HomeNEWSPolitical Interference and Traditional Institutions: Sanusi's Return as Emir of Kano

Political Interference and Traditional Institutions: Sanusi’s Return as Emir of Kano



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By Fasuyi Tolulope Samuel

Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Muhammadu Sanusi II, has been reinstated as the Emir of Kano four years after his controversial dethronement. This development rekindles a part of Kano’s history reminiscent of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

On Thursday, Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State reinstated the 14th Emir of Kano by signing the Kano State Emirate Council (Repeal) Bill 2024 into law. This new law replaces the Kano State Emirates Council Law of 2019 and dissolves the emirate councils created by Yusuf’s predecessor, Abdullahi Ganduje.

Ganduje’s 2019 law had split the historic Kano Emirate into five distinct emirates: Karaye, Bichi, Rano, and Gaya, in addition to Kano. This maneuver, executed in December 2019, led to Sanusi’s deposition on March 9, 2020, a decision that was widely perceived as politically motivated to curtail Sanusi’s influence due to his vocal criticisms of Ganduje’s administration. Sanusi had publicly condemned Ganduje’s governance, highlighting mismanagement of funds and policies he claimed led to high school dropout rates.

Governor Yusuf’s reversal of this controversial law was described as a corrective measure to undo the “balkanization of the over 1,000-year-old Kano Emirate.” The new legislation mandated that the emirs of the dissolved emirates vacate their palaces within 48 hours.

This isn’t the first time Kano has witnessed such a scenario. During Governor Abubakar Rimi’s administration in the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was an attempt to fragment the Kano Emirate into five, creating new emirates that reduced the traditional emirate’s size and influence. This action faced opposition from the royal family and other traditional rulers, leading to riots in Kano. Although the emir was not deposed, he was suspended in 1981, resulting in Rimi’s political downfall and eventual resignation in 1983.

Ganduje’s recent actions echo Rimi’s, resulting in significant controversy and legal challenges. Sanusi’s public denouncements of Ganduje’s policies, including accusations that the $2 million Ganduje allegedly spent abroad on frivolities could have built three schools, underscored the tension between traditional rulers and political leaders.

The reinstatement of Sanusi by Governor Yusuf underscores the detrimental impact political interference has on traditional institutions. Such actions disrupt the stability and continuity of these ancient institutions, weakening their role in society and eroding their integrity. Traditional rulers’ involvement in politics often leads to such interferences, further complicating their roles as custodians of culture, history, and societal values.

This issue is not isolated to Kano. In Oyo State, similar political interference under the late Governor Abiola Ajimobi disrupted the Olubadan chieftaincy system, reflecting a troubling trend where political agendas manipulate traditional institutions for short-term gains at the expense of long-term cultural stability.

Traditional institutions are pillars of identity and governance, providing stability and continuity. Manipulating these institutions for political purposes disrespects their historical significance and destabilizes the communities they serve. To safeguard our cultural heritage and ensure the stability of traditional institutions, it is imperative to enact national legislation that protects these entities from political interference.

Such legislation should include provisions for:

• Protection of Historical Boundaries: Ensuring any restructuring of traditional institutions preserves historical boundaries and respects cultural significance.

• Consultative Processes: Mandating a consultative process involving traditional leaders, community representatives, and cultural experts before enacting changes.

• Non-Political Leadership Selection: Establishing a process for selecting leaders that is free from political influence.

• Judicial Oversight: Instituting a judicial review process to arbitrate disputes involving traditional institutions, providing an impartial platform for resolving conflicts.

Implementing these measures will preserve and protect traditional institutions from political manipulation. These institutions embody our collective history and cultural identity, and their preservation is crucial for maintaining societal continuity and stability. Recognizing their invaluable role, we must act to enshrine these protections in law, ensuring a stable and respectful future for generations to come.


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