When Mallam Muhummadu Sunusi II was made Emir of Kano in 2014, I penned an article with the same title “An Emir is for the Commoners”. In the piece, I wrote about the local dissent that heralded the appointment of the new Emir who many people considered as an outsider figure that might have profited off his influence and political events to attain the throne. However I maintained that the Emir was eligible to hold the title no matter what the case might have been. The events surrounding the balkanisation of this respected institution has compelled me to write a sequel.
It is common knowledge that a citizen sponsored petition, was the premise upon which the Kano State House of Assembly moved to promulgate a law that led to the restructuring of the Kano Emirate. From the petition to the assent, it does seem that this law was made in a flash, literally.
One key issue here is a that there was no public hearing in the entire legislative process leading to the passage of the law. Citizens and residents of the Emirate were not granted the opportunity to make contributions to the issue at hand. Furthermore, the speed of passage of the bill caused the legislators to halt their recess. How patriotic!
The highly hierarchical Kano Emirate system has been disrupted.
This law elevated three district rulers – Sarkin Gaya, Rano, Karaye to same level as Sarkin Kano, and created a new district – Sarkin Bichi. It is quite confusing.
Besides the former Wamban Kano, who now parades himself as Sarkin Bichi (in contempt of court), none of the other rulers come close in ranking to any of Kano’s Kingmakers.
However, by the virtue of the newly created emirates that they oversee, all of the Kingmakers are now being compelled to pay homage to those “new” Emirs – all of whom no longer exist in the eyes of the law anyway.
Since the local government reforms of 1976, the powers and might of the Sarkin Kano has been significantly whittled down. Today, the Emirate is neither responsible for provision of basic needs of the people nor securing the territory. However, they still remain a symbol of our identity, a memorial of a glorious era and it an encapsulation of our cultural heritage that must be preserved.
Many centuries ago, these new emirates – Rano, Gaya and Karaye were entities through which the Kano Emirate ruled the people who are resident in those districts.
The new Bichi emirate was carved out of Dawakin Tofa – a part of the Kano Emirate overseen by the Yolawa clan, and later by the Sullubawa Princes when Bichi was made a district.
The Emirate system is mostly anchored on historic alliances and new arrangement is quite hard to fathom, leaving more questions than answers. How does anyone travel to Shehu of Borno today, introduce himself as Wazirin Bichi and expect to be well received? How does Bichi, with a nonexistent past, now relate with even Kazaure, it’s closest neighbour?
Even if these new emirates claim some form of legitimacy through the law, it would struggle to find acceptance among the people. At the crowning of these new “Emirs”, the absence of Kano’s business community, the Ulama was strongly felt. If anything at all, the ceremonies appeared to be more like a political party gathering with several cabinet members in attendance, some carrying turbans on their heads.
Furthermore, the fanfare and joy that greeted the return of Muhammadu Sanusi II to Kano after the creation of these new Emirates reinforces the fact that an Emir is indeed for the Commoners.