Alhaji Muhammad Hameen Nuhu Sunusi is the new Emir of Dutse, who succeeded his late father, Nuhu Muhammad Sunusi, on February 5. The 44-year-old royal father, whose coronation holds today in Dutse, in this interview with Daily Trust Saturday outlines some of the changes the people of the Emirate should expect. Excerpt
First of all, who is His Royal Highness, the Emir of Dutse?
My name is Muhammad Hameem Nuhu Sunusi. I was born on February 26, 1979 in Kaduna State but I grew up in Kano State. We relocated back to Jigawa in 1995 when my dad became the Emir of Dutse. I did my nursery and primary schools in Kano, first I started in Kano Capital School, later on I was transferred to Airforce Primary School. For the secondary education, I started at Crescent International and later Federal Government College where I graduated and later on proceeded to Malaysia where I did my first degree and Masters. I came back in 2006 and did my NYSC at the National Assembly Abuja.
From there, I decided to venture into or pursue a blue-collar career. I became an entrepreneur. Later, I decided to get into engineering, which has always been my passion. I started a company that deals in renewable and off grid energy.
This is what I have been doing until now that my life has changed. I now have to put a pause on that career and take up this one, something I inherited from my grandfather and my father.
In the book authored by the late Emir, Your Highness’s father, he said that when he was called on to apply for the succession of his father, he outrightly told them he was not interested. People would want to know what was Your Highness’s reaction when you were called?
Mine became almost similar to his own. I wasn’t really interested to be honest. When I was asked to apply, I was a bit reluctant. Then my siblings came up to me and said ‘look if you refuse to apply, whoever succeeds him may not carry on with his legacies.’ So that was the motivation that made me to apply for the succession. Apart from that, to be honest with you, I am a very private person and I prefer to remain private but I had no choice because this is like a family thing that I cannot deny. I had to sacrifice my private life and come up to be a servant.
Now, I plan to improve on his legacies because things have changed. Things are modern now. I will try my best to bring modernity into the system.
With Your Highness considered among the youthful population, are there changes that should be expected in the running of the emirate and do you think this will be pitting you against the so-called old order, old traditional title holders?
We will try as much as possible to introduce changes gradually which is not going to be overnight. And we’ll try to prepare them before time that this is what needs to be changed. For instance, now that the whole world is changing into a cashless society, and Zakat is one of the responsibilities of the palace. This Zakat is collected in cash but now that there is no cash available and most of the people we distribute cash to are from the rural areas where there are no banks, but with the introduction of money agents, we will try to work with them and see how we can improve the lives of the rural people so that they can have access to financial system. They will be included, there would be inclusiveness in the whole modernization process. So, these are just part of the things we will try to achieve.
How does Your Highness intend to balance the relationship with old traditional title holders who worked with your father in bringing change?
Well, the good thing is that they are all educated; they may be old but they are educated so it is going to be very easy and the relationship so far is very cordial. There is mutual respect despite the age gap and we both respect one another, it is reciprocal. I don’t think bringing change will pit us against them. I know they may resist some but I believe at the end, when they look at it and see that it is something good, in a positive way they will know that it’s what should be embraced. So, I believe there wouldn’t be any problem.
In a chapter of the late Emir’s book, he mentioned the issues that came up during the construction of the Central Mosque and how he had to reach out to his private construction partners and deploy his private experience to see to the completion of the mosque. With Your Highness experience in private practice in engineering, should people expect more private businesses to flourish into the emirate?
Of course. You see, I have a very good relationship with many private companies in Abuja where I used to stay. There’s this Corporate Social Responsibility which I am trying to see how private companies can come to Jigawa and bring in some development in terms of contributing to the health system, religious side or other things that we hope they can help with.
And hopefully, now that I am fully back to Jigawa, I am also planning to bring back my businesses even though I won’t be involved in it anymore but I am trying to bring them here at least to create more jobs here in Dutse. So, these are some of the changes we are hoping to bring.
In the past, a lot has been said about the relationships between Dutse and the four other emirates. What does Your Highness intend to do to maintain the harmonious relationship that exist now and where there are issues, how does Your Highness intend to tackle them?
The relationship is good. They enjoyed harmonious relationships despite the age gap because for instance the Emirs of Ringim, Gumel and my late dad were almost of the same age bracket while the Emir of Hadejia and Kazaure are a bit younger even though not as young as I am. From their body language and the kind of interaction they had, there’s mutual respect. I hope to continue from there.
Much have been said on the constitutional roles for the traditional institution. Do you think there is need for such constitutional role and what more can the traditional institutions do to foster peace and development in the country?
I believe constitution is not the problem. Yes, some traditional rulers want to be included in the constitution but if you look at it, we have not been deprived of anything.
We as traditional rulers need to reach out to our peers in other regions, have more harmonious relationships and thank God for the Sultanate – there is Council of Chiefs for the entire country, where from time to time we meet to discuss issues that are worrying us. The purpose of the NYSC is to bring unity, it has done a lot but more needs to be done. These days, when corps members are posted to a different region, they tend to apply for redeployment because of the perception they have about that region and mostly it is false information because there’s so much fake news in the social media. I think if we can sacrifice and go to other regions and at least experience their culture, there shouldn’t be problem. We should learn to respect other people’s culture. So, I think that will help.
The very first time I was in Bayelsa, my first impression was ‘am I going to be safe’? But to my surprise, a friend of mine who is from that region invited me. At first, I was sceptical but when I visited, I was really impressed. He provided security for us but I said I don’t need any security let me experience the real life. They have a lot of keke napep so that was what we move around in. I decided not to use the vehicle provided and I really enjoyed it. I was surprised to find a lot of northerners in Bayelsa. I was really impressed seeing them comfortably doing their businesses without fear.
What are those things that Your Highness miss doing since becoming the Emir?
I miss shopping by myself. There’s a particular supermarket in Abuja that I was fond of going to everyday. Now, I cannot do that anymore.
This Saturday, Your Highness will receive the staff of office from the executive governor of the state. How excited and prepared are you for the day?
First of all, I am very grateful to the governor that he saw me fit to succeed my late father. I am forever indebted to him. And the kind of love I have seen from my people, I was really shocked. Because I am a very private person, I don’t move around in the town that much.
I am really excited that this day has come. I pray that everything goes on well and people that will come from near and far, I wish them safe trip to their various destinations.