Kano Emirate: History Repeats Itself 40 Years After 



Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Muhammadu Sanusi II, has been returned as the Emir of Kano four years after he was dethroned.

Sanusi’s return reignited a part of Kano history which played out in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State reinstated the 14th Kano Emir to the throne on Thursday when he signed the Kano State Emirate Council (Repeal) Bill 2024 into law.

The new law replaces the Kano State Emirates Council Law, 2019 and dissolves the emirate councils created by Governor Yusuf’s predecessor, Abdullahi Ganduje.

That law was used by Ganduje to split the Kano Emirate into five in December 2019 and depose Sanusi, on March 9, 2020. The emirates created by the Ganduje administration were Karaye, Bichi, Rano, and Gaya, in addition to Kano.

The decision generated controversy back then, and Governor Yusuf, in reversing it, said it was the reversal of law “that balkanised the over 1,000-year-old Kano Emirate.”

Based on the new law, the governor gave the emirs who ruled the dissolved emirates 48 hours to vacate their palaces.

The last time a similar scenario played out in Kano was in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

During the administration of Governor Abubakar Rimi, there was an attempt to create five emirates in Kano State by splitting the Kano Emirate into five.

This move was opposed by some members of the royal family and other traditional rulers, who saw it as an attempt to weaken the Kano Emirate’s influence.

However, Governor Rimi went ahead with the plan and created the new emirates of Gaya, Karaye, Bichi, Rano, and Kano.

The Kano Emirate was reduced in size and given a more ceremonial role, while the new emirates were granted more administrative and political powers.

The Emir of Kano at the time was, however, not deposed. Rather, he was suspended in 1981. The move led to riots in Kano and Rimi never recovered politically and resigned in 1983 after falling out with Aminu Kano.

When Governor Sabo Bakin Zuwo took over in 1983, he reversed the decision and restored the Kano Emirate to its original size and status, with the other emirates abolished.

His decision was seen as an attempt to restore the traditional balance of power and to address the concerns of those who opposed the creation of the new emirates.

More than 35 years later, Ganduje’s move has met the same fate. Like Rimi’s decision, it was surrounded by controversy and legal challenges.

A historian at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nadir Nasidi, is among the experts who opposed the creation of the new emirates this time around.

“Kano is the only emirate in the country with one unifying king. The creation of unnecessary kings isn’t palatable. Many people, including myself, told the Ganduje administration that what he was doing wasn’t a good one,” he said in an interview.

While he wasn’t sure about the possibility of bringing Sanusi back, he was adamant that the new emirates had to go.

“The other emirates must be reduced to local chiefs under the overall emir of Kano. They can choose amongst all the kings one person to be the overall king,” he said.

On Thursday, the likes of Professor Nasidi had their wishes met. The supporters of the 14th Emir and the man himself have also been given reason to cheer, with history repeating itself.

Kayode Oyero

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