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The Politicisation of Kano Emir-ship

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By Abdu Labaran Malumfashi.

Before the ‘purists’ punch me with their pugilist fist, they should better understand that there is a world of difference between the hyphenated word ‘Emir-ship and the one word ‘Emirate’. I used the former in the heading of the article and not the latter because while emirs change, the emirate, being an institution, remains there, to accommodate whoever comes as emir. No more, no less.

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Long before the 2020 removal of the then emir of Kano by an governor, and his replacement with another person, past Governors in the persons of Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi and Alhaji Sabo Bakinzuwo, both of revered memories, had fiddled with the Kano emirate. While ‘Comrade’ Rimi created new emirates in Kano state, his successor in office, Alhaji Bakinzuwo abrogated the law establishing the new emirates, calling them ‘mare huts’.

But even longer before Rimi and Bakinzuwo came along, the white man had come to the north with his guns and met our emirs and chiefs with their sword, spear, bows and arrows. The competition was very little, and those of the latter who resisted the former were dethroned and replaced with a more compliant person who would do the bidding of his new benefactors and masters.

The dethronement extended to the Sokoto Caliphate, which then as now, was the number one emirate among the Muslims in the country.

By the way, this article is not a history lesson nor is it meant to take sides, even though the writer may have his ‘candidate’ among the ‘contestants’, being the human that he is.

One remembers with nostalgia that there used to be an emirate with a ‘powerful’ but reticent emir. The emirate was Kano, and the ‘reticent’ Emir was Alhaji Ado Bayero, of blessed memory. Those were indeed the days, when there were emirs and there were emirs.

To show how ‘ powerful’ Alhaji Ado Bayero was, the story of a ‘Buzu’, the Hausas’ name for a Tuareg man from the neighbouring Niger Republic, and how he ‘arrogantly’ went to the Sultan’s Palace in Sokoto to sell his horses. The Sultan was said to have looked at the Buzu with a smile on his face and politely told him that he did not want horses, but the emir of Kano wanted to buy some.

So off to Kano the Buzu went, thinking he was going to meet a ‘lower’ king. But when he got to the Kano palace with the arrogance that he went to the Sokoto Sultanate, he received the ‘beating of his life’ from the palace guards, without a word from the emir. When he regained his senses, the Buzu went back to the Sultan where, and, in his usual manner, he shouted to him that ‘you are not a king, the REAL king is in Kano’.

The Hausas have other ‘punching bags’ (play mates) as well. They include the Gobirawas (also in Niger Republic), the Fulanis (found in almost all countries in Africa), the Nupawas in Niger state, the Gbagis (Gwari) in some of the north central states and the ‘munchi’ (Tivs) of Benue state.

The anecdote mentioned above might and might not have happened, but the point it tried to make, or even made, was that then Emir Alhaji Ado Bayero, though very powerful, hardly spoke in public until it was very necessary for him to do so.

But some of the emirs of these days hardly keep their own views to themselves. They are seem to be, most of the time, filliphant. They are not above sharing anything with anybody who cares to listen, regardless of the environment or the circumstances they may find themselves in. Above all, they hardly use their God given position to belong to all, without taking sides. And this is the main cause of their ‘fall’ from grace to grass, as they become the plaything of every governor that came to be in the state.

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Some of them are highly educated in both secular and Islamic knowledge, but because of the lack of restraint they make themselves ready made fodder for someone of ‘lesser’ breeding to toy with when, and as, they please. This has a negative impact on the north, where the local institution of the emirate is highly revered.

The involvement of the emirs in the mundane matters of the daily affairs of the elected rulers gives them and the institution they represent a lower estimation in the eyes of the masses, on whose behalf they are supposed to serve.

But more importantly, flip side of the Kano emir-ship debacle is the fact that a sitting governor is the security chief of his state ONLY in name. This is because the various security chiefs operating in the states take orders from their respective bosses in Abuja.

The recent order by the Kano state Governor, Engineer Abba Kabir, for the arrest of the ‘former’ Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero was DISOBAYYED by the state’s commissioner of police. The argument of the state’s security chiefs was that ‘they were maintaining the status quo’ since the Federal Court in Kano has already ruled on the case, which maintained that the positions remained the same until the matter is finalised by the courts.

The case was dragged to the Kano Federal High Court by Alhaji Babba Dan Agunde, who served as a very influential chief in the court of Emir Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero. The Chieftaincy tittle was that of ‘Sarkin Gida’, or the chief in of domestic affairs.

The calls in some quarters for the Federal Government to wade into the matter were, in the opinion of this writer, misplaced. The reason being that the government might take sides because it is, in a way, an ‘interested party’ in the case. The removal of the emir before Emir Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero was based on his ALLEGED involvement in partisan politics, where he was alleged to be in support of the opposition party in Kano state.

So the Federal Government might not be ‘fair to Emir Sanusi II. The alleged involvement of the National Security Adviser, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, is a pointer to this fact.

When the present governor of the state came into office, this writer had written an open letter to him advising (him) of the imperative need to see himself as the governor of the entire people of Kano state, not the governor of only those whom he believed ‘elected’ him into office.

He was also advised not to take any action that might lead to the breach of the peace in the state, because that was not the purpose of God in making him the number one citizen in Kano state. It seems he did not take the advice seriously.

Finally, the ‘warring’ parties should sheath their swords and allow the courts to finalise on the matter, and advise their various supporters ‘not to take to the war path’. In particular, they should ask their various Hausa or Kanywood singers to hold off for the time being. The courts, on the other hand, should take the decision that would please the majority not the few powerful people in the society.

Malam Malumfashi wrote from Abuja.

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