Kano crisis and middle course solution
By Ado Umar Muhammad
After prolonged hesitation I finally resolved to comment on the open letter to Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje by the Friday columnist of Daily Trust, Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim, published by the newspaper on June 7, 2019.
In it, the ace writer and academician warned about the consequences that might result from the creation of four new emirates by the governor, and hence urged him to step “back from the path of dismantling Kano Emirate and removing our revered Emir.” Recall that last month Kano government created a new first class emirate in Bichi and appointed Wamban Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, as its emir.
The District Heads of Gaya, Alhaji Ibrahim AbdulQadir; Rano, Alhaji Tafida Abubakar; and Karaye, Alhaji Ibrahim Abubakar were also promoted to the status of first class emirs. While I agree that Emir Muhammad Sanusi II should not be removed, I beg to disagree with regard to the emirates issue.
The writer surmised that the process of creating the emirates is a risk for the people and urged the governor to disengage from “the adventure,” listing four reasons why this had to be so. These are the rampage arising from a similar action by a Second Republic governor, Muhammad Abubakar Rimi, which ended in fiasco; Kano’s historical legacy of over 1,000 years which should not be demolished by the governor; and the governor’s alleged unbecoming behavior of disrespecting the rule of law.
The fourth reason is the allegation of financial impropriety against the emir, which he said has no basis in fact but just a historical recollection as the method used to depose the emir’s grandfather.
However with due respect to the writer, I found some of the reasons he proffered somewhat spurious. The disastrous consequence of Governor Rimi’s attempt to create four new emirates and promote three second class emirs to first class status arose from the intense political rivalry between Rimi and his successor, Alhaji Sabo Bakinzuwo, who later became governor and reversed the decision.
This rivalry caused Sabo’s supporters to connive with urchins who in the name of the emirate caused the mayhem. There was ample evidence to prove that the violent protest was orchestrated to achieve partisan objectives.
Known as “July 10 Rampage,” the protest caused maximum damage. As a result of widespread arson government buildings, a new printing machine belonging to Triumph Publishing Company and valuable official documents were incinerated. Some people were also killed including Rimi’s political adviser, Dr. Bala Muhammad.
By citing this incident the writer inferred that a similar mayhem might ensue if the governor did not heed his advice. This, indeed, is highly probable since the kind of rivalry that existed between Rimi and Sabo is currently raging between Ganduje and Kwankwaso.
That notwithstanding, the idea did not take cognizance of the fact that the two circumstances and personalities involved are quite different. Besides that, from 1981 to date a lot of water has passed under the bridge.
In the previous case, if the needful was done by security agencies no one would expect it to happen again. In other words, if the rabble rousers that instigated the revolt who were exposed by an NTA, Kano report were dealt with severely nobody would have contemplated a repeat today. But for political expediency they were not prosecuted. Thus, if there is a repeat today of course some people caused it.
And if those behind it are also allowed to go scot free no one should complain if Kano continually remains a volatile state. The fact that Kano has a historical legacy dating from 999AD is not a guarantee that it won’t be affected by an epoch-making event. History is replete with such events that have changed the way people lived.
Kano’s status in Nigeria is certainly not because of its age or the territory it covers. After the creation of Jigawa state Kano lost Hadejia, Gumel, Kazaure, Ringim and Dutse emirates but this did not affect its status in the eyes of the people.
The characteristic flamboyance and prestige attached to a Kano emir is the yardstick by which people rate its importance, besides its role in the socio-economic and political development of the country. According to Professor Jibrin, the idea that the House of Assembly could establish new emirates is based on the misconception that Kano Emirate is a creature of statute.
“There is no law that specifically establishes the Emirate which exists merely as a historical fact and recognized as part of the tradition and cultural heritage of the Kano people,” he wrote.
Kano or its traditional institution may not be creations of a statute but they are certainly subject to it by virtue of a historical antecedent that we are all aware of. How could Sanusi II have emerged as the 14th Fulani emir in 2014 if his selection wasn’t sanctioned by statute? Was the people’s participation required then or on any issue pertaining to the traditional institution? Regarding Ganduje’s alleged disrespect for the rule of law, I think that is a subjective opinion that everyone is entitled to.
The governor’s defense was that his action preceded the court’s injunction. Besides that, the enabling law is subsistent; it was only amended through a bill that was “hurriedly” passed by the Assembly. Conventionally, a signed amendment bill becomes law whether it was passed in one day or 100 days. Nevertheless, Justice Badamasi of a Kano High Court who issued the “disrespected” injunction has now settled the matter by dismissing the application of the plaintiffs. At any rate, for how long shall the four towns that were elevated to first class status – both of which have long history as well – continue to be subordinated to Kano Emirate? Gaya, for instance, has a longer history as the people who founded Kano known as Abagayawa are said to have come from Gaya.
And Rano being one of the seven Hausa States was founded by the youngest son of Bawo, a descendent of Bayajidda of Daura who, according to folklore, sired founders of the seven Hausa States which includes Kano.
Karaye and Bichi also have long histories as emirates, which is why their indigenous traditional rulers have always been known as Sarki (king), although the latter’s indigenous ruler was demoted to a mere Village Head. Actually, some historical sources have it that an Islamic cleric known as Malam Danzabuwa was the person who collected the Jihadist flag which symbolized the authority to establish an emirate from Shehu Usman Danfodio with the intention of doing so in Bichi. Unfortunately, he died during his return journey from Sokoto to the town. According to the narration, when Danfodio was informed about the development he asked who the flag was handed over to, and he was informed that Suleiman collected it.
The Shehu was said to have instructed that he (Suleiman) should go ahead and establish the emirate. But rather than do so in Bichi, Suleiman established it in Kano where he came from. So this explains Bichi’s historical significance and why it is in order to create an emirate there.
Furthermore, for how long is Kano going to remain as “a one-city state” when smaller towns in other states are given the opportunity to develop? Aren’t the towns of Hadejia, Gumel, Kazaure, Ringim and Dutse better off and more developed now after assuming first class status? Dutse, one of the emirates promoted by Rimi, isn’t only a first class emirate today but the capital of Jigawa state.
This resulted from changing political events that altered their situations and allowed progress to be achieved. Actually, people should always endeavor to consciously change the course of history for the better or be ready to encounter difficulties in life. Of course we all wish to see an end to the lingering emirate crisis in Kano. Thus I hereby offer a middle course solution to it, hopefully to the satisfaction of all sides.
Governor Ganduje should endeavor to disabuse the minds of those thinking he is bent on deposing the emir by stopping the state anti-graft agency from probing him. The investigation should cease summarily to give respite to the royal father and his supporters. The governor should also consider adjusting the distribution of local councils to the emirates.
In view of the exalted status of Kano in the country and as a state capital, the emir’s authority should not be confined to eight metropolitan local councils, plus only two adjacent ones. If not all, at least three or four out of other adjacent councils such as Dawakin Tofa, Tofa, Madobi, Kura, Bunkure, Warawa and Gezawa, should be added to it.
He should also be made permanent chairman of the state Council of Chiefs. On the other hand, in appreciation Emir Sanusi should accept the creation of the four new emirates and regard it as one of the phases of development people have to go through in life.
The emir should also strive to desist from political utterances and actions that have, rightly or wrongly, portrayed him as supporter of a political party.
The immediate past emir, Alhaji Ado Bayero, never supported any party. He is reputed to have never voted in an election because he considered supporters of all parties as his children.
In conclusion, those who complain about the development having upset the apple cart and jeopardized their traditional posts in the hierarchies of the new emirates should return to base and seek positions they would be more comfortable with.
Also, Kano people should be mindful of the fact that they would be a laughing stock if, based on partisan considerations, another political party reverses the emirates creation in future just so as to score a political point.
Finally, if all attempts at reconciliation fail INEC should conduct a “Yes” or “No” referendum in the new emirates for the people to decide.
Muhammad is former Editor-in-Chief of Triumph Newspapers, Kano