MS-II Colloquium: Inspiration, Influence and Impacts


Abdulhaleem Ishaq Ringim 


“When you are in a society that is so abnormal, you cannot afford to be a conformist, because if you all conform, things will not change.” ~ His Highness, Khalifa Muhammad Sanusi II 


The conversation that dominated this space as a reaction to the pre-colloquium breakout sessions have, to me beclouded the real essence of the colloquium itself. The pre-colloquium breakout sessions —a capacity building microlearning exercise —was just one aspect of the event, which sought to provide an avenue for robust introduction to certain thematic areas that are instrumental for the development of Northern Nigeria and Nigeria in general across various ramifications- Access to Justice; Entrepreneurship and Innovation; Gender and Family Responsibilities; SDGs Framework; and 21st Century Skills through Mentoring. 


To remove the clouds that have formed over the original essence, here is what I think of the Colloquium and what I’ve learnt. 


The Colloquium was hosted in commemoration of His Highness, The I4th Emir of Kano and Khalifah of the Tijjaniyya Order in Nigeria, Muhammadu Sanusi II’s 60th Birthday. The aim of the Colloquium as conceived was “to celebrate his superlative personality, his life achievements, and the values he stands for and promotes over the years as a role model and mentor to the younger generation of Nigerians”. 


MS-II’s personality is indeed superlative, his life achievements stand to be phenomenal by every standard and his values and ideals(some) as formed and propagated are indeed worthy of being espoused. He is hence worthy of being celebrated. However, all he is being celebrated for some people say, are absolutely personal. And the usual questions are how has he over the years directly impacted people’s lives and of what impact is the Colloquium generally. 


To start with the latter question, I would say to influence and inspire is at the core of leadership. I have been inspired by His Highness’s life journey and achievements as shared by him during the event, I have also decided that I shall espouse those values and ideals that His Highness discovered, deployed and consistently adhered to which influenced his successful 6 decade journey to greatness and apply them to my own journey Insha Allah, while controlling for my own peculiarities and praying for Allah’s guide. 


I grew up knowing my father as a man who believes in independent identity building. His father was a very influential person but my father never saw the popular and influential patronymic and the favours that accompany it worthy of taking advantage of, he always strives to make it using his own name. Today, he officially uses a name that is absolutely different from what he is supposed to be using and I have unconsciously been conditioned to follow suit in building my own name independent of him. I have yet again learnt, from His Highness’s life experience that this value of independent identity building and the exploration of roads to success outside one’s comfort zone remains a major pillar that defines his successful journey. Insha Allah I shall continue on this path for my father’s value, one that I so much espouse has been further validated by His Highness. The influence therefore holds double capacity. 


It is always easy for His Highness when it comes to making decisions for himself. No matter how complex a situation may appear to the public, His Highness always makes for himself unregrettable choices effortlessly. I have always marvelled at this attribute of his and wondered how he managed to make it a trademark. But the Colloquium gave me the opportunity of getting the answers to my wonders directly from the horse’s mouth. His Highness from a very young age discovered that he always derives joy from siding with and expressing loudly what he perceives as being “true”(Truth) and “just”(Justice) and never regrets the consequences no matter how dangerous they may be. Life choices are always between truths and lies, justice and injustice; and for His Highness, options along the lines of Truth and Justice as perceived by him are always his natural choices. This sent me into the realm of deep reflection and quest for the discovery of my own personal uncompromising core values! And I have found some, happily, adherence to “Truth and Justice” are indeed part of them. I pray May Allah sustain me on this path. 


At every point in His Highness’s life, he had always been clearly aware of his ambitions, dreams and aspirations and have always held the determination to achieve them. This allows him to always define his goals, plan and pragmatically implement strategies that will lead him to achieving those goals. He deliberately and sufficiently prepares himself for whatever role he plans to take in his journey towards realising his life dreams and never compromises by accepting roles he is not sufficiently prepared for. And whatever role he accepts, he makes sure to outperform and leave unprecedented marks and legacies. Excellence, competence, professionalism and adherence to the highest standards are to to His Highness a matter of personal principle and he has never compromised. 


Listening to His Highness as he shared these personal values made me unlearned, learned and re-learned a lot of things. I am convinced that these values are highly instrumental to anyone striving to have a successful personal and professional journey and I have promised to adopt them all. His Highness now holds a great deal of influence on my life  and his experience and values as shared by him during this Colloquium will go a long way in shaping, influencing and impacting my life. And I am just one out of hundreds of young people that attended the Colloquium. 


But all these are His Highness’s personal success stories, values and ideals. Does it ever go beyond him? How has he tangibly impacted the lives of others? How many people has he directly impacted? 


A lot of people would say it never goes beyond him, and therefore he is unworthy of being celebrated and held in such a revered position. But that is not entirely true. 


People often discount his contributions as a policymaker, regulator and reformer, especially with his banking sector reforms which assured the creation of thousands of jobs through his SME friendly policies, prevented the collapse of banks with about N600 Billion of public money, imagine how many people would have plunged into poverty or even died had these banks collapsed. He actualised the adoption and operationalisation of non-interest banking(Islamic Banking) in Nigeria thereby increasing financial inclusion/access especially to the Muslim North’s population. It also opened up new effective ways of infrastructure and development financing through Islamic bonds (Sukuk). 


On a more personal level, His Highness has a Scholarship Scheme that dishes out N100 Million annually in bursaries and education sponsorships. More information about the scheme can be gotten from Hajiya Sa'adatu Baba Ahmad. His Highness is also Chairman of Babban Gona, an agri-tech social enterprise and impact capital fund that seeks to rejuvenate agriculture as a major job creation driver and aid smallholder farmers to achieve optimum productivity and profitability through provision of holistic farming services ranging from Training & Education, Access to Finance and Credit, Provision of Agric Inputs to Provision of Storage Facilities and Harvesting & Marketing Support Services. Babban Gona also operates a Women Economic Development Initiative (WEDI) retailer program which provides intensive training and support to female entrepreneurs in the consumer retail business. Through this initiative, not less that 18,000 women have been up-skilled in the aspects of customer relations, business growth, sustainability, basic business etiquette and even on choosing the consumer products to retail. The Babban Gona initiative have created almost 300,000 jobs since 2012 and have impacted more than 800,000 individuals in the local communities of Northern Nigeria. 


Aren’t these tangible impacts? His Highness, Khalifa Muhammadu Sanusi II indeed is worthy of being celebrated. 


And to speak briefly on the other debate, I have come to understand lately that the intellectual argument that portrays development (in this case “personal”) as being absolutely subjective is not only an argument but a definition of our reality. Individuals define development differently based on certain peculiarities. There are a lot of factors that determine our view on these things but 3, to me, stand out; Culture, Mode of upbringing and Socioeconomic factors. If we are to achieve a mass mindset shift, then these 3 factors must be worked on. In the end, we need to start asking what development means in [average] Arewa. And the MS-II Colloquium as an initiative is working on identifying the many gaps and is committed to rolling out impact-based solutions and initiatives to cover up those gaps. 


Once again, Happy Birthday Your Highness, Khalifa Muhammad Sanusi II. We celebrate you!


Abdulhaleem Ishaq Ringim is a political and public affairs analyst. He writes from Zaria