Sir Muhammadu Sanusi I (1905-1990 ), the grandfather of the present Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II reigned for only five years as Emir of Kano before he was forced to resign. He was said not to be in the good books of the authorities of the day due to his views which were considered offensive. He was perceived to be too independent minded by the political authorities and a web of intrigues were weaved around him in order to remove him as Emir. In the course of his reign, a panel was set up to investigate alleged misappropriation of the then Kano Native Authority’s funds and the Emir alongside other members of the Native Authority were made to testify before the commission with D.J.M Muffet as sole commissioner.

At the end of the inquiry, Muffet in his report advised the Regional Government that Sir Muhammadu Sanusi I should resign. He therefore tendered his resignation to the Governor of the Northern Region, Sir Kashim Ibrahim on 28th of March 1963.

It will appear that the present Emir, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is facing same circumstances. He has made some salient points on the economy and some policies Governor Ganduje sees as offensive.

Sanusi’s ‘sins’

Sanusi II is known for his criticisms on matters of social and economic development in Kano and Nigeria at large, offering advice and suggestions even when they seem to be displeasing to the political powers especially on the Girl Child Education and issues on family planning. His ordeals with the Kano state governor dated back to 2017.

In one of such bold reactions on government plans in April 2017 Sanusi II challenged the Kano state governor, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje while delivering a keynote address at a function in Kaduna, on the governor’s plan to secure a loan of $1.85b from a Chinese Development Bank that would fund 85% of a Light Rail project to be constructed by a Chinese company CR18G-CRECG. The project was for the construction of a 74 kilometer facility in the state with the intention of reducing traffic on the roads and to ease commercial activities.

Rubbishing the plan, Sanusi II said that the plan to build the Light Rail project was built on a shaky foundation. He said, “we have governors, they go to China and spend one month on a tour and come back with MoU on debts.

“China will lend you $1.8b to build light rail. This light rail will be done by workers from China, the trains will come from China, the engines will come from China, the labor will come from China while the driver is Chinese. “At the end of the day, what do you benefit from them? Your citizens will ride on a train and when you ride on a train in northern Nigeria, in a state like Kano or Katsina, where are you going to? You are not going to industrial estate to work. You are not going to school. You are not going to the farm. You borrow money from China to invest in trains so that your citizens can ride on them to go for weddings and naming ceremonies.”

This did not go down well with the political powers in the state and in a swift reaction, the State House of Assembly accused Sanusi II of spreading false information against Governor Ganduje on his trip to China. He was also accused of spending the funds of the Emirate without the approval of the governor or the House of Assembly. As a result, a probe was established with a view to indicting him and subsequently dethroning him.

Also, Emir Sanusi II was accused of not supporting Ganduje but seen to have soft spot for the opposition candidate in the last general election that was declared inconclusive in Kano by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC.

It was clear that Sanusi II was going to have problems with Governor Ganduje. On the day INEC declared Governor Ganduje winner of the inconclusive election, the APC supporters trooped to the Government House Kano to celebrate with the governor. In the course of the wild celebration they chanted songs calling for the removal of Sanusi II saying; “Tsohon gwamna sabon sarki” meaning “we support the incumbent governor and want a new Emir”. They didn’t stop there, they went to the Coronation House where the governor addressed them and they destroyed portraits and pictures of Emir Sanusi II.

However, Sanusi II managed to survive with the intervention of some dignitaries in the country among whom were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Sultan of Sokoto and former Presidents Ibrahim Babangida and Abubakar Abdulsalam. Following this intervention, the State Assembly as well as the Public Complaints and Anti-Graft Commission closed the case.

In a swift reaction, Sanusi II had no choice than to apologize to Governor Ganduje at a grand reception he organized in his honor at his palace asking him to be a forgiving leader.

Dangote’s intervention saves Emir

Interestingly, there was no intervention from the Arewa Consultative Forum, the Sultan of Sokoto, other state governors or the Presidency on the matter. Sanusi II was therefore left to himself.

However, the business tycoon Aliko Dangote was said to have been the only one who, from the beginning pleaded with Governor Ganduje not to remove the Emir but Ganduje insisted.

Sources from government said the governor gave Dangote some conditions which must be met in order to save the Emir since the Emir would not stop criticising the government.

The source said “Governor Ganduje’s response was that he told Dangote to go back and tell the Emir that he should choose from three alternatives: to resign on his own, to be removed from office or for the government to create additional Emirates in the state. Ganduje assured Dangote that one of the three options would be implemented by government since the Emir would not stop playing partisan politics. But for the quick intervention by Dangote, Ganduje would have dethroned the Emir”, the source revealed.