By Ado Umar Muhammad
The first time I saw the late Alhaji (Dr.) Ado Bayero, the 13th Fulani emir of Kano, was as a child in 1961. My family house was just a stone’s throw from Kwalli Police Station, then the headquarters of the Native Authority (NA) Police, where he was the Wakilin Doka, or Chief of Police. As inquisitive children eager to catch a glimpse of the popular prince, I remember we would go and start fiddling with a water tap near the main building of the police headquarters. The window of Wakilin Doka’s office was overlooking the tap, and we took delight in sighting him with fondness.
Alhaji Ado Bayero was a man who loved children. Because of his legendary humility and friendliness, some time if he walked by and we were close enough he would look at us with a smile, and that was enough to make our day. We would then savour the gesture for weeks on end. No wonder when two or three years later he was named as the new emir we enthusiastically joined the multitude that celebrated the news.
Some of the early events in his reign that I still remember are the formal presentation of staff of office to him at the then Festival Stadium (now Sani Abacha Stadium), and the opening ceremony of Waje Mosque at Fagge in the metropolis. The first event was special to the people because it was graced by the great Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, first and only Premier of Northern Region.
The second was particularly special to the emir himself as I recall him saying at the occasion that it was his long-standing ambition to build a big mosque in Kano, in emulation of his late father the 10th emir, Alhaji Abdullahi Bayero. “Sarki Alhaji,” as he is fondly referred to, built the famous Central Mosque in Kano City.
In the almost 51 years that he reigned as emir, Alhaji Ado Bayero had his triumphs and tribulations. Generally speaking, his reign witnessed peace and tremendous development in Kano, and as the years rolled by he was able to endear himself to the people because of his devotion to his traditional functions, his love and care for them. Before our eyes Kano transformed from a semi-urban area to a sprawling city of commerce, industries and learning, with contrasting features of ancient and modern architecture adorning its landscape.
His travails included the queries issued to him and his bosom friend the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, for visiting Israel without obtaining permission from the Federal Military Government. Nigeria had no diplomatic ties with Israel at the time. The wide publicity that was given to the query by the national and international media must have tormented the two royal fathers.
Before that, in the Second Republic, there was an attempt to whittle down his powers by the first executive governor, Alhaji Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi. The governor created three more emirates from Kano for Gaya, Rano and Dutse and appointed first class emirs for them. He did same for Auyo in Hadejia emirate, and promoted the emirs of Hadejia, Gumel and Kazaure, who hitherto were under Kano emirate, from second to first class status.
There was also an apparent move to remove him, but the protests that this prompted resulted in acts of brigandage and arson. Rimi’s political adviser, Dr. Bala Mohammed, an ace broadcaster and lecturer at Bayero University was killed by a mob on July 10th, 1981. Valuable documents and buildings were touched and destroyed at Audu Bako Secretariat, state House of Assembly and the new building of Triumph Publishing Company, where a new Rondoset publishing machine was burnt to ashes.
There is no denying also that the late emir had had a running battle in recent years with the incumbent governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, which snowballed and came to a head with the governor’s rejection of the emir’s choice of new Waziri of Kano, Sheikh Nasir Muhammad Nasir. Both leaders stood their grounds as they tussled over the issue. According to the Peoples Daily newspaper of 03/06/2014, the governor consequently sent a letter to the emir threatening to either dethrone him or create two more emirates for Gaya and Karaye, ala Governor Rimi in the past. The emir had never liked the idea of anything that would reduce his area of authority, whether it was emirates or states creation, and the government was certainly aware of this.
Even though the intervention of a representative of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Hassan Danbaba, seemed to have settled the matter as it was resolved that the appointment of Sheikh Nasir be reversed, a later event proved that it was not assuasive enough for the emir. Many people in Kano believe, rightly or wrongly, that the tussle must have induced a fatal heart attack in the early hours of June 6th, 2014 as the emir’s health was reportedly stable up till that time.
The misunderstanding between Kwankwaso and the emir, which had political undertones, escalated shortly after Kwankwaso returned to power in 2011 after failing to do so eight years earlier. Those eight years witnessed the reign of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau as governor during which the emir was accused by then “PDP Kwankwasiyya” of identifying with Shekarau’s government and getting involved in its programmes.
They pointed to the fact that the emir personally went to almost all the 44 local government areas to launch Shekarau’s flagship programme, known as “A DAIDAITA SAHU,” and ginger the people to accept its message of moral rejuvenation by adapting to the tenets of the Sharia. At a point the spokesman of a PDP Kwankwasiyya delegation that visited the emir openly expressed their displeasure with the emir’s action.
As a sign of respect hardly did anyone ever disagree with the emir’s actions in public. But the man told the emir point-blank that they considered his actions as getting involved in partisan politics. It can then be assumed that the clash might have its genesis in the protracted political feud between the governor and his predecessor. However, it must be pointed out that Alhaji Ado Bayero’s patronage of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, whom he knew as a child, and his government stemmed from the fact that the emir considered him as his son having worked closely with his father, the late Malam Shekarau Giginyu, who was one of his lieutenants when he was Wakilin Doka.
Chief Inspector Shekarau Giginyu was third or fourth in rank to the Wakili. The emir himself cited this reason shortly after conferring the then governor with the coveted title of Sardauna of Kano on January 21st, 2010. He said late Shekarau was obedient, dedicated and loyal to him. The late emir’s attitude towards Shekarau Jr. and vice versa can therefore be understood only if it is viewed from this angle. It is wrong to assume that it had anything to do with politics.
Ado Umar Muhammad is former Editor-in-Chief, Triumph Newspapers, Kano <firstname.lastname@example.org