It was Beau Mirchoff that once opined, “a healthy relationship is built on unwavering trust.” The emirate system, as with many of our political systems, emanated from the willpower of the people themselves. They are the ones who built the system on the basis of their anticipations and beliefs; and if it is to be disposed, it must be done with the peoples’ approval following due process, so as not to threaten society as a whole. On this note, we shall continue and conclude our discourse above, having commenced with the history last week.
Historical background (continues)
The British pacification campaign termed “Kano-Sokoto Expedition” set off from Zaria at the end of January 1903, under the command of Colonel Morland. British officers and NCOs and 800 African rank and file were conscripted. Apart from a company of mounted infantry and a few gunners, the whole force consisted of infantry. They were supported, however, by four 75-mm mountain guns, which could, if necessary, be dismantled and transported by porters, and by six machine guns. Have we really improved on this military technology today?
After sporadic fighting outside the walls of the fort, the British managed to penetrate the defensive parameters of the capital. Kano was mostly left defenseless, at a time that Emir Aliyu Babba was away with his large contingent cavalry for the autumn campaign in Sokoto. News of the British capture of Kano in February 1903 sent the cavalry in a long march to retake the city.
After successfully defeating the British in three encounters, on February 27, 1903, the Grand Vizier of Kano, Ahmadu Mai Shahada, and much of the Kano cavalry, were ambushed at Katarkwashi. The death of the Vizier and subsequent capture and exile to Lokoja of the seventh Emir of Kano, Aliyu Babba, spelled the formative end of the Kano Emirate. The British made Kano an important administrative centre and kept most of the emirate’s institutions in the form of the Kano Emirate Council, subject to the British crown in a newly formed state called Northern Nigeria.
Roles of the Emir
The Kano Emirate is a traditional state in Northern Nigeria, with headquarters in the city of Kano, capital of the modern Kano State. Preceded by the Emirate of Kano, the council was formed in 1903 after the British pacification of the Sokoto Caliphate. Alhaji Ado Bayero became the Emir of Kano in 1963, reigning for 50 years, until his death in 2014. He oversaw the transformation of the emirate under Nigeria’s federal constitution, which subjected Northern Nigeria’s emirates to political leaders. The Emir of Kano serves as the leader of the Tijaniyya Sufi order in Nigeria, historically the second most important Muslim position in Nigeria, after the Sultan of Sokoto, who is the leader of the more populous Qadiriyya Sufi order in Nigeria. On June 8, 2014, former Nigerian Central Bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was selected to succeed Bayero as Muhammadu Sanusi II, Emir of Kano. The Emir of Kano had assumed community leadership since the local government reforms had transferred the executive powers he once exercised to the local councils, who are either elected by the people or appointed by the Kano State governor.
The Kano Emirate is at present the custodian of the culture, tradition, customs and religion of the entire people of Kano State. Many of the mosques and imams of the state owe their allegiance to the Emir who directly appoints them.
Sanusi’s triumphant emergence as Emir and his travials
Following the death of Alhaji Ado Bayero in 2014, Sanusi, a new technocrat monarch, emerged and succeeded the late Emir of Kano. A renowned economist and the erstwhile governor of the CBN, Sanusi, who is described in many quarters as a man of uncommon bravery and intellectual depth, ascended the throne. The exit of the former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, led to a negative turn of events in the Kano Emirate, as Sanusi’s relationship with the incumbent governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, got frosty. There were rumours barely two years ago that the governor had intended to dethrone the Emir outright, before better judgment prevailed.
Clipping Emir Sanusi’s wings
To clip the wings of the cerebral but loquacious monarch, who readily puts aside his turban and staff of office and draws economic and political punches against what he considers to be the sorry state of his northern talakawas, the initiation, passage and governor’s assent to a bill to decimate his influence was made faster than the speed of light. The bill, which sought the establishment of Kano, Rano, Bichi, Karaye and Gaya emirates, was read on the floor of the Kano State House of Assembly on Monday, May 6, 2019.
By Tuesday, the bill was passed into law and by Wednesday it was assented to by the governor. By Thursday, the law had been gazetted. Such an acceleration of the passage of the bill was nothing but evil machination geared towards political vendetta against and witch-hunt of the Emir. It was meant to reduce his influence and gag him.
Nigerians have never heard of Ganduje or any governor for that matter passing bills for the people’s welfare with such “automatic alacrity.” When it comes to political vendetta, the APC government takes the diadem. As is characteristic of the APC-led administration, the governor immediately disregarded a court order, restraining him from acting, and presented letters to the newly-appointed emirs, under the pretence that he was yet to be served with the court order. Remember crass disobedience to court orders running to four years in the cases of Col. Sambo Dasuki, El Zazaky, et all? If this satanic incursion and balkanization of Kano Emirate stands, it means that the emirate, which hitherto was the biggest in Northern Nigeria, will now host an Emir Sanusi, in control of 10 out of the 44 local government areas of the state.
The unforgivable “sins” of Emir Sanusi
The monarch’s greatest “sin” that led to the balkanization of the emirate can be traced to 2017. He had the first major issue with the state governor when he criticised him for embarking on a jamboree trip to China.
His other “sins” included blaming the federal government for its inability to end terrorism and poverty, as well as the government’s lukewarm attitude towards the plight of almajiris. Others were the assertive monarch’s condemnation of early marriage among the elite and government’s inability to address drug abuse among the youth.
Sanusi also allegedly stepped on the governor’s big toes when he (Sanusi) sent his daughter to represent him at an event in Abuja. The young lady was reproached for attending the occasion without a veil, which they consider reprehensible to the norms, culture and religious nuances of the North.
In a bid to intimidate and silence the monarch, Ganduje’s government cooked up allegations of misappropriation of certain emirate funds and subsequently instituted a committee to probe his expenditures. It was later revealed that the committee sent its findings to the State Assembly, with the sole aim of prosecuting Sanusi in court.
It took the intervention of prominent Nigerians to resolve what would have been the first ridicule the emir, as the report of the committee was quietly swept under the carpet and the matter resolved.
Trouble again reared its ugly head after the governorship election. Although the ruling APC or the state government has not come out with any official statement on the alleged involvement of Emir Sanusi in politics, feelers show that Ganduje verily believed the emir supported the PDP candidate, Abba Yusuf. The alleged intervention of business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, to pacify the governor to rescind his decision to ridicule this most revered traditional institution, was said to have yielded only three Orwellian offers from the governor. First, resign; second, he will be prosecuted if he refuses to resign; and third, balkanization of the emirate must be executed.
Some allegations had it that he romanced the opposition, particularly how he gave directives to some district heads to vote for the PDP, but, unknown to him, some of them ignored the directive and reported to the governor.
History has a way of repeating itself. Recall that the late Ado Bayero had suffered the same fate as Emir Sanusi. In 1980, the former governor of the state, Abubakar Rimi, had created five emirates and banned the late emir from travelling outside the city.
The creation of the emirates at the time was, however, met with massive protests by the citizens of Kano, who felt the balkanization of emirate was politically-motivated, just like the current one.
The protesters came to the residence of Bala Mohammed (husband of Najaatu Mohammed), who was the Special Adviser to Governor Rimi on Political Affairs at the time, and set him and his residence ablaze.
Almost 40 years after that incident, history seems to be repeating itself. Today, Kano Emirate has been balkanized into five and, already, emirs have been appointed and redeployed to their respective emirates. Nigerians are carefully watching whether the present emirates will suffer the same fate as the previous ones created by late Rimi.
Meanwhile, the monarch, who was away when his emirate was balkanized, was greeted with a rousing welcome on his return at the airport. That was a display of uncommon love by his subjects who decided to remain supportive in the midst of his travails. The Ganduje government must have been greatly embarrassed.
Does President Muhammadu Buhari have a hand in Sanusi’s travails? Nigerians are divided on this. Many have argued that royal fathers should shun partisan politics. But, what if a monarch’s intervention is for the good of his suffering subjects, being nearest to the grassroot? Should he allow sycophancy or hypocrisy to breed selective amnesia into national political discourse? It is common knowledge that, before his ascension to the throne in 2014, the same Sanusi, as the then governor of CBN, was hailed by the then opposition ranks for harassing President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Kano Emirate crisis mirrors a distressing future. It is Kano today; but it can be any other Nigerian kingdom tomorrow. Unless President Buhari is crisis-delighted, he should immediately call Governor Ganduje to order. The splitting of Kano Emirate is a terrible waste of taskpayers’ money as it will increase overhead cost and the abject penury that is deeply rooted in the state as a result of unemployment, ignorance and the alarmingly uncontrolled population growth which is on an alarming rate.
Thought for the week
“It’s not tyranny we desire; it’s a just, limited, federal government.”