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Friday, May 17, 2019

Kano Emirate’s Split in good or bad faith?

It is no longer news that the Kano State Governor Umar Ganduje has through a new law passed by the state House of Assembly split the Kano emirate into five.

For the record, in addition to the old, Kano emirate, the newly created emirates are Gaya, Rano, Karaye, and Bichi respectively.

And according to the law creating them, all the five Emirates are to co-exist on equal standing. How insulting!

Not forgetting also that it took the house roughly three days to get done what looked like a hatchet job.

As it were, the swift passage of the bill may well serve as another a reminder of how adroit governments in Nigeria can become when it comes to doing what they considered needful especially when an enemy real or perceived is in sight.

If not similar in a manner of legislative and executive gang-up, then, what happened in 2018 between Oyo State Government and musician Yinka Ayefele can definitely be described as an act of executive rascality.

The Abiola Ajimobi led government had mobilized men and resources to pull down a portion of Yinka Ayefele's Music House in Ibadan. The edifice was said to have contravened the State's Urban Master plan.


File photo: Umar Ganduje, Kano state governor. Source: Facebook.
What makes the event more annoying than intriguing was the timeline of its execution. The demolishing exercise took place in the early hours of a Sunday.

During the period, people's emotion had run over. And in the end, it was the differently-challenged gospel artiste that won in the emotive court of the people.
Reports have it that the damaged structure has been restored with funds provided by the state government.

The ancient Kano Emirate under Emir Sanusi Lamido wasn't as lucky. It did not only come down like a house of cards under the swift political hurricane triggered by Governor Umar Ganduje and his cohorts; there was also nobody to wail and lament for it in a show of solidarity.

Not even a single traditional ruler from the region raised a voice. Conspiracy theorists, therefore, have deemed their silence conspiratorial which indicates only one thing their pre-knowledge and support of the governor’s action.

The chances of it restoration, like Ayefele’s Music House, are even slimmer if non-existent because staffs of office have been presented to the beneficiaries by the governor contrary to a court order restraining him.

But just like when the idea of it splits first hit the airwaves, it has continued to generate conversations across the length and breadth of the country with people sharing their perspective.

Some northern elements have hailed the decision of the governor as a welcomed development copiously citing the example of what's obtained in the south-western part of the country.

The Kano Emirate, they argue, is too large for one man to oversee. And so the split is timely if not long overdue. With a thought like that, you would think the Kano emirate's seat is an elective one and not traditional and hereditary.

Some even went as far as suggesting that Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi should even be removed for what they call his incessant attack on a number of age-old cultural practices which are dear to a lot of northern elements.

Singularly worthy of reference here is the issue of underage marriage. Is it not better to have under-age girls get married than to have under-age prostitutes, those who one could best describe as chronic pedophiles argued?

They must have been alarmed at the possibility of such practice becoming outlawed that they felt greatly relieved that the kingdom of its number critic has been slashed off.

But you will not agree less that both under-age marriage and under-age prostitutes is an offshoot of the twin evils of poverty and ignorance ravaging the north and no less of the whole country.

However, others, like the Kano Forum, have condemned the action of the governor as an attack and bastardization of the traditional institutions.

As a Nigerian, it is not that I'm struggling to come to term with the reality of this significant incident, I'm only just not comfortable with the whole thing right from what allegedly triggered it, the speed and what it aims at achieving.

In fact, I find the whole affair muddled-up and misleading at the minimum.

Indeed, like it was alluded to by supporters of Ganduje's action, that the south-west where I'm from is replete with kingdoms. But they were neither created in one fell swoop like what just occurred in Kano nor are helping to bring governance closer to the people in the manner Ganduje is looking.

For example, at my nativity of Abeokuta, there are four notable kings. Roughly in order of stature, they are namely Alake of Egba land, Olowu of Owu, Agura of Gbagura, and Osile of Oke-Ona Egba.

Eminent, revered, and influential as they were, they are still merely traditional rulers without constitutional powers to affect the most basic of developmental needs of the people like their counterpart in other states.

Yes, in Lagos which share strong similarities with Kano, there are as many kings as you can imagine, but they remain influential pawns in the hands of political authorities.

So, how does Ganduje intends to achieve what he claimed was the purpose of creating four additional Emirates in Kano?

It is a fact that Nigerian political classes, especially the governors, are obsessive with power and are hardly known to delegate such to subordinates.

Traditional institutions in Nigeria have been reduced to mere consultative platforms for the elective office holders especially when things are no longer at ease in their respective domains.

So, his four new emirs cannot go over and beyond their primary call of duty as the custodians of culture and traditions of the land to exercising constitutional powers.

Historically, it is only the colonial masters who achieved something akin to effective use of traditional authorities in governance with particular reference to the north itself which they governed indirectly through the traditional rulers. It is not the same thing in the south.


*Emir Sanusi Lamido of the former Kano Emirate.
Constitutionally as we speak, the only arm of government that's closest to the people is the local governments. And they have not been allowed by the governors to function independently. How sincere, then, is Ganduje's quick-paced administrative masterstroke?

Why didn't he, on the other hand, strengthen the existing local governments in Kano metropolis for optimal delivery of dividends of good governance to the people?

Or alternatively, he should have followed the footstep of Lagos by creating additional Local Council Development Areas (LCDA). I'm sure; he wouldn't have aroused any suspicion for having an ulterior motive for his action.

Perhaps better still, he should have waited to latch on the window of opportunity recently provisioned in a new policy guideline aimed at ensuring greater autonomy for Local Governments in Nigeria starting June 1, 2019.

To set the record straight, I know like most of the kingdoms in Yoruba land, earliest emirates in the Hausa-Fulani sphere of influence are products of conquests and not of any political patronage. And therein lays the beauty.

No one is saying new Emirates should not be created like it has been done elsewhere, but the timing should be right, the pace controlled, and the purpose properly situated within the political reality of the time.

I also know that Nigeria does not practice constitutional monarchy. So, if truly the governor is looking to bridge the administrative gaps in Kano state as he is claiming, he certainly cannot use the traditional institutions. It is simply like using the 16th-century solution to cure the 21st-century ailment.

Constitutionally speaking, political authorities have the powers to collapse kingdoms and emirates, depose a sitting king or emir for whatever reason. This provision should not be abused because of political differences at the slightest opportunity like it has been over the years.

We all can recall how late military junta, Gen, Sani Abacha deposed the equally late Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki and installing in his stead another equally late Sultan Maccido.

Whereas, he was a part of the supreme military council when the turbaning of Sultan Dasuki took place and he didn't raise a voice as to it impropriety. Maybe he lacked the powers to do so.

He, however, went ahead to remove him much later as the head of state and commander-in-chief in an atmosphere of tensed political intrigues claiming he was not the most deserved to occupy to post.

From the foregoing, Ganduje's split of the Kano Emirate looked more like an effort in bad faith. Though, there are jumbles of theories out there justifying it. The most prominent, like I said earlier being that it will help bring governance closer to the people at the grass-root in terms of education, religious, agriculture, blah blah blah.

But beneath this is the controversy stirred up by an eloquently vocal Lamido especially concerning the subject of under-age marriage among others which is very prevalent in the north.

All this while his brutally frank advocacies must have unsettled the cultural sensitivity of the Kano power brokers and by extension the wider northern oligarchy. After all, culture no matter how crude will always enjoy the support of some members of the society. And the Emirate’s dismemberment, by implication, is just a perfect way of getting at him and silencing him forever.

But I hope he is able to stand tall and stay strong to prove them wrong by continuing to speak out more intelligently and vigorously against the numerous social maladies confronting the north today just as the rest of the troubled nation called Nigeria.

The whole affair smacked of a witch-hunt and clearly underscores the Yoruba proverb that says ‘the truthful member of society is often taken to be its enemy’.

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