What Ganduje did to Kano Emirate is harsh, unfortunate —Emir of Ningi

The Emir of Ningi, Alhaji Yunusa Muhammad Danyaya is one of the oldest and most educated Emirs in Northern Nigeria. The first class monarch, who has been on the throne for over 40 years, recently hosted journalists and among other things, he spoke on the development in the Kano Emirate and the need for the political class to treat the traditional institution with the respect it deserves. Ishola Michael was there and brings excerpts.

Your Highness, as one of the oldest Emirs in North ern and a custodian of its rich culture, what are your views on what recently happened in Kano Emirate. How do you think this would affect the traditional institution and its people?

These kinds of happenings are very hard for one to explain their effects. We can only to pray for the best. The most important thing for us is to plead with both sides that are involved.

First, honestly we are not happy with what happened in Kano. I only agreed to speak on this issue because of my position as one of the oldest Emirs in the North, both on the throne and in age. Apart from the Emirs of Zazzau and that of Jama’are, I don’t think I have contemporaries in the whole of the North at present. Therefore, as an Elder Statesman, I considered it a wise decision on your part to have sought my personal views on this issue which is important in the history of Nigeria.

First of all, politicians or governments must be tolerant and patient with the traditional institutions. They should also be more lenient in punishing Emirs that might have done something wrong. They should not be too hard on the traditional institution like we witnessed in Kano. To me, what happened in Kano was unfortunate, it is something least expected. The only thing that remains for us now is to plead with the government to look into the matter while we also advice the Emir (of Kano). What we know since the colonial times and after Independence during the times of Sardauna, there was never a direct affront on the traditional institutions like we are witnessing in recent times. The traditional institution is tied to the history and culture of the people. From the time the traditional institution is bastardised, the entire history and culture of the people would be bastardised. Any community or nation that deviates or bastardises its history would lose identity and cannot be identified as real humans.


Your Highness, in essence, what are you saying? 

What I am saying now is that, the Kano State government, the Emirate and the Kano State House of Assembly should unite, see beyond personalities and save our pride and rich heritage together. Kano Emirate is very old. It has been in existence for over 2,000 years since the Habe Dynasty till the time the Fulanis came. There is no Emirate like Kano in the whole of the North, their own is unique. Sokoto, Borno, Gwandu Emirates may be bigger in terms of prestige, but when it comes to the real display of culture and popularity, Kano Emirate is incomparable to any other Emirate.


What will happen if the development remains the way it is now? 

If the Kano Emirate is trampled upon, that will send a very wrong signal to the traditional institution and the people. That is why I am pleading with the Kano State government, the Kano Emirate as well as well meaning individuals of repute to please have a holistic approach to the situation. The Emir and all other stakeholders should unite and save the prestige and respect that Kano enjoys not only in Nigeria but the world over. If we ponder well, what happened in Kano will have a very negative backlash on the Emirate, the people, the princess and the entire Northern Emirates.


What is your reaction to the action coming at this time? 

The action should have been a bit restricted, but the way it was implemented through the fragmentation of the Emirate was unfortunate. But we hope that stakeholders will see reason and something would be done to save the situation. Our fear is that, if what happened stands,the Emirate would be weakened and there would be many setbacks which will not augur well for everybody in the long run, including the people, all members of the Emirate and other Emirates in the North.

Do you think that the Emir might have done something wrong?

We are not denying that, the Emir might have done something wrong. He is human but our advice is that, if there is any infraction on the part of the Emir, the action to be taken shouldn’t have been so harsh to go beyond him and affect the entire Emirate and its people. This affects the whole history and lineage of the Emirate up to its founder, Emir Dabo. That is why I am still pleading with matter and avoid hasty decisions. No matter what happened, patience and reason should have led the way to resolve the impasse before the decisions are made or actions are taken.


What do you think prompted the government to take the action? 

Like I told you, I am one of the oldest Emirs in the North that have spent a considerable time on the Throne. There are about 20 governors who governed Bauchi State during my reign and up till now almost all of them are alive except about four or so that died. So, we have witnessed so many things. Another thing is that Emirs are almost always in a dilemma especially with the politicians. The dilemma is that, we want to be neutral, but we are always expected to be loyal to the government in power. So if you support the government you will not be seen as partisan, but the moment you are suspected of being close to the opposition, you will be regarded as “traitor”. Our loyalty therefore must always be with the government. However, despite the seeming loyalty of the traditional institution to the government, we are almost always being treated with disdain and our rights being encroached upon, which is eroding the respect for the traditional institution. I always respects all the governments in Bauchi State since my ascension to the throne and I wouldn’t want my jurisdiction being undermined.


How will you compare the treatment of the traditional institution now and in the past? 

Like I said, in the past when the colonial masters were ruling the country and when we got independence, when Sardauna and Tafawa Balewa took over, Emirs were not being subjected to ridicule because they were respected. Even when an Emir is accused of wrong doing, the committee to investigate will never invite an Emir anywhere, but will go to the palace and meet him out of respect in order to hear his side before any action is taken. Even if an Emir is to be deposed, it will not be disclosed as a deposition but a “resignation”. All this is being done in order to preserve the dignity of the traditional institution.

Countries like England are being respected in the world because of the preservation of their cultural heritage through their respected monarchy. That is what gives them respect in the world. So, we will not be fair to ourselves, our children, grandchildren and the other generations to come if we decide to disrespect our emirates and nobody will respect us again.


What is your advice? 

My advice is that, before decisions are taken, the Emirs should be consulted to offer their opinion and advice. I would even suggest the formation of a Special Traditional Council to be headed by the Sultan of Sokoto, Shehu of Borno and the Emir of Gwandu so that, if an Emir erred, the government will refer his case to that Council for proper advice and recommendations.  So, I am pleading that if anything happened that involves any of the Emirs, not only Kano but anywhere, the Emirate should be accorded respect, not because of the person occupying the throne has done something wrong, then the entire Emirate is disrespected, because it will be an affront on its dignity and heritage. I am still maintaining that we are very loyal and have respect for governments and constituted authorities.

Nobody will be happy with what happened in Kano, whether it is the Emir’s fault, the government’s fault or any other person’s fault. What we want is for all sides to sheath their swords, come together and resolve the issue amicably. This is because what happened is not about Sanusi Lamido Sanusi alone, it affects many people far and wide, especially the people of Kano Emirate and other Emirates in the North.

I am still pleading to all parties to restore the pride of not only the Emirate, but Kano and its people. Restoring the dignity and pride of Kano is very important to its people and for all of us.