Ganduje’s unrivaled disdain for Kano Emirate


By Professor Ahmed Bako

Since 5th December, 2019 when the bill for the creation of additional emirates in Kano states was passed into law quite a number of other things have been unfolding. The Governor has been so busy either destroying or modifying historical relics or legacies of the state. The plan to relocate the 48 year zoological garden is the current topical issue in the state.

Quite a number of well-meaning indigenes with vast global experience are suggesting to the government that instead of relocation, the zoo should be rehabilitated to be more secured and attractive. One highly placed indigene has even cautioned that taking away the zoo to a remote or distant location will deny the general populace in the state the joy of easy visitation. Probably the Governor will continue with this plan in spite of the security challenges in the proposed site.

I have no interest to delve into the issue of the zoological garden in this write up. My concern is to comment on the recent approved list of Kano emirate kingmakers as contained in the Amended Kano Emirate Council Law.

What His Excellency has done seems like he has forgotten the fact that the emirate is a product of history; and that history is something which had existed; something that has/had life as opposed to fiction. History is a fact. We live in history and we live with it as it is the totality of our past experiences.

What the governor has done requires further thought and adjustment so that he is not judged by history. A Political power can’t reconstitute the Electoral College members without due process.

What came to my mind on seeing this development in addition to the earlier ones was the British attitude towards the emirate during the colonial era. The actions of Governor Ganduje towards the emirate (from the available literature) seem to be worse than what the British colonial government has done.

In spite of the covert aims of colonialism, the colonial officers made some attempt to preserve the emirate structure. Throughout the colonial era the British relied on the privileged positions of integrity, respect of the emir as the custodian of good governance. It is a fact of history also that in spite of numerous challenges (including the 1976 local government reform), the emirate system in Kano has remained a critical component of modern governance. It retained a lot of its moral capital and has maintained unparalleled potency in conflict resolution and social mobilization.

However, several of the actions of the Government seem to be more destructive to the emirate than what the British colonialism have done. Is this not a total disregard to the rule of law and mutuality of respect? Why is Governor Ganduje trying to destroy a desirable and dynamic political entity with over 200 years of existence?

Let us assume that these advising Governor Ganduje on issues that concern the emirate are ignorant of the fact that the emirate remains the stabilizing factor and symbol of the value system of the community. Let us again assume that it is either the devil that is trying to unleash a mayhem in the state or wicked advisers are pushing the Governor to rubbish the history of the emirate.

But as Qadimul Islam, one may expect Ganduje to respect the views being expressed by several well- meaning individuals in the state since December 2019 when the bill for additional emirates was passed. But the Governor for reasons best known to him became adamant and has consistently in a contradictory manner been accenting to quite a number of politically motivated bills.

This is a grand plan to destroy the history of Kano at a time when more advanced countries in the world are cherishing and protecting their history and tradition. It is as if the destruction is getting out of hands.

It may be of interest for the general public to note that in spite of the negative consequences of the colonial rule in Kano, the emirate maintained its position as the umbrella holding the Kanawa together. In the early colonial era C.L.Temple, one of the architects of the indirect rule and a successor to Lord Lugard in a Memo to his lieutenants in the northern emirates advised them to preserve and maintain the emirate structure for the success of the indirect rule that he defined ‘as a system of administration which leaves in existence the machinery which had been created by the natives themselves, and which recognizes the existence of the emir.’

It was on the basis of the advice of Mr Temple that the colonial government in Kano enacted the Native Authority Ordinance No14 of 1916, which defined the powers and functions of traditional rulers. The ordinance confirmed the position of the emir as the head of Native Authority responsible for handling all matters of law, taxation and land within the emirate. What this means is that the emir was made in charge of public order in his territory with complete jurisdiction over the local people.

He was also empowered to appoint and/or depose subordinate chiefs and officials and appoint Native Police or Dogarai. The emir along with his District, Village and ward Heads, continued to perform same functions throughout the colonial era. It is worth noting that the land and Native Rights proclamation (No 9) of 1910 that nationalized the land had already before ordinance 14 of 1916 vested the control of lands in the hands of the traditional rulers.

It was also in order to avoid infringement upon the indigenous culture of Kano community and the integrity of the emirate that the Colonial Government carved out Sabon Gari as an enclave for Euro-Christian traders who were disallowed to mix freely with the Muslims.

It is worth noting that the British for about 30 years (after Sabon Gari was established), administered the settlement directly under its control base on the advice of emir Abbass who in his discussion with a British colonial official (E.D. Morel) expressed that ‘…the lion and lamb cannot lie down together…’ Consequently, the British endorsed the idea of administering Sabon Gari under the Township. This was a mark of respect to the emirate.

In later years however, (in 1940 to be specific) the administration of Sabon Gari was transferred back to the emirate base on another advice of emir Abdullah Bayero that ‘if aliens residing in Sabon Gari were removed from his authority and allowed to be set apart from the N.A., there would arise a feeling of superiority and arrogance towards the Native Courts and the Native Authorities.

What seems apparent from the foregoing is the fact the British colonial government in quite a number of instances (even for its selfish interest), respected the views of the emirate. Mr Richmond Palmer, who worked in northern Nigeria from 1904-1930 and left his mark on the development of colonial rule in Kano was totally against what he termed ‘robbing the emirates of the initiative they needed to function happily and efficiently.’

Mr Palmer was even overzealous in adhering to the policy of not interfering with traditional institutions. Let me also emphasize at this stage that even those colonial officials that at the initial stage were critical of the emirate system either made a U-turn or their decisions were reversed.

The decision of Dr. Cargill, the first Colonial Resident in Kano who appointed Dan Rimi Allah-bar-Sarki as the Waziri and demoted Abdullahi Bayero to the position of Chiroma for example, was reversed by C.L.Temple who became the Resident in January, 1909. But even Resident Cargill who is popularly known as Mai Gunduma for carrying out the district reorganization exercise was himself very careful in tempering with the emirate structure. He for example, rejected the advice of some colonial officials to replace the Fulani ruling dynasty with the Kutumbawa.

The re-creation of members of the Electoral College is like creating history where it doesn’t exist. It may be of interest for the governor to note that members of the electoral college in kano emirate are products of history that were appointed base on established procedure in the Sokoto Caliphate system of administration as enunciated by Uthman Danfodiyo in his Wathiqat ahl-Sudan.

Danfodiyo considered the appointment of an emir and constituting the Electoral College as an obligation on the part of the Muslim community. Selecting members of the electoral college according to Danfodiyo must be done through Mutual consultation for the purpose of achieving responsible leadership in a society.

Shehu Danfodiyo the leader of the movement that led to the establishment of the emirate system all over northern Nigeria had neither arrogate himself the power to appoint any of the emir in the emirates nor constituting members of the electoral College. Even during the colonial era the British didn’t interfere with the functions of the Electoral College members.

Why then did His Excellency arrogate to himself the power to appoint members of the electoral council? I am quite sure that His Excellency, as Qadimul Islam is conversant with the statements of the Jihad leaders whose struggle led to the establishment of Kano emirate. Mohammed Bello in his al-Ghyth al-Shubub considered consultation as commendable aspect of good governance.

Consultation as he argued has been responsible for the efficiency, firmness and strength of successive Muslim governments after they have assumed power. A leader according to him therefore, is neither supposed to take a decision that concern the community without mutual consultation nor rush to conclusions. The idea of consultation was essentially in order to have a recourse to the views of people who have no vested interest to protect.

In his Usul al-Siyasah also, Bello advised that a ruler ‘should be gentle in dealing with his people…he must not burden them with what is unnecessary… he should deal with them in accordance with their circumstance…’ A ruler should also balance what he likes and what he dislikes, that is giving up what he likes if it is not in the interest of Muslims and do what he dislikes if it is in their interest. Success in government for an Imam according to Bello depends largely on the integrity and honesty of its leaders.


Finally, it needs to be re-stated at this level that the state government should be aware with the fact that its actions in the emirate and other matters in the state will one day be judged by history. History is a wonderful detective, record keeper, re-caller of events, a judge and a merciless administrator of punishment. All these who misrepresent facts are liable to receive severe punishment from history because we cannot control history.

The government should be aware with the fact that as far as Kano people are concern the emirate is their identity as it incorporated all aspects of life- political, social, economic and personal. Nobody can deny the fact that Ganduje administration in Kano has done worse than the British colonial government in the destruction of the cultural heritage of Kano people.

This is like combating the influence of Islam in Political matters. The emirate split that was done earlier misrepresented the historical past of how the emirate was created and nourished.

Professor Bako writes from Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto

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