Muhammadu Sanusi II (Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; born 31 July 1961) is a member of the Dabo royal family of Kano.He was the 14th Emir of Kano from the Fulani Sullubawa clan, ascending the throne on 8 June 2014, following the death of his grand uncle Ado Bayero. He was dethroned on 9 March 2020 by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.
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.
Sanusi was born on 31 July 1961 in Kano to a ruling class Fulani family of the Sullubawa clan.His father, Aminu Sanusi, was a career diplomat who served as the Nigerian Ambassador to Belgium, China and Canada, and later served as the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was also the Chiroma of Kano and son of Muhammadu Sanusi I, who was the 11th Emir of Kano from 1953 to 1963, when he was deposed by his cousin Sir Ahmadu Bello.
Sanusi received early Islamic education at home, where he learnt the Qur’an, Islamic jurisprudence and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad. He then attended St. Annes Primary School, a Catholic boarding school in Kakuri, Kaduna. In 1973, Sanusi was admitted into King’s College, Lagos, where he graduated in 1977.
He then proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1981. After graduating, he spent a year undergoing his National Youth Service in Gongola State (now Adamawa and Taraba) as a teacher in a girls boarding school in Yola. He then returned to the university where he received a masters degree in economics in 1983, and lectured at the faculty for two years.
Sanusi later received a degree in Sharia and Islamic studies from the International University of Africa in Khartoum in 1997. At the university, he studied in Arabic the works of prominent Western thinkers and Islamic authorities including Plato, Aristotle, Al-Ghazali, Ibn Rushd, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Khaldun, amongst others, and was also exposed to the four Sunni madhhabs of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali.
In 1985, Sanusi began his banking career when he was hired by Icon Limited (a subsidiary of Barings Bank and Morgan Guaranty Trust) – as a merchant banker before later becoming head of financial services and manager of the office in Kano. He left the bank in 1991, when he travelled to Sudan, to pursue studies in Arabic and Islamic law at the International University of Africa in Khartoum.
In 1997, he returned to Nigeria and joined the United Bank for Africa working in the credit and risk management division – he rose through the ranks to the position of general manager. In 2005, Sanusi became a board member and executive director in charge of risk management at First Bank of Nigeria – Nigeria’s oldest bank, and one of Africa’s largest financial institutions. In January 2009, Sanusi became the chief executive officer, becoming the first northern Nigerian to head the bank.
On 1 June 2009, Sanusi was nominated as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua;his appointment was confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on 3 June 2009, during the global financial crisis.
In Nigeria, the effect of the crisis took a hit at the economy and the banking system, with the stock market collapsing by nearly 70%. It was amidst this crisis that Sanusi led the central bank in rescuing top tier banks with over ₦600 billion of public money, dismissing and imprisoning chief executives who had mismanaged customer deposits – and strictly dealing with banks found responsible for financial crimes. Sanusi attributed the crash in the capital markets to “financial illiteracy” on the part of Nigerian investors.He also introduced a consolidation process which reduced the number of Nigerian banks through merger and acquisitions, in a bid to make them stronger and more accountable to depositors. He also led efforts in increasing the level of investment in infrastructure and support for small and medium enterprises.
Sanusi’s tenure initiated several extensive banking reforms termed the “Sanusi Tsunami”. The reforms were built around four pillars: enhancing the quality of banks, establishing financial stability, enabling healthy financial sector evolution and ensuring the financial sector contributes to the real economy. Sanusi developed the cashless policy – whereby financial transactions are not conducted with money in the form of physical banknotes or coins, but rather through the transfer of digital information (usually an electronic representation of money) between the transacting parties; he also introduced and supported the establishment of Islamic banking in Nigeria, a move which was criticized by the Christian Association of Nigeria.
He also clashed with the National Assembly, over it’s budgetary spending of 25% of all government revenue; and rejected the International Monetary Fund insistence for a currency devaluation. He also advised the government on the removal of the fuel subsidy, which he argued engendered a culture of high level corruption and economic inefficiency – the removal of the subsidy was unpopular and led to the Occupy Nigeria movement, which called for his resignation.
His reforms received both criticism and appraisal from the industry. The Banker magazine recognized him as the 2010 Central Bank Governor of the Year, for his reforms and leading a radical anti-corruption campaign in the sector – the first of its kind during the financial crisis. Sanusi is widely recognized for pacifying the overtly corrupt banking industry and his contribution to a risk management culture in Nigerian banking. Sanusi has spoken at a number of international events including the 2013 World Economic Forum.
In December 2013, Sanusi in a leaked letter to President Goodluck Jonathan revealed that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) failed to remit US$48.9 billion of government oil revenue to the central bank – the NNPC has a history of financial irregularities and oversees the corrupt petroleum industry in Nigeria. In February 2014, after a series of public investigations and raising the alarm on the US$20 billion NNPC scandal, Sanusi was suspended as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria by President Goodluck Jonathan. In April 2014, he won a court case against the federal government, after he was detained and his international passport confiscated by the State Security Service.
On 6 June 2014, Emir Ado Bayero who reigned as Emir of Kano for over five decades died, and a succession crisis loomed amongst the royal family. On 8 June 2014, Sanusi a grandson of former Emir Muhammadu Sanusi I; and holder of the traditional title of Dan Majen Kano (Son of Emir-Maje)emerged as the new Emir of Kano.His accession led to widespread protests from supporters of Sanusi Ado Bayero the Chiroman Kano (Crown Prince) and son of the late Emir Ado Bayero,with allegations that Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso interfered with the king-making process
Emir of Kano
On 8 June 2014, Sanusi was selected to succeed his granduncle, Ado Bayero, as the Emir of Kano. His enthronement was controversial, with some believing that it was a politically-motivated move to avoid corruption charges from his tenure at the central bank.Many expected Bayero’s son to succeed him as The Emir, and protested Sanusi’s appointment.He was crowned Emir Muhammadu Sunusi II (anglicized as Sanusi) on 9 June 2014, the 14th Emir of Kano and leader of the Tijaniyya Sufi order, the second largest Sufi order after the Qadiriyya Sufi order and the fourth-most-important Muslim position in Nigeria after the Sultan of Sokoto, Shehu of Borno and Emir of Gwandu.
In November 2014, after Sanusi urged his followers to fight Boko Haram, the Great Mosque of Kano was bombed, with over 150 casualties. 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.
During Sanusi’s six-year reign, The Emir reinvented himself as a charismatic figure at the crossroads of tradition and modernity. Major developments, such as the drafting of a new Muslim family law, construction of a 40,000 books library and vernacular modernization of the 15th century palace took place; and the Durbar festival was promoted internationally. Tourism to heritage sites such as the ancient Dala Hill and Gidan Makama increased and was encouraged by Sanusi. The Emir also played a role in revamping the ancient city’s cultural objects including in clothing where he advocated for the revival of the moribund 14th century dye pits at Kofar Mata – and through his own style and drapery projected the craftsmanship of the city’s leading guilds.
Sanusi also spoke out on government policies, breaking with royal tradition. He criticised the government of misplaced priorities. In 2017, the emirate council was under investigation for financial irregularities.Many saw this as retribution over comments he made against the state government.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; Bichi, Rano, Gaya and Karaye. This unprecedented move saw the partitioning of Sanusi’s traditional domain as Emir. According to the law, out of the 44 local government areas in the state, Sanusi as Emir of Kano will preside over just 10 local government areas; with the remainder carved up amongst the new emirates. In March 2020, the state legislature launched a new investigation against The Emir for violation of “traditional practices”,this was coming after a high court ruling restraining the corruption investigation against Sanusi.
On 9 March 2020, Sanusi was dethroned by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.Sanusi was in his private residence in Gidan Rumfa when he learnt of his removal, while awaiting for state officials to formally serve him the deposition letter a contingent of police, military,and security operatives stormed the palace. Sanusi later accepted his dethronement as a divine act and urged his supporters to remain calm and avoid bloodshed. He also urged them to declare bay’ah to his successor Aminu Ado Bayero, and stated “It is a thing of pride that made us to rule and end in the same fashion as the Khalifa,” in reference to his grandfather Muhammadu Sanusi I, who was also deposed and exiled in 1963.
Sanusi was later informed of his exile from Kano to Nasarawa State.Initially wanting to serve his exile in Lagos with his family,his request was denied and was later escorted out of the palace under heavy guard to a military air base.His lawyers subsequently announced they are going to challenge his arbitrary exile in court.Sanusi was then flown to Abuja, en-route to Loko in Nassarawa.On 10 March, he was relocated from Loko via police helicopter to Awe a remote local government area in the state.On 13 March, a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the release of Sanusi,he subsequently left Awe together with Governor Nasir El Rufai, after leading Friday prayers in full regalia to Lagos.
Since his dethronement in March 2020, Sanusi has stated he has “moved on” and will not challenge the dethronement. One day after his dethronement, Sanusi received two appointments from his childhood friend Governor Nasir El-Rufai in Kaduna State he was appointed Vice Chairman of the Board of Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency and Chancellor of the Kaduna State University.He has stated his intention of focusing on his private, humanitarian and intellectual engagements, which include: