The recent law passed by the Kano State House of Assembly and assented by Governor Umar Ganduje to create five emirates out of the present Kano Emirate is a clear attempt to cut down the influence of H.R.H. Muhammadu Sanusi II, Emir of Kano. It is an unhealthy development for several reasons.
First, it reinforces a creeping repression of independent voices in the public space in Nigeria. Traditional rulers should not be expected to be sycophantic courtiers to elected political leaders. That is bad for governance. In addition to civil society, traditional rulers and the clergy must remain able to express independent views about governance in our country.
Second, the development continues a trend of the politicization of traditional stools in various parts of the country that corrodes the integrity of traditional institutions and will create instability in these historical institutions. For example, a future elected government and State House of Assembly of a different political party in Kano may opt to abrogate this law, turning the revered emirate into a political football.
Third, Kano Emirate is a thousand years old. It is therefore one of very significant historical and cultural importance. This cultural importance should be preserved and nurtured, not diminished for partisan political purposes.
Finally, the new law is divisive. Kano and its people — the Kanawa — in the 44 Local Government Areas of the state have tended to see themselves as one, united by their cultural allegiance to the throne of the Kano Emirate. This decision has created divisions that increase atomistic identities in Nigeria. This fragmentation works against the spirit of nation-building.
Over the past few years, I have consistently advocated for the constitutional restructuring of Nigeria and the enactment of a new, people’s constitution. I recommend that the autonomy of traditional rulers and their stools be entrenched in such a constitution.
Furthermore, royal fathers should be selected by their communities and not appointed by state governments. They should be given formal advisory roles in governance so that they have a channel to ventilate their contributions to governance without prejudice to the authority and legitimacy of elected governments.
Signed Prof. Kingsley Moghalu Convener, To Build A Nation (TBAN)