When news filtered in last week that the Kano State governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, had decided to split the Kano emirate into five, the whole country, especially citizens of Kano and Northern Nigeria, were shocked. Following the announcement, the bill for the establishment of Rano, Bichi, Karaye and Gaya emirates was read on the floor of the state House of Assembly on Monday, May 6.
By Tuesday, the bill was passed into law and on Wednesday, it was returned to the governor for his assent. On that same day, he signed the bill into law. By Thursday, the law was gazetted. That same day, however, a concerned citizen filed a suit before the state High Court, challenging the governor on the creation of the new emirates.
On Friday, the court granted an interim injunction stopping the governor from swearing-in the newly appointed emirs. Not deterred, the governor, in disregard of the court order, presented letters to the newly-appointed emirs, while insisting that he was not served with the court process.
The new emirs and their emirate are the son of the late Emir Ado Bayero, Aminu Ado Bayero, now Emir of Bichi; Alhaji Tafida Abubakar, Emir of Rano; Alhaji Ibrahim Abubakar, Emir of Karaye and Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulkadir, the Emir of Gaya.
Kano emirate, which hitherto was the biggest in Northern Nigeria, is now split. The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, is now in control of 10 out of the 44 local government areas (LGAs) of the state.
How did the process that led to the split of the emirate begin? What was the offence of Emir Sanusi? Why must the emirate be split at this time, with such haste? Investigation by the Nigerian Tribune revealed that since 2017, Sanusi’s relationship with Governor Ganduje has become frosty. Barely three years on the throne (Sanusi was crowned in June 2014), Sanusi’s first major issue with the state governor was when he criticised him for embarking on a jamboree trip to China.
His other “sins,” according to the Nigerian Tribune’s findings, included blaming the Federal Government for its inability to end terrorism and poverty, as well as the government’s lukewarm attitude towards almajiris. Others were the traditional ruler’s condemnation of early marriage among the elite and the inability to address increase in drug use among youths.
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Sanusi also reportedly drew the ire of the governor when he (Sanusi) sent his daughter to represent him at an event in Abuja. The lady was chided for attending the occasion without a veil, what was contrary to the norms and culture of the North.
In a move to “tame” the embattled emir, the state government then instituted a committee to probe him on the premise that he had questions to answer on some spendings in the emirate. 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 attempt to ridicule the emir, as the report of the committee was swept under the carpet and the matter resolved.
Trouble, however, brewed again, this time after the governorship election. Although the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state or the state government had not come out with any official statement on the involvement of Emir Sanusi in politics, it was gathered from top government officials that the first class monarch had supported the candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the just-concluded election.
According to a member of the ruling party who pleaded anonymity, the governor had intelligence reports on the emir before, during and after the election.
In a chat with the Nigerian Tribune, the source said: “If you recall, immediately after the rerun which returned the governor back to office, APC supporters who had trooped to the Government House to congratulate the governor started defacing the portrait of the emir hung on the walls of the Government House. What does that portray? They are angry?”
A women leader of APC in Kano State, Hajiya Bintu Rijiya Zaki, noted that the governor was magnanimous with the traditional ruler by allowing him to retain his throne as the Emir of Kano, adding that the initial plan was to dethrone him and had him deposed to one of the local government areas in Adamawa State, but for the quick intervention of a frontline business mogul, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who intervened and urged the governor to rescind his decision.
She alleged there was evidence linking the first class ruler to a romance with the opposition, particularly how he gave directive to some district heads to vote for the opposition, but unknown to him, some of the them ignored the directive and reported to the governor.
A palace source, however, dismissed the claim, insisting it was just a witch-hunt and an attempt to dent the image of the emir because “he’s always telling those in power to do the right thing.”
According to the source who craved anonymity, “I think what is needed is for both the executive and the traditional council to strike a balance in the interest of the ordinary people. I don’t think the recent probe is necessary. Already, his emirate has been split, so what do they want from the monarch?”
A cross-section of Nigerians have also continued to express their views on the development. While some are on the side of the governor, lauding him for splitting the emirate, others described the development as sad.
Speaking on a radio network programme, the deposed Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Mustapha Jokolo, said what happened in Kano was a sad development.
He faulted the governor for taking such a decision without consulting widely, insisting that, if Sanusi had erred, he should be dealt with as a person, not by dismembering an institution that had existed for over 800 years.
Speaking in the same vein, a former lecturer with the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Dr Umar Ardo, said Ganduje had deliberately desecrated the caliphate by his action.
He said: “This is a direct challenge to the Fulbe people anywhere they are in the world, because the Sokoto Caliphate establishment is the identity and pride of the Fulbe race.
“If truly the problem is Emir Sanusi, why can’t he simply initiate the process of deposing him and appoint someone else? This way, the emirate institution remains intact.
“But to go beyond the emir and desecrate the institution is a diabolical move which motives go far beyond the surface. Clearly, Ganduje is after the destruction of the caliphate establishment, using Emir Sanusi as a smokescreen.”
In defending his actions, Ganduje said what he did was not a vendetta as he had nothing personal against Emir Sanusi.
According to him, it was based on the yearnings and aspirations of the people of such emirates and the action was to bring development closer to the grassroots.
During the presentation of letters to the new emirs, the governor charged the appointees to ensure that they improve the quality of education and healthcare delivery in their respective domains, while urging the people to pay their respect to the respective monarchs.
For the Wudil communities, they would never follow the new initiative but would rather maintain the status quo.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after a meeting attended by stakeholders comprising various community associations, held in Wudil under the chairmanship of Mallam Yawale Muhammad Idris, the secretary of Wudil Joint Stakeholders, Dr Baba Sani Wudil, said the creation of the four new emirates was done without the consent of the people of Wudil and the move has gone contrary to the traditional provision of the long preserved history of the area.
“We didn’t solicit for it in the first place and when the government decided to create the new emirates, the people of Wudil were not consulted. Therefore, we are sure that the new law, if allowed to persist, will no doubt erase our long-preserved historical background and the people of Wudil will not allow that to happen.
“We believe the traditional institution has a long history and that is what gives us our identity. We are the Jobawa and we want Governor Ganduje to know that,” he said.
It will be recalled that the late Ado Bayero suffered the same fate as Emir Sanusi.
In 1980, the former governor of the state, Abubakar Rimi, created five emirates and banned him from travelling outside the city.
The creation of the emirates at the time was, however, met with massive protest by the citizens of Kano, who felt the balkanisation of emirate was politically-motivated.
The protesters stormed 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.
The death of the erstwhile adviser shocked the entire nation but nothing was done to reverse the decision until 1983, when Sabo Bakinzuwo defeated Rimi to clinch the governorship ticket. One of the first things Bakinzuwo did on assumption of duty was to dissolve the emirates created by his precedessor (Rimi).
Almost 40 years after that incident, history seems to be repeating itself. Today, Kano Emirate has been split into five and already, emirs have been appointed and redeployed to their respective emirates.
Meanwhile, Emir Sanusi, who was out of the country when the announcement to split the emirate was made, returned to a rousing welcome on Sunday.
To pundits, this may not be the end of the drama as there is still the issue of a probe. Will Sanusi resign or be dethroned? Will he be redeployed to another emirate? Only time will tell.