Nuhu Sanusi, the late emir of Dutse, who died last week, was not the first son of his father and heir apparent, but the kingmakers chose him as his father’s successor because he was humble, decent and charismatic.
And for 28 years, until he passed last week at the age of 79, he exemplified those virtues that endeared him to the kingmakers.
The late emir soon became popular among his subjects for helping the poor. He was also a just arbiter of disputes. he was particularly famous for his expert handling of the common disputes between herders and farmers in his domain. A testament to his just resolution of disputes is the negligible instances of herders-farmers’ clashes in his domain.
In the three decades he ruled, the late Emir exemplified a life of a dedicated leader committed to bettering the lives of the downtrodden. He institutionalised, perhaps, one of the best zakat (the Islamic obligatory alms) collections in Northern Nigeria for the Dutse Emirate which consists of seven local government areas – Gwaram, Birnin Kudu, Buji, Miga, Kiyawa, Jahun and Dutse.
Unlike many states in northern Nigeria struggling with the collection of zakat, the sharia tenet of alms to the poor, the Duste Emirate under Mr Sanusi, became the reference for the proper collection of zatak and distribution among the needy.
Emir Sanusi had no problem with mixing with commoners in his domain as he was often seen sitting on the floor with his subjects listening to Tafsir, recitation of the Qu’ran at the Dutse Central Mosque.
He was often seen feeding the horses at his Kasarau residence without being ushered by palace guards. Uncharacteristic of traditional rulers in Northern Nigeria his residence was also open to hundreds of needy who are fed on dedicated cooked meals daily.
He administered the emirate affairs at the uphill Garo palace and received all the traditional parades there, and went back to his Kasarau residence where he lived a life characterised by mingling with commoners.
Mr Sanusi was a large-scale farmer producing hundreds of bags of rice, millet and other grains but rather than sell the farm produce, he distributed them to the poor in his domain.
Several years before his demise, the emir secured a spot at the burial place meant for the common people and instructed that he should be buried there rather than in the royal cemetery.
He explained that burying him among commoners will make visitors to the burial site continue praying for him. His wish to be buried among commoners was fulfilled last week when he was buried at the public cemetery.
The late emir played particular attention to education in his domain. He paid for the fees and provided other education provisions for the poor and orphaned in his domain.
The U.S. mission in Nigeria in their condolence message described him as an outspoken supporter of education, who obtained academic degrees from the University of Ohio.
He was also described as a wise Emir by the late Islamic scholar, Jafar Mahmud-Adam, for personally taking inventory and purchasing the books needed in the library of the central mosque in his domain.
But he was not without his traducers.
Cultural purists and traditional hardliners in the emirate often chastised him for downgrading the traditional system for the way he freely mixed with commoners. But he was not fazed by such comment and remained steadfast to the simplicity of his leadership style.
He is survived by two wives, 13 children and many grandchildren. He had three male children and nine female children.
The late Mr Muhammad-Sanusi attended Dutse elementary school and Birnin Kudu Senior Primary School, between 1952 and 1959. He was, thereafter, admitted to the Kano Teachers College.
He later gained admission into Advanced Teachers College in 1967. He also attended Ohio University in the USA where he obtained BSc in Business Education in 1972 and MBA in 1974.
Thereafter he had MSc in Project Analysis and Evaluation from Bradford University in England in 1977. He was elected a member of the constituent assembly in 1989. At the traditional level, he served as the district head of Dutse and senior counsellor in the emirate council between 1992 and 1995.
The Federal Military Government under Ibrahim Babangida created Jigawa State on 27 August 1991, and Dutse became the capital city of the new state. This development gave birth to Dutse Emirate on 13th November 1991 with the upgrade of the district head as first class emir.
His funeral ceremony was attended by the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad, the presidential candidate of the People Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and that of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, and his running mate, Datti Baba-Ahmed and the vice presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Kashim Shettima.
The presidential delegation was led by Garba Shehu, a media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The funeral prayers were also attended by former Vice President, Namadi Sambo; Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; former governors of Jigawa and Bauchi, Sule Lamido, and Muhammad Abubakar, respectively.
Popular northern Islamic cleric at the funeral ceremony include Sani Rijiyar-Lemu; Abdulwahab Gadon-Kaya; and Bashir Abdallah; among many Sunni clerics across northern Nigeria.
Other Emirs at the event include the Shehu of Borno, Abubakar El-Kanemi; Emir of Zazzau, Nuhu Bamalli, Emir of Fika in Yobe State, Muhammadu Idrissa, Emir of Gombe Abubakar Shehu-Abubakar, Mai Kaltungo, Sale Muhammad, and All the first-class Emirs of Kano and Jigawa States among others.
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