When Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, the Kano State former governor and national leader of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) fired the first salvo in this unending saga of conflict in the Kano Emirate, I belched and muttered to myself, “Huh, here we go again”. Probably under the euphoria of his close associate and political godson, Abba Kabir Yusuf, winning the bitterly-fought gubernatorial election in Kano State, Kwankwaso let it be known that they would revisit the dethronement of Muhammadu Sanusi II as Emir of Kano in 2020.
He was quoted to have said in a viral video, “As elders, we will continue to advise them to do the right thing. We tried not to intervene in the issue of bringing or removing any emir, but now, an opportunity has come. Those who have been given this opportunity will sit down and address the issues. They will look at what they are expected to do. Besides the emir, even the emirate has been divided into five places. All these need to be studied. Usually, a leader inherits good and bad issues that are hard to reconcile,” Kwankwaso said.
Of course, there is nothing altruistic about Kwankwaso goading his political godson to revisit the issues of the deposition of Emir Sanusi II and the creation of new emirates. From my perspective, it is all about the schism between Kwankwaso and his former deputy, Ganduje, and the race to see who would ultimately remain the top dog in the Kano political arena.
Exactly four years ago, the lingering quarrel that had simmered between Governor Umar Ganduje and Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II, had blown into the open leading to the sub-division of the emirate into five and the appointment of four new first-class emirs to superintend them. The bad blood generated by this action and in the aftermath, the obdurate reaction of Emir Sanusi led finally to his dethronement, his banishment to Loko, and his replacement with the incumbent. I had written a two-part article on May 21st and 28th 2019, titled Kano Emirate Imbroglio I &II. Much of what I wrote then I still find refreshingly relevant today.
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Kano emirate is one the most embattled among the big emirates of the northern states. Agreed that other emirates have tasted dethronement at one time or the other. Usman Sarki, a minister in the Tafawa Balewa administration was removed as Etsu Nupe in 1969. He went to live in Sokoto for the rest of his life and died in 1984. Emir of Muri, Umaru Abba Hassan, was deposed in 1985 by Colonel Yohanna Madaki, Governor of Gongola. Umaru Abba Hassan spent the rest of his life pursuing his case up to the Supreme Court which he unfortunately lost. Perhaps the most remarkable one was the dethronement of the Sultan of Sokoto, Ibrahim Dasuki in 1996. He lived in Zing and later died in Kaduna. Gwandu emirate had its taste of dethronement when Emir Al-Mustapha Jakolo was deposed by Governor Adamu Aliero in 2005. Jakolo is still pursuing his case for reinstatement at the Supreme Court.
But Kano emirate has always topped the bill. It has been one crisis after the other in the emirate council, since independence. Readers might recall that immediately after independence, Kano emirate was the first to run into trouble with the regional government. The running battle between the Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi and the Premier of the Northern Region, Ahmadu Bello Sardauna Sokoto, is now the stuff of legend, rather difficult to separate the facts from the untruths. They were close associates, and close relations, and were so much imbued in their aristocratic tendencies to share their space. The stronger would have to edge out the weaker. The regional government instituted a probe on the emir which ultimately led to his removal and banishment to Azare in Katagum emirate of Bauchi State.
One of his successors, Emir Ado Bayero 1963-2014, had a turbulent relationship with Abubakar Rimi, Kano State Governor 1979-83. Rimi had a rather hostile attitude towards traditional rulers in general and attempted to diminish the role of the emir by creating four entities out of the Kano emirate: Auyo, Dutse, Gaya, and Rano. The new emirs were also ordered not to pay traditional homage to the Emir of Kano. Many other provocative instances followed, including an official letter of query. Nevertheless, the emir kept his cool and barely survived the regime only to fall foul of General Muhammadu Buhari’s military regime.
The emir of Kano and the Ooni of Ife had travelled to Israel without permission. They had their passports withheld by the regime and their movements severely restricted. Emir Ado Bayero, fortunately, survived the regime as it was toppled in a palace coup soon after.
Emir Sanusi’s travails with the Ganduje administration are still current and need not be raised here again. However, the promise by Kwankwaso to go back to the issue raises a red flag for another round of instability in Kano State. It needs not be so. The governor-elect, Abba Kabir Yusuf, has his hands full already. Kano State has too many pressing matters – a large number of out-of-school children, rampant poverty, infrastructural deficiencies, etc – to continue to spend time on another cycle of Kano emirate conflict.