Letter from Africa: A royal feud threatens Nigeria’s heritage

The Emir of Kano (in white) and his royal guards - 2017Picture copyright
Getty Photographs

In our sequence of letters from African journalists, the editor-in-chief of Nigeria’s Each day Belief newspaper, Mannir Dan Ali, considers why politicians have taken intention at one of the crucial influential non secular and conventional leaders within the nation’s largely Muslim north.

For the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi 11, 2019 seems set to be his “annus horribilis”.

It’s because one politician particularly, Kano’s Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, is set to go to nice lengths to clip his wings – or probably take away his complete royal plumage.

For greater than 1,000 years, the place of Emir of Kano has been revered. Conventional leaders maintain few constitutional powers however are in a position to exert vital affect as they’re seen as custodians of each faith and custom.

The emir’s function

Absolute energy earlier than British colonial rule
Turned a part of colonial administration
Few constitutional powers since independence
Seen as custodian of faith and custom
Revered within the primarily Muslim north

However final month, Mr Ganduje reduce the historic Kano emirate into 5. It left Muhammadu Sanusi II presiding over the smallest, although most densely populated, portion.

It’s a transfer that diminishes the emir’s status.


The emir’s holier-than-thou perspective has upset some politicians”

Lamido Sanusi, a controversial former financial institution chief, got here to the emir’s throne in 2014 after being chosen by elders after which confirmed by the then-governor.

Like his time on the financial institution, the place he was sacked after revealing that billions of dollars of oil income had gone lacking, the 57-year-old has used his place to talk out on some issues. However his holier-than-thou perspective has upset some politicians.

In footage: Nigeria’s many monarchs

The primary signal that relations between the state authorities and the emirate have been at an all-time low got here shortly after Mr Ganduje’s re-election earlier this 12 months.

A video started circulating on social media exhibiting a crowd in Kano Authorities Home forcefully eradicating a portrait of the emir and tearing it to items.

This occurred only a few metres from the grand corridor, which was specifically inbuilt June 2014 for the emir’s coronation.

Mr Ganduje narrowly received a second time period in workplace – actually the race was so tight it needed to be re-run in some areas in March and his rival is difficult the lead to court docket.

Now, the governor desires to settle scores with these he believes opposed his re-election. The emir is high of his checklist.

Picture caption

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje moved to separate up the emirate shortly after his re-election

Many recommend the emir is in his predicament as a result of he has defied a practice that dictates that a part of his turban covers his mouth in order that courtiers communicate on his behalf.

Nevertheless, in contrast to his predecessors, this emir has been seen and really a lot heard. He has not shied away from public feedback and has criticised the federal government which has put him on a collision course with political workplace holders.

On one event he criticised the Kano governor’s concept of constructing a metro rail with cash from a Chinese language mortgage.

Durbar cancelled

What some see as Mr Ganduje’s vendetta towards the emir started as early as 2017 when an investigation was opened into the funds of the emirate, which is funded by the state.

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Picture caption

In the course of the Durbar, the emir rides a horse round Kano – a practice cherished by metropolis residents

A report printed final week really useful the suspension of the emir, accusing him of undermining the investigation by instructing emirate officers to shun questions by its researchers.

It stated that as much as three.4bn naira (about $9.4m, £7.4m) was spent in what was known as fraudulent, questionable and inappropriate methods, pointing to the price of renovations throughout the palace, phone payments, air journey and lodge payments.

For the reason that drama started to unfold, the emir has been unusually silent in public – and has not responded to those allegations of monetary mismanagement.

Who’s Muhammad Sanusi II?

Picture copyright
Getty Photographs

Born into the Fulani royal household, Lamido Sanusi turned governor of the Central Financial institution of Nigeria in 2009
He was sacked in 2014 after revealing that $20bn (£12bn) in oil income had gone lacking
TIME journal named him in its checklist of influential individuals in 2011
In 2013, he was awarded a particular award on the International Islamic Finance Awards for his function in selling Islamic banking and finance in Nigeria
He’s the 14th Emir of Kano and the grandson of the 11th Emir

Learn:Will Lamido Sanusi ruffle feathers?

The governor could have determined to make the report public to detract from corruption allegations which were levelled at him after movies circulated showing to point out him shoving fistfuls of high-denomination dollars into the pocket of his voluminous robes.

Mr Ganduje denied gathering bribes from contractors and stated the recordings have been faked. A state meeting investigation was later stopped by a court docket order sought by the governor, who can also be suing for defamation.

Emirs have been compelled to resign up to now, however the present pressure prompted the state authorities to cancel final week’s durbar, a three-day horse parade held to mark the Eid al-Fitr celebration for the tip of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Picture copyright
Getty Photographs

Picture caption

Conventional horn blowers participate in Kano’s Durbars

In the course of the durbar, which can also be an enormous vacationer attraction, the emir rides a horse across the metropolis, accompanied by a troupe of his cavalry carrying vibrant, conventional robes and later individuals queue as much as pay homage to him.

It’s these traditions that make the residents of Kano enormously proud – and an try within the 1980s by one other governor to separate up the emirate resulted in clashes.

For many who see the entire episode as politically motivated, their hope is that this newest try will too finish in failure.

Mr Ganduje’s challenger is already promising to reverse the choice if the court docket guidelines in his favour.

Though no-one is holding their breath -the emir’s maintain over the wealthy and color heritage of Kano could wane if he turns into an atypical civil servant answerable to the whims of politicians.

Extra Letters from Africa

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