As a liberal minded progressive in a conservative society that is somewhat culturally averse to education, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi of Kano is often caught up between his role as a traditional ruler and his passion for intellectual activism. The Emirate of Kano is the heartbeat of the Fulani Sokoto Caliphate, which exercises a religious hegemonic suzerainty through a network of vassal emirates in the predominantly Muslim north of Nigeria. This makes the position of Emir Sanusi a powerful one and his voice very influential in the conservative Muslim north.
A non-conformist as evident in his antecedents in public service, Emir Sanusi, a banker who became the Governor of Nigeria’s central bank, carried out a surgical operation aided by his insider’s knowledge on Nigeria’s financial system with clinical precision to cleanse it of the self-destructive tendencies of corrupt and unethical practices. As the chief banker of the government of Nigeria and the de facto head of treasury, Emir Sanusi will go on to extend his anti-corruption activism to government’s fiscal activities. From the management of the petroleum subsidy regime to non-remittance of monies accruable to Nigeria from oil mineral revenues by the state oil corporation, NNPC Emir Sanusi’s voice was unambiguous about unbridled corruption in the operation of government business.
Endowed with the strength of character of telling inconvenient truth to power, Emir Sanusi ascended the throne of Kano Emirate with the full compliments of his activists’ credentials. Coming into the powerful northern traditional rulership institution at a time when the region was enmeshed in socio-economic decadence resulting from several decades of religious and cultural self-immolation, Emir Sanusi will once again intervene by freely deploying his intellectual activism to diagnose as well as proffer solutions to these problems. Emir Sanusi will become a vessel that carries the bad news of the bitter truth about the backward, poor, diseased, insecure and the dislocated socio-economic condition of the Muslim north while also calling for urgent societal reforms.
By sharply deviating from the norm of conservatism associated with northern Muslim traditional rulers, who are expected to be pacifist conformists while savouring the privileges of their high royalties in their roles as symbols of stabilizing spiritual authorities, Emir Sanusi comes across as a non-conforming reformist. Whereas, traditional rulers are mostly seen but rarely heard in public, Emir Sanusi will not only be seen but heard loudly through his regular seminal interventions in matters of public interests. Emir Sanusi has used his position of influence as an integral part of the traditional rulership establishment of the Muslim north to call for reforms in retrogressive cultural and religious practices that have reduced the region the lowest rung of the ladder of human development as one of the poorest and most insecure in the world.
A unwavering advocate of mass enlightenment among a people that mostly hold education in contempt as a Judeo-Christian evangelical enterprise, Emir Sanusi has consistently called for the reform of the AlmaJiri institution in order to roll back the menace of the high rate of out of school children in the Muslim north of Nigeria by educating them to a level of economic self-sustenance. To successfully accomplish the desired societal reforms needed to positively transform the socio-economic conditions of the Muslim north of Nigeria; Emir Sanusi suggests a complimenting good governance structure with prudent management of resources by the various sub-national governments in the region.
Like a Moses in the court of Pharaoh, Emir Sanusi’s reformist agenda and good governance advocacy eventual accomplishments threatens the very powers and privileges of the traditional ruling establishment, portends an attempted class suicide, which is being resisted resolutely by entrenched interest groups. To forcefully shut down his mouth, Emir Sanusi has been subject to a state instigated inquest into the finances of his Kano Emirate which has exposed an oxymoronic side of the Emir as seen in his violation of table manners of eating and talking at the same time. To whittle down his influence, Emir Sanusi’s domain was splintered into the four additional Emirates of Bichi, Karaye, Rano and Gaya with further clandestine moves to out rightly dethrone him eventually. Interestingly none of these measures have been able to tame the spirit of Emir Sanusi’s restless activism.
However, in his latest intervention in the unfortunate incidences of child theft across northern Nigeria by some criminal elements, Emir Sanusi may have spoken the inappropriate truth but not his characteristic inconvenient one. Operating out of Kano and other northern Nigeria states, a criminal syndicate of mostly ethnic Igbo residents, abducts children from their host communities and like human cargo reminiscent of the transatlantic slave trade sell them to prospective buyers several kilometres away in their south eastern region of origin. These children that were mostly born to Muslim parents are rechristened with both Igbo and Christian names in a change of ethno-religious identity which aims to permanently conceal a most horrendous crime against humanity.
In reacting to this unfortunate incidence, Emir Sanusi called for the arrest and prosecution of parents of the abducted children for allowing their children roam the street freely. Whereas, the imperative for parents to take adequate care of their children by providing shelter, food and clothing for them is an obligatory responsibility but failure to do this must not be a licence for the criminal enterprise of the abduction and sale of children. Findings reveal a well-coordinated criminal franchise by known residents among unsuspecting members of their host communities, who come across as normal people in the community but with preying eyes on innocent children of their neighbours. Secure and safe environment in addition to food, clothing and housing is fundamental right of every Nigerian child to which criminal trespass should never be justified under any circumstance. And not even Almajiri out of school children deserves to be abducted and sold like a human cargo in a sane society.
Emir Sanusi’s admonition against parental neglect of their children is a truism, which nevertheless is inappropriate under this circumstance as it is akin to blaming the very victims of a crime perpetrated by others.
The leadership of the Igbo community in Kano was more altruistic in their reaction, when they did not only condemn the criminal activities of some of their kinsmen but also called for justice for the victims while also admonishing their members to be law abiding at all time. In this circumstance, the most appropriate truth is for Emir Sanusi to add his voice to the call for justice for the victims of this crime against humanity.