The rapid-fire move by Kano State Government to create four new emirates out of the state’s lone but ancient Kano Emirate dominated discussion all over the North last week. It all began on Monday when Kano State House of Assembly received a petition from one Ibrahim Chambers which sought to elevate some of the state’s district heads to the status of emirs. Within 48 hours of receiving this petition and without a public hearing, the Assembly amended the State’s Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs Law, creating four new emirates of Rano, Gaya, Karaye and Bichi. It was probably the fastest passing of a bill by a legislative house in the Fourth Republic.
The Kano Assembly’s haste to create the new emirates was augmented by Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje’s eagerness to sign it. On Wednesday morning, when he addressed reporters just before the State Executive Council meeting, Ganduje said, “With the creation of more emirates, all sectors of the society would improve. It will also lead to more concentration on our health, education and other equally important sectors of the society. That is the popular wish of our people, the people of Kano State. This will also go a long way in hastening growth and development for the state.The efforts didn’t get through many years ago but now we are happy to see that the idea would come into fruition.I hope the legislative arm would work on it and forward to me for assent of which I am ready to sign into law without any waste of time.”
A few hours later, the Kano Assembly unanimously passed the bill into law, after one dissenting member walked out. The bill was sent to Governor Ganduje, who lived up to his words and signed it into law that evening.The state government announced the next day, Thursday, that Ganduje approved the appointment of emirs for the four new emirates. They are Aminu Ado Bayero for Bichi, Ibrahim Abdulkadir for Gaya, Tafida Abubakar for Rano and Ibrahim Abubakar for Karaye. While Aminu Bayero was the Wamban Kano and one of the eldest sons of the late Emir Ado Bayero, the other three were district heads of the respective towns that were elevated to emirs. State Information Commissioner Mohammed Garba said the new emirs would be turbaned at the Sani Abacha Indoor Sports Stadium on Saturday.
There was widespread suspicion that the rapid move had political undertones. A move by the Ganduje administration to depose Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II two years ago was halted due to pressure from Northern state governors and Northern emirs and chiefs led by Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad. In Kano’s closely fought governorship election in March, Ganduje’s supporters were convinced that Emir Sanusi worked against them. The night Ganduje was declared the winner, a viral video on the internet showed his supporters bringing down the emir’s portrait in the Government House’s Council Chambers. They pulled it to the ground, ripped it apart and trampled on it.
Although Governor Ganduje repeatedly denied that politics had anything to do with it, statements he made in Abuja on Thursday cast further doubts on that. He told State House reporters that under the constitution, the Emir of Kano is supposed to report to his Local Government Chairman, and not to the governor. Insofar as Kano Emirate covers [or covered] 44 LGAs, it was difficult to see how the emir could report to one of them.
The simultaneous restart on Monday of the state Public Complaints and anti-Corruption Commission’s probe into Kano Emirate Council finances tended to support suspicions of a concerted push by the state government against Emir Sanusi. Four key staff of the Emir’s palace were hauled before the commission to explain various items of expenditure. Otherwise, the State Assembly does have the constitutional right to create new emirates, if that is the people’s wish. Most Northern states have created new emirates due to the state creation exercises of 1991 and 1996. Some, such as Zamfara, Nasarawa and Yobe overdid it and created numerous new emirates. Kaduna State created a lot of new chiefdoms out Zaria Emirate, for example. In the old Kano State too, Governor Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi once created five emirates out of Kano Emirate but they were dissolved by his successor, Alhaji Sabo Bakin Zuwo.
The process of creating new emirates in Kano was however halted on Friday evening when a Kano State High Court judge ordered that the status quo be maintained pending the determination of the substantive suit. The matter might drag on all the way to the Supreme Court. Or perhaps, state and regional elders may step in and broker a truce outside the courts.
We urge all parties concerned to handle this matter in such a way that it does not lead to the breakdown of law and order. If indeed there are no political motives in the move as the state government insists, then we urge it to consult more widely, review the state’s history more carefully and for the Assembly to hold a public hearing before the new law is implemented. On the other hand, if it is true that traditional rulers got involved in open partisan politicking, we condemn that as well and urge them in future to adhere strictly to their non-partisan role as fathers of all the people.