WHEN the British conquered Nigeria, they appropriated the Emirate institution and used it to rule the people. Most of the Emirate dynasties of the Sokoto Caliphate across northern Nigeria were about a century old at the time of the British conquest. Their legitimacy was based on the Jihad led by Shehu Usman Danfodio and his followers from 1804 to 1807.
In Kano the Sullubawan Dabo Dynasty was founded in 1819 when Sarkin Kano Ibrahim Dabo, their patriarch ascended the throne. The dynasty survived a civil war that was fought between 1893 and 1894. Yusufawa faction, were the victors and the Tukurawa led by Sarkin Kano Tukur (1893-1894) were vanquished.
Galadima Yusuf was the leader of the Yusufawa. He died in Garko before the victory but he bequeathed that Aliyu Babba should succeed him. And Alu as he was popularly known became Sarkin Kano (1894-1903). Galadima Yusuf is the great great-grandfather of Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf.
During the colonial rule 1903 to 1960 the British retained the dynasties in most of the Emirates and Kano was one of them. In the last two hundred years three individuals posed the greatest threat to Sullubawan Dabo Dynasty two colonial officers: Palmer and Cargill and Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (2015-2023).
Palmer changed the dynasty in Daura and he also threatened the Sullubawan Dabo when his subordinate Cargill was the Resident of Kano Province. Fortunately for the dynasty, Temple became the Resident and he reversed the trajectory in favor of Sarkin Kano Abbas (1903-1919).
One hundred years later Governor Ganduje, the son of a Village Head, by identity a lower aristocrat and client of the Yolawa Clan decided to delegitimize the Sullubawan Dabo Dynasty. He subjected its authority to positive law.
Governor Ganduje used the State Assembly to enact a Law that repudiated the pre-colonial claim of the Sullubawan Dabo Dynasty. This dynasty was established as a result of the Jihad of the followers of Shehu Usman Danfodio.
He used the Kano Emirates Law to create new Emirates and Dynasties from the Kano Emirate established by the Jihad of Shehu Usman Danfodio. The Law even appointed Kingmakers for the five new Emirates it created. Therefore Governor Ganduje is pretending to be Danfodio II. But are his actions legitimate based on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
Emirates and other traditional institutions are claims by those who inherited the pre-colonial institutions. It was based on those claims that the colonialists used the Emirs and bequeathed them to the Nigerian State. They are regulated by customs of the people. Their authority is vested on families or dynasties. The Nigerian State continued to recognize such authority. Nigeria became a Republic in 1963 when it ceased to be under the Sovereignty of Her Majesty the Queen.
A Republic cannot create a monarchy. Therefore no component of the Nigerian State can create one as Governor Ganduje did with his creation of five Emirates.
Governor Ganduje (2015-2023) decided to create five Emirates in Kano State when he signed Kano Emirates Law 2019, amended it 2020 and amended it again 2023. This is a clear indication of the lack of comprehension of the Emirate traditions. The Principal Law and its subsequent amendments violate the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended. This is because they bestow privileges based on birth by restricting certain public offices to some families and denying other citizens the right to aspire for such offices. No one has the right to restrict any public office established by positive law to any families. This is an act of denial of fundamental human rights of citizens to aspire for any public office.
Chapter II of the Constitution Section 17 clearly states that “(2) In furtherance of the social order- (a) every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the Law;”. Ganduje’s Law established Emirs and Kingmakers as public officers it is in clear violation of this section of the Constitution because it restricted the offices to a few families or descendants of few individuals.
This law also violates Section 42: “(2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstance of his birth”. This Law denies other citizens the right to become Emirs or Kingmakers because of birth status since they are not privileged descendants of those pronounced by the law.
The Kano State Emirates Council Law also violates the Sarauta customs of Kano. Section 4 of the Kano State Emirates Council (Amendment No. 2) Law 2023; “(50) The Descendants of Sarkin Gaya Abubakar Sayyadi, Sarkin Rano Isau and Sarkin Karaye Sulaiman Nadoji are the only persons eligible to be appointed Emirs of Gaya, Rano and Karaye in case of any available vacancy”.
As stated earlier, the Emirate owes its legitimacy to the Jihad of the followers of Shehu Usman Danfodio. The Emirs of Kano appointed the persons mentioned in this after the Jihad because of the support of their various clans to the Jihad campaigns and the Emirate institution. But they were not the only ones appointed to the position of Chiefship of their areas. In fact the Jobawa, Jallubawa and Yalligawa Clans led by Mallam Bakatsine, Mallam Salihu Dattuwa (a student of Shehu Danfodio with the same status as Shehu Abdullahi, Shehu Muhammad Bello and Gidado Dan Laima) and Salihu Dan Lawan respectively liberated Gaya. They appointed Muhammadu Hatsahir of the Zakirawa Clan and he reigned for twenty-eight years (1809-1827) and was succeeded by Ahmadu BaHodiye of the Torankawa Clan during the reign of Sarkin Kano Ibrahim Dabo (1819-1846), who also appointed Abubakar Sayyadi (1827-1844) from the Kurawa Clan.
Out of the fourteen 19th century Chiefs of Gaya only three belonged to the Kurawa Clan, the Shirawa had four, Zakirawa one, Torankawa one, Jobawa one, Barebari one and Fulanin Kila one. So on what basis did the Kano Emirates Council Law restrict the Emirship it created? This certainly has no precedence in Kano Sarauta custom.
Karaye tradition gives good explanation for the appointment of Chiefs from different clans. According to the History of Karaye written before the creation of Ganduje’s Emirates: “It is claimed by (Kadiri 1971) that the impact of the political strategy of succession developed by the leaders in Kano known as “the Doctrine of Shigege” was interesting in Karaye since none of the first four Fulani rulers in Karaye was succeeded by either his son or kinsman.
These four rulers of Karaye under Fulani dispensation were Nadoje, Kyecca, Tabari and Kwasallo”. This trend of alternation continued up to the post-colonial period, when Sarkin Karaye Abubakar II (1981-1998) from the Torankawa Clan succeeded Sarkin Karaye Abubakar (1969-1981) from the Sullubawa Clan (see Ibrahim Garba Karaye and Philip James Shea History of Karaye ABU Press 2013, pp. 73 and 112-124). So why did Ganduje’s Emirate Law restrict its Karaye Emirship to only one lineage?
The Kano Emirates Council Law (Amendment Law 2020, fifth schedule section 9 (2) (g) 1) created offices of Kingmakers and assigned them to descendants of individuals violating Kano Sarauta customs, which were reformed by the Jihadists in the 19th century. Only the position of Sarkin Bai remained in one lineage since the Jihad, that of Mallam Dabo Dambazau. Mallam Abdurrahman Goshi and Mallam Jibril were leaders of the Yolawa Clan and their descendants have never been separated until the law signed by Governor Ganduje whose ancestors were clients of the Yolawa.
In the case of Jobawa and the title of Makama no one has ever separated the descendants of Mallam Bakatsine, Mallam Saidu and Mallama Habiba they all held the title before the law signed by Governor Ganduje. So what is the purpose of that law if not to cause acrimony within closely interrelated families.
Sarauta like any other aristocratic tradition has hierarchies. In Kano Sarauta since the 19th century the Sullabawan Dabo lineage is the royalty followed by Hakimai or titled chiefs who are the nobility. The village heads and territorial chiefs belong to the vassalage class. The official biographer of Sarkin Kano Alhaji Ado Bayero made this distinction: “But even within the sarakuna or ruling class there were gradations. Two sub-classes were distinguishable. The first was what, for lack of a better term, one would call the higher aristocracy. This comprised members of the royal family, those of hakimai and other important titled officials who dealt directly with the Emir. The second was the lower aristocracy, comprising members of the families of village and ward heads” (Omar Faruk Ibrahim Prince of the Times: Ado Bayero and the Transformation of Emiral Authority in Kano Africa World Press 2001 pp. 206).
The late Sarkin Rano in the book he wrote before his elevation to Emirship in 2019 confirmed the loyalty of Rano chiefs to Sullubawan Dabo (See Tafida Abubakar Ila History of Rano Sahato Press not dated pp. 28-29). Even the nobility and the vassalage have hierarchies. In the 19th century Emirate the precedence or hierarchy was as follows: Galadima, Madaki, Wambai, Alkali, Makama, Sarkin Dawaki Mai Tuta, Sarkin Bai, Ciroma and Dan Iya followed by others. For the vassalage, “their rank order and official designations were as follows: Sarkin Jahun, Sarkin Bebeji, Sarkin Fulanin Sankara, Sarkin Shanono, Sarkin Kunci, Sarkin Dambatta, Sarkin Rano, Sarkin Dutse, Sarkin Gaya, Sarkin Karaye, Sarkin Birnin Kudu and Sarkin Fulanin Jaidanawa” (see Adamu Mohammed Fika Kano Civil War and the British Over-rule Oxford University Press 1978 p. 53).
Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje through the Kano State Emirates Council Law created Emirates and designated descendants of inferior aristocrats as Emirs. But this was not all. He compelled descendants of nobles to pay homage and be subordinated to these inferior aristocrats using State instruments of intimidation and coercion thus violating the Sarauta custom. For example Makaman Kano who was number six in Kano Sarauta hierarchy, was subjected to humiliation by subordinating him to Sarkin Gaya who was number 46 before the creation of the new Emirates.
Ganduje’s Emirates should be abolished because their creation violates both the Constitution and the Sarauta custom. Kano Sarauta should revert to 2019 before this law. It should continuously negotiate its status based on the reformed traditions of the 19th century for claimants as agreed since the colonial conquest. Using Positive Law to regulate Sarauta is a recipe for abolishing Sullubawan Dabo Dynasty as the Kano Emirates Council Law clear demonstrates.
Ado-Kurawa, Editor of Nigeria Year and Who is Who, writes from Kano and can be reached via [email protected].