WEDNESDAY COLUMN by USSIJU MEDANER
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In Nigeria and most parts of Africa, the monarchs (our traditional leaders) are the vestiges of our heritage from several hundreds of years behind, which has been watered down through the period of colonialism. Today, they remain the only source of our history and traditional heritage. This is evident in the festivals celebrated and the display of artifacts made several hundreds of years ago during such festivals.
Our history and heritage defines who we are. A people without extant historical facts will eventually be lost through time hence the need for the preservation of whatever is left of our past in the present day.
These monarchs give us hope that we still have extant knowledge of who we are. They are the repository of our past. Among the Premier Chiefs of the Northern Region of Nigeria, in the House of Chiefs in the Regional Legislature of 1964, there are the following Chiefs in order of precedence:
Sultan of Sokoto (Sarkin Musulmi)
Shehu of Bornu
Emir of Gwandu
Emir of Kano
Emir of Bauchi
Lamido of Adamawa
Emir of Katsina
Emir of Zaria (Sarkin Zazzau)
Etsu Nupe of Bida
Emir of Ilorin
Emir of Kontagora (Sarkin Sudan)
Emir of Dikwa (Mai Dikwa)
Emir of Argungu (Sarkin Kebbi)
Emir of Gombe
Tor Tiv, and
Atta Igala; others are:
Emir of Katagum (Sarkin Bornu in Bauchi)
Emir of Misau (Sarkin Bornu ta Gabas in Bauchi)
Emir of Hadejia
Emir of Daura
Emir of Kazaure (Sarkin Arewa)
Emir of Gumel
Emir of Agaie
Emir of Lapai
Emir of Pategi
Emir of Yauri
Emir of Borgu
Emir of Jama’are, and
Emir of Muri
From the order of precedence above the Emir of Kano is the fourth. Kano has a place in the old world map and history as a major city along the trans-Saharan trade routes of more than five hundred years ago. It shared blossom history alongside some other famous towns up north of the Sahara such as Timbuktu, Gao and the Empires of Ghana and Songhai. The cohesion of the ancient city of Kano has been preserved through time under the plumage of the descendants of Dabo. Politics have tried to dismember the city at several times in the past for wanton reasons but failed. For the purpose of this discourse I hereby reproduce a link to the list of Kano Rulers/Emirs ( for reference):
Coming to the present issue of the dismemberment of the Kano Emirate with the addition of four new Emirates of Ganduje, it is disheartening to see that, in recent times, when the Northern part of Nigeria is faced with numerous challenges from girl child education, to insecurity and poverty among others, the governor of Kano is more interested in breaking the wound which has kept Kanawa (the people of Kano) together under one umbrella. They speak through the voice of the Emir, their totem of unity. With this, it is easier for the government to pass down information to the people through a single coherent voice: all the people under the emirate will heed the directive from the traditional father of the land. This is opposed to the situation when the emirate is dismembered where the information may not be accepted by all emirates of “equal” standing. The problems faced by the northern states of Nigeria which Kano is a part of demands a united course than a divergent one.
The previous week has seen the plot to dismember the revered Kano Emirate into five piffling emirates to the chagrin of the people of Kano and even those who know what heritage means to our existence. What is more disheartening is that, of all kingdoms and emirates, why the ancient city of Kano. It gets one wondering to what spite is this destruction wrecked upon the city of Dabo.
The sacrilege began on May 6th, 2019 when an alleged petition was filed for consideration at the Kano State House of Assembly for the dismemberment of Kano Emirate into five smaller emirates. It may interest us to know up till this very moment the so called petitioner(s) is not made public and was never invited for public hearing during the legislative sessions that lead to the upgrade of Bicchi, Gaya, Karaye and Rano district heads to the status of first class chiefs thereby having their own emirates independent of the Kano Emirate in the state.
The strange case about this anonymous petition is that it never went through the due legislative process of the assembly and the timing was expedited. This raises questions as to the intent and mischief behind this petition. When the petition was filed or submitted , the assembly was in recess but strange again, the leadership of the Kano State Assembly led by the Speaker, Kabiru Rurum reconvened and set up a committee on the petition. The committee went through the petition and came up with a report the following day , no record of single invitation to stakeholders for public hearing as required by the house rule and the draft of the Amendment Bill was presented and passed the third reading in a plenary presided by Kabiru Rurum.
The end result was the formation of new emirates in Kano: the piffling emirates of Ganduje. All the tedious processes of the parliament were thrown to the waste bin and a process that would alter the heritage and history of Kano began and ended within five working days without the consent and approval of the people of Kano. There was no public hearing nor was there any sort of consultation from stakeholders, neither still was there any quest for public opinion, or deliberations within the Kano State House of Assembly for the implications of this action upon the Emirate of Kano. There was no record of debate or of report related to the petition. At what time was the Order Paper developed; votes and proceedings circulated and approved…… ? The Bill was presented the following day and assented?
This gross abuse of legislative process and standing rules in carrying out this process led the house Minority Leader to the court which gave an order restraining the Governor from implementing the new law which was created in an allegedly shambolic manner. The court gave an order that the Government of Kano State refrains from implementing the new law which creates more emirates pending the determination of the substantive matter before the court.
This act is very unhealthy to the traditional heritage of the emirate. It creates a rift among the people who were once united: they begin to see themselves as different which is not supposed to be the case in a time when we need the people to be more united than ever considering the challenges facing us as a people especially the North.
The problem with this historical defamation of the Kano Emirate is that it may not be about the masses; it is entirely not about the masses on the front of Ganduje, on Emir Sanusi II’s front, it is more about the masses than to himself because the traditional institution is an embodiment of the masses, and what the masses believe is a representative of their cultural values and pride over time: this is not what the masses believe to be the case with most politicians or political office holders which unwittingly by such action Ganduje now assumed imperial status ( those that came and willy-nilly balkanized Africa) f. The urgency with which the governor and the state house of assembly created the new emirates was too swift for a normal process. Processes that should take days, or even weeks to achieve were attained within few minutes.
What prompted the governor to facilitate the process in an expedited manner remains the bone of contention. He must have been spited by the Emir’s overt choice for the governorship seat during the gubernatorial elections in the state. Hence, the need and quest to reduce the Emir’s influence within the state.
There is a clear line between competence and incompetence to the person of Sarki Sanusi II as a person; this defines his sphere and relationships. This is a major reason for the massive followership support he enjoyed even before he became the Emir of Kano. Governor Ganduje might have felt spited by Emir Sanusi II’s choice of candidacy against him in the recently concluded 2019 elections. The Emir is human before anything else; he has the right to make a choice which he thinks is best for the development of his emirate. And whatever transpired during the election, Ganduje won the election.
Considering the roles played by traditional rulers in the 2019 elections during which some traditional leaders declared their support openly towards some candidates and political parties it is surprising why Ganduje should go on a personal vendetta against the emir. When elections are over, there are not foes any longer because the elected leader automatically becomes a public servant and property of the whole therefore leaders do not go about victimizing those who were against their candidacy during the electioneering period. During the 2015 presidential elections, President Buhari got only about 6% of the votes in the Southeast but the geo-political zone was not deprived of infrastructural development. This is exemplary of a leader not minding where the votes come from or pre-election choices.
In Lagos State for instance, the Oba of Lagos made an open declaration of his choice of candidate for the governorship of Lagos. He has not been dethroned neither has his kingdom been dismantled to spite him for preferring a candidate over another. Several other traditional leaders who showed their open support for candidates were not spited in any way. The Lamido of Adamawa showed his clear support for a candidate during the gubernatorial elections. The Sultan of Sokoto also showed his support for a governorship candidate during the elections, like the emir of katagum . Of these and more, none of them was victimized for their stand during the elections whether their candidates won or not.
If Governor Ganduje should consider and respect the historical value of the heritage of Kano where he comes from, he’d know better than creating smaller emirates thereby breaking hundreds of years of history of the emirate. The emirate of Kano is one of the emirates which is seen as retaining its pride in Africa, and a pride to many Africans: https://allafrica.com/stories/201108150876.html This is because it has kept the age long traditions of the emirate and the history of the kingdom long before the emergence of Fulani rulers in 1804.
Looking critically at the remark credited to the governor when he said that the traditional system in Kano is outdated, it is risible to hear of such from a governor of a state. How true could this be if the British monarchy is about a thousand years old yet the British do not consider it outdated. What about some other monarchies around the world such as of Spain, Japan and Saudi Arabia. What are the reasons that make him think that the Kano Emirate is out of touch with the present? Thus the Emir is considered to be one of the revered economist in the world and is very knowledgeable and enlightened on contemporary issues ( Emir Sanusi is the envy of other kingdoms and emirates even in the western world , forget about his human shortcomings).
When we consider the challenges facing Kano currently: problems related to the lifestyle of the people such as the number of divorced women in the state, drugs abuse, unemployed youth and other societal menace. What has Governor Ganduje done to ameliorate these problems facing Kano citizens? Security is another challenge encroaching into Kano and affecting the economic life of the state, yet the political emirates of Ganduje are more of problems to the governor than the plight of the masses because it would unnecessarily expand the size of the traditional institutions budget.
Emirs and emirates are hereditary and cannot be created at will. From the list above, the Emirs and Chiefs in the House of Chiefs in the Regional Legislature were all met as supreme Chiefs and Emirs over the lands they govern and none was created anew by the colonialists: this is because they know the value and essence of monarchy. This action of Ganduje has shown what value he has over our traditional leaders. If he cannot contain one Emir, how much more can he be able to handle five, but maybe he can handle them since he has created the political emirates to be his dogs on the leash and be at his beck and call. These are not the Emirs we need. We need Emirs who can tell the truth to political regardless of the status of the person.
In my candid submission Kano should remain a single emirate with one Emir. Next Level of the APC has nothing to do with this traditional sacrilege in Kano, let no one drag the APC into this sham, not even Governor Ganduje.
GOD BLESS THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA.