By Huzaifa Dokaji
One funny thing about the Ganduje administration is, one hardly understands the wisdom behind many of its political decisions. From the creation of new Emirates to the recent new list of kingmakers for Kano Emirate, one wonders if proper research and consultation mean anything to the policy makers of this government. It is a government whose incompetence will not even allow it to be incompetent in a competent way.
Its latest embarrassment is the approved list of the kingmakers for Kano Emirate and their recognized clan affiliation, as contained in the Amended Kano Emirate Council Law. The importance of a functional Civil Service is always evident in the way state governments formulate policies and proceed to execute them. More than ever, Nigeria needs to resurrect its Civil Service, least to save us from the embarrassment half-baked appointees, whom have hijacked the work of the Civil Service, are causing us.
In the amended Kano Emirate Law, the office of Madaki was appropriated to Malam Jibir’s house. Makama to the descendants of Malam Bakatsine, Sarkin Bai to Malam Dambazau’s descendants and a position of Sarkin Dawaki Babba was introduced and accorded to Babba Dan Agundi’ s family, whom the law also recognizes as descendants of Malam Jamo.
The law may look harmless, other than the inclusion of a new title holder of Sarkin Dawaki Babba which conservatives will oppose since the kingmakers council has its own historicity and political specificity. What are the implications of the Law?
The descendants of Madaki Mahmudu, including the present Madaki, are excluded both from holding the position of Madaki and also a kingmaker. Although the Yolawa have held the position of Madaki and kingmaker since 1840, they are now excluded from the list since their representative, the present Madakin Kano, does not fulfill the requirement of Ganduje’s law as he is not a descendant of Jibir.
The descendants of Abdurahman Goshi, Malam Jibir’s elder brother, are also excluded from holding the office of the Madaki. Since the Emirate itself exist on the basis of overthrowing the Hausa rulers in 1805, it is a surprise that the descendants of the man who murdered Emir Alwali are ostracised. On what historical wisdom, we can’t say.
Even the position of Makama is in peril because according to Abubakar Dokaji in his Kano ta Dabo Cigari, the official history of Kano commissioned by the palace in 1957, the office of Makaman Kano is held by the descendants of Malam Bakatsine and his brother Malam Sa’idu. The present Makama is from the line of Sa’idu and not Malam Bakatsine as stipulated and required by the new Law.
The present Sarkin Dawaki mai Tuta and his Yalligawa brethren are not recognized by the new Law.
The amended law recognises the Babba Dan Agundi family as descendants of Malam Jamo and exclusive bearers of a new title named Sarkin Dawaki Babba. It also identified the office of Sarkin Dawaki mai Tuta to the Jamo family. One is forced to ask, on what historical pedestal then should the descendants of Malam Jamo be assigned 2 kingmakers? What is the wisdom behind it? Decisions like this are normally reached not on personal grounds, but on dire necessities, advantageous to the Sarauta institution.
Since the Law is specific as to what title each of the branches of Malam Jamo’s house identified by the Law are to hold, what will be the fate of the present Sarkin Dawaki who is not a member of any of the branches?
Just be virtue of being close allies of the governor, the Babba dan Agundi family have won for themselves the potential to hold two titles and produce two kingmakers at an instance. For example, they are qualified to hold the title of Sarkin Dawaki mai Tuta by being “descendants of Malam Jamo”, as stated by the law. Also, they have the exclusive right to the newly created office of the Sarkin Dawaki Babba, which, going by the amended Law, is their exclusive preserve. In the history of Kano, titles may be appropriated to clans, but not families. In fact, in the entire history of post jihad Kano, only the Dambazawa have had exclusive hold of a title, the title of Sarkin Bai.
The age long tradition of the Emir having the authority to appoint anyone to any title he deems fit will not be applicable to the Sarkin Dawaki Babba title. That title can only be held by the Babba dan Agundi family. Thus the Emir must always choose the bearer of that office from that very family. The Emir has lost to the amended Law.
The haste with which the government made the Laws, just like the way it created its new Emirates, has exposed the absence of knowledge, sincerity and historical deliberation. If the government wants to create a place for its friend as a kingmaker at least it should have respected him by doing it properly. The entire law is an abuse of due process, attention to details and basis.
This is what happens when policies are guided by personal interests rather than concrete developmental reasons. When informed individuals asked the government not to tamper with what it did not understand, knowing well how complex the Sarauta institution is, it is exactly this kind of mess they foresaw. But in his blind quest for vengeance, the Governor ignored all calls and pleas. His sycophants, some of which are even from the royalty and nobility, encouraged him to carry on with his vendetta. The royalty is the biggest victims in all this. But it takes historical and political wisdom to see it.
But then many a careful observer has been expecting this. In 1999, while presenting a paper on the 1000th birthday of Kano, Professor Dahiru Yahya noted in his paper titled “Aristocracy as a Factor in Social Change in the First Millennium of Kano History”, that the Sarauta institution is in peril and its future looks bleak as the modern state has no place for it.
He opined that it is in greater peril because resurgent Islam would in the same vein jeopardize it because it has lost its legitimising credentials. One might say with Sanusi, as Dahiru noted in his other paper “A Basket of Kaɗanya….”, the Sarauta might have found a saviour equipped to come to terms with Islamic resurgence. Tragically, the Sarauta lost a critical chance to reintegrate itself into the scheme of things. The saratua does not even seem to under the complexities the movement of history is posing to it’s very existence.
Ganduje’s onslaught on the Sarauta will not be the last. Certainly, other individuals with personal vendettas against the institution will continue to harass and intimidate it, until they rip it of its very soul. It is now clear to everyone that the Kano royalty and Kano nobility are toothless bulldogs. They can neither defend themselves against external attack nor protect the very institution its people most revere. Who suffers the most if Fulani lose Kano or the Sarauta system keeps getting demystified? Actually, it is the very Sullubawa who started all of this needless ‘Game of Thrones’ in the first place.
That they are the biggest beneficiaries of the institution, being relevant almost only because of the respect attached to the throne, but still choose to place their knee on its neck, ignoring its groan of “I can’t breath”, bewilders one’s senses. Almost everybody you speak to agree that had they stand united, things would have taken a different course. It is, therefore, a bitter truth that they are the chief architects of their own misfortune.
They seem to not learn from the mistakes of Hausa princes Ciroman Kano Dan Mama and Malam Usman al-Hausawi, who betrayed Sarki Alwali, hoping to share in the success of the Fulani conquest of Kano. Because we do not learn from history, one feels we need to just keep quiet and watch as the drama unfold. But then we must agree with André Gargue that “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again”. It might do well to tell the Sarauta institution another story.
When the Kano Civil War broke out in 1893 between the children of Emir Abdullahi Maje Karofi (1855-1883) and Emir Muhammad Bello (1883-1893), ex-Galadima Yusufu sought the help of Ardon Jahun Modibbo, both because the Ardo was an important and powerful frontier chief and also their in-law. Modibbo refused to align with the Yusufawa on the claim that he won’t join a family feud. When Emir Tukur heard that Modibbo had rejected the Yusufawa, he sent him an envoy seeking his support. Modibbo refused on the same reason he refused to join the Yusufawa.
After the Yusufawa’s successful entry into Kano in 1895, Alu who became Emir sent an envoy to Modibbo directing him to come and pay homage or else face the consequences. An unmoved Modibbo told the envoy to go tell Alu that he is now independent of Kano and Alu should do his worse. As the envoy was about to leave, Tajagule, Modibbo’s favourite praise-singer noted that all those at the forefront of inciting Modibbo to defy Alu had a dynastic claim to Modibbo’s position.
He suspected they were deliberately pushing him to commit a fatal mistake they will benefit from, knowing well that no one dares Emir Alu and sleep through it. Tajagule had to save both his master from “yan fasa-fasa mu sha ruwan ƙwai” (inciters that will gain from the crisis) and “yan turin jeka ka mutu” (the phrases are used to describe inciters who have nothing to lose whatever the outcome of the crisis). Tajagule warned his master thus:
Mamman yanagi, Mamman tanaga,
Mamman katangar gishiri,
Kowar raɓeki laminsa ya fita.
Mamman kira ɗaya amsa sau goma.
Wannan ba wancan bane,
Idan ba ka je masa ba,
To mu zai zo mana.
Idan kuwa ya zo mana,
Ni Tajagule na fi kare gudu.
Modibbo understood the message Tajagule was sending and did the right thing of paying homage to Alu. That was during the Kano Civil War of 1893. This present imbroglio too is a civil war. It would’ve been exactly like the 1893 crisis except for the difference in time and circumstances. But can the Sarauta institution survive 2 Civil Wars? Obviously, the institution will never reclaim its lost glory. It is almost impossible to mystify what has been demystified this period of history. The prominent children of the Sarauta do not hold such promise. This is the best time for the stakeholders in the Sarauta institution to find and listen to their own Tajagule!
Huzaifa Dokaji, a postgraduate student at the Department of History, Bayero University, Kano, can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org