The Kano Emirate Crisis
Statement by Friends of Democracy
We are extremely concerned about the on-going crisis in Kano following the creation of new Emirates by the government. It would be recalled that on Monday 6th May, one Ibrahim Salisu, representing a civil society group had submitted a petition to the Kano State House of Assembly seeking for the decentralisation of the Kano Emirate. The petitioner demanded the upgrade of the traditional rulers of Karaye, Bichi, Rano, and Gaya to the status of first class emirs and the creation of additional emirates in Kano. The Assembly was recalled from recess and immediately reconvened by the Speaker. Between Monday and Wednesday the Bill had been crafted, passed through three readings, adopted and signed into law by the governor. By the end of the week, new Emirs were appointed and issued their letters and instruments of authority. By this action, Kano lost its status as one of only two states in Nigeria with one emirate or traditional council. Sokoto, the seat of the Sultan of Sokoto, is the other state with a similar arrangement.
The law removed 36 of Kano’s 44 local government areas from the Kano Emirate to create the four new emirates – Rano, Gaya, Karaye and Bichi. Rano Emirate covers 10 local government councils – These are Rano, Bunkure, Kibiya, Takai, Sumaila, Kura, Doguwa, Tudunwada, Kiru and Bebeji. Gaya Emirate has nine local government councils consisting of Gaya, Ajingi, Albasu, Wudil, Garko, Warawa, Dawakinkudu, Gabasawa and Gezawa. Karaye Emirate has eight local government councils – Karaye, Rogo, Gwarzo, Kabo, Rimingado, Shanono, Madobi and Garunmalam. Bichi Emirate has nine local government areas – Bichi, Bagwai, Tsanyawa, Shanono, Kunchi, Dambatta, Makoda, Dawakintofa and Tofa.
We believe that such an important matter should have been subjected to very wide consultations and deep consideration before action was taken. Precipitate action should be avoided in the governance of delicate issues. In particular, the people should have been consulted on whether they wanted a restructuring of their Emirate. We note for example that citizens in Wudil after a stakeholders’ meeting on Sunday have expressed their opposition to the restructuring policy and appealed to the State Government to return them to the old Kano Emirate where they rightly belong. According to their statement, the current arrangement is not backed by historical antecedents and is of no benefit to the affected communities. They stated categorically that: “We cannot afford to exist under Gaya Emirate.” They added that their desire is to remain under Kano.
We are concerned:
- That the new policy could lead to a breakdown of social cohesion and unity in Kano State;
- That emerging divisions on the issue could lead to the politicization of traditional authority in Kano;
- That violence might erupt due to popular opposition to the new Emirate structure.
- That the people of Kano should remain calm and reach out in a peaceful manner to the relevant authorities to reconsider the decisions taken;
- A court of competent jurisdiction has directed that the process of restructuration should discontinue until a decision is reached on the substantive case. All parties should comply with the rule of law and stay action while reflecting on the way forward.
- That the Kano State House of Assembly reconvenes immediately to trigger the legislative process of holding public hearings in the overarching interest of peace;
- That the Kano State Government harken to the voices of moderation by closely working with the House of Assembly, Traditional Rulers and Elders in having a rethink;
- That the President of Nigeria uses his good offices to appeal to the authorities of Kano State to speedily engage on the reversal process. It should be noted that a minor eruption of violence from Kano can easily conflagrate the region and possibly, the country. People are angry at various levels and for various reasons, and some may use this as an opportunity to vent their anger. The Federal Government and, particularly, the Presidency should treat this matter with the seriousness it deserves.
Alhaji Bashir Othman Tofa
Dr. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed
Alhaji Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim
Mallam Bilya Bala
Dr. Usman Bugaje
Mr. Hubert Shaiyen
Professor Jibrin Ibrahim