It is clear that this plot was not executed in the interests of peace, stability or the wellbeing of the electorate, but it is rather based on a political whim and flawed belief that the State Assembly had the legal capacity to make such a law in the first place. This move must be reversed promptly and reviewed before the repercussions on other political institutions occur and the very fabric of our society begins to disintegrate.


Synopsis

On May 8, 2019, a capricious, arbitrary act was orchestrated against a cornerstone of Nigeria’s political heritage – the emirates and emir of Kano, Kano State, Nigeria. Acting in manifest bad faith, without observing due process or conducting any public hearing, this act sought to unravel constitutional powers and alter 1000 years of history through the establishment of the new emirates of Bichi, Rano, Gaya and Karaye. There is no reasonable or significant explanation for this plot, other than the political motives of the State governor, wishing to unseat the occupier of this sacred position on the basis of a dislike emanating from a disparity in political beliefs.

The Importance of History

Kano has existed as a kingdom since 999 AD and was absorbed into the Sokoto Caliphate following the Jihad of 1804-1807. It has since emerged as the most influential emirate in the Sokoto Caliphate, under the control of the emir of Kano, traversing the entire territory that is now known as Kano State. The emirate is a melting pot, a mosaic of diverse ethnicities and traditions within Nigeria and Africa. Sarkin Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II is the 57th ruler of Kano and embodies all that history and is considered as the most important Muslim authority in Nigeria after the Sultan of Sokoto. It is a religious role, but it also one that has tremendous influence as an advisory role to political authorities and also a key contributor to the delivery of justice and other public services. This apparent coup has uprooted our heritage without giving a hearing to the emir, his clans and the populace of Kano or having due regard for our ancestral history.

A Threat To Society More Widely

Furthermore, the process through which this change was executed and the question mark over the legality of it are only part of the uneasiness it has provoked.

Constitutionality

Any traditional institution that pre-dates colonialism is actually now beyond the cultural and historical; and the case of Kano shows that these institutions are inherently political and constitutional. The emirate was not created by statute, it was simply recognised by law following the colonisation of Nigeria. A state legislature cannot promulgate a law that dissolves an institution that is not a product of statute and that predates Nigeria’s colonial history. The government can remove emirs, with just cause as allowed by law, but cannot dissolve the emirate and recreate new ones.

Traditional institutions are imperative to state security – and it has long been recognised that they must be fully integrated in the security management of their communities. This move to hurriedly and confusedly destabilise the state structures and powers will directly threaten the peace of the region.


Leadership and Identity

This move has the ability to erode the influence of Kano State as a whole – it’s economic, political and historical significance. This action has completely overturned hierarchies and relations within the emirates, affecting the emir of Kano and the four kingmakers – the Madaki, Makama, Sarkin Dawaki Mai Tuta and Sarkin Bai – on the one hand and the so-called new emirs on the other hand, and this situation could lead to a breakdown of law and order in the State. If not repealed, civil unrest is not an impossibility and our land will be under threat. Most disturbingly, it has called into question and threatened the existence of our institutions and rulers, not just in Kano but throughout Nigeria. The ease with which the power of traditional leaders can apparently be obliterated, has the potential to destabilise the very fabric of Nigeria’s political society. Traditional institutions provide the value systems for many present-day Nigerians – these traditions are inherent in our ancestry and are important for building strong family relationships between generations. Amidst the turmoil of Nigeria’s political systems, these structures – be they the emir of Kano, the sultan of Sokoto, the ooni of Ife and the oba of Benin provide cohesion, continuity and important stability to the people they represent. This move is reckless, particularly for Kano. Northern Nigeria has some of the worst development indices in the world; beset by poverty, violence and illiteracy. To destroy the one institution that has rallied the people of Kano and still gives some succour, a sense of citizenship, pride and identity in the midst of this grinding poverty is reprehensible.

Peace and Security

Kano is still threatened by the Boko Haram insurgency. In Nigeria, like in other African countries, indigenous ways of managing conflicts is rooted in various traditions and customary laws making our traditional rulers the custodians of these values. The Emir of Kano has had significant influence over the cessation of the insurgency in Kano. As an acknowledged leader over the regions’ Muslims, he also provides a guiding light to the youth at risk of being driven to join Boko Haram. Many people in Kano accord the Emir greater respect than they do secular institutions of government. Traditional institutions are imperative to state security – and it has long been recognised that they must be fully integrated in the security management of their communities. This move to hurriedly and confusedly destabilise the state structures and powers will directly threaten the peace of the region.

Conclusion

Indigenous and other leaders have long coexisted in the context of diverse institutions and political logic – complementing and supporting each other. However, this recent power struggle within Kano has resulted in a dramatic unravelling of an important leadership in Nigeria and has the potential to prompt a more profound shift of power in the socio/economic substructure in the province. That years of tradition can be unpacked unlawfully in just two days has undermined political authority, not just in Kano but across Nigeria. The emirate system, as with many of our political systems, emanated from the will of the people themselves. They are the ones who built the system onn the basis of their expectations and beliefs; and if it is to be disposed, it must be done with the peoples’ consent following due process, so as not to threaten society as a whole. It is clear that this plot was not executed in the interests of peace, stability or the wellbeing of the electorate, but it is rather based on a political whim and flawed belief that the State Assembly had the legal capacity to make such a law in the first place. This move must be reversed promptly and reviewed before the repercussions on other political institutions occur and the very fabric of our society begins to disintegrate.

Dr. Hussaini Abdu
Ismail Ahmed Esq
Sa’a Bako
Professor Jibrin Ibrahim
Dr. Ayesha Imam
Zahra Nwabara
Aisha Mohammed-Oyebode
Auwal Musa Rafsanjani
Maryam Uwais Esq
Fatima Wali-Abdurrahman
Eng. Y. Z. Ya’u