Choices before Emir of Kano

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ALHAJIIsa Kaita (1912-1994) was the Northern Region Minister for works between 1954 and 1957, and later Minister of Education between 1957 and 1966. He later became the Waziri of Katsina. Alhaji Kaita was one of the few closest advisers of the late Northern Region Premier Sir Ahmadu Bello (1909-1966), the Sardauna of Sokoto.

In August 1963, Alhaji Kaita was dispatched to Lagos by his friend Sir Ahmadu Bello. The mission was to inform the then Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa(1912-1966) on the plan of the Premier to depose the then Emir of Kano, Sir Muhammadu Sanusi from the throne. When he got to Lagos he met the then Prime Minister in company of his five ministers, Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu (1910-1965), Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Alhaji Zanna Bukar Suloma Dipcharima(1917-1969), Alhaji Maitama Sule and Alhaji Tudun Wada. The ministers advised against the premier’s decision.

Upon delivering the message, the then Prime Minister told Alhaji Kaita that the Sardauna should not act that way. “Tell the Sardauna that he should not do it, for Kano will be on fire.” The emissary told the Prime Minister and the five ministers present that: “I am not here for permission. I am here to inform you that the Sardauna had made up his mind, I’m afraid no going back”. That was how the meeting ended. Selection and deposition of traditional rulers is the sole responsibility of state governments.

The son of the Emir, Alhaji Aminu Sanusi who was serving in the Nigerian Embassy in Cairo, Egypt at that time, intervened on behalf of his father on the question of exile. The Prime Minister discussed with the premier and the choice settled on Azare, headquarters of then Katagum Emirate in Northern Bauchi province. Two days later the Emir was dethroned and banished to Azare in the present Bauchi State. He later died in 1984. Some of the details of the deposition are contained on pages 603 to 605 of a book written by Mr. Trevor Clark titled: A RIGHT HONOURABLE GENTLEMAN on the life and times of Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Mr. Clark, a Briton, served as the deputy secretary to the executive council, the governor’s office in Kaduna. He was a personal friend of the Prime Minister.

Before the deposition, Mr Clark wrote that ”the Kano native finances had largely broken down, and in September 1962 could not meet its monthly staff wages bill nor its other debts; the water supply undertaking and the purchase-of-corn local industry in particular were not audited because they were virtually unauditable”.

In my interview as the National Assembly Editor of THE PUNCH newspaper, with Alhaji Isa Kaita in October 1983 while he was chairman of Code of Conduct Bureau, he said Sir Ahmadu Bello did not take that decision without consultation. He described the deposition as “A RIGHTEOUS ONE”. When I asked whether the late Premier had any regret in deposing Alhaji Muhammed Sanusi as the Emir before he too was murdered by the military on January 15,1956, his reply was “why should the Sardauna regret his actions, Sanusi was not deposed on mere statement, go and find out. Have you read the report of David Muffet?”

David Muffet, a Briton was appointed by Sir Ahmadu Bello to probe into Kano Native Financial affairs in 1963. Later Mr. Muffet wrote a book titled LET THE TRUTH BE TOLD. Unfortunately, Alhaji Isa Kaita, a former broadcaster could not write his autobiography to shed more light on the deposition of the Emir before he died in his house in Kaduna on November 26, 1994.

After the deposition of the Emir, the Turaki of Kano between 1927 and 1939 and district head of Dawakin Kudu, Alhaji Muhammad Inuwa Abbas born in 1901 became the Emir. His reign was less than 12 months before he died. He was succeeded by Alhaji Ado Bayero who died recently after reigning for 51 years.

The history of the deposed Emir was in sharp contrast with that of his father Alhaji Abdullahi Bayero who was Emir between 1926 and 1963.

Alhaji Abdullahi Bayero was the son of Emir Muhammadu Abbas. He was district head of Bichi before he was appointed the tenth Fulani Emir of Kano in 1926. He was officially installed in February 1927.

Under British supervision, he carried out some reforms of the Emirate government. The economic prosperity continued in his reign despite the slump going on in the post-Second World War years and considerable development was financed from Native Authority funds. By the early 1950s the Kano NA was spending over £1 million annually for its programmes. Under the Emir, whose good relations with the British were shown by a procession in which he and the governor took part in 1936,Kano became important to the British a civil air route terminal (1936), air base in the Second World War, and a major groundnut centre as it had been since 1912. He encouraged many factories to be established in Kano.

He virtually turned Kano into a major trading centre across the whole of Africa. The Arabs turned Kano to their second home, hence the reason for many mulattoes in Kano today.

In 1934 Alhaji Abdullahi Bayero visited Britain and was received by King George V. He went to Mecca twice; the first time, in 1937, he travelled by car and became the first ever Emir of Kano to perform the Hajj; he performed it again in 1951, that time by air, and on his return opened a new mosque. He followed the Reformed Tijaniyya Moslem Confraternity, and was much influenced by Sheikh Ibrahim Niass of Kaolack (Senegal), who preached it in Kano.

This well-remembered Emir died on December 25, 1953. Bayero University was named after him.

The son of the now ailing Emir of Azare, who hosted the deposed Emir of Kano for 21years, Baba Farouk, the Seriki Shirra, is today the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Water Resources. And the grandson of the deposed Emir is today the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Lamido Sanusi Lamido.

He is not the first son or grandson of a deposed traditional ruler to regain the throne of his father or that of his grandfather.

As for the present Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, in spite of his unfortunate detention in Jos prison during the General Sani Abacha era and the personal effort which the late Emir, Alhaji Ado Bayero made in securing his release without facing charges, he could boast of having a grandfather and a great grandfather as Emirs of Kano. A boast that can’t be disputed.

He has two choices before him today. Either to follow the footsteps of his great grandfather Alhaji Abdullahi Bayero who transformed Kano or follow the footsteps of his grandfather Alhaji Muhammed Sanusi who was deposed after reigning for 10years.

It is his choice to make.

ERIC TENIOLA, a former director at the Presidency,wrote from Lagos.

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