Mariam Mohammed Maktoub
Since May this year, the at once ancient and cosmopolitan city of Kano is heaving breathlessly and except the major protagonists tread carefully, something might just give and the consequences are predictable. As a daughter of the soil, as they say, I am wont not to refer to any of those – Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and Emir Muhammadu Sanusi – as antagonists in the struggle for the traditional soul of the city so as not to cast any of the parties in this intriguing but worrying theatre as the agent provocateur.
But the fact remains that since the day Governor Ganduje exercised his executive powers to create four additional emirates to the existing Kano emirate, it was never going to be an easy meat to chew. The issue is not about right or wrong; morality versus the law, rather circumspection, timing and the personality of those involved in the whole process of driving inclusion and creating a sense of equality for all Kano sons and daughters.
Kano, it is generally agreed, is not just any city. It is a conurbation of learning, commerce, grandeur, and royalty. It is not just its elite that are provincial but the commoners and all who sojourn to and through it. Kano has seen the rise of kings and their capitulation; it has also glorified politicians and upended them when they became too arrogant for its liking. Such is the character of Kano. If that is its nature, abhorring the overly pompous and indulgent, why then should anybody, and now for that matter tempt the Fates of Kano?
One would imagine that when the governor decided on the creation of four additional emirates which according to him is a response to yearnings of the people of the new royal stools, it would have been embraced by Emir Sanusi II who countlessly have harped on integration and inclusion in the country. Is it a matter of ‘national amalgamation’ but not in ‘my domain?’
Well, there have been insinuations, conjectures and inferences as to why the governor has remained insistent on having additional emirates in the city of over 13.4 million. But come to think of it, is one emir expedient to the rigours and demands of the people of Kano? Would not having additional emirates stifle the development agenda of Governor Gandjue? I am persuaded that the two gladiators in this emirate conundrum ought to carefully weigh and interrogate the issues before them and decide on the lesser evil, if it is one, anyway.
It is instructive to note that the Ganduje administration has done remarkably well in his first tenure and has started brightly with his renewed mandate with the law outlawing any girl being married without first completing secondary school. On the whole, the fact that the state government is incorporating the Almajiri system with modern system of education is what should be making the news. But what do we find making the news and trending; the state government’s emasculation of the Emir of Kano when it is actually in exercise of its executive powers to give a sense of belonging to all segments of Kano society by installing four additional kings.
The reticence of Emir Sanusi II on this matter while he unleashes his tentacles in the media and elsewhere does not brood well for a revered royal stool and a man of grand standing. History is replete with kings who gave up their thrones, drank the proverbial Hemlock like Socrates, and went into slavery to preserve their kingdoms. This is by no means suggesting that our beloved emir should walk the ignoble but heroic path. Rather, the idea that clear and manifest instructions are given and are ignored by the Kano emirate signposts a call to insurrection.
Take the case of Emir Sanusi’s appointment as the Chairman Kano Council of Chiefs since December 9 and further instructions to convene the council. The Emir of Kano conveniently ignored the directive, and a reminder now with a caveat of two days response had to be issued by the Office of Permanent Secretary for Special Duties on behalf of the Secretary to Kano State Government. Without a doubt, such behavior is unexpected from a grand traditional stool such as that of Kano.
Perhaps it needs reminding that as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Emir Sansui would not brook such recalcitrant attitude from any of his subordinates. That is even mild when it is remembered that the former CBN governor showed gross contempt for a sitting president.
While these might look as insignificant, in the power matrix perception is telling and when it becomes a pattern, other individuals in lesser positions could begin to emulate a dangerous example and no sooner it becomes a precedent which would ultimately erode the traditional ethos and values of respect, obedience and deference to those in high office.
It should be sounded clearly that the traditional stool is not a place for political and social activism except one geared towards rewriting obnoxious practices and customs. To this end, Emir Sanusi II should be clear on what he intends to achieve in his reluctance to accommodate his ‘brothers’ the new emirs, The world no longer dances to the Alpha Male or Ruler. Even The Queen of England operates within the boundaries set out by law even when certain matters are not to her personal liking. Take the matter of Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament for five weeks on the request of Prime Minister Johnson. If the emir is persuaded that he no longer fits into the constitutional oversight of the state governor, nothing stops him to follow the exemplary conduct of Emperor Akihito of Japan who in April this year after 30-years on the Chrysanthemum Throne abdicated becoming the country’s first monarch to abdicate in two centuries. But that is not my wish for the emir. He can rise above the partisanship of the moment by stooping to conquer by welcoming the Emirs of Rano, Gaya, Bichi and Karaye and galvanized them to work for the greater good of their peoples.
More than that, it is about time that Governor Ganduje tempers down and allow for a slow evolution of the process. While it is conceded that the emirs have been appointed afresh and installed, there is no gain in haste to convene the Council of Chiefs. The governor as a democrat should behave as one and not in fiat. The latest ultimatum to the Emir of Kano to accept his “appointment or otherwise” as the Chairman of the Council of Chiefs within 48 hours shows a growing childish impatience, which should not be. I’m strongly of the opinion that the governor should channel this enthusiasm of having Sanusi accede or otherwise within two days to Kano urban renewal programme. What gain is there if the state, noted for its febrile nature, erupts in brimstone and flares?
It is in this regard that President Muhammadu Buhari as the Father of the Nation should urge further conversation between the two powerful individuals. The state has witnessed a long period of relative tranquility save for the electioneering period, and this should not be mortgaged on personal egos.
Ms Maktoub is an Abuja-based publisher and Political PR consultant