Sanusi: The Realisation Of A Dream By Agbo-Paul Augustine
How could a seven-year-old be so bold as to express his desire to become emir? That may have been what ran through the mind of Rev Father Cletus Johnson as he read the dream a little boy in his school had penned down.
The gentle Father Johnson, who was the headmaster of St. Anne’s Primary School, Kakuri, Kaduna, Kaduna State, where Sanusi Lamido Sanusi began his long walk to the throne of Kano Emirate, was pushed by curiosity to discover that the tiny pupil in his school was no ordinary little boy, but one with a big dream. As he flipped through the forms filled by pupils of the school in 1947, he was taken aback by what Sanusi had written down – he dreamed of becoming the emir of Kano.
And so the day came when, 47 years later, that bold child, now a grown and accomplished man on many fronts, was handed the staff of office as the 57th emir of Kano by the governor of Kano State, Dr Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, on June 9, 2014. He succeeded the late Alhaji Ado Bayero, who died on Friday June 6, 2014.
In 1967 and at seven years of age, the young Sanusi’s ambition could have easily been dismissed as childish fantasy, but the event of 1975 at the Kings College, Lagos cleared all doubt about the young prince’s goal in life. In the Literary and Debating Society of the college, the quiet Sanusi excellently acted as the emir of Kano in a play titled “Nigeria and its Future”. The weirdest part was that Sanusi refused to have the character he played addressed as Alh Ado Bayero, insisting on being called His Royal Highness Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the emir of Kano. A case of déjà vu? His mind was obviously already firmly locked on his dream.
It could therefore be concluded that Sanusi’s ambition of becoming the emir of Kano has been the central focus of his life. His father was not an emir, but his grandfather, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi, was an Islamic scholar and the 55th emir of the ancient city. Born on July 31, 1961 into the royal family of Kano, Sanusi Lamido was almost certain he would be given that coveted crown to wear in the future.
Why was the title of emir so paramount in Sanusi’s dream? Emir (am?r in Arabic; also sometimes transliterated amier or ameer), is a title of high office used in a variety of places in the Muslim world. It can often be translated as “prince”, making an “emirate” analogous to a sovereign principality. The Arabic word amir literally means “commander”, “general”, or “prince”. It can be used in feminine form as emira (am?rah). Amir also means a “chieftain” or “commander” and is derived from the Arabic root ‘-m-r, “command”. It may also be related to the Hebrew word hemir, which means, “exalt”.
Originally simply meaning “commander” or “leader”, usually in reference to a group of people, it came to be used as a title for governors or rulers, usually in smaller states and in modern Arabic is analogous to the English word “prince”. The word entered English in 1593, from the French émir. It was one of the titles or names of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It is possibly derived from the Syriac mar or mora, a title of respect, literally meaning “my lord”.
The emir is a man with many feathers in his cap. He is the commander or general of the emirate forces and also serves as the political, judicial and religious leader of the people, leading them in Juma’at prayers.
Shehu Usman dan Fodio, (1754–1817) a religious teacher, writer and Islamic promoter who was also educated in classical Islamic science, philosophy and theology and became a revered religious thinker and the founder of the Sokoto Caliphate, gave rise to the modern emirate council in Nigeria. He changed the emirates in northern Nigeria after his revolution (Jihad), bringing the Maliki school of Islam and the Qadiri branch of Sufism to most parts of northern Nigeria.
For any emir to be respected, he must be grounded in the Islamic teachings, as well as Islamic law (Sharia law). Emir Sanusi (Snr), revered as an Islamic scholar spurred Lamido Sanusi to undertake lessons in Islamic law in Sudan in his student days.
Dan fodio’s teacher, Jibril ibn’Umar, had argued that it was the duty and within the power of religious movements to establish the ideal society free from oppression and vice. Today, the relics of the old role of the emir still remain in most emirs’ palaces in northern Nigeria, in mosques, courthouses and prison yards.
As Sanusi awaited his coronation as the emir of Kano, he went on adding knowledge by obtaining a degree in Economics from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria in 1981. Sanusi began his working career as a lecturer, before venturing into the banking sector where he rose through the ranks and held several positions over 30 years. He capped it all by becoming governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2009.
While in the banking sector, Sanusi stayed focused on the top. As an executive director in First Bank of Nigeria, he had once told the founder of the LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group, Sam Nda-Isaiah to wait until he becomes the GMD of the bank. He said the same thing of his becoming governor of the CBN. All this he achieved, distinguishing himself on the job at every stop, even though some viewed him as a controversial man.
As controversial as Sanusi may seem, he still won the Best African Central Bank Governor award on three occasions in his less than four years in office and made the list of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
His ascension to the throne as emir has put Kano in the spotlight and made the ancient city the focal point of northern politics. As a bastion of commercial activities in sub-Saharan Africa over five centuries ago, Kano prospered as the southernmost nodal point of trans-Saharan trade during pre-colonial times. In the wake of colonialism, it retained its vigour for commerce and industry, after it was connected to trans-Atlantic trade. For trade on both the old and new routes Kano was the premier point, exercising commercial influence over its adjacent locations.
For an unbroken period of time, Kano has earned accolades for its excellent business climate, globally reputed business moguls, as well as globally desirable infrastructure for business proliferation. Its status as a point of unity of all Nigerians will be boosted with the ascension of an expert in economics and banking as its emir.
Sanusi, the emir of Kano, has set a new standard for the appointment of traditional rulers in the North in the 21st century, propelled by his achievements on national and international levels, combined with his fearlessness and doggedness in confronting challenges. Most kingmakers will not want to select leaders that will not attract the needed attention to their people.
Indeed, the bar has been raised and all emirs in Sanusi’s category will be looking to see the kind of emir he will be. A new generation has begun.
In defence of his Fulani clan Sanusi had this to say, “So, why don’t you talk about we don’t have infrastructure, we don’t have education, we don’t have health. We are still talking about Fulani. Is it the Fulani cattle rearer or is anybody saying there is no poverty among the Fulani?”
On unity, the threat of division and resource control, Sanusi said, “There are good Yoruba people, good Igbo people, good Fulani people, good Nigerians and there are bad people everywhere. That is the truth. Stop talking about dividing Nigeria, because we are not the most populous country in the world. We have all the resources that make it easy to make one united great Nigeria. It is better if we are united than to divide it.
“Every time you talk about division, when you restructure, do you know what will happen? In Delta area, the people in Warri will say, Agbor, you don’t have oil. When was the Niger Delta constructed as a political entity? Ten years ago, the Itshekiris were fighting the Urhobos. Isn’t that what was happening? Now they have become Niger Delta, because they have found oil. After, it will be if you do not have oil in your village then you cannot share our resources.
“There is no country in the world where resources are found in everybody’s hamlet. But people have leaders and they said if you have this geography and if we are one state, then we have a responsibility for making sure that the people who belong to this country have a good future.
“So, anybody that is still preaching that the problem of Nigeria is Yoruba or Hausa or Fulani, he does not love Nigeria. The problem with Nigeria is that a group of people from each and every ethnic tribe is very selfish. The poverty that is found in Maiduguri is even worse than any poverty that you find in any part of the South,” the emir said.
Sanusi Lamido’s response to Sir Olaniwun Ajayi’s book titled Nigeria, Africa’s Failed Asset? was, “Let me start by saying that I am Fulani. My grandfather was an emir and therefore I represent all that has been talked about this afternoon. Sir Ajayi has written a book. And like all Nigerians of his generation, he has written in the language of his generation.
“My grandfather was a northerner, I am a Nigerian. The problem with this country is that in 2009, we speak in the language of 1953. Sir Olaniwun can be forgiven for the way he spoke, but I cannot forgive people of my generation speaking in that language.
“Let us go into this issue, because there are so many myths that are being bandied around. Before colonialism, there was nothing like northern Nigeria, Before the Sokoto Jihad, there was nothing like the Sokoto Caliphate. The man from Kano regards himself as bakane. The man from Zaria was bazazzage. The man from Katsina was bakatsine. The kingdoms were at war with each other. They were Hausas, they were Muslims and they were killing each other.
“The Yoruba were Ijebu, Owo, Ijesha, Akoko, Egba. When did they become one? When did the North become one? You have the Sokoto Caliphate that brought every person from Adamawa to Sokoto and said it is one kingdom. They now said it was a Muslim North.
“The Colonialists came, put that together and said it is now called the Northern Nigeria. Do you know what happened? Our grandfathers were able to transform to being northerners. We have not been able to transform to being Nigerians. The fault is ours. Tell me, how many governors has South West produced after Awolowo that are role models of leadership? How many governors has the East produced like Nnamdi Azikiwe that can be role models of leadership? How many governors in the Niger Delta are role models of leadership? Tell me. There is no evidence statistically that any part of this country has produced good leaders.”
Now that Sanusi has seen his dreams come true, serving humanity and God should be the utmost thing on his mind as he discharges his duty as the 57th emir of Kano.
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