I read and saw pictures to prove it, that Emir Muhammad Sanusi II paid a visit to Anambra state Government House and was warmly welcomed by our governor. Even though the reason (or the nature) of the visit was not stated, it is no less significant.
Last December the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III had visited Enugu State for three days. I was instrumental to, and had arranged the Sultan’s visit which also included a full day at Nsukka, where he had started life, in the real sense of the word, having been posted to Nsukka as a second lieutenant, fresh from his NDA commission.
Having arrived Nsukka at 21, the young affable officer who has a natural friendly and attracting personality, made home of the university town, where he mixed with and immersed himself into the university community and weaved lasting friendships with undergraduates who, of course were in his age grade. He was at Nsukka for the first three years of his military career. Those who know him know that he easily makes and keeps friends and is never deterred by such factors as religious or ethnic differences. He has kept contact and link with friends he made at Nsukka in those days. So immersed was he that even became the best man at the wedding of one of his friends from Amawbia, at an Anglican church in Enugu.
So, he had requested me to assemble as many of those old friends and contemporaries at Nsukka who I could get. So, I personally contacted people like Mr Peter Obi, the business minded student, who had donated his flat at Odenigbo to 2/Lt Sa’ad; Olorogun Inno Anoliefo, his very close friend who was the president of UNN students union at the time. There were others. I assembled them all to help him relive the old times and to make his visit the “home coming” that he had intended it to be.
For me the most touching aspect and a show of his humility was the visit to the modest home of the 83 year old Mrs Eneh who the sultan said had treated him like a son during his stay at Nsukka. Mrs Eneh is the mother of the late Amaka Igwe. He had indicated to me that apart from his friends at UNN, he must see “my mama”, Mrs Eneh, who, he informed me now lives in Enugu. During the planning of the visit which made me travel to Enugu every week for at least two months, I communicated this desire to the governor who intended to arrange to bring her to the Govt House or the presidential lodge where the king was sheltered to see him. But they didn’t know the humanity of Sultan Abubakar III, who whispered to me that just as he goes to visit his mother at her house after Friday prayers in Sokoto, if he is in town, he would never agree to having his Igbo mother brought to him because he had become the most powerful king in sub Saharan Africa. He asked me to ensure that the government plan in that regard did not work.
So, I put my childhood and inseparable friend, who the Sultan describes as my Siamese twin to work. Before the Sultan arrived on 19th of December, 2016, Chief Sir Phil Ezeogu, who was born in Zaria and speaks spotless Hausa but spent all his working life in Enugu, had surreptiously identified Mrs Eneh’s residence and established contact with the old lady, whispering to her of her son, Sa’ad’s planned visit.
After the reception activities at Okpara Square where the Rangers Football Club whose fan the Sultan was celebrated and after a close door meeting with members of the Christian clergy, it was a full day and the organisers believed that the guest would need to rest with a gala night that was being hosted at the Govt House grounds.
As everybody was getting set for the gala night, the sultan summoned me, Phil and Inno Anoliefo to a private “meeting” in his room. There we plotted his very private visit to his mama. He would not have any convoy or security escorts. He wanted us to sneak to the place and come back and attend the gala night, if we could.
The retired general directed the three of us to recce the place and to make sure Mrs Eneh was home. The three of us took off into the Enugu night and meandered our way through the GRA which Sir Phil Ezeogu knows like his palm. When we located the address, we parked my car by the shrubbery street some 200 meters from the address and Phil alighted from the car and trekked to the place, sneaked in and quietly surveyed the place like a trained security officer. He satisfied himself that Mama indeed home. He entered the modest bungalow and met the beautiful old lady and introduced himself, alerting her that her “son ” Sa’ad would soon be on his way there. Mrs Eneh protested very vehemently that she was not ready to host him on that day but that he could come the following day. Phil explained to her that the following day would be very loaded as the Sultan would be going to Nsukka where he would have at program that would run into late at night. After some argument Phil lied to her that he would try to convince the sultan to adjust his schedule.
When we got back and informed him that she was home but said she was not quite ready to host him yet, the Sultan said, ” gentlemen, let’s go, but abeg, no convoy”. There was no convoy. Just my car which had the driver, me, Phil and Inno which served as the pilot, the Sultan’s car which had had him and his private security man. But when the policemen noticed us driving out of the gate at night, obviously outside their brief, they jumped into their Hilux van and followed, their walkie talkies chattering furiously.
When we stepped into Mrs Eneh’s modest sitting room, the warmth of the reception was electric…
To be continued