The choices before the Emir of Kano
Alhaji Isa Kaita (1912-1994) was the Northern Region Minister for works between 1954-1957 and later Minister of Education between 1957-1966. He later became the Waziri of Katsina. Alhaji Kaita was one of the few closest advisers of the late northern region premier, Sir Ahmadu Bello (1909-1966), the Sardauna of Sokoto. In August 1963, Alhaji Isa Kaita was dispatched to Lagos by his friend, Sir Ahmadu Bello. The mission was to inform the then Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (1912-1966), about the plan of the premier to depose the then Emir of Kano, Sir Muhammadu Sanusi from the throne. When he got to Lagos, he met the then prime Minister in company of his five ministers, Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu (1910-1965), Alhaji Shehu Shagari (90), Alhaji Zanna Bukar Suloma Dipcharima (1917-1969), Alhaji Maitama Sule (90), and Alhaji Tudun Wada (94). The ministers advised against the premier’s decision.
Upon delivering the message, the then prime minister told Alhaji Kaita that the Sardauna should not act that way. “Tell the Sardauna that he should not do it, for Kano will be on fire.” The emissary told the prime minister and the five ministers present that “I am not here for permission. I am here to inform you that the Sardauna had made up his mind, am afraid no going back”. That was how the meeting ended. Selection and deposition of traditional rulers is the sole responsibility of state governments.
The son of the Emir, Alhaji Aminu Sanusi, who was serving in the Nigerian Embassy in Cairo, Egypt at that time, intervened on behalf of his father on the question of exile. The prime minister discussed with the premier and they all settled for Azare, the headquarters of then Katagum Emirate in Northern Bauchi province. Two days later, the Emir was dethroned and banished to Azare in the present Bauchi state. He later died in 1984. Some of the details of the deposition are contained on pages 603 to 605 of a book written by Trevor Clark titled: “A Right Honourable Gentleman” on the life and times of Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Mr. Clark, a Briton, served as the deputy secretary to the executive council, the governor’s office in Kaduna. He was a personal friend of the Prime Minister.
Before the deposition, Mr Clark wrote that” the Kano native finances had largely broken down, and in September 1962 could not meet its monthly staff wage bill nor its other debts.
In my interview, as the National Assembly Editor of THE PUNCH newspaper, with Alhaji Isa Kaita in October 1983 while he was chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, he said Sir Ahmadu Bello did not take that decision without consultation. He described the deposition as “A righteous one”. When I asked whether the late premier had any regret deposing Alhaji Muhammed Sanusi as the Emir before he too was murdered by the military on January 15,1956, his reply was: “Why should the Sardauna regret his actions, Sanusi was not deposed on mere statement, go and find out. Have you read the report of David Muffet?”
David Muffet, a Briton was appointed by Sir Ahmadu Bello to probe into Kano Native Financial affairs in 1963. Later Mr. Muffet wrote a book titled: “Let The Truth Be Told”. Unfortunately, Alhaji Isa Kaita, a former broadcaster could not write his autobiography to shed more light on the deposition of the Emir before he died in his house in Kaduna on November 26, 1994.
After the deposition of the Emir, the Turaki of Kano between (1927-1939) and district head of Dawakin Kudu, Alhaji Muhammad Inuwa Abbas, born in 1901, became the Emir. His reign was less than 12 months before he died. He was succeeded by Alhaji Ado Bayero who died recently after reigning for 51 years.
The history of the deposed Emir was in sharp contrast with that of his father Alhaji Abdullahi Bayero who was Emir between 1926 and 1963.
Alhaji Abdullahi Bayero was the son of Emir Muhammadu Abbas. He was district head of Bichi before he was appointed the tenth Fulani Emir of Kano in 1926. He was officially installed in February 1927.
Under British supervision, he carried out some reforms of the Emirate government. The economic prosperity continued under his reigned despite the slump going on in the post-Second World War years and considerable development was financed from Native Authority funds. By the early 1950s, the Kano NA was spending over £1 million annually for its programmes. Under the Emir, whose good relations with the British were shown by a procession in which he and the governor took part in in 1936, Kano became important to the British a civil air route terminal (1936), air base in the Second World War, and a major groundnut centre as it had been since 1912. He encouraged many factories to be established in Kano.
He virtually turned Kano into a major trading centre across the whole of Africa. The Arabs turned Kano to their second home, hence the reason for many mulattoes in Kano today.
In 1934 Alhaji Abdullahi Bayero visited Britain and was received by King George V. He went to Mecca twice. The first time, in 1937, he travelled by car and became the first ever Emir of Kano to perform the Hajj. He performed it again in 1951, that time by air, and on his return, opened a new mosque. He followed the Reformed Tijaniyya Moslem sect, and was much influenced by Sheikh Ibrahim Niass of Kaolack (Senegal), who preached it in Kano. This well-remembered Emir died on 25 December 1953. Bayero University was named after him.
The son of the now ailing Emir of Azare, who hosted the deposed Emir of Kano for 21 years, Baba Farouk, the Seriki Shirra, is today the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Water Resources. And the grandson of the deposed Emir is today the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
He is not the first son or grandson of a deposed traditional ruler to regain the throne of his father or that of his grandfather. The father of the present Alaafin of Oyo, Iku Baba Yeye, Oba Lamidi Layiwola Adeyemi III (76), that is Oba Adeniran Adeyemi II was once deposed in 1954 and he died in exile. His son, the present Alaafin succeeded Oba Gbadegesin Ladigbolu on November 8, 1970. The whole world is now awaiting when he will mark 50 years on the throne in 2020. The former Oba of Benin, Oba Uku Akpolokpolo, Omo n’Oba n’Edo, Akenzua II (1899-1978) was another one. His grandfather King Ovonramwen, who died in 1914, was dethroned and deported to Calabar where he died 17 years later. The present Olowo of Owo in Ondo state, Kabiyesi Victor Folagbade Olateru Olagbegi, is another one. His famous father, Sir James Titus Olateru Olagbegi II, was dethroned in February 1968. He fought back and he reclaimed his throne on November 2, 1993.
As for the present Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, he could boast of having a grandfather and a great grandfather as Emirs of Kano. A boast that can’t be disputed.He has two choices before him today. Either to follow the footsteps of his great grandfather Alhaji Abdullahi Bayero who transformed Kano or follow the footsteps of his grandfather Alhaji Muhammed Sanusi who was deposed after reigning for 10 years.It is his choice to make.
Teniola, a former director at the presidency, wrote from Lagos.
This article was first published in June 2014.