoint (or show, with evidence, areas where his claims or thesis or prescription was wrong). Second, it is certainly within your right to claim that Gov. Yari was “right”….just like it is perfectly within His Highness to state that Gov, Yari was wrong. Whatever vices are committed in Kebbi, it stands to reason to say that a lot more of such are committed in Lagos every second….and I doubt if Lagos has as many cases of the meningococcal disease….this clearly contradicts what the Governor was advancing. Azza Wajal knows best.

  • Mohammed

    The, emir said some truths, you have said urs also but why bring in the Christian shoes thing,a shoe is a shoe,designer or not.dont bring in any religious whatever if ur emir is the fashionable one please

  • Kanon Sanusi Birni

    Further to my earlier rejoinders, the claim by the writer that His Highness was queried by the Kano State government is absolutely false. His Highness NEVER received a query from the Kano State government. Never….and I challenge the writer (or anyone else) to prove me wrong.

  • Umar bangari

    What does this writer mean by saying that the man is eroding the aura associated with the throne? So he would rather have kept quiet in the face of bad and inept governance right? I don’t the era of docile and siddon-look traditional rulership is gone and we must resist the reactionary tendency and attempt to cow our modern rulers into submission. No way!!! Their voices should and must be loud in favor of their subjects!!!!!

  • Kanon Sanusi Birni

    Gimba Kakanda wrote the following on his Facebook page earlier today:

    “ It’s tough to be different in a closed society, and that is the reality of Muhammadu Sanusi II of Kano in his unfolding defiance as a public intellectual, which began in his glorious days as a sharp-shooting social commentator.

    The idea that a turban should serve as a rein for vastly informed and intelligent thinkers is a medieval era mentality. To say an emir must act like a deity, by avoiding or limiting interactions and associations with the public, only shows we are yet to erase our memory of the slave – master relationships our forefathers fought to abolish.

    It’s even more troubling when such position is being promoted by those who have previously ridiculed the redundancy of our traditional institutions, that the actors are a waste of human capitals and public funds.

    Sarkin Kano isn’t an ordinary person, he is one of us, a modern man and thinker who’s unafraid of challenging social and political aberrations. His emergence as Emir is, to me, an opportunity for us to have a grip on that important channel of influencing a certain pattern of productive behaviours.

    As Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Sarkin Kano exhibited peculiar intellect in diagnosing our social problems. The difference was, he had no effective platform to match those words, and thus he became a subject of scathing attacks and damaging labels, his faith and personality questioned by a generation mis-educated by a flawed system.

    Elsewhere, traditional rulers who are much more powerful, and heading sovereign states, fraternize with their people, shaking hands and posing for selfies, destroying the medieval era perceptions and portrayals of the monarch as deity.

    A few months ago the visionary ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Muhammed Al-Rashid Ibn Maktoum and his sons were seen on a public train in London, interacting with, and posing for selfies, with the people. They were all in T-shirts. It didn’t make them small, it only made them humans.

    We must choose what we want, a redundant emir or  one who rouses our consciousness. ”

    Gimba Kakanda, Facebook Posting, April 9, 2017

  • Rabiu Shamma

    A nice piece but I do not think the emir is afraid to get deposed, he is a man who is not afraid of saying his mind, he cannot change eventhough he is the emir now. One thing we must understand Jaafar is that, the emir is a departure from the past, he is post modern, and our version of a philosopher king, the emir should not be gagged, and may he succeed in his effort to bring changes to our socio-economic situation.

  • Iliyasu Abubakar Sadiq

    To. me I feel completely embarrassed by the consistent blunders the emir is making. He has been deeply into support of restricting marriage toununsupportive of easening it. He is deeply into lavish spending.I was was his loyalist, but going by his attitude, I feel he will not make a good leader who will bring a better change to his subjects. I am in a support of a strong committee of enquiry on the treasury of Kano Emirate with immediate effect.

  • Kanon Sanusi Birni

    @Iliyasu, bring it on. Throughout his life as a public servant, His Highness has always been fiscally prudent. That’s one reason the corrupt PDP gang of Jonathan couldn’t stick anything (i.e., corruption) on him. His Highness runs the Palace in an extremely prudent manner….and we welcome any investigation or probe at any point in time. Since that momentous 8th day of June 2014 (when SLS…as he then was…was named as the 14th Emir of Kano under the Sullubawa clan), the Kano Emirate has seen dramatic progress in pretty much all quarters. It is now led by a leader who is progressive, intelligent, smart, pragmatic, visionary, fearless, selfless and immensely dutiful. His Highness minces no words when it comes to the discharge of his duty…as a staunch advocate and defender for the people he leads (all 10 million of us and counting). Since his triumphant ascension to the throne of Dabo, Kano has become a lot more peaceful, welcoming united and prosperous (he uses his immense business acumen and unmatchable national and international networks to bring business and development opportunities to the Emirate). May His Highness continue to enjoy a blessed, peaceful, prosperous, productive, progressive, health and long reign.

  • Muhammad

    His Highness commanding sweep of references demands unalloyed respect, his intellectual world is where you meet and admirable command of epistemology, ethics, logic, social and political philosophy, but he is desecrating the traditional rulership institutions unless and untill his Highness stop the unnecessary, i foress him DEPOSED, God forbid. Ja’afar has revealed so many hidden things that most people does not know. Ja’afar Remain Blessed.

  • Salisu Yaro

    @Kanon Sanusi Birni my own is quiet different because I don’t want to say anything against SLS reasons is that I so much like him but what I read now from JJ write up it touches me seriously and again our people were massacred in ILE-IFE the emir cannot say anything are we not form the north or we did not deserve to talk for us and even a something that most of you don’t know is 85% of the Hausas in ILE-IFE are from KANO and, if not Kwankwaso that speaks for us what do you think it should have been? And the Policemen arrested the papetrators and now the entire Yoruba groups including the diasporance fighting policemen charging them to court threatening them to release dose people and even claiming damages of N1billion after killing many Hausas and destroyed our millions of nairas properties rapen our Women would tell me that SLS dosn’t hear all THIS? But kept mute and gone viral saying this saying that. So we want him to speak for the VOICELESS not just anyhow

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