Why northern establishment doesn’t want Sanusi — Dahiru Yahaya - Khorgist.com


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Sunday, 15 March 2020

Why northern establishment doesn’t want Sanusi — Dahiru Yahaya

A retired Professor of History at Bayero University, Kano, Dahiru Yahaya, in this interview, examines the deposition and banishment of former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, saying the northern establishment, some northern traditional rulers and federal  the government are also responsible.
Prof Yahaya, an authority on the emirate system, who is now with Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria, explains why Emir Sanusi is not just unwanted by Kano State government but also those he,Yahaya, is holding responsible for the travails  and triumphs of the deposed monarch.
Some Kano elders corroborated the reasons given for the dethronement of Emir Muhammadu Sanusi by Kano State government. Can you tell us the other side of the story?
The Emir was removed illegally. All the leading lawyers in Nigeria have said so. He was not allowed to defend himself. I know him and have followed his career. He is someone who loves his people and he does everything to maintain peace in the country.
Even the Vice President commended him for that. He is a respectful person. The accusations against him have not been made available to him. The decision to dethrone him was organised by the Federal Government, state government, some northern elders, traditionalists and those who opposed his enlightening views.
In the report of the Abdulsalami Abubakar Committee sighted by Sunday Vanguard, the committee identified areas where they felt the Emir and Governor Ganduje should respectively reassess their conduct in the interest of peace . The committee did not indict any of them but it implored the Emir to moderate his public statements on how the state is governed. Don’t you think such a recommendation justified the allegation of disrespectfulness?
I don’t think his utterances were against the state government as such. They are only against the establishment. He was against the existing mode of behaviour of our leaders, the leaders of northern Nigeria. He felt there should be an improvement. He also opposed the social system, economic system and the political system that is operated wrongly in northern Nigeria. He opposed them publicly. It is very unusual for Emirs to do that because Emirs right from colonial period were under the authority of the colonialists.
When the colonialists came, they conquered the Emirs and determined their conduct. The Emirs were answerable to the colonialists, who they received powers from. They had to obey the constituted authority at the time. Now, we are not under colonial system. We have our constitution in this country and we all contributed to the making of the constitution.
We should not be operating colonial system with its features in modern democratic society. We have moved forward and the Emir has moved forward but the government is lagging behind. There must be reconciliation because we have to move forward. I think the government has done him wrong. The government does not actually understand what is happening in this country and what is in the constitution.
As a Kano elder and an authority on the emirate system, you are in a good position to tell us if truly the Emir tried to upend certain cherished traditional practices and values of the Emirate Council…
I have written several papers as a Professor on the Emirate and I can assure you that he has not violated any of our traditions. In fact, he has promoted them. Tradition must move with time because society is always mobile. We are not static. We move always. The world itself is one now and everybody is aware of what is happening. One of the functions of leaders in any society is to improve the lot of their subjects.
What the Emir is saying is that we should improve by looking at our tradition. He questioned why someone will marry four wives when he cannot maintain one. If you can maintain four wives, why not marry them? For example, I am a Professor, I have many children and all of them are graduates. I have never sent any of them to beg on the streets. But if you cannot afford to maintain them, why marrying four wives? That is the position of Islam. If you cannot maintain even one wife, don’t marry her. But now they are marrying many wives they cannot maintain. It is common to see a messenger in an office with many wives and many children. The children end up begging and constitute a liability to society. I think they should understand what the Emir is saying.
Do you agree with the state government that the absence of disturbances of any type in Kano following the deposition and banishment suggests that the people agree with its action?
No! It is not true. Emir Sanusi even wrote in Arabic on the deposition letter that power belongs to God and God takes power when he so desires. People are very unhappy about it but they will not fight because God has taken power. We don’t do that. Did they expect us to fight? We don’t fight for power. Are they now saying that the people of Kano love the Buhari government? They don’t like this government. They are only tolerating the government because it is a matter of time, they will go. Our religion says if you have any bad ruler, he would go someday.
The Emir was banished and rendered incommunicado. Those who visited him were only permitted to do so…
It is illegal. His fundamental human rights were trampled upon. His right to movement is guaranteed in the constitution. In the case of former Emir of Gwandu, Mustapha Jokolo, he went to court and got his freedom. The government should have noted that. When the Emir of Bauchi was banished he went to court and secured his freedom. The Emir of Kano and any Nigerian has freedom of movement under the constitution.
Now that his in court, is there anything you are doing alongside other Kano elders who share your perspective, to see if those behind his travail can change their position regarding his detention?
Forget about this government. They don’t listen to wise counsel. They don’t listen to anyone. The government does not even obey the rule of law. How many times has Buhari obeyed the rule of law? The interesting thing is that the northern establishment and Kano State government are now scared. Unfortunately, they have discovered that they released one powerful person they can no longer control. Even when he was the Emir they could not control him, now that he is a great person, can they control him? He is like an unchained lion. They are scared now and this man can be anything in future. Every reasonable person should be able to understand the truth in this matter.
Governor Nasiru El-rufai gave the Emir two high profile appointments in succession amid the dethronement controversy. Do you think there are underlying reasons?
It means that the governor finds the Emir and asset. The governor of Kano State was warned that there would be a time of reckoning in future. Now, he can no longer control Sanusi. The tradition of northern Emirs is to follow government blindly. That is irrespective of the misdoings of state governors. What Sanusi is saying is that Emirs can have a new role. He is saying that Emirs should take care of the interest of their people and not the interest of those who oppress their people. That is what he is saying and our Emirs do not like that. They just want to enjoy their relationship with the government without being committed to their people. That is the tradition and it must change.
Were you surprised that in the deposition of Emir Sanusi, the North and South put aside whatever differences that define their relationship in this administration to speak with one voice?
It is a question of enlightenment. If you are an enlightened person, you would be on the same page with an enlightened person. It is a shame for those who supported the dethronement of an internationally recognised king for being truthful. Since they are saying they do not want someone, who was among the 100 most influential people in the world at one time, who do they want? Nigerians are speaking with one voice because Sanusi did no wrong. Northerners and Southerners are one and they react to truth and corruption the same way, though, some are more enlightened than others.
In the light of your opinion of Sanusi, what are the implications of his dethronement for the Kano Emirate Council on the one hand and northern Nigeria on the other hand?
For those, who can see clearly, the government acted recklessly and unilaterally. The Emir was accused wrongfully and removed illegally. That would affect other Emirs anywhere. They can also be victims of such an action. In Kano, our Emir is enlightened and could not watch things go wrong. In the past, his grandfather had the same problem and he stood by the people.
As an authority in the Emirate system, what kind of reform would you suggest to prevent future political interference with traditional institutions in northern Nigeria or anywhere?
I was a member of constitution drafting committees. I was either elected or nominated by the government. There should be laws with a clear demarcation between the traditional constitution and modern constitution, the modern constitution recognises the legislature, judiciary, and executive. Therefore, the traditional constitution should deal with traditional institutions. Constitution alone should not be used to rule the country.
Constitution is just a guide. There are so many things in the society that are not considered by the constitution and the traditional institution can do that just like what is obtainable in Ghana. Before the coming of colonialists, the government had no hand in the appointment of an Emir. There was a traditional system of appointment before the British people came. All over northern Nigerian, we had this system and we have to restore that practice so that we can have separate institutions working together and complementing each other.
One of the articles condemning the deposition of Emir Sanusi was titled: On Sanusi’s Dethronement: North Only Beheads Bearers of Truth. And your perspectives seem to mean the same thing, Could you explicitly tell us how culpable the north is in the matter?
I agree with the article. This is not the first time they are silencing good people. The federal government has a hand in it, many northern traditional rulers have a hand it, and many politicians have a hand it. This is not the first time they are silencing good people. What happened to the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua? Shehu was very nationalistic but what happened to him? What happened to the late Chief MKO Abiola?
All the people who tried to unite the North and South did not survive. They never allowed someone with radical ideas to realise his dreams. I have been in the university service in the last 50 years and I have participated in many national assignments at various levels. The last person the northern establishment would want is a brilliant. They do not want human beings. They want machines, people they can control. They want those they can control and not people who think for themselves. That is the problem. I think Sanusi as an Emir, has vindicated northerners who have good ideas.
He must be freed and must be protected because he must tour the country to thank those, who helped him. We are a free people. We should not allow colonial laws this time. Even in the colonial era, this couldn’t have happened. He may even get his job back if he wants to challenge it but I am sure that he is greater than Emir now.
We should not allow those who think that people love them to trample on our rights. No one loves injustice. His freedom must come very soon because justice delayed is justice denied. All the lawyers agreed that he deserves to be freed. There are precedents to that effect. An Oba of Lagos was exiled and the British brought him back to office.
But the late Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki was deposed and he lived in Kaduna till death…
He was exiled to a remote place in one of the Middle Belt states. He was later released and decided to live in his house in Kaduna.

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