Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II: A Reformer or Palace Jester?, By Yusuf Abubakar
A lot of sentimental observers, made up largely of young and impressionistic minds, have formed an army of support for the emir’s ‘unroyal’ conduct… To the applause of his cheerleaders, he is behaving like the market place dan tauri, doing what no one else would do, and playing with the sword around his stomach to attract crowds.
The incessant, unrestrained, no-holds-barred public commentaries that are becoming some sort of trademark of the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, are nothing short of an ill affliction. However, unlike in illnesses where a physician is required to cure one, in this affliction it’s self-cure that is needed.
The series of open attacks and public rebuke that the emir chooses to throw at every opportunity of grabbing a mic is by all good intents condemnable. The needless feather ruffling has risen from comments on the federal government’s economic policies, the urging of women to return slaps from their husbands, to the recent and unfortunate public flaying of his governor.
A lot of us welcomed the appointment of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, as he then was, onto the exalted throne of his forefathers. We saw it as something that would be a big plus for Kano State, of having a modern emir well versed in both Western and Islamic learning; and who was also a well-connected technocrat that could use his connections to attract developments to Kano. Alas, all we got from the controversial ex-banker is showmanship at public events – both locally and internationally, the denigration and belittling of the throne, queer fatwas, an unreserved and overly forward nature, etc. All of these have not added any value whatsoever to the people of Kano State or even to the centuries old and highly respected emirate council, which he leads.
What started as some trendy bend toward radical progressive tendencies, having an emir of a powerful town as Kano lending his weighty views to social issues bedevilling his people, soon transcended into full blown economic epistles that have now become largely political treatises, which are totally unbecoming of a royal father.
A lot of sentimental observers, made up largely of young and impressionistic minds, have formed an army of support for the emir’s ‘unroyal’ conduct. To their idealistic minds, the emir is a reformer, a progressive in aristocratic garb and one standing out of the pack to tell truth to power. They cheer him on, as he goes about firing on all cylinders condemning everything and everyone. To the applause of his cheerleaders, he is behaving like the market place dan tauri, doing what no one else would do, and playing with the sword around his stomach to attract crowds.
…whether anyone likes it or not, as an emir, Sanusi is an employee of the government and is therefore bound by public service rules. He has already provided the government with enough rope to hang him… That same governor who appointed the emir had to query him before leaving office in 2015. Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II should be mindful of history repeating itself in Kano.
When an emir abandons his basic duties for theatrics and performances, who then is he aspiring to become? The palace jester, wawan sarki? Time will surely tell.
The emir’s foot soldiers forget, or rather choose to ignore, that not all of us can be everything at the same. There is a purpose for the social order, and when one attempts to muddle things up in an attempt to please people as an all-rounder, the ensuing confusion may end up consuming one. Muhammadu Sanusi II wants to be a Jack of all trades – from an emir, to an economist, an Islmaic scholar, administrator, and to even a public commentator – but unfortunately he is perfecting none of these as a master.
In one controversy after the other, Emir Sanusi has been throwing his royal gown, without caution, to the wind of spectators, in making pronouncements that in all objective reading go contrary to the royal codes of etiquette.
In the known custom of traditional authority, at least in Northern Nigeria, dignified silence occupies a frontline position. When the emir has an opinion but rather choses to keep quiet – when he could have disparaged an action of government or that of a group of individuals publicly or even react to some affront thrown at him, yet decides to get these addressed by other means – there is inestimable respect that comes with that.
From attacking the federal government, Emir Sanusi has now taking on the Kano State government by criticising one of its major and well-thought out projects. This pertains to his comments at the recently concluded Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit, where he rubbished the proposed construction of the Kano Light Rail Project and directly attacked Governor Ganduje, when he could have easily reached out to the governor to offer his advice on the best way of handling the project. It was quite unfortunate that he chose to ridicule the governor on a platform such as the Kaduna Investment Summit. Could there be something unbeknown to many in this public criticism of a cardinal government project? Beyond this, the emir even used the same podium to engage in a belligerent censuring of the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State. Supposing Kano is of concern to Mallam Sanusi, what relationship has he got with Zamfara or Yari? In Islam, there is a direct prophetic saying for one to shun that which does not concern him. And this said injunction aims at protecting one from the backlash of such, for if the mouth knows what it utters, it surely does not know what reply awaits it. Imagine the media handlers of the Zamfara governor deciding to go dirty in tackling the emir’s verbal assault on their principal, and thereby dragging in mud and desecrating a privileged royal throne!
Our expectations on the choice of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as emir of Kano are fast waning… Emir Sanusi with his abundant contacts within the financial sector, has refused to generate economic opportunities for the people of Kano State. What he generates are none other than attacks and censures.
Now, as an emir, Sanusi has direct access to the people he routinely takes on in public. This would make one wonder why then go public with his criticisms of their actions, even if supposedly well intentioned, when he could have channelled his concerns more strategically. The reason for this might not be farfetched – the man is used to playing to the gallery in order to impress.
Aside his attacks on leaders, the emir also seems to hold his people in high contempt. I have never heard any Oba, Obi, Ooni, Lamido, Atta, Gbong Gwom, etc wash the dirty linens of his people in public, but Sanusi’s stock in trade is disparaging his people in order to take the shine off other traditional rulers. Since the beginning of his now over two-year reign, he has never said anything good about the well-behaved, industrious people of Kano. The part reserved for us is always the rebuke. As one who has himself raised a polygamous family over the years, the emir now stands on his own ‘crimes’ to see that of others by always attacking the polygamous nature of the Kano family.
Our expectations on the choice of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as emir of Kano are fast waning. What we get, instead of the prosperity we thought we were in for, are endless and needless controversies, and the attendant negative press. Unlike the Ooni of Ife, who has within a short period of time been identified as a promoter of youth entrepreneurship globally, Emir Sanusi with his abundant contacts within the financial sector, has refused to generate economic opportunities for the people of Kano State. What he generates are none other than attacks and censures.
Lastly, whether anyone likes it or not, as an emir, Sanusi is an employee of the government and is therefore bound by public service rules. He has already provided the government with enough rope to hang him, and had it been the man who appointed him is still the one in the Government House, the story would have very likely been different by now. That same governor who appointed the emir had to query him before leaving office in 2015. The emir should be mindful of history repeating itself in Kano. And when that happens those who cheer him on now would not do anything but mumble words of sympathy to him. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.
Yusuf Abubakar wrote from Kano.