Split In Kano Over Kwankwaso’s Statement On Sanusi’s Dethronment

Aminu Ado Bayero and Muhammadu Sanusi

With the swearing-in of Abba Kabir Yusuf, Kano State governor-elect, only 21 days away, the recent revelation by Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, his political godfather, that the incoming government would review the dethronement of Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II and the ‘balkanisation’ of the Kano emirate has continued to heat the polity with different viewpoints for and against it struggling for prominence.

Daily Trust reports that Kwankwaso, the leader of the Kwankwasiyya Movement and presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), made the declaration in a recent interview  when asked if he thought the administration of his godson would reverse the dethronement of Sanusi.

“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.

But Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, in a swift response, said the new emirates have come to stay. The governor, while addressing unionists on Workers Day, said the emirates have “brought development to these places.

“These emirates were created for unity, progress, history, and also for the recovery of the reputation of the traditional institutions. We created them to honour the people of these regions. “I want to assure you that these emirates are permanent, they have come to stay on their own. By the grace of God, until the end of this world. And anybody that will destroy them, God Almighty will not bring him to Kano State. We assure you that these emirates were created because of you, because of your progress.

“Even if we are not in government, we are praying and we will keep praying for God to protect these emirates from all evil. I thank you all,” Ganduje said.

Sanusi was appointed by Kwankwaso as the Emir of Kano in 2014 following the death of Alhaji Ado Bayero, who had been on the throne for over five decades. Before his appointment, Sanusi had just been removed by then president Goodluck Jonathan in April 2014 as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over claims by the ex-CBN governor that $20 billion was stolen by some persons under the Jonathan administration.

Many people then opined that his subsequent appointment as emir was to spite the president, especially as he was the first Sullubawa prince since the 19th century, when the Dabo dynasty was founded, to become emir outside the established process of the right of the first-born child (especially a son) to inherit the title. The perceived unpopularity of his choice had led to weeks of unrest and protest in the commercial city, which made the emir stay at the Government House until the unrest was calmed.

Sanusi would then quickly fall out with Kwankwaso’s successor and current governor of the state, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, leading to the splitting of the Kano emirates into five and Sanusi’s dethronement in 2020. While the ex-CBN governor was accused of being too critical of the state government’s policies, including the plan to secure a Chinese loan to build a light rail, his purported support for Abba Kabir Yusuf, who at the time, was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Kano State governorship election of 2019 against Ganduje, was seen as the final nail.

Since then, supporters of Yusuf’s NNPP have been indicating that their party would correct the “injustice” done to Sanusi as well as restore the over 1,000-year-old legacy of the Kano emirate whenever they take over the government.

Thus, while Yusuf was yet to indicate any desire to restore Sanusi to the throne and collapse the four new emirates back into the Kano emirate, the declaration by Kwankwaso, whose words are mostly seen as an order or a policy statement for the Kwankwasiyya Movement, gave the impression that the new government might have concluded the plans to review the dethronement and the balkanisation of the emirate.

The governor-elect was said to be with Kwankwaso when this interview was granted. Sanusi Bature, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor-elect, declined comment when pressed on whether or not his principal shares the same sentiment as that of the leader of their party.

Views for and against the move 

But public affairs expert, Dr Saidu Dukawa of Bayero University Kano (BUK)’s Department of Public Affairs, said the restoration of Sanusi and reversal of the splitting of the emirate were plausible but must be done accurately to avoid the same problem the reversal was hoping to correct.

Dukawa said for any long-term policy to be introduced by a government, especially one that has a direct bearing on the culture and tradition of the people, the government is expected to introduce it using either of three options: first, by including it in its manifesto; second, by campaigning with it; and lastly, by a referendum.

He said while it was clear that Yusuf did not do either of the first two and could not have been said to have gotten the support of the majority of the populace on that, the only option left for him would be to conduct a referendum on the issue.

A researcher on traditional institutions, who pleaded anonymity, told Daily Trust that reinstating the former emir has more advantages and benefits than otherwise. “Firstly, the impeachment was done as a result of a political crisis between Sanusi and Ganduje, the people of Kano did not request Sanusi`s impeachment, therefore public interest wasn’t considered.

“Secondly, the addition of the other four new emirates in the state did not add any value to the security situation of the state, as the governor claims. If it is about the security situation of the state, then he should have improved and elevated the status of district and village heads, which is more logical.

“Economically, the addition of four more emirs did not in any way generate employment or revenue for the state. And maintaining them consumes a lot of money,” he said.

Daily Trust reports that the five new emirates now cost the state government some N3.1 billion annually following the doubling of their allowances by the governor last year.  “If the government decides to reinstate the former emir, it will prevent future governors from impeaching any emir due to a clash of interests,” the researcher said.

But renowned political analyst, Professor Kamilu Sani Fage, opined that for the sake of peace and stability, it may not be a wise decision to restore the dethroned emir, adding that the conversation around whether or not he would be restored was informed majorly by “personality clash”.

He said, while it could be argued that the Ganduje administration, which carried out the dethronement and splitting of the emirate, did this with some loopholes in the process, instead of the reversal of the process to preserve the sanctity of the traditional institution as being argued by its proponents, it may open up the institution to further ridicule as subsequent governments may also reverse whatever the incoming government has done.

Dr Aminu Hayatu of BUK’s Department of Political Science also shares a similar view with Prof. Fage, adding that bringing back the dethroned emir would tamper with the political stability of the state.

Historically possible? 

According to Nasir Wada Khalil, a historian and researcher, there has only been one instance when an Emir of Kano was dethroned and restored.

“Kano started as a city-state in 999AD and has witnessed more than 56 traditional leaders in the status of Emir, from Habe, Kutumbi and Fulani dynasties, the latter reigning up till the present.

“However, except for when Emir Muhammadu Kukuna (1651-1652AD) was dethroned and sent to Zaria and then later re-emerged as the leader of the state for eight years and seven months in 1652AD, none of these traditional rulers had the chance of ruling the state twice,” he said.

Daily Trust also reports that proponents of Sanusi’s restoration have also cited the Bayero-Rimi-Bakin Zuwo scenario in the 1980s as a precedent that favours the clamour for the reversal of the creation of the four new emirates and restoration of Sanusi as the only First Class Emir of Kano. They cite the creation of four new emirates by the late Governor Abubakar Rimi in 1981, which was reversed by his successor, Sabo Bakin Zuwo as a precedent.

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