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Kano: Restoration of the Emirate and Emir

Yesterday, Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf of Kano State announced the appointment of Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi II as the new Emir of Kano. He made the…

Yesterday, Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf of Kano State announced the appointment of Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi II as the new Emir of Kano. He made the announcement after signing the new emirate council law at Government House. Former Governor Abdullahi Ganduje had dethroned Sanusi in 2020, following a personal rift. The State House of Assembly had on the same day passed a bill for the dissolution of the five emirates created by the immediate past administration of former governor Abdullahi Ganduje and the removal of all five emirs. Governor Yusuf signed the law after proposition from the Kingmakers of Kano Emirate. Warm congratulations to Muhammad Sanusi II, the 14th and 16th Emir of Kano. May God guide him and give him the wisdom to rule with fairness and justice.

The law, titled the Kano State Emirates Council (Amendment No.2) Law, 2024, scrapped the five emirates system and first-class emirs in Gaya, Rano, Karaye and Bichi and reverted the state to its position as the only one with a single emirate council, apart from Sokoto, which has only the Sultan as the paramount ruler superior to all emirs in the caliphate. There is excitement and contentment in the state because since 2019, Kano State has been destabilised, distressed and shocked following the orchestrated plot implemented by the erstwhile administration of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje to destroy a millennium of rich Kano tradition, history and legacy. The plot was rolled out and implemented without recourse to the good people of the state.

It was done with no regard to extant laws, Kano’s political heritage and unity and indeed the humanity of its people who have a history and rich cultural heritage they are proud of and have the right and duty to preserve for generations yet unborn. The clear response of the people of Kano to the threat against the emirate was the victory of the opposition in the 2019 election, which was stolen in broad daylight by the contrived ‘inconclusive’ electoral outcome and the subsequent use of thugs and violence to rig the supplementary elections. The peace-loving people of Kano State waited patiently for the 2023 election to vote out, once again, the government that Ganduje sought to impose. The new administration of Kano State right from the beginning expressed its determination to restore the state’s heritage, culture and unity that served the Kanawa so well for centuries that were needlessly placed asunder by the said Ganduje administration.

It’s important to understand the logic of the restoration. It would be recalled that on Monday May 6, 2019, one faceless individual, Ibrahim Salisu, had submitted a petition to the Kano State House of Assembly seeking the decentralisation of the Kano Emirate. The petitioner demanded the upgrade of the traditional rulers of Karaye, Bichi, Rano, and Gaya to the status of first-class emirs and the creation of additional emirates in Kano. The Assembly which was in recess was hurriedly reconvened by the Speaker. It set up a committee to look into the petition and come up with a report. The next day, Tuesday May 7, the report was ready as it simply copied and pasted the prayers of the petitioner. 

The draft Amendment Bill was presented and received a swift passage at the Assembly after the third reading the same day.  The then Governor Ganduje signed the bill into law. By the end of the week, new emirs were appointed and issued their letters and instruments of authority. This was the cavalier manner in which 1000-years of Kano history  was thrown away by the Ganduje administration. Kano lost its status as one of only two states in Nigeria with one emirate or traditional council. 

The law balkanised Kano’s 44 local government hitherto under the traditional authority of Kano Emirate to create the five  new emirates – Rano, Gaya, Karaye, Bichi and Kano. These monumental actions were taken without any consultations with stakeholders and the public. The House did not organise any public hearing and even within the Assembly there were virtually no discussions. This action was taken in bad faith and  in clear abuse of due process.

Kano had existed as a Kingdom since c. 999 AD under a lineage of Hausa Kings (Sarakuna). Following the Jihad of 1804 and the conquest of the Hausa Rulers of Kano in 1807, it took its present form with an Emir and Kingmakers representing the prominent Fulani clans that led the Jihad in Kano. Each of the clans maintained its seat in Kano City but had territorial control of various districts of the Emirate. Although colonial conquest subordinated the authority of Sarkin Kano and the emirate to the colonial state, the colonialists did not rework the territories which have remained consolidated since the reign of Sarkin Kano Ibrahim Dabo (1819-1846). The Nigerian State also maintained the recognition of these territorial definition. 

The  Emirate which predates the Nigerian State is  not a product of statute and cannot therefore be disbanded by statute as the Ganduje government did. The government can remove emirs with just cause as allowed by law but cannot dissolve the Emirate and recreate new ones. The recognition of the Emirate remains a pivotal social contract of some sort by which the modern Nigerian State has recognised the continuing relevance of the traditional system of authority which has continued to serve as an enduring fulcrum of unity, identity and social cohesion often mobilised not just for its pomp and pageantry but as a source of peace, order and stability.

 It is therefore clear that:

Ganduje’s actions were ill-motivated and founded on gross abuse of power;

The said actions were destructive of the cultural, historical and political heritage of Kano;

 The actions have seriously eroded the unity of Kano State and reduced the status and influence of traditional institutions and removed the important voice of such authorities in defending the people. Since the 10th century, there has always been one Sarkin Kano as the leader of the people of Kano;

The Ganduje law created divisions, acrimony and disharmony across the districts of the Emirate by removing ruling houses from their roots and subordinating them to lesser chiefs. The Emirate had inherited Sarauta titles, which are based on hierarchies established by precedence as approved by Sarkin Musulmi Muhammad Bello (1817-1837) which were upturned overnight.

The government under Governor Ganduje promised that the new Emirates, will bring development to their domains, but it was the opposite that happened. Nigeria is a Republic and not a monarchy and emirates are not structures of government. Kano State Government is the most indebted in history because of this additional burden of costs as a result of emirates’ creation and it has not been able to effectively deliver social services. The balkanization of Kano was an unmitigated disaster.

The restoration was necessary because:

 It would once again provide a sense of unity and common identity for the people of Kano with purposeful leadership that extends to most Hausa people in Nigeria and beyond;

It is cost effective in this era of fiscal difficulties: abolishing the burden of five emirates created by Kano State Government under Governor Ganduje will release resources for much needed social development;

It is necessary to restore the foundation of the social contract between the state and the people of Kano by respecting their revered system of traditional authority in the interest of peace and stability.


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