Paul Omokuvie Bauchi
The Emir of Ningi, in Bauchi State, Alhaji Yunusa Muhammad Danyaya, has described the decision of the Kano State government to create additional emirates from Kano emirate council as unfortunate.
Danyaya, who is considered as one of the oldest and longest reigning monarchs in the country, made this known in an interview with journalists at his palace in Ningi recently.
What is your take on the creation additional emirates from the existing Kano emirate?
Well, the move will affect the traditional institution and people of Kano State; more worrisome is the fact that nobody can predict the consequences of such reforms on the traditional institution. It is very hard for one to explain their effects. If not because of your coming, our own would be only to pray for the best. However, since you find it important to know our views, because of our age and as one of the oldest emirs in Northern Nigeria, it will not be out of place if we talk about it. The most important thing for us is to plead with both sides that are involved.
First of all and honestly we are not happy with what happened in Kano. I only agreed to speak on this issue because of my position as one of the oldest emirs in the North, both on the throne and age. Apart from the emirs of Zazzau and that of Jama’are, I don’t think I have contemporaries in the whole of the North at present. Therefore, as an elder statesman I considered it a wise decision on your part to have sought my personal views on this issue which is important in the history of Nigeria.
How do you think government and the traditional institution can relate without friction?
First of all, politicians or governments must be tolerant and patient with the traditional institutions. They should also be more lenient in punishing emirs that might have done something wrong. They should not be too hard on the traditional institution like we witnessed in Kano. To me, what happened in Kano was unfortunate, it is something least expected. The only thing that remains for us now is to plead with the government to look into the matter while we give some pieces of advice to the emir.
Since the colonial incursion and after our independence, especially during the time of late Ahmadu Bello, the Premier of Northern Region, there was never a direct affront on the traditional institutions as being witnessed in recent times. The traditional institution is tied to the history and culture of the people. Once the traditional institution is bastardised, the entire history and culture of the people would be bastardised. Any community or nation that deviates or bastardises its history would lose identity and cannot be identified as real humans.
What I am saying now is that, the Kano State government, the emirate and the Kano State House of Assembly should unite, see beyond personalities and save our pride and rich heritage together.
Kano Emirate is very old. It has been in existence for over 2,000 years since the Habe Dynasty till the time the Fulani came. There is no emirate like Kano in the whole North, Kano’s own is unique. Sokoto, Borno, Gwandu emirates may be bigger in terms of prestige, but when it comes to the real display of culture and popularity, Kano emirate is incomparable to any emirate. If Kano emirate is trampled upon, that will send a very wrong signal to the traditional institution and the people. That is why I am pleading with the Kano State government, the Kano emirate as well as well meaning individuals of repute to please have a holistic approach to the situation. The emir and all other stakeholders should unite and save the prestige and respect that Kano enjoys not only in Nigeria but the world over.
If we ponder well, what happened in Kano will have a very negative backlash on the emirate, the people, the princes and the entire Northern emirates. The action should have been a bit restricted, but the way it was implemented through the fragmentation of the emirate was unfortunate.
What is the way out?
We pray all the stakeholders see reason to come together to save the situation. If what happened in Kano is allowed to stand, the emirate presided over by Muhammad Sanusi would be weakened and there would be many setbacks which will not augur well for everybody in the long run including the people, all members of the emirate and other emirates in the North.
We are not denying the fact that the emir might have done something wrong, he is human, but our advice is that, if there is any infraction on the part of the emir, the action to be taken shouldn’t have been so harsh to go beyond him and affect the entire emirate and its people. This affects the whole history and lineage of the emirate up to its founder, Emir Dabo. That is why, I am still pleading with the authorities to tread with caution on the matter and avoid hasty decisions. No matter what happened, patience and reason should have led the way to resolve the impasse before the decisions are made or actions are taken.
What is your take on the claim that traditional rulers dabble into politics?
The dilemma is that, we want to be neutral, but we are always expected to be loyal to the government in power. So if you support the government you will not be seen as partisan, but the moment you are suspected of being close to the opposition, you will be regarded as ‘traitor’. Our loyalty therefore must always be with the government. However, despite the seeming loyalty of the traditional institution to the government, we are almost always being treated with disdain and our rights being encroached upon which is eroding the respect of the traditional institution. I always respect all the governments in Bauchi State since my ascension to the throne and I wouldn’t want my jurisdiction too to be undermined.
Like I said, in the past when the colonial masters were ruling the country and when we got independence when Sardauna and Tafawa Balewa took over, emirs were not subjected to ridicule because they were respected. Even when an emir is accused of wrong doing, the committee to investigate will never invite an emir anywhere, but will go to the palace and meet him, out of respect in order to hear his side before any action is taken. Even if an emir is to be deposed, it will not be disclosed as a deposition but a ‘resignation.’ All these are being done in order to preserve the dignity of the traditional institution.
Countries like England are being respected in the world because of their preservation of their cultural heritage through their respected monarch. That is what gives them respect in the world. So, we will not be fair to ourselves, our children, grandchildren and the other generations to come if we decide to disrespect our emirates because nobody will respect us again.
What is your message to the government to forestall future occurrence?
My advice is that, before decisions are taken, the emirs should be consulted to offer their advice. I would even suggest the formation of a special traditional council to be headed by the Sultan of Sokoto, Shehu of Borno and the emir of Gwandu so that, if an emir errs, the government will refer his case to the council for proper advice and recommendations.
So, I am pleading, if anything happens that involves any of the emirs not only Kano but anywhere, the emirate should be accorded respect, not because the person occupying the throne has done something wrong, then the entire emirate is disrespected, because it will be an affront on its dignity and heritage. I am still maintaining that, we are very loyal and have respect for governments and constituted authorities.
Nobody will be happy with what happened in Kano, whether it is the emir’s fault, the government’s fault or any other person’s fault. What we want is for all sides to sheath their swords, come together and resolve the issue amicably. Because what happened is not about Muhammad Sanusi alone, it affects many people far and wide especially the people of Kano emirate and other emirates in the North.
In conclusion, having expressed my personal opinion on the matter above, I am still pleading to all parties to restore the pride of not only the emirate, but Kano and its people. Restoring the dignity and pride of Kano is very important to its people and for all of us.