Embattled Northern Emirs Walking On Eggshells

Embattled Northern Emirs Walking On Eggshells

A growing number of emirs in the northern part of the country are slowly becoming endangered species as state governors with grievances are showing a willingness to dethrone them despite the high prestige the emirate councils hold in the region.

Though conflicts between state governors and first-class emirs are not new, the last few weeks have witnessed a flurry of attempts in at least three states, with new laws passed to whittle down the influence of emirs and, at the very extreme, dethrone them from office.

Tension between governing authorities and traditional institutions is as old as Nigeria itself. Still, the relationship has taken on a new political relevance and has fostered peaceful coexistence in society.

In most states across the north, state governors and traditional rulers have an excellent working relationship in Borno, where the traditional institution and the government are in harmony.

In Niger State, too, the eight emirate councils are in healthy relationships with the state government, and there is no known conflict between them.

A handful of other states also fall under this category. The few states where conflicts have boiled over reverberate across the entire region.


How politics destroy the traditional heritage

The tussle for emir Kano started with political interference that has worsened over the years.

The immediate past regime of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, now the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), created five first-class Emirates out of the existing one, the Kano Emirate.

Subsequently, Muhammadu Sanusi II, the then-Emir of Kano, was dethroned, and Aminu Bayero was made the Emir of Kano along with the Emirs of Rano, Karaye, Bichi, and Gaya.

Aminu Ado Bayero became the 15th Emir of Kano, while Muhammad Sanusi II was dethroned as the 14th Emir.

It was part of the unofficial campaign promises made to the public by the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) in Kano, regularly chanted as “New Governor, New Emir.”

Unsurprisingly, the NNPP government in Kano dethroned Bayero to replace him with Sanusi II because the NNPP supporters were excited and managing suspense as they awaited that action. The governor went ahead to fulfil that promise.

The APC supports Emir Bayero, while Emir Sanusi II enjoys the support of the NNPP government, a prominent trait in the state.

On May 21st 2024, tension began to mount in Kano State after the state House of Assembly began a process to amend the Emirate Council Law and the Emir Appointment and Deposition Amendment Law 2019.

The House eventually passed it into law on 23rd May 2024 as the Kano State Emirates Councils (Repeal) Bill, 2024, abolishing the principal Law dated 5th December 2019 and all appointments made under it.

Be that as it may, Governor Abba Yusuf signed it into law on the same day, further sparking tension and mixed reactions.

The Assembly, in the last administration of Umar Ganduje in 2019, amended the law to approve an increase of first-class Emirs to five, a development that led to the deposition of the 14th Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, and the creation of four additional Emirates to the Kano metropolitan—Rano, Karaye, Bichi, and Gaya.

However, the new 2024 repealed law mandates that the governor restore the emirate system to its initial position before enacting the repealed principal law in 2019. Hence, the governor invited the kingmakers to the government house, an event that led to Emir Muhammad Sanusi’s reinstatement as the 16th Emir of Kano state in less than 48 hours.



The trend, which started in Kano, has berthed in Sokoto, and the revered Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, maybe the fall guy.

To keen watchers, before the assumption of office of the present state government, its relationship with the Sultanate was that of strange bedfellows. Not until Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, under the watch of Professor Ishaq Akintola, heightened the speculation that the Sokoto state government was plotting the dethronement of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar.

Without picking a gauntlet, the Sultanate Council said it remains steadfast in its responsibilities and duties, committed to abiding by all laws.

The Council emphasised that it has no vested interest in who becomes a district or village head but is dedicated to working towards harmony and good governance in the state.

Addressing the House Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs on the proposed amendment bill to the State Assembly on Tuesday, July 2, in Sokoto, the District Head of Kilgori, Dr Muhammadu Jabbi Kilgori, who spoke on behalf of the Sultanate Council, affirmed that the Sultanate is a democratic institution guided by principles and processes that reflect the people’s wishes and aspirations.

Dr. Kilgori noted that the esteemed institution has historically operated with various governments and administrations under different laws before 2007.

“We are aware that the government made appointments of District and Village Heads, but it was not until 2007 that Governor Aliyu Wamakko amended the law and gave the Sultan the power to do so, which lasted for over 16 years.

“Therefore, we are willing to act by the government’s wishes and abide by the law by doing the right thing,” he said.

While explaining the proposed Bill, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Nasiru Binji, said it aimed to ensure the bill was comprehensively amended to address the 2014, 2016, and 2018 amended laws.

Binji explained that it was also to define constitutional clarity as to the sources of power of appointment in a democratic setting while referring to sect 76(2), which gave only the executive the ability to make appointments.

“Only an executive institution can make appointments, for which the Sultanate has no power but can only recommend to the governor for final approval on the position of District or Village head for appointment.

“This provision is unconstitutional with the Sultanate,” Binji said, citing section 76(3) of the Constitution.

Binji further explained that the proposed amended law is neither political nor a means of stripping the Sultanate Council of its power.

When this law is amended, the salary of the traditional rulers in the state will be paid by the Ministry of Local Government and Religious Affairs instead of the Sultanate Council.

Advising Governor Ahmed Aliyu to avoid the Kano scenario in Sokoto state, Malam Sani Illela, a former lecturer, posited that “district and village heads should be appointed by the Sultanate Council, subject to approval from the local government council. Candidates for appointment as district and village heads should undergo security screening and rigorous underground checks. The Holy Qur’an should swear successful candidates at their inaugurations.

“The bill should provide minimum educational qualification for district and village heads appointment. The minimum qualification for district heads should be a Diploma, and SSCE for the village heads. The candidates should also know Islamic law.

“The bill should spell out the duties of the district and village heads. Their suspension, removal and general disciplinary procedure should be provided under the bill, with strict adherence to the doctrine of fair hearing as encapsulated in Section 36 of the Constitution. Our traditional rulers represent a revered institution; as such, they need to be secured from political attacks and incursions by politicians.”


Katsina Govt, Emirate Council in Silent Conflict

There are strong indications the Katsina state government and the Katsina Emirate Council are in silent conflict, despite the state government’s claims that the query issued to the Katsina Emirate Council was a routine administrative procedure.

Investigations have uncovered a deeper rift between the state government and the traditional institution. The perception was that the government’s query regarding the absence of some district heads at the Durbar festival was merely a symptom of the underlying tension.

Sources with knowledge of the matter said the tension began when the emirate council removed the former district head of Kuraye, Alhaji Abubakar Abdullahi-Ahmadu, allegedly at the government’s behest. The emirate’s letter stating they were “directed” to remove Ahmadu reportedly did not sit well with the government.

The development deteriorated the relationship between the two bodies, coupled with other silent issues that made people always give meaning to the government’s memo to the emirate.

Another issue linked to the rift was the alleged creation of five additional district heads. However, the government has not made changes to the emirate laws. Trending information has it that the led administration is planning to restructure the emirate by creating additional district heads in the Katstina emirate.

As the renounced social critic Mahdi Shehu claimed on his social media handle, “The governor is bent on checkmating the Emirs’ perceived excesses. Part of the governor’s well-marshalled plan is to restructure the Emirate, bring on board some of the Emir’s sworn’ detractors’ and appoint them into strategic traditional stools.”

He claimed that a new title of Ubangarin Katsina would be created out of the present Katsina district, and the Katsina district would be made one and two, to be headed by the present Magajin Gari and the proposed Ubangari, respectively.

He alleged that other measures would be creating the Dankama district from the Kaita Local Government Area (LGA), the Dandagoro district from Batagarawa, and the Radda district, the governor’s village, to be carved out from Chiranchi and Dutsinma LGAs.

But the Director General, Media to Governor Umaru Radda, Maiwada Danmallam, debunked all the claims, describing them as mere imagination. He reiterated that the government stands for a good working relationship with the emirate.

“Katsina State government has the supervising authority over the two Emirates of Daura and Katsina. In line with this authority, it is expected that the government will seek clarifications when and if necessary to ensure full compliance with the government’s policies and directives, not necessarily in a conflict situation but to ensure optimum accountability and efficiency as generally required of other MDAs by His Excellency, Governor Radda.

“Assuredly, the Katsina State government is enjoying a cordial relationship with the Emirates of Katsina and Daura. Any idea of conflict between the state government and any of the two emirates is a figment of the imagination of some conflict entrepreneurs,” he said

The Katsina Emirate Council is a vital institution that embodies the Katsina people’s history, culture, and traditions, making it an essential part of the state’s social and political fabric.

It is headed by the Emir, Alhaji Abdulmumini Kabir Usman, who is the paramount ruler and maintains the emirate’s cultural heritage and traditional values.


Cold War In Gombe

In Gombe State, governor Inuwa Yahaya has not enjoyed a cordial relationship with a section of Tangale kinsmen in Billiri local government, the headquarters of Mai Tangale chiefdom, since the appointment of the current emir, otherwise known as “Mai Tangale” Danladi Sanusi Maiyamba.

The trouble started when the late Mai Tangale Abdu Buba Maisheru, who was a Christian, died, and the current occupant of the throne, a Muslim, was appointed by the governor allegedly against the choice of another Christian by kingmakers of the chiefdom.

LEADERSHIP Sunday recalls that there was a riot by aggrieved youths who burned places of worship and injured several residents.

Up until now, some aggrieved members of the community, especially the Tangale socio-cultural group known as ‘Tangale Community Overseas’ (TCO), have been holding grudges against the governor as they continue to criticise him vehemently whenever they find an opportunity to do so.

However, our correspondent observed that on their part, the governor and the traditional ruler co-relate harmoniously.