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Inside Kano’s ‘game of thrones’

May 2019 will remain historic to the people of Kano State, as four additional emirates were created from the hitherto main one, with four first class emirs appointed. The emirates are Gaya, Rano, Karaye and Bichi, with new appointees Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulkadir Gaya (Gaya), Alhaji Tafida Abubakar Ila (Rano), Dr Ibrahim Abubakar ll (Karaye) and Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero (Bichi).

The move for the creation of the new emirates was kickstarted by a group called West African Institute for Legal Aide (WAILA), which petitioned the Kano State House of Assembly through its solicitor Malam Ibrahim Salisu Chambers, requesting the creation of four new emirates. It took the state assembly only four days to finish the whole process, from tabling the petition on the floor of the House, moving a motion in respect of the petition, reading the motion for the first, second and third readings and consolidating the motion with existing law tagged ‘Kano State Emirs (Appointment and Deposition) (Amendment) Law edict No 9, 1984’ to pave way for the creation of the new emirates.

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It took Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, three days to assent to the law, create four first class emirs, appoint them, and give them staffs of office. While the Kano State House of Assembly did its work between May 6th and 9th, the governor on the other hand accomplished his between May 9th and 12th.

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However, that move has sparked a controversy of epic proportions, within and outside the circle of royal families, among the people of Kano, and indeed across the country. While some people have supported the move, others have kicked against it.

With the creation of the additional emirates, Daily Trust Saturday has observed that Kano, hitherto known with a single set of traditional hierarchy will now have five sets of kingmakers, emirate councils, et cetera.

A major issue that is still lingering, is that some of the families of the senior council members, such as Wambai, Sarkin Bai, Makama, Madaki, Turaki, Ciroma and others who hitherto were the only heirs of these positions, have also been affected by the creation of the new emirates, as new sets of such positions will now be made available.

The debacle even spilled out of Kano, seeing Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State having to clarify his stand yesterday. Asked if he spoke in support of the creation of four additional emirates, he said he could never have spoken in support of the split of the Kano Emirate, or against the governor, because he has a special relationship that has indebted him to both Ganduje and Emir Sanusi. He reportedly spoke in the presence of Ganduje, at a meeting of Northern Governors, in Kaduna.

For Alhaji Ibrahim Kamilu of Gyadi-Gyadi, the creation of the additional emirates in Kano would only fractur the society, as according to him, “The issue of emirate dichotomy will now come up. People will now start asking themselves about their identity as far their respective emirates. The whole issue is politically-motivated.”

Kamilu said that’s why he doesn’t support it. “If it’s not political, why are the opinions of people not being heeded? The Kano State House of Assembly should have called for a public hearing for the views of the public on the issue. But because they are rushing, they passed the law to pander to the executive arm of government,” he said.

Malam Aminu Muhammad, another contributor, said although politics played a vital role in the issue, he was looking at it from a wider perspective. “Politics or not, the creation of additional emirates will bring development not only to the affected communities but to the whole state. Looking at the size of Kano and its position in the north, the state is too big to be manned by only one emir. A state with 44 local governments should have more than one emir. If Jigawa State, which is smaller, with only 27 local governments, can have five first-class emirs, I see no reason why Kano shouldn’t have more than one,” he said.

But Malam Inuwa Isa Fagge opined that the move was aimed at disgracing the Emir of Kano, Malam Muhammad Sanusi II, who is allegedly at loggerheads with the state governor, adding that if not because the emir was accused of being partisan during the last general election, the government would not pursue this move. “The emir stepped into the boundaries of the governor, who fired back, period. Both the emir and governor have their own interests to protect in the whole debacle. And I am sure even those that are for or against the move, are only doing so to protect the interest of the two actors,” he said.

Although some people from Gaya, Rano, Karaye and Bichi have supported the creation of the new emirates, others from some local governments under the five newly-created emirates have reacted negatively. For instance, some people from Wudil condemned the creation of the emirates, and declared that their loyalty will remain with Kano emirate, not Gaya’s.

Also, some aggrieved people from Bunkure local government have staged a peaceful demonstration against the creation of the new emirates. One of the protesters, Auwalu Baballe told Daily Trust Saturday that they’re unhappy because they don’t want to be under the Rano emirate.

A Senior Lecturer in the Department of History, Bayero University Kano (BUK), Dr Tijjani Muhammad Naniya said the development exhibits elements of politics. He added: “Can somebody possibly be more interested in your own affairs than yourself? Why are they doing it now? Why not five or 10 years ago? There must be a political undertone. This is because you can weigh it from different angles, that is political, economic, and cultural. I looked at it from different perspectives, but I could not see the justification. Politically, if you dismember a territory then you are creating disunity and social havoc. Economically, creating more emirates out of the existing Kano emirate will create political problems, for even the state government.”

Naniya also said even the state government is finding it difficult to finance its obligations with regards to the provision of water, education, employment, problems of drug abuse, and more. “Whatever you ask government with regards to these issues, the answer is that there are no resources. That same government is creating additional emirates. For additional burden, or what?”

Naniya also said even the money that comes to the emirate from the state government is not regular now. “What of if additional emirates are created? Where are getting the money to finance these institutions? This is in addition to other obligations that government is battling to attend to, like education, water supply, agriculture, health, and more.”

The creation of emirates is being challenged in two separate courts, by four kingmakers, as well as the Minority Leader and Minority Whip of Kano State House of Assembly, Hon Rabi’u Sule Gwarzo and Hon Babangida Sulaiman, respectively. The four kingmakers challenging the four emirates are Sarkin Bai Mukhtar Adnan, Makaman Kano Sarki Ibrahim Makama, Madakin Kano Alhaji Yusuf Nabahani, and Sarkin Dawaki Maituta Alhaji Bello Abubakar.

Back on the streets, Daily Trust Saturday felt the pulse of citizens. One Malam Abaubakar Umar Ba-Matsala, a commercial driver, described it as a welcome development, noting that it will bring about development to the masses. He said prior to the creation of the emirates, rural-dwellers were not so close to the emir, but now they could access their traditional leaders with ease. “The burden that hung on the neck of the Emir of Kano is now reduced because it is going to be shared among the five emirs. Leadership is all about taking good care of your people, and the only way you will know the yearnings and aspirations of your subjects is by staying closer to them,” he said.

For Baba Surajo Umar, another commercial driver, even though he supports the creation of the new emirates, he feels that if care is not taken, it will cause disunity. “In everything, there is politics, and the people of Kano are true politicians. So, even if the emirs free themselves and work for the progress of the state, their subjects might not necessarily be united. Take, for instance, the people of Wudil, who have said they prefer being under the old Kano emirate, not the Gaya one.”

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