Lessons from Emir Sanusi: A Truth in Time

“When I watched the play in Abuja, I cried because I saw myself through the eyes of other people.” – Deposed Emir
BY Daniel Anazia

A stage play that illustrates the life and times of the 14th Emir of Kano State, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, A Truth in Time no doubt has awakened and would continue to awaken emotions amongst the audience wherever and whenever it is staged.

 

The play which portrays the lives, drama and intrigues surrounding the dethronement of both Emir Sanusi I and his grandson, Emir Sanusi II, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, a former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor lean heavily on the eyewitness account of the Dogari (palace guards), who served both Emirs.

 

Written by the award-winning playwright, Prof. Ahmed Yerima, a former Director-General of Nigerian National Theatre, it was produced by the Mofoluwake O. Edgar led Duke of Shomolu Productions, while Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed, Babangida Sule Jor, Fatima Wali-Abdurrahman and Kola Karim are co-producers.

 

Co-directed by Emmanuel Adeejumo (Boy Sala), the play which was staged simultaneously on Saturday August 6 and Sunday August 7 in Lagos (Agip Recital Hall) and Abuja (Musa Yar’Adua Centre) had the audience glued to their seats all through the performance by the three-cast. The Lagos audience which was a blend of both the young and old had selected students from the Command Day Secondary School (CDSS), Ipaja, Lagos.

 

Opening the stage was a couple, Dahiru a retired palace guard and his Zainab, whose marriage was in tatters. They were seen engaged in a heated conversation.

 

The first scene talked about insecurity, early child marriage, and culture of the Fulani and other ethnic tribe of northern Nigeria. The scene also mirrors the hostile relationship between the couple as they both await the arrival of their son, Shaibu, a palace guard to the deposed Emir of Kano.

 

His arrival elicited joy as his blind father, Dahiru was seen exuding excitement. Dahiru inquired from his son if the rumor about the dethronement of the Emir was true and what led to it.

 

Responding, Shaibu told him that security forces had taken over the palace, which dampened his happy mood, as he expressed displeasure at the inhuman treatment of the Emir. However, Zainab his wife interjected and said the unkindness meted on the Emir was the same treatment she received when her own father sold her to him as a young slave.

 

Zainab suffered from Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF), an abnormal opening that forms between the bladder and the wall of the vagina. This made her husband treat her with disdain.

 

In what seems like taking sides with Zainab, Shaibu told his father to respect women, saying if he ever liked the emir, he would imbibe the good deeds of the emir by speaking the truth and treating women with respect.

 

The three-cast actors held the audience spellbound for more than an hour as they talked about women’s abuse and the oath of silence.

 

 

Recall that the deposed Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (Sanusi II) was installed on June 8, 2014, and dethroned on March 9, 2020, by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje due to his perceived criticism of the government and some of its policies.

 

Meanwhile, the former First Bank of Nigeria MD/CEO and later CBN Governor says he will be ungrateful to Allah if he expresses regret over his removal as emir, adding that he has no regret despite the positions he occupied in life.

 

Sanusi, who is the current Khalifah, Tijaniyat Movement of Nigeria, disclosed this on Sunday in Lagos, during the stage performance of the play, A Truth in Time.

 

“I don’t think that God has taken anything away from me. So, I have no regrets. I turned 61 years old last year and, in those years, I had the honor of having been the Chief Risk Officer at United Bank for Africa (UBA) and the Chief Risk Officer at First Bank.

 

“I was Governor of the Central Bank, Emir of Kano and now Khalifah (Leader), Tijaniyat Movement of Nigeria. If I have sadness, then I’m ungrateful. How many people have had the opportunity to be just one of those things?” he queried.

 

According to Sanusi, many traditional rulers held leadership positions such as army generals, governors, comptroller general of Customs and others before their appointment as traditional rulers. He added that these traditional rulers gave their bits to serve the country.

 

“We have a long history of service to this country. My father as first Director-General of the Nigeria Intelligence Agency set up the agency in1960, the record is there to see. My parents, grandparents and great grandparents gave their lives to build this country. We will continue to devote energy to build this country. It doesn’t belong to anyone; it belongs to all of us,” Emir Sanusi enthused.

 

Asked if he had a choice between sacrificing his principles and holding on to position, which one he would give up, Sanusi said the position, stressing that “history is always the best judge. The things that I said would happen, that caused me so much trouble, have happened.

 

“For me, I have absolutely no regret and I will continue to speak and voice my views. I will continue to defend this country,” he said.

 

Sanusi urged Nigerian youths to wake up to their responsibilities, by asking questions, demand answers and hold public office holders accountable.

 

“As citizens of this country, the future is in our hands; if care is not taken, there will be no country for the youths with the way this country is heading. If the ministers, the commissioners, the governors and the local government chairmen did their jobs as they should, Nigeria will be better for it. Ask questions, clarify issues, and don’t sweep it under the carpet.

 

“Often times, I am criticized for publicly speaking against government policies, but what most people don’t know is the fact that I speak with these government officials privately sometimes for months or years before I go public,” he stated.

 

The former Emir of Kano commended the cast and crew of the play, saying it was well detailed. He added that he was overwhelmed with emotions when he saw the play in Abuja on Saturday but noted that the Lagos performance was well interpreted and detailed, which made it interesting.

 

He revealed that he resisted the pressure from his family and friends to read the script of the play ahead of its staging. “When my family and friends heard that Joseph Edgar was telling the story about my life, they told me to go through the script, but I resisted the urge to peep. But I am glad that they told my story in the most captivating way with the basic facts.

 

“When I watched the play in Abuja, I cried because I saw myself through the eyes of other people. When I spoke to a close associate, she said that what I witnessed was a blessing because people don’t live to witness such,” he said.

 

The Khalifah also urged Nigerians not to be slaves to either wealth, money, or power because it could be taken away from them.

 

In his remarks, the executive producer, Edgar said that the decision to stage a play about Sanusi, 1976 Kings College alumni, was because of his doggedness, courage and his love for the girl-child and equality among men and women.

 

 

“Some people from both the ruling party and the opposition will call us and give us money so we can have a stage production in their honor, but we refused. We believe in what the Emir stands for, his principles. Emir is fearless, he speaks for the voiceless,” he said.

 

“With a budget in excess of N40 million, this production is truly historical,” Edgar added, thanking the more than 35 sponsors of the play who took over 50 per cent of the budget for their support.

 

On what motivated him to write the play, Yerima, professor of Theater and Performing Arts and Dean of the College of Humanities, Redeemer’s University Ede, said when Lamido was appointed as Emir, he prayed: “O Allah, let me die on the throne.”

 

According to him, he wanted people to watch how destiny prevailed on Sanusi’s grandfather, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi who spent 10 years before he was removed, and Sanusi, the grandson who spent six years before he was also removed.

 

“Also, they lived and live in a society. So, we want viewers to see the society’s attitudes towards their service to humanity,” Yerima said.

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