The Upper Crust

From Kano with pain


With Uche Nnadozie

Kano is in the news. It has not stopped being in the news since the 2019 elections. It has to be as the state is densely populated. So any contestant for president or any political party desirous of making impact in the presidential election will take the people of Kano serious. The same way you must take other political positions serious.
There is a gold mine there. And this year’s election was not an exception. But elections are over yet Kano has remained in the news.
From the blues came news of a possible deposition of the Emir. The Sarkin Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi (II) was said to have stepped on toes or so it appeared. As a result, something had to happen. No one saw the balkanization of the emirate coming. The possibility looked far-fetched. But it happened last week in spite of a court intervention as some point.
I have listened and read many accounts of the unfolding drama. Many Kanawa have put their thoughts forward. It has been a contestation of logic and emotion; history and current affairs; fact and fable.
Everyone feels his or her account is the real account. But when there is such sharp divide, it simply says the issues can go either way. This could be the reason for the tepid response from the crowd. Not much has been seen from the streets and not much has been heard from the state’s high and mighty. It is what it is, they appear to be saying. The truth however lies in what has not been said I guess. For me, I’m a bit surprised at how these events unfolded so quickly. I am also surprised that the Governor of the state, Abdullai Ganduje is the one that has supervised this “restructuring”. The governor does not look the part. As the Shakespeare will say, there’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face”.
So the tales are out there about Kano and its awesome heritage. People gave written account about how old the Kano emirate is and what the balkanization will do to it. The funny thing for me is not in the truths of these tales, but the lies in the significance of our traditional institutions. I am not a fan. I have always said so. In Africa, especially Nigeria, we like to major in ceremony rather than substance. We run a system that encourage weakness and unproductively.
While the Emir and indeed all traditional rulers in Nigeria seek for more powers through constitutional amendment, yet we cry that we want to reduce bureaucracy. But we the people are the ones that mistake preservation of our cultural heritage with encouraging traditional rulers’ responsibility. They are not the same please. To begin with, Nigeria has the highest number of “monarchs” in the world. To this time, just like in Kano new ones are being carved out all over the place. This creation is simply because of the 5 per centavailable to this traditional institution through the local councils.
We have traditional rulers who depend on government to survive. But that’s not the point. The issue is that our monarchy is not the same as we have them in Europe and Asia. In those places, the countries have one traditional institution. In Nigeria we have more than a million. In Igbo land, governors keep creating what they call “autonomous communities” and announcing all sorts of Ezes or Igwes. In Kano, folks have accused the House of hurriedly deliberating on the issue. Within 72 hours all legislative processes were concluded. This is amazing considering the lethargy that tends matters of real public importance. So within a week, the emirate of Kano was sliced into five. The fact is that the state has the right to do that, but was it done for public good? The answer may never be known because it depends on who you ask, supporters of the Sarkin Kano have made all the right noises but none has said the state government has no right to split the throne. It has been done before. Apart from the one done by Abubakar Rimi in 1981 and undone by Bakin Zuwo in 1983, the creation of Jigawa State also cut back on the influence of the Emir of Kano.
Hitherto, the Kano king was also in charge of all of Jigawa State. But with the creation of Jigawa, he lost that whole state and heavens didn’t fall. That state now has not less than five emirates, while Kano remained one. Also, Ahmadu Bello equally deposed Muhammadu Sanusi (II) in the 1960s following a disagreement. Sanusi (I) is the grandfather of the current Emir. Also, there have been several instances of cut, join, excision, hijack and imposition in the history of Kano. Nothing is cast in stone. Nothing in human and social relations have remained how they were. Empires rise and fall; it is mostly human beings that cause these changes, so nothing is too big or small. After all, the Fulani that currently run Kano were not the original rulers. Kano is Hausa land, but the Fulani imposed their rule on them.
I think however that we should have more talk about our traditional institutions. What do we really do with them? What have they done for us beyond conferring chieftaincy titles to both deserving and undeserving people? In Europe and Asia they are heads of states, here they are heads of nothing. The buffer they used to be has been eroded.
Traditional rulers used to help with security and intelligence, not any more. They used to help with spiritual, judicial and development matters, not anymore. They just sit there guzzle council funds, do eye service for politicians to retain their seats and enjoy their lives. I reckon that as a republic, we either scrap these many traditional rulers (which may prove difficult) or completely separate them from government. Let them be; they are the living testimony of our ordered past-supporting culture, tradition and attracting goodwill to their communities.

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