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2027: How battle for soul of Kano stirred emirate tussle

Emirs and traditional rulers are generally not expected to be involved in partisan politics, though they remain an integral part of the political structure of…

Emirs and traditional rulers are generally not expected to be involved in partisan politics, though they remain an integral part of the political structure of the state. In Hausa, they are often referred to as ‘Iyayen Kasa’ to emphasize their expected neutral disposition in politics.

Historically, the occupant of the exalted stool of the Emir of Kano has always exerted powerful political influence in the state’s political landscape and even beyond. It follows, therefore, that political actors see the traditional institution as a means of consolidating grip on power and a ‘gateway’ to political dominance.

Kano remains a politically sophisticated state in Nigeria, where voter behaviour can often be unpredictable.

Thus, analysts and observers of the development in Kano have pointed to how the fallout from the recent dissolution of Kano emirates, created by the previous All Progressives Congress-led (APC) government of Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and the subsequent reinstatement of Muhammadu Sanusi as emir, will play a critically decisive role in the politics of 2027 in the state and possibly beyond.

What, however, is in doubt is whether or not the traditional institution will continue to remain relevant and revered and come out of it all with its integrity intact.

In the 1980s, the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) government of the late Abubakar Rimi maintained a very hostile relationship with the then-Emir of Kano, the late Ado Bayero, culminating in the creation of the new emirates of Gaya, Rano, Dutse and Auyo to coexist with Kano, Hadejia, Gumel and Kazaure emirates. Many analysts believed that played a significant role in Rimi’s defeat in the 1983 elections.

His successor, Sabo Bakin Zuwo, immediately reversed the decision of Rimi, directing all the newly appointed emirs to revert to their former positions as district heads.

The latest dissolution of Kano emirates was followed by protests, though peaceful, and disappointment in the affected emirates. But during the last sitting of the assembly, it was hinted that it would pass another bill creating new second-class emirs with the aim of using it to douse the tension in the areas.

Some analysts point to the fact that the decision to reinstate Emir Sanusi by Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf was largely a strategic political move in view of Sanusi’s wide network and financial resources, in addition to his unflinching support for the governor in 2019, which ultimately led to his deposition in 2020.

Others, however, point to the possible backlash of this strategy because of the sympathy the sons of the late Emir Ado Bayero (Alhaji Aminu and Nasiru) would attract. Some believe that his children were made emirs to inherit his goodwill and support, which would in turn give political advantage to Ganduje, who appointed them in the first instance.

Some observers also point to the spiritual position of Emir Sanusi as the Grand Khalifah of the Tijjaniyya Movement as an instrument of political mobilisation just like his grandfather’s when he was deposed in 1963.

The Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) formally merged with the Kano People’s Party (KPP) whose members were largely from the Tijjaniyya brotherhood, ahead of the 1964 election against Sardauna’s Northern People’s Congress (NPC).

But again, others believe that the deposed Emir of Bichi, Nasiru Ado Bayero, like Emir Sanusi, also has the financial muscles and enjoys tremendous support from the business community as a boardroom player in the country.

The chairman of the ruling New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) in Kano, Hashimu Dungurawa, alluded to the fact that the NNPP government in the state wanted the reinstated Emir Muhammad Sanusi on the throne because of his previous support for Governor Yusuf.

“Kano people voted for Abba Kabir Yusuf because of the wrongdoing of Governor Ganduje. People were angry with him for balkanizing the Kano emirate into five. It is against their wish. But Ganduje saw it as an avenue to get more votes. That was the rationale behind it.

“But scientifically, he was wrong. Kano people had denied him an election victory three times since 1999. Even in 2015, it was because of the endorsement of Kwankwaso; otherwise, he could not be governor. Even if he makes everyone an emir, that would not win any election for him,” Dungurawa said.

According to him, even when Governor Yusuf sponsored 1001 students for foreign scholarships and settled outstanding local scholarships, his supporters said that was not enough, insisting that he ensured the return of Sanusi as emir.

Dungurawa said the NNPP has no fear of losing election in 2027 on account of the dissolution of the emirates.

The sentiments of the chairman were shared by the interim chairman of Tarauni Local Government Council, Abdullahi Maikano Ibrahim Bashir, who doubles as ALGON chairman in the state.

For him, reinstating Emir Sanusi “will surely motivate many people in Kano State and Nigeria at large to come out en masse and cast their votes for the NNPP. This is because people now have confidence in the NNPP and Kwankwasiyya because they know whatever wrong any government does will be reversed once the NNPP has the opportunity to come to power.”

However, the APC Vice Chairman in Kano State, Shehu Maigari, believes that the creation of the new emirates by the Ganduje-led APC administration was in fulfilment of what the mind of the majority and right-thinking people wanted because, according to him, it was something that brought progressive advancement of the state generally.

“APC, being a progressive party, created the emirates for the progress of the state, but those who want the state to remain stagnant decided to do away with the entire issue. People are now looking for what will be beneficial for them and their future generations, so the period of blind loyalty is nearly over.

“I assure you that the 2027 election in Kano State will be different from what you knew previously. This time around, you will see people running away from their parties to elect what would be beneficial to them and their future generations. Many would be with the progressives and run away from those who are retrogressive because nobody would like to remain in political slavery.

“We will campaign on this and sensitize people about it. Look at Kano South, for instance, the catchment area of the three emirates. What would those people tell them during their political campaigns?” he queried.

Mustapha Isa Fagge, a public affairs commentator, believes that the 2027 election will be shaped by the Kano emirate tussle, with the APC also approaching the electioneering period with a mindset of removing any traditional ruler appointed by the NNPP government.

“Local politicians would be under intense pressure to recreate the dissolved emirates. In fact, by early next year, this will dominate political discourse in Gaya, Bichi, Karaye and Rano.

“There would be sharp political division in the rank and file of the political class on the issue,” Mustapha noted.

He said all leading presidential candidates are more than keen on developments in Kano, noting that Peter Obi, the Labour Party presidential candidate in the last election, visited Kano three times recently and even donated a borehole in Fagge.

There were also allegations of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s involvement in the current saga through his National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu. But despite the denial, the allegation has refused to fizzle away, especially with the deposed Emir Aminu Bayero still enjoying federal support with security deployment.

He argued that with Sanusi as emir, the NNPP would be strong against the APC considering his ties with Nasiru El-Rufai, the immediate past governor of Kaduna State, who is being humiliated by the APC government.

Mustapha said Emir Sanusi can mobilise and galvanise resources for the party to remain in office for his own survival.

High-profile politicians from Kano southern senatorial district, where three out of the five dissolved emirates were located, like Senators Mas’ud Eljibrin Doguwa and Kabiru Gaya, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, former speaker Abdulaziz Garba Gafasa, Sagir Takai, Sule Usman Riruwai, Ali Datti Yako and Abdullahi Mahmood Gaya, among others, have voiced opposition against the dissolution of the new emirates.

He said “The decision to amend the law by the state house of assembly and hastily assented to by Governor Yusuf is a setback to the progress and developments of the emirates.”

They are expected to use this development to launch their campaign in 2027, especially as the senatorial district has been lamenting being marginalised in the calculation of who governs the state.


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