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‘Dethroned king can go to court, if there is miscarriage of justice’

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Toyin Falola

Toyin Falola, one of Nigeria’s prominent and prolific historians, renowned scholar and public intellectual, professor of History, who occupies a chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin, United States (US), spoke on the implications of dethroning a monarch to the traditional institutions.

What is the implication of dethronement of a monarch to the traditional institution in Nigeria?
AS part of the overall governance model of “indirect rule,” the traditional institution of kinship in Nigeria was part of the modern structure of government introduced by the British colonial administration. The colonial imperialistic enterprise was not a philanthropic venture, neither is its modern variant that we now call globalisation, under the leadership of the United States (US).

As seen in the reorganisation and transmogrification of the political morphology of different parts of the colony that later became Nigeria, acquired albeit forcibly, the traditional institution, like every other reform of that era, was introduced with the view of manipulating the customs and traditions of their colonial subjects to meet the imperial needs.

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Directly in charge of the new colonial governance institution were the kings of old, now renamed “traditional rulers,” converted into part of the management of Native Authorities. Native Authorities because they were originally known constituted authorities in the daily affairs of the people, vis-à-vis the land, water, air, forests, mountains and other entities, living and non-living, in the area the colonisers came to exploit.

It is this reality that qualified the people as natives, i.e. the original rightful owners of the exploited resources that helped to enhance the development of Europe, and the custodians of all the traditions that sustain this polity and its exploitation as the authorities of the natives, or rather, as it was officially put, the Native Authorities.

With time, these authorities were constituted into what became known as the Chieftaincy Institution. The preponderance of this brief history and the weight of that era should not be lost on anyone in understanding how far our traditions have come. Not only were the so-called “Native Authorities” at the mercy of the colonial authorities, who were now in a position to regulate their activities and whose interests they must serve at the same time with that of their people, but the symbol of the revered seat they occupied also became demystified.

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As the nationalists-turned politicians inherited this structure from their colonial mentors, it suits their egoistic posture and agenda of overlordship, like that enjoyed by these “old illiterate men” (as the traditional rulers were then viewed), and like every other colonial structure, it was joyfully retained.

As such, those who inherited power from the British continued with the colonial practices and further undermined the kingship system, which unfortunately had been used as indirect-rule agents of the colonial imperialism. Thus, the “educated elites’ political control” of the kingship system is viewed as the unfinished business of decolonisation.

Today, it is common knowledge that the primary essence of the chieftaincy institution in Nigeria, like elsewhere in Africa where chieftaincy tradition is acknowledged, is for the purpose of the so-called preservation of the culture and traditions of the people its members have been selected to represent. This is to the extent at which the means of achieving this does not conflict with the interest(s) of their benefactors, that is, the holders of state power.

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You can ask the question: What traditional customs and culture can the king of Lagos, for instance, preserve in a city as modern and global as Lagos? If you violate an Awori custom, can the king summon you to his palace and apportion punitive sanctions on you? No!

Theoretically, like a political office holder, the moment a traditional ruler is perceived to be derailing from his “constituted responsibilities,” that have been limited to the promotion and preservation of the cultural heritage of the people, the sanctity of the seat he occupies, which is a microcosm of the institution in the country, is threatened and has to be preserved for the sake of posterity.

In a way, the king thus becomes the occupant of a museum that can be abolished by those who fund it. It is for this reason that the dethronement of traditional rulers has always been adduced to the need to preserve the traditional heritage of the people. But we all know that, like the cloth of a chameleon, this is not true. Who defines this tradition to be preserved? Sadly, it is the one who maintains the king, the modern government who pays his salary.

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But we should know that the chameleon is forever changing its colour. It is, however, instructive to mention that the manipulative tendency of dethroning a traditional ruler precedes the colonial or recent era. Basorun Gaha, for instance, single-handedly dethroned and enthroned a number of the Alaafin of Oyo, not because they took actions contrary to the traditions of the office or customs of the people, but because of his own power intoxication.

The same instance could be drawn from Ile-Ife, where the Afobaje (kingmakers), under the guise of ensuring that as many people entitled to the Ooni throne attained the crown before they passed-on, shortened the reign of many Ooni, either by dethroning them (if the occupier was no match to resist them) or murdered them (in the instance of resistance).

Ooni Ogburu, who could neither be killed nor deposed like others, was tricked out of the palace and the town with no option of re-entry after several years of reign.

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So, this practice of dethroning a king for whatever reason has been with us for a very long time and the implication has always remained the same – the weakening of the basis of our existence as distinct humankind on earth.

The Oyo Empire fell to these intrigues, and in recent time, the fabric of society is falling to this as well. From the pre-colonial period, traditional rulers could be seen as public officeholders. This explains why there was a medium of checks and balances in place at the time. There is the documented record of this model of governance on the Old Oyo Empire.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong in deposing any public officer, including a traditional ruler, for serious criminal offences, as this will be tantamount to sanitising the system. However, the danger is in muddling what should have been a revered institution of traditions, represented by traditional rulers, in state politics and political manipulation. The overall implication of this, as I have earlier mentioned, is the weakening of the essence of that institution and society it is purported to serve.

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Or how do you expect them to be taken seriously in their task of mobilising grassroots support for government policies, which is another responsibility they have retained, given the respect they are expected to command among their people?
Can dethronement be justified?

I choose to answer this question by standing on a historical foundation that sets appropriate precedence to the idea of ousting invirile leadership from power, that deposing traditional rulers is not nascent. It is merely consolidated by the structural formations and foundations that emerged from forces of colonisation in Africa.

By choosing to answer it this way, I have deliberately provoked another round of discursive argument worth of debate: Who determines the virility of leadership? And from this, an unending circle of questions, rationalisations and even confusion would surface.

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However, the decision to determine the competency of a leader or otherwise, for ultimate reasons, could be filled with provocatively parochial interests, for people are naturally disposed to bending rules to their own favour as long as they wield the power to do so. For the very basic reasons, the colonial and postcolonial Africa has encouraged an extant socio-political move that would naturally be considered as taboos in the pristine African societies, and the reality that such has got to change for a long time demands that African monarchs find appropriate means to come to term with this reality.

In our relatively recent history, a couple of traditional African kings have experienced spasmodic dethronement and all of them are, in actual fact, usually victims of power, and not mostly invirile leadership that I cited before now.

Oba Akintoye of Lagos was dethroned in 1841 after trying to interfere with the then driver of the European economy in Africa- slave trade- mustering his traditional power to combat what he evaluated as the debasement of his people and the display of inhumane attitudes towards the black people. Obviously, he was still ignorant of the intimidating force of the imperial power that had come to render established traditional values valueless, if not meaningless.

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Similar fate befell Ovonramwen Nogbaisi, the generally respected Oba of Benin, who, in a similar capacity with Oba Akintoye, misjudged his political power in an environment that had come to be overthrown by the European imperialists. He, too, was deposed in 1897 from the British power.

In addition to this, was Oba Oladapo Samuel of Egbaland also not dethroned in similar style in 1948?
If we look deeper into the past histories, we would see cases of traditional kings who were deposed from their seats of power, especially so in the African contact with the West. All these happened and heaven has not been repositioned. What, however, is revealing, especially from the higher statistics of deposing kings in colonial and postcolonial periods, is that the contract with the European world has come to change the heretofore valued social and cultural structures, for good.

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In the traditional method, kings are deposed on numbers of factors, like when society plunges into unprecedented chaos, when society is unprosperous and stagnant, despite putting enough efforts into places when the community must be cleansed of some “evil” and the king is determined to be the source or among the sources, and many more, at least in the Yoruba world.

However, this has definitely changed, because the rotational political system of the colonial era has so much power constitutionally vested in it that it could escape criticism or other corresponding reactions, even after unsuitably taking undesirable steps. So, the question about the implication of dethronement of a king to the traditional institution of Nigeria would have its answer coloured by the social happenstance of the people.

Today, we are ruled by democracy, and sadly, this ‘democracy’ does not always respect the rule of law.

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In a democratic government, can a governor restrict the movement of a banished monarch to the town he is banished to or he has the right to move freely?
No, insofar as there is no basis to prove that the freedom of locomotion of the monarch, as enshrined in the constitution, could result in chaos and other cancerous effects on the state. Even then, this can only be determined by the court and not the governor, as this falls outrightly out of his/her jurisdiction.

Deposed monarchs, even in the draconian colonial and post-colonial days, were banished to other towns to either protect them from attacks or ensure the serenity of the entity they presided over. In most cases, this is to ensure that they did not meddle in the affairs of the state because they had the capacity to foment trouble and make the place ungovernable for the new occupier.

If the colonial authorities, in their most prejudiced inclination towards the people, had restricted the movement of a figure like Kosoko, how would he have exploited and established new lands like Epe that we know today? How much more a democratic government?

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The governor of Kano State can claim to have the power to dethrone, but I doubt he has the power to confine the deposed emir to the location of the governor’s choosing.

The bottom line is: What does the law say? I think this question is dicey, and in all, logic should be reserved for the people with expertise in law and its principles. I concede to this because I do not think I expect my response, irrespective of the direction I want to take, to supersede what the law has itemised for such conduct. In this spirit, the law of the land should take the ultimate position for legal and logical intervention.

For the avoidance of doubt, there have been various group reactions, many of them citing legal injunctions about the illegality of restricting the former emir’s movements within certain locations. Basically, this is, to them, a demonstration of unmatched callousness and outright disregard to the existing rule of law in the country. For one thing, they believe that the constitution of the country does not show any ambiguity in spelling out the right of the citizen to freedom and access to their personal liberty, locomotion, among many others.

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These groups are convinced that despite the European unshakable influence and power, kings deposed during their reins were not confined to restricted places. This is a necessary background to expose to the world, the inherent fallibility, blatant disregard for human dignity and absence of public accountability in political arrangements of post-colonial Africa.

I build this premise to indicate that there are legal injunctions and foundations that protect citizen’s right and give them immunity against government’s insensitive moves in some situations, and this case of Sanusi 11 is one.

This notwithstanding, I have reservations. Experience has taught us that neo-colonial African leaders can be fragile with power and have demonstrated enough of what Jacques Lacan described as castration anxiety, a situation where one cannot mistake their sense of despair when they sense an individual could constitute a threat to them.

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I, probably, will expand this later. As your question has indicated, however, if it is a democratic environment like you have called it, there is nothing acceptable in a governor who was in the first instance elected democratically denying another citizen of the country his right of democracy to exercise his freedom, access his property and locomotion, all of which the constitution, upon which they all swear to live and govern by, are guaranteed.

Restricting the movement of one that is already banished is nothing short of a house arrest. It is only that the house where he is restricted here is bigger than a prison cell.

Will you say Sanusi 11 deserve the punishment?
I will respond to that in the light of (former President Olusegun) Obasanjo’s reaction to this development: It is an affirmative yes and a no situation.

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Yes, in that, from all that has been said so far, he did justify this, in terms of the ego of the governor, political rivalry between the PDP and the APC and the revengeful character of the governor.

No, because his offence is that of being punished for daring to recalibrate the colonial template of governance in Nigeria. When you look at the shenanigan that went into his deposition, it is clear to the most biased mind that what we witnessed last Monday was a pure political machination borne out of vendetta.

At first, it was the corruption charade that was brought up against him, as he was accused of misappropriating the emirate’s treasury. His father, who was dethroned by the late Ahmadu Bello, was accused of the same offence. This lingered on until the allegation was dropped and a purported reconciliation was staged. What reconciliation should stop a corruption case if everything was not politically-motivated in the first place?

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And now, to avoid the last scenario where prominent Nigerians weighed-in on the government of Kano State, the government swiftly put up a choking concussion on Monday and served the people of that state. That is sad!

Like many commentators have rightly observed, the governor constituted himself as the accuser, prosecutor, witness and Judge in the matter of insubordination he levied against Sanusi. Thankfully, he left the task of a bailiff to someone else, who unwittingly jumped into the bandwagon and played the role into which he was bamboozled. How justified could that be?

Aside in the case of invasion, not even the colonial authorities would depose a monarch without first subjecting the royal father to a hearing, which gave deposed monarchs the opportunity to respond to allegations instituted against them. It is called Due Process. But the governor and his co-travellers would have none of that.

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I am not aware of the content of Part 3, Section 13 (a-e) of the Kano State Emirate Law, which they hurriedly amended last year, but if this truly justified the deposition of Sanusi, why not follow due process? Pettiness knows no decorum!

Certainly, the statement coming from the Governor’s Office is baseless, because when you look at the allegations levied against Sanusi, you would understand that the move was more of a manhunt than it was to curtail perceived abuse of office.

From this, I digress to something I consider more fundamental and that I believe constitutes the bulk of the reasons why the emir’s throne was desecrated brazenly, as lately seen. Those in power do not like criticisms. It is both sad and regrettable that the post-colonial African leadership is fraught with philosophically resistant representatives who not only cultivate sycophancy as social behaviour but also celebrate it in the grandest style.

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For this very reason, it is normal that they are averse to truth-telling, and in that way, pronounce war on any mission to unearth the inherent loopholes in their leadership style.

It is disturbing, therefore, that the former emir became a victim of this social disorder, number one, for being a sound and intimidating scholar from the part of Nigeria that has deliberately weaponised poverty as a social control tactic, and at the same time having to respond to the dictate of fate to manage his ancestral legacy.

When one understands pattern and systems in Africa, one would see the reason why fate appears somewhat unfair to the emir. Becoming an intellectually intimidating figure, who is at the same time duty-bound to speak truth to the power, makes his situation especially sympathy-worthy.

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Recall that it was in 2014 that Sanusi, in his habit of speaking truth to honour his public office, regardless of whose ox is gored, revealed internal financial mismanagement within the government, which allegedly embezzled $20billion of oil revenue. No sooner had he made this pronouncement than his office was mesmerised in return, with the government showing him an exit door for daring to challenge it with that level of confrontation.

Lately again, exposing the Northern political shenanigans has, sadly so, inspired similar 2014 experience. Truth, indeed, does not sit well on a throne that is guarded by a bodyguard of mediocrity, untruthfulness and absence of integrity.
Can a dethroned monarch go to court and be re-installed? If yes, have there been instances?

Sure, if the deposed monarch has a veritable case to prove in court. However, this could only happen if there was a miscarriage of justice leading to the deposition of the royal father in the first place, as in the case of Oba Sikiru Adetona, the Awujale of Ijebuland; the Timi of Ede, Oba Adetoyese; Emir of Gwandu, Mustapha Jokolo and few others.

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Were Sanusi to win this case, where would you throw the new beneficiary, Bayero, the new emir and his son, another new emir?
Yes, he should proceed to court, especially when there is a functional rule of law. Since the country’s constitution provides places for him as a public official and the law of the land is binding on everyone, nothing should logically impede someone who has been a victim of power to seek legal redress towards an obvious infringement on his personality.

In fact, there are cases in history where deposed kings sought for redress over perceived injustices on their ancestral heritage. When Oba Akitoye was deposed, he was immediately succeeded by his brother, Kosoko, who took over after him. Oba Akitoye did not give in obviously; he gathered his strength and sought for external collaboration, which he believed would yield positive results to attain his goal. With the help of the British authorities, Akitoye was able to launch an attack on Lagos Colony and he became successful against his opponent, his brother.

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Although the form of redress people expect in this case is legal, however, Oba Akitoye sought the use of violence as his own best route to reclaiming his mandate.

The beauty of democracy is etched in the principle of equity, where every individual is given a sense of belonging, protecting their interests and safeguarding their collective values. Whenever any individual feels unprotected or threatened by a group or another individual, there are appropriate provisions for them in the written law to seek justice.

The people who laid this foundation did so with the understanding that certain individuals would want to exploit the helpless people by using their authority in an undemocratic way for provincial reasons. Any society where unchecked and unchallenged authority is the norm, anarchy, therefore, is just some distance away. With this, the values of society will become the collateral victim in this regard and society will experience some difficulty in moving forward or approaching development in the real sense of it.

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Therefore, it is principally necessary that the deposed emir seek legal assistance to challenge powers that have masterminded his humiliation if he so wishes. Doing this will ensure that the people still retain their confidence in the system, making them believe in the democratic maturity of the country.

We cannot deny the fact that post-colonial Africa has already imbibed the system of rule of law that comes with the political philosophy behind democracy. Therefore, showing a level of confidence in the system by protesting injustices when necessary is justifiable. In other words, all things being equal, the judiciary should provide the needed succour to the unfairly treated monarch (but note the phrase, “all things being equal”)

What lesson would you want Nigerians, especially monarchs, to learn from Sanusi’s experience?
The bitter lesson in this is that you cannot speak truth to the power in Nigeria and still think the freedom accorded you in the constitution is still guaranteed. The Nigerian situation is similar to that of the popular saying often alluded to Idi Amin of Uganda- there is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee freedom after the speech.

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Not even the Nigerian constitution could guarantee this. This led to the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa; it led to the deposition of Sanusi I; it cost Sowore his right to everything, but life. Sanusi II is the new man in that list of castrated critics of bad government.

But as Sanusi 11, the respected economist said in his reaction to his deposition, all entities in Nigeria should know that only God giveth and taketh power as he pleases. Therefore, the greatest service our monarchs could render to their communities is speaking truth to power and representing their subjects honourably. How they do this is their own prerogative.

Nevertheless, it would be a further denigration of their office if because of what they would eat, they decide to continue calling the proverbial cow by the accolade of a brother.

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While some people would see the saga between Sanusi 11 and the power that decided his fate from a very negative light, I think there are some positive signals that his ouster has inspired in the Nigerian sociopolitical space. For one thing, Sanusi’s sworn commitment to truth-telling as a nationalist and a well-respected Pan-Africanist comes with great results in the process of nation-building, at least for the ordinary man.

Either the political power in the country likes it or not, their pent-up anger and misdirected annoyance expressed in deposing Sanusi 11 is a revelation of their ordinariness, their emptiness, for the simple fact that they show their fragility when confronted with credible critics, whose voices pierce through their disgustingly sturdy hearts.

Who would have thought in 2014 that the single voice of a man unfazed by threats and braggadocio of the nation would have been so powerful to cause power brokers to shiver? Who would have thought that the calling out of the government for avoiding their statutory responsibilities would have made men of high cadre demonstrate their childishness, gripped with pulsating fears to quickly pronounce him unfit for that leadership position?

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Strictly speaking, the voice of people that matter counts and that is the take-home I have from this.

Consequently, I believe Nigerian monarchs have already had their lessons to be learnt from the incidence without over-stretching it. First, they should understand that their voices matter in deciding what goes on and how they go on in society because they are respectable stakeholders.

What is fundamental, therefore, is that they should always search their conscience to ask themselves if the situation of things in their society is what they desire. They should always ponder that the throne upon which they sit has a longer time span than those elected into the political offices, and therefore they should not jeopardise the long-term goal for short-term relief. Their silence obviously would interpret to concession to what obtains in their society. Therefore, if the situation is a bad one, they would perfectly be seen as accomplices.

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Revolutionary actions do not reside in the demonstration of violence or the putting up of war-inducing placards. Instead, it comes from the actions of clairvoyant people who resort to taking a peaceful route to instigate change. It is written in history that Nelson Mandela did not engage in violence, Martin Luther King Jr. shunned violence while asking the American society for a change in approach. These people are known today for inspiring epochal changes.

Monarchs can take a cue from that, they cannot all be banished. They cannot afford to compromise the truth and sacrifice their consciences on the altar of personal ego or of winning the favours of politicians. They should remember the stern words of Dante Alighieri, the 13th Century Italian philosopher: “The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis, choose to maintain their neutrality.”

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Can you trace the history of the dethronement of monarchs in Nigeria?
I have mentioned the case of the Alaafin of Oyo, as in the case of Awobioju, Labisi and Onisile, all of whom paid with their lives and Ooni Ogburu, among others, in Ile-Ife. These were early instances of deposition of a monarch in the area that constituted Nigeria today.

The 1804 Sokoto Jihad was another instance that could readily fall under this phenomenon, as it replaced the existing traditional rulers and dynasty in the Northern part of Nigeria with new ones that were inclined to the wishes of the Jihadists. During this period, the deposition of a king was largely through killing (often nicknamed “opening the calabash of being or of existence”), especially in Yorubaland.

The dethronement of monarchs in the area known today as Nigeria has taken a new turn, in terms of intensity and spread since the eve of the colonial era. With the invasion of places like the prestigious Benin Empire, Lagos, Opobo, Okrika, Bida, Sokoto and pockets of other empires, kingdoms, towns and communities, the colonial authorities supervised an avalanche of deposition of traditional authorities in these areas.

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In all of these cases, the monarch could either flee on self-imposed exile or be forced to do so by the conquistadors. In another instance, as in the case of Jaja of Opobo, the monarch could be tricked out of the town, only to be gaggled afterwards.

This continued into the administration of the colony with the deposition of the likes of Akire Falabi and the Baale of Apomu in 1919 by the colonial government for an allegation of corruption; Dan Yaya, the then Emir of Ningi for terrorising his people, and the Emir of Bauchi, Umar Mohammed, for insubordination and slave dealings, both in 1902.

In the more recent time, we have had the Olowo of Owo, Oba Olateru Olagbegi; Deji of Akure, Oba Adesida; Awujale of Ijebu, Oba Adetona; Timi of Ede, Oba Adetoyese; Emir of Gwandu, Mustapha Jokolo, and others fall in this scheme, all for various reasons, some well-justified.

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Sanusi 11 is not the first and won’t be the last.    

Will you agree that traditional rulers have been demystified because they are no longer seen as gods as before?

Definitely! But just because they are not seen in this mystical way any longer does not presuppose that they are no longer relevant to society, as they can glue together their communities, contribute to peacebuilding and be part of community development.

But to those of them who remain, contractors and politicians, they will bring shame and humiliation to themselves.

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Traditional rulers are political representatives that are, in pre-colonial African societies, selected based on the existing cultural rules and regulations. There were many African societies where the choices of leadership were not premised on mortal knowledge. In many cases, there were indigenous ways by which they were chosen, with the appropriate rituals and rites.

Therefore, anyone who expects that this would remain so in a setting where external styles and methods of choosing the leaders are contrasted to the existing methods must have been in delusion and must wake up. The first day the European imperialists conquered the African people and diplomatically introduced their patterns of governance to the people was the day the existing social structure of the people changed for good.

We are quite aware of the fact that all the emerging formations and structures in the colonial and post-colonial environment are an attestation to the forces of the European powers and must, therefore, be understood within the context of change. Automatically, the usual styles and structures of the people would experience a change, even its minor form.

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On this premise, we, therefore, can see the process of kingship, or what it represents, as not only being demystified but also recalibrated. Although there are still some classes of African monarchs with beautiful historical and cultural relics that they can lay claim to, this, however, does not mean their second-to-gods status has not been redefined.

We do not need to be told by a soothsayer that the deposition of a king, which we have seen many examples of, without their attending consequences, is a clear indication that their exalted position has been reduced. In other words, the kings have seen sufficient change of mentality in the colonial environment and would even on their own rebuff their next-to-gods status, the posture that the political elites have since assumed.

Is it possible for a monarch to fight or change the system that enthroned him?
One prominent online discussant asked if Sanusi 11 has an adequate grasp of his life’s mission. While I agree with him on the point that neither the CBN headship nor the Emirate largest turban is his calling, given the fact that it is perpetually a foolhardy position to think you can successfully roast the fingers feeding you for dinner without expecting some punches, I beg to disagree on the point that the fore-sighted first-class economist is being driven by a wind he’s not aware of.

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To think otherwise, which many Nigerians assume at the moment, is to argue that our very own Anthony Joshua is being driven by chance when he counts his steps and motion his fists in the ring. Is anyone in doubt of the fact that Sanusi 11 is never fit for the position he held at the Kano Emirate? I doubt it! His closest pals and staunchest supporters are not even in denial of the contradictions between his dispositions and the seat he chose to represent.

Yet, this very seat used to be the “peak” of his dreams. The question is, why? If this is all about preserving or rather reforming the system and impacting the lives of his people in the emirate, as his stance all along in that position suggests, I don’t think anyone would disagree with me that that was a “rocket science” ambition, owing to the dysfunctional structure of government in the country, sustained by a discredited system.

I don’t think a thoughtful man like Sanusi 11 would ever have flattered himself looking into the mirror of his room and thinking that he could change either of these narratives by occupying the, more or less, ceremonial position of an emir. If he had not read the history of the evolution of chieftaincy institution in Nigeria in the course of nurturing this ambition, he definitely must have heard about the Sanusi I, his own grandfather.

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So, added to his trajectory so far, what exactly does he (Sanusi, the grandson) want by dreaming, nurturing and accepting the conservative position? These are interesting times and I think this is the time this question would be answered one way or the other.

But in all, I only hope that the common man on the street would benefit from all attempts and acts of changing the Nigerian narrative to an inspiring one among the comity of nations because ultimately, the struggle should be about millions of Nigerians and not about a king and a governor, two elite figures that have benefitted immensely from public wealth.

If Sanusi thinks this, then it is very possible if there is a collaboration with the governor in power and the people are carried along. A single monarch cannot initiate revolutionary actions against a system that feeds it, finances it and literally decides its ascension. The post-colonial African kingship process is, to a large extent, influenced by the political class, and the reason is understandable.

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For the first-class kings, they are aware of the social influence they wield, as they could instigate negative reactions towards them, especially when seeking electioneering sympathy, and at the same time, they may be assets to them, as corruption is used to lubricate power.

If we put all these political theatrics behind and address important issues, kings can instigate positive actions to correct the system that enthrone them if they focus on development issues and poverty eradication. The mandate is to ensure that their societies are modern, ones that will be free from chaos, built on strong foundations and economically stable to protect the weaker members of society.

However, if the kings look only after themselves- their nice cars, clothes and fine palace- they are part of the problems of corruption, political decadence and misgovernance.

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The North is believed to be too conservative and lagging behind in educational attainment. How can the situation be redressed?
Are they not what the accumulation of what Sanusi 11 has been saying on the issue of polygamy, population control, drugs and education? The fact remains like Sanusi 11 has said repeatedly, that the Northern power elite must come to the reality of the contemporary world and stop hiding behind religious excuses as the reason for impoverishing millions of people.

If the trend continues, a disastrous future is looming for the children who are denied sound education, skills and knowledge. Apart from the fact that they would have been so carelessly developed or poorly raised, entrusting the society to their care would be devastating. Poor jobless youth will constitute a nuisance, disturb the peace and impede worthwhile growth. Without sugarcoating it, the North will continue to face serious challenges.

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The truth of the matter resides in the message the dethroned emir has been preaching since he was enthroned, which in all sense represents the voice of the likes of Bishop Hassan Kukah and the late Bala Usman. The northern elites, who are benefitting from the present scheme against the poor in the north, should pity these poverty-stricken people in their millions and set them free or the people should rise against them and deliver themselves from a corrupt, decadent political system of kleptocratic leadership.  

Let me end by criticising Sanusi 11. We have not seen clearly how he has transformed the Kano space. We are not aware that he has built a strong network to empower the youth. We do not know what he has spent six years to do in restoring the manufacturing glory of Kano.

Finally, to the political elites in the South who are not different from their counterparts in the North, their places are equally as backward as the North they abuse in private and criticise in public. The face of poverty in Nigeria is not the North, but everywhere. There is poverty in the centre, hardship in the east, exploitation in the west, suffering in the Delta, anguish in the middle, terrorism in the margins and kidnapping everywhere.

Maybe we should dethrone all the kings, remove all the governors and start all over. Nigeria needs a break!

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