About 3 weeks ago on the 8th of May 2019, the Kano State Emirs (Appointment and Deposition) Amendment Law, 2019 was passed. This act, instigated by the state Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, singlehandedly desecrates 1000 years of tradition and will unravel an established constitutional order and alter a millennium of Kano’s hegemony through the creation of five new emirates from the one legitimately recognized existing one. This act will significantly destroy the cohesion of Kano Emirate and diminish the powers of the Emir of Kano in addition to flagrantly dislocating an age-old institution without due process, consideration or unanimity. This act remains an affront to the democratic and sovereign rights of the people of Kano and could threaten peace and democracy in the region.
This week the governor reiterated his “support” for the smooth running of all newly created Emirates in the state, he further challenged that: “As a son of a Village Head (Dagaci) how can I do something that would jeopardise the corporate existence of our long-standing heritage?” However, he has done just that. The existence of these valued institutions is being jeopardised not just in Kano, but across Nigeria. Many are particularly concerned, as a similar situation is playing out in Jos, Plateau State where the joint traditional council of Jos has been split in two by the Governor in to Jos North and Riyom traditional councils. Clearly an effort to diminish the power of the Gbong Gwom Jos, the governor by this act reduced his title to Gbong Gwom Berom. These acts indicate an ill-advised trend by political leaders to not just reduce the power of monarchs but to humiliate them and exacerbate ethnic divisions – paving the way for further power struggles and discord amongst communities, at a time when our unity as a people is at its most fragile.
Upon being accused of disregarding an injunction of the High Court in Kano restraining the State Government from implementing the division of the Kano Emirate, the Kano State Attorney General is quoted as follows:
“Please note that, the order does not restrain KNSG from taking any action that was already completed, but “further ” action on the implementation of the Law” …… Note also that the court restrains KNSG from taking any action that will affect the interest of kingmakers in “their capacity as king makers for Kano emirate council or emir of Kano” but not Bichi/Karaye/Rano/Gaya…… “The order is harmless”
This response which mirrors a similar response by the Chief Press Secretary of Kano State Government to the same injunction is a clear breach to the rule of law and the order is clear and specific so they cannot claim not to understand it. In addition, democracy is about the will and welfare of the people. Our judiciaryis key to upholding our rights. The illegitimate politicisation of the instruments of authority must not be accepted and the people must have recourse and the right to question their leaders when they exceed their mandate.
The danger of politicising traditional roles
Worldwide, constitutional monarchies have come to be acknowledged as a facet of enlightened governance in the cultures where they exist. Even abolitionists that clamour for their dissolution are able to acknowledge the role they play in governance. Particularly in a polity such as ours, where ethnic divisions are quick to erupt, traditional institutions need to be properly included and blended with modern day government. Traditional leaders and institutions are key in nation building, and are custodians of our political heritage here in Nigeria. As an Islamic leader in a state with sharia law, the Emir’s post is a powerful one. For many years the Emir has been a source of unity and progressive leadership among the people in Northern Nigeria and by removing his powers without due process, consideration or unanimity – development, peace and democracy in the region will be directly affected.
The Kano State Emirs (Appointment and Deposition) Amendment Law, 2019 will have many repercussions as an undeniable attempt to delegitimize the very institution that provides a harmonious balance to power and authority as well a system of checks and balances in Kano. Over the years, many Nigerians have grown sceptical of the country’s democratic systems – where many elected leaders still pilfer from the national coffers and electoral systems are still systematically plagued by corruption. As such, traditional leadership vested with political power is viewed as an antithesis to elected leadership; holding politicians to account. This in no way suggests that our traditional rulers are above censure or that our traditional systems are beyond the law. However, as our politicians have become more powerful, with that power, instruments of stability have become pawns in their arsenal of parochialism, intolerance and tyranny. We must keep a blend in our power structures and insist on maintaining an enduring system of counterbalances.
Dr. Hussaini Abdu
Ismail Ahmed Esq
Professor Jibrin Ibrahim
Dr. Ayesha Imam
Auwal Musa Rafsanjani
Maryam Uwais Esq
Eng. Y. Z. Ya’u