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June 1, 2024

Royal Rumble in Kano: Kwankwaso-Ganduje fight smearing soul of a revered Emirate

Kano Emirate

•Can this happen in Benin, Warri and Onitsha?

By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja

In the heart of Nigeria, a rich cultural heritage is slowly fading away. The traditional institution,
once the backbone of the nation’s social and political fabric, is struggling to survive. Before the British colonial era, these institutions operated independently, wielding significant influence and authority. However, the colonial legacy of indirect rule led to suffocating government control, undermining the very essence of traditional leadership.

In the pre-colonial era, traditional institutions thrived, with monarchs and chiefs commanding significant power and respect. They maintained law and order, resolved disputes, and oversaw communal development. The British, recognizing the effectiveness of these systems, co-opted them into their indirect rule policy. This move aimed to exploit existing power structures, using traditional leaders as intermediaries to implement colonial policies. While this approach initially maintained stability, it sowed the seeds of dependence and erosion of autonomy.

Fast-forward to modern Nigeria, and the traditional institution is gasping for air. Government control has transformed these once-vibrant entities into mere appendages of the state. The appointment and removal of traditional leaders are now subject to political whims, undermining their authority and legitimacy. The government’s grip on funding and resource allocation has further emasculated these institutions, leaving them unable to address pressing community needs. The result is a disconnect between the people and their traditional leaders, fostering disillusionment and discontent.

The Fractured Throne of Kano
In the ancient city of Kano, a tale of power, politics, and family dynamics is unfolding. Aminu Ado Bayero and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, cousins and scions of the revered Emir of Kano, find themselves entangled in a web of political intrigue. Their familial bond, once a symbol of unity and strength, has become a casualty of the ruthless pursuit of power.

Sanusi, the Emir of Kano, was unceremoniously dethroned by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje in 2020. The move was widely seen as a politically motivated attack on Sanusi’s independence and influence. As a vocal critic of government policies, Sanusi had become a thorn in the side of the political establishment. His removal marked a dark turning point in the history of the Kano Emirate, sparking widespread outrage and divisions within the royal family.

However, the political landscape shifted once more with the arrival of Governor Abba Yusuf, who reinstated Sanusi as the Emir, citing the repeal of the law that led to his initial dethronement. The royal reversal sparked a flurry of activity, with Bayero’s supporters protesting his removal and demanding his reinstatement. Since then, the streets of Kano have witnessed both scenes of jubilation and despair, as the city grapples with the implications of this power struggle. The once-united royal family is now divided, with some members backing Sanusi’s reinstatement and others standing by Bayero’s claim to the throne.

Political Rivalry and Royal Repercussions

The Kano Emirate, a symbol of cultural heritage and traditional leadership, has become a pawn in the bitter conflict between two political heavyweights: Abdullahi Ganduje and his predecessor, Rabiu Kwankwaso. The once-united royal family is now divided, and the very fabric of the Emirate is threatened by the political machinations of these two former friends turned foes.

Ganduje and Kwankwaso’s political rivalry has its roots in their complicated past. Once close friends and political allies, their relationship soured over time, culminating in a bitter falling out. The rift deepened when Kwankwaso’s protégé, Abba Yusuf, succeeded Ganduje as governor and began dismantling his predecessor’s initiatives. The move was seen as a form of political revenge, aimed at erasing Ganduje’s legacy and undermining his influence.

The impact on the Kano Emirate has been significant. The traditional institution, once a beacon of stability and unity, is now mired in controversy and division. Both Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and Aminu Ado Bayero, caught in the crossfire, must now navigate the treacherous landscape of political allegiances and loyalties. The people of Kano, caught in the middle, are struggling to come to terms with the rapid-fire changes and the erosion of their cultural heritage.

The Battle for the Soul of Kano

Bayero, the dethroned Emir, asserts that justice will prevail and he will reclaim his rightful place on the throne, with the alleged backing of an APC-led administration at the centre. Ganduje is chairman of the ruling party. Sanusi, on the other hand, believes his reinstatement is both divine and just.

The political stakes are high, with the 2027 presidential election looming. The APC is seeking to reclaim Kano state, which it lost to the NNPP in the 2023 presidential and governorship elections. The Emirate has become a pawn in a larger political game, with the federal government possibly seeking to challenge the NNPP-led state government by backing Bayero’s claim.

The Emir of Kano’s throne, once a symbol of cultural pride, has become a political football, with both sides claiming legitimacy and divine right. The city of Kano, once a bastion of stability, is now a hotbed of political intrigue and backroom deals. This poses an existential crisis for the Emirate, as the royal family is divided along political lines.

The people of Kano are deeply concerned about the future of their beloved Emirate and the implications of this political upheaval on their cultural identity. Some have raised questions about the politicization of the Emirate and the erosion of its independence, following the federal government’s alleged involvement.

According to Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, who hails from Kano and serves as the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre and Chairman of Amnesty International (Nigeria), in an exclusive chat with Saturday Vanguard, he stated, “They (agents of the federal government) are busy going to Kano to create artificial violence and crisis. Already, the country is overwhelmed with insecurity. They can be seen going to a state that is peaceful to ignite violence in order to find a place to remove the governor. They are determined to find a way to remove the governor and take over the state. This is what many Nigerians have alleged. However, these actions are contrary to constitutional democracy.”

Judiciary’s Role in the Kano Emirate Tussle

Meanwhile, the Kano State High Court issued an interim injunction restraining Aminu Ado Bayero from parading himself as Emir, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice. However, in a surprising turn of events, the Federal High Court in Kano issued an order for the eviction of Sanusi from the Kofar Kudu Palace, reinforcing the authority of the 15th Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero. To further complicate matters, another Kano State High Court issued an order of interim injunction to protect Sanusi and other key figures from eviction and potential harassment.

The events in Kano State have exposed the decay and rot in the Nigerian judicial system. The conflicting orders and judicial misconduct have raised questions about the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. The Federal High Court’s lack of jurisdiction to adjudicate on state traditional and chieftaincy matters has only added fuel to the fire.

As the people of Kano struggle to come to terms with the rapid-fire changes, the judiciary’s credibility has been severely damaged. The National Judicial Council (NJC) has stepped in to review the role of the judiciary in the ongoing impasse in Kano. Where judicial misconduct is found, there is a need to impose far-reaching sanctions on erring judges to prevent future recurrences.

How Dirty Politics is Destroying Nigeria’s Cultural Heritage

Nigeria’s traditional institutions, once the bedrock of cultural heritage and identity, are facing an existential crisis. Dirty politics and intrigues have severely damaged these revered institutions, leaving them vulnerable to manipulation and control.

The traditional institutions are the custodians of cultural heritage, and any attempt to undermine their autonomy is a threat to the people’s very identity.

The situation in Kano is a microcosm of the larger problem facing Nigeria’s traditional institutions. The government’s control over these institutions has led to a loss of autonomy and cultural identity. As Senator Shehu Sani, a vocal advocate for constitutional reform, notes, “The absence of clearly defined roles in the constitution makes traditional rulers vulnerable to the abuse of power, victims of blackmail, and pawns and punching bags in the political chess game of their respective states.”
Nonetheless, the situation varies significantly from state to state.

In Benin, Onitsha, and Warri kingdoms, for example, the traditional institutions are highly respected, and any attempt by the government to undermine their autonomy would likely be met with fierce resistance.

The erosion of Nigeria’s traditional institutions is a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode into a full-blown crisis. It is imperative that the government takes immediate action to address this issue. Constitutional amendments must be made to remove government control and restore the independence of traditional leaders. As Dr. Junaid Kabiru, a renowned political analyst, notes, “The preservation of our traditional institutions is crucial to our cultural identity and national unity. We must act now to ensure their independence.”

Path Forward

To ensure the survival and flourishing of traditional institutions in Nigeria, several steps must be taken: Clear roles and responsibilities for traditional rulers should be defined in the constitution.

This will protect them from political manipulation and ensure they can operate independently.

Traditional leaders should be given control over their resources and funding to enable them to address community needs effectively.

There should be a renewed focus on educating younger generations about the importance of traditional institutions and cultural heritage. This will foster respect and support for these institutions.

Traditional leaders should engage more with their communities to rebuild trust and legitimacy. They should maintain political neutrality and focus on their roles as custodians of culture and mediators of communal disputes. This will help to restore their credibility and authority.

In conclusion, the survival of Nigeria’s traditional institutions is vital for the preservation of the nation’s cultural heritage and identity. With the right reforms and renewed commitment from both the government and traditional leaders, these institutions can once again become vibrant centers of community life and stability. The crisis in Kano serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of political interference, and it is a clarion call to protect and strengthen the traditional institutions that have long been the bedrock of Nigerian society. The time to act is now, before the rich tapestry of Nigeria’s heritage is irreparably damaged.