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Major highlights of Muhammadu Sanusi’s reign as Emir of Kano

Muhammadu Sanusi II was on 9 March 2020, deposed by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State after months of misunderstandings. Sanusi II was the 14th…

Muhammadu Sanusi II was on 9 March 2020, deposed by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State after months of misunderstandings.

Sanusi II was the 14th Emir of Kano from the Fulani Sullubawa clan. He ascended the throne in 2014, following the death of his granduncle Ado Bayero.

Prior to his accession, Sanusi was an economist and banker. He served as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 2009 to 2014, when he was suspended by President Goodluck Jonathan after raising the alarm on the US$20 billion NNPC scandal.

After his deposition, we have decided to highlight the major issues that came up during his almost six years reign as the Emir of Kano.

Sanusi’s appointment

Sanusi was selected to succeed his granduncle, Ado Bayero, as the Emir of Kano on 8 June 2014. His appointment was controversial, with some believing that it was a politically-motivated move to avoid fraud charges from his tenure at the central bank.

Many expected Bayero’s son to succeed him as emir, and protested Sanusi’s appointment. He was crowned Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II on 9 June 2014, the 14th Emir of Kano and leader of the Tijaniyya Sufi order, the second-most-important Muslim position in Nigeria after the Sultan of Sokoto, leader of the larger Qadiriyya Sufi order.

Sanusi was forced to operate from the Government House for a while as the then President, Goodluck Jonathan, was not in support of his choice.

Speaking about Sanusi’s choice during an interview, then Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, said he believed Sanusi was the best among the four names recommended by the king makers.

“We sat down with the kingmakers and from the list that we received from them, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was the best and number one on the list and from the recommendations, the governor had every reason to choose from among the list of candidates recommended.

“In fact, in some cases the governor has the right to reject from the list and make his own choice but in this case the kingmakers made the selection and the governor only affirmed what they did in accordance with tradition of the kingdom,” Kwankwaso.

Sanusi vs Boko Haram

In November 2014, after Sanusi urged his followers to fight Boko Haram, the Great Mosque of Kano was bombed, with over 150 casualties.

But Sanusi said the multiple blasts that rocked Kano Central Mosque was carried out in order to infuse fears in Muslims in the country, saying “we cannot be intimidated.”

In December 2014, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, accused Sanusi of deviating from Islam and threatened his life.

Sanusi replied that he is “safe with Allah”, and likened Shekau’s extremist comments (describing Sufis as unbelievers) to those of the heretical Islamic preacher Maitatsine.

Sanusi’s social and political views

Sanusi has been criticised by conservatives in Northern Nigeria for making several comments on socio-political issues impacting the region.

He has called for an end to child marriage, building more schools instead of mosques, and infrastructural development.

Sanusi said he was sick of receiving numerous requests from philanthropists asking to build mosques in Kano state instead of empowering the girl-child through education to ensure a sane society.

“I’m just tired of people coming to me to say I want to build a new mosque. You know, we keep building mosques and our daughters are illiterate. So, my appeal is that if you really want to help Kano, don’t come to me with a request to build a N300 million mosque because I have enough mosques everywhere. And if I don’t have a mosque, I’ll build it myself. If you really want to help, go and educate a girl child in the village”.

Sanusi has called for population planning, and has said that polygamy is increasing poverty in the region.

Sanusi also spoke against the almajiri issue, advocating for eugenics to solve the problem.

Clash with state government

During his reign, Sanusi spoke out on government policies, breaking with royal tradition.

He criticised the state government of misplaced priorities.

In 2017, the emirate council was under investigation by the state anti-corruption agency and state assembly for corruption.

Many saw this as retribution over comments he made.

The investigation was later called off by the state legislature following intervention by the ruling class.

In 2019, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje signed into law the creation of four new emirates. This unprecedented move saw Sanusi’s traditional domain as emir reduced.

According to the law, Sanusi will only preside over 10 local government areas out of the 44 in the state.

Many see this action as Ganduje’s way of getting at Sanusi who is believed to have worked against the governor’s re-election last year.


On 9 March 2020, Sanusi was deposed by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.

The Kano State Executive Council, under the Chairmanship of the Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje approved the immediate removal of the Emir.

The Executive Council is made up of the governor, the deputy governor, commissioners, and other selected appointees of the governor.

Usman Alhaji, the Secretary to the Kano State Government, in a statement circulated to journalists, said the Emir was disrespectful and lack respect for constituted authorities, “including his persistent refusal to attend official meetings and programmes organised by the Government without any lawful justification which amount to total insubordination”.

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