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Kano’s carousel of careering crises

Imagine a giant boulder inexorably hurtling down the Dala hill in Kano gathering speed as it progresses down the slope towards the settlements down the…

Imagine a giant boulder inexorably hurtling down the Dala hill in Kano gathering speed as it progresses down the slope towards the settlements down the hill. You do not need a clairvoyant (tsumburbura as in this case) to tell you that by the time the boulder hits the surrounding settlements of Goron Dutse and Dala, the havoc it will wreak on lives and properties will be quite unimaginable.

This is the metaphorical scenario I have of the on-going chieftaincy crises in Kano.

If anybody entertained any expectation on the ruling delivered on Thursday by Justice Abdullahi Liman of the Kano Federal High Court on the chieftaincy tussle between Emirs Aminu Ado Bayero and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, it has proven to be a forlorn expectation. The ruling itself was an anti-climax, at once confusing, confounding and contradictory; it offered no useful legal way out of the logjam; it was baffling in its conclusions by side stepping the substantive issues and entirely contradictory in its essence. Indeed, in perspective, the ruling added yet another notch to the unending trajectory of crises that Kano State had been embroiled in for quite some time now.

In this context, the Thursday ruling by Justice Liman could not have changed anything because for all practical purposes, the Kano crises had crossed the Rubicon and like the imaginary giant boulder hurtling down Dala hill, it is now unstoppable and on its path to predictable chaos sooner or later.

Although the Kano crisis is ostensibly a matter between two traditional rulers who incidentally are first cousins and who were raised by the late Emir Ado Bayero, there are however “wheels within wheels” which fuel the imbroglio, making it intractable.

First, there is the deep-seated issue of dichotomy between city and rural dwellers. Within Kano metropolis are several local government areas whose dwellers assume a kind of hauteur over those from local governments outside the metropolis. This had often caused friction between Kano State governors from outside the metropolis to seek to assert themselves as if to prove that such considerations cut no ice with them. The prime examples of such governors were late Abubakar Rimi who hailed from Sumaila Local Government and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso from Madobi Local Government, both of whom endured a not so kosher relationship with the late Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero.

The second “wheel” in the on-going Kano crises has to do with the dynastic conflicts in the house of the second Fulani Emir of Kano, Ibrahim Dabo, who succeeded Emir Suleiman. Dabo was the founder of the present ruling house of Kano. One often hears the phrase “Kano ta Dabo” in Hausa which translated to English means “Kano the city of Dabo”. It is rather like the phrase “Ibadan ni Oluyole” in Yoruba or “Ibadan the city of Oluyole” or “Katsina ta Dikko” meaning “Katsina the city of Dikko”. Thus, all the rulers of Kano to date have been descendants of Dabo and there have been dynastic disagreements between them over issues like succession, revenues, jurisdictions, titles, homage etc over the years, leading to wars. The latest struggle between Aminu Ado Bayero and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is but a manifestation of the periodic dynastic struggles in the house of Dabo over the years.

Then, there is the perennial issue of class struggle between the Kano peasantry and the aristocracy. Kano offers a sharp contrast in material and class differences which pitches the vast class of peasants against the wealthy aristocracy. Invariably, Kano politics is decidedly defined largely by this factor and in politics, even the aristocrats of Kano try to reflect this unique tenor of Kano politics in their politicking. It can be seen in the present crisis where the various parties in the conflict, though of wealthy middle class and aristocratic backgrounds respectively are appealing to the sentiments and proclaiming to be representing the masses in their actions. In this sense, both parties know that it is the masses of Kano that can determine the outcome of the conflict eventually.

There is also the issue of political differences and struggle for supremacy between the principal political figures in Kano, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, two former governors of the state. In their battle to outflank one another politically, both have taken the Kano traditional institution into hostage. In this regard, Ganduje who was Kwankwaso’s deputy and who succeeded him as governor fired the first shot by removing Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who was appointed by Kwankwaso as Emir and replacing him with Aminu Ado Bayero. Following the victory of Kwankwaso’s party the New Nigerian Political Party (NNPP) in the governorship elections in 2023 and the subsequent judicial processes that eventually affirmed the victory of the NNPP and its candidate Abba Kabiru Yusuf, the new administration made good its promise to remove Emir Ado Bayero and return Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to the Kano throne.

Finally, there is the all-important issue of the 2027 round of elections. The NNPP wants to retain Kano in 2027 and the federal government eyes Kano’s rich haul of votes, the highest in Nigeria, especially as it is clear that President Tinubu’s political fortunes in the North appear to be going pear shaped.

With this cocktail of confusing, conflicting and contradictory legal, dynastic, traditional and political issues built into the Kano crises, there is absolutely no guarantee that a resolution suitable to the parties involved will be acceptable. The traditional system is split sharply in the middle; the state politicians have their hands fiercely locked at each other’s jugular; the federal government is looking balefully and opportunistically at the situation for political ends; the judiciary is neither here nor there and the masses of Kano are already tensed up.

In the run up to the 2027 elections, Kano along with Rivers and Kaduna, where similar political tensions are manifesting, lie in the trajectory of a vortex of political storms that will severely test our democracy.

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