By Danlami Zulkiflu
Many northerners have been trying to describe the crisis brewing between the Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II and his state Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, as strictly a Kanawa (Kano people) affair. But that is not the case looking at the crisis from a panoramic perspective.
The tango between the prominent monarch and the governor is a recurring challenge to the traditional institutions in northern Nigeria and the eroding legacy and influence of the hitherto powerful institution.
What many commentators are missing is the fact that the battle of supremacy between Ganduje and Sanusi has further challenged the unity of the institution, which is headed by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar.
The Sultanate of Sokoto has been leading the northern traditional institution since its successful establishment in 1804 by the revered Sheikh Usman bn Fodio.
Emir Sanusi II represents the brand inside the traditional institution that is always at loggerheads with the Sultanate for obvious reasons. That is why when Sanusi was seen as philosopher-king by many of the Nigerian educated middle-class, the ultra-conservative traditional institutions spearheaded by the Sultanate, see him as a possible threat.
Going back memory lane to 1962 when David Muffet submitted his Investigative Panel Report on the Kano Native Authority to the Premier of Northern Region, Premier Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto, the Sardauna tried to save his friend, the then Emir of Kano, Sir Muhammadu Sanusi.
When the council was about to decide on the Muffet Report, with the looming danger of indicting and deposing the emir, Sardauna assembled a delegation comprising of mostly northern princes serving in his government to the then Sultan of Sokoto, Sir Abubakar III.
The delegation under the leadership of the then Minister for Local Governments, Alhaji Sule Gaya, was mandated by Sardauna to go to Sokoto and solicit the Sultan to send a delegation to Kaduna requesting the council to dismiss the Muffet Report.
The delegation was to come to Kaduna on the very day the Sardauna’s cabinet was to sit and decide on the report.
Other members of the delegation included the then Wamban Daura, Muhammadu Bashar, who later became Emir of Daura; Ciroman Katagum, Kabiru Umar, who later became Emir of Katagum; and Walin Muri, Umaru Abba, who later became Emir of Muri.
I heard this story from one of the surviving members of the delegation when we paid him a visit under the auspices of the Nigerian History Society.
The octogenarian told us that the premier mandated them to go to Sokoto and request Sultan to send a delegation to the council, requesting it to stay action on the Muffet Report, thereby saving the Emir Sanusi.
When the Sule Gaya-led delegation met the Sultan, they were surprised by the Sultan’s reactions.
Sultan Abubakar III didn’t mince words saying Emir Sanusi should be removed because he was too arrogant, very difficult, disrespectful and disloyal.
He reportedly added that the late Emir Sanusi didn’t even believe in the spiritual leadership of the revered Sheikh Fodio, rather he drew his spiritual guidance from Sheikh Ibrahim Kaulaha of Senegal.
Sardauna was disappointed by the Sultan’s response and Emir Sanusi was indicted, deposed and banished to Azare.
And now, 55 years later, a similar scenario is repeating itself with Sultan Abubakar III represented by his son, Sultan Sa’ad and Emir Sanusi, represented by his grandson, Emir Sanusi II.
It was surprising to many why the Sultanate kept mute when the Ganduje /Sanusi crisis was taking its toll in Kano. This is so important because the same Sultan Sa’ad travels to southern part of Nigeria “on peace building” and “establishing socio-cultural bridges.”
But he was nowhere to be found when his backyard (Kano) was on fire. It took the intervention of some northern governors, headed by Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, to broker the needed truce between Ganduje and Sanusi.
The Sultan’s silence over the Kano saga is not anywhere golden. Even at the level of commercial motorcyclists, they have an association that come together to solve the problem of their members when the need arises.
This applies to other associations like the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW). They always come together to attend to the needs of their members.
But the northern traditional institution under the leadership of the current Sultan is not doing that.
I must say here that ain’t in anyway trying to validate what the Emir of Kano is said to have done. But I must say that his loyalty to the Sultan is not in doubt.
He went all out of his royal way to chair the 10th anniversary of the enthronement of Sultan Sa’ad. He mobilised money and other resources to make the event a huge success.
The Sultan is albeit following his father’s footstep in propagating hatred against the Sanusis. This was evident when he released all the arsenals at his disposal in ensuring that Sanusi was not appointed as emir in the first place. But that failed. And Sanusi is emir today.
This point of view was reportedly captured by former Kano State Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso during a VOA Hausa Service interview, when he said the Sultan sent emmisaries to him, requesting him to block the appointment of Sanusi as emir.
I don’t think the Sultan has any reason to fear the intellectual prowess and exposure of Emir Sanusi II.
What is happening in Kano today can happen to any northern monarch anywhere. That is why I see no wisdom in why the sultan will be jetting around the country “making peace” among other people while his immediate constituency is on fire.
Zulkiflu wrote this article from Kano, Nigeria.