Barely seven weeks have passed since the highly controversial Kano gubernatorial elections. Governor Umar Abdullahi Ganduje is in the news again, as is now common, for the wrong reasons.
Earlier this week, the governor gave speedy assent to the amendment of the state’s Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs Law (1984). It is now obvious he did this to pave way for the Emir’s Appointment and Deposition Amendment Law (2019) which the Kano House of Assembly passed on Wednesday; establishing Rano, Gaya, Karaya and Bichi as independent first class Emirate Councils, added to the current Kano Emirate Council.
All of this political gerrymandering is the result of a petition filed before the House by a certain Ibrahim Salisu Chambers (no one’s heard of him before his petition) demanding the upgrade of some traditional rulers in the state to the status of first class Emirs. He also petitioned for the creation of four additional first class emirate councils in order to “bring more advantages for growth in the state”. Ganduje is intent on using these series of events to frame himself as a lover of the people of Kano. You only have to look at the statement he gave at a media briefing just before he signed the legislation:
“We heard about a bill sent to the state house of assembly, requesting them to make a law for the creation of four more emirs in Kano. We believe the petitioners did it in good faith. And they want the development of the state. I hope the legislative arm would work on it and forward to me for assent of which I am ready to sign into law without any waste of time,” he added.
It is important to state here that in spite of reports that he performed creditably (arguably) in the early years of his first term, Governor Ganduje came into the consciousness of most Nigerians in October 2018 when he allegedly received a total of $5 million in bribe from multiple contractors in the state as kickbacks for various projects executed by his administration. We only know about this because of an undercover investigation carried out by online newspaper The Daily Nigerian, which leaked a series of video clips showing the Governor stashing bundles of dollar bills demanded from a government contractor into his ‘Babariga.’
Nigerians from all backgrounds (especially on social media), reacted to the viral videos with outrage and criticism forcing the State House of Assembly days later, to constitute a seven-man investigative panel. They had the job of investigating the accusations and submitting within one month, a report on the authenticity of the video recordings. on October 31, the lawmakers even extended an invitation to the governor to appear before it. In a play right of out House of Cards, a Kano High Court waded in to muzzle the Kano state House of Assembly, ruling in a December 6 judgement, that the Kano Assembly lacked the powers to investigate the $5 million bribery allegation.
The court explained that the allegation of collecting bribe from contractors is a criminal offence in Sections 115 and 116 of the Penal code can only be investigated by agencies under executive arms such as the Police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC). To the amazement of many, the court went on to issue an order restraining the House from interviewing or inviting any person on the issue of the bribery allegations, effectively killing the investigation.
Our notoriously silent president surprised everyone by commenting on the happenings in Kano. He expressed disbelief that the governor was corrupt and insinuated that the clips were doctored. Elections were a few months away, and things weren’t looking great in Kano for our dear president. Even the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to which President Buhari and Ganduje belong, said through its spokesman that it could not take any action on the allegation against the Kano Governor, since the matter had been taken to court.
Quite convenient, this government choosing to obey the rule of law this one time.
Muhammadu Sanusi II who is widely known for his blunt and vehement stance on issues especially on social reforms, even from his days as Governor of the country’s apex bank was pretty clear where he stood on the accusations about Ganduje. This isn’t the first time he is pissing off a powerful person; hard to forget his skirmishes with former president, Goodluck Jonathan. Now that Governor Ganduje no longer has to worry about re-election, he is ready to fight dirty with SLS.
First off, the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Commission’s started a 2017 probe into the expenditure and finances of the Kano Emirate Council, in apparent retaliation for Emir Sanusi’s open criticism of the governor’s top project priorities. It was such a big deal, five Northern Governors made attempts in April 2017 to broker peace between the Kano Governor and the monarch.
The many ‘sins’ of Emir Sanusi II
The general consensus is that Emir Sanusi has “disrespect for the office as Governor of the State.” Sanusi criticized Ganduje’s award of contracts to Chinese companies, criticized his foreign trips and has been rumoured to support the opposition groups that tried to oust Governor Ganduje during the March 2nd elections this year. A highly questionable supplementary election is the reason many credit for Ganduje’s contested re-election.
Ganduje’s supporters are not pleased with Emir Sanusi’s ‘insolence’ if the YouTube video of angry supporters of the All Progressive’s Congress (APC) helmed by the governor himself destroying a portrait of the Emir at the Coronation Hall at the Kano government House is anything to a litmus test for public acceptance. Rumours suggest they did this in retaliation for Emir Sanusi supporting the People’s Democratic party (PDP) during the March 23 supplementary elections. But not just any opponent, Abba Kabir Yusuf, the political godson of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Ganduje’s arch rival.
At the 2017 Mo Ibrahim governance weekend held in Morocco, Sanusi had said some “three to five million children out of school” yet the northern governor still goes to China to get $2bn loan to build light rails — instead of schools. “Traditional rulers like me find themselves in a very difficult position; one the one hand politicians are very happy for you to fight fires, tell people to keep the peace, preach to people, condemn violence, on the other you are not allowed to criticise root causes that may come from the failings of politicians.”
“It is fine to say to a rural villager, you should send your children to school, but it is not fine to say to the governor, why haven’t you built a school?” Sanusi added.
In another video online, Emir Sanusi who spoke in Hausa is seen condemning the silence of Emirs in the midst of all sorts of corrupt practices by politicians for fear of being deposed. He also came for politicians who spend public funds that should be utilised for key sectors of the economy like Education and Health on sponsoring Clerics (who are supposed to be non-partisan) to Saudi Arabia for Pilgrimage.
Ga abinda yasa suka ci mutuncin Mai Martaba Sarkin mu.
Alhamdulillah!! Sarki ya gama magana anan. Kuma a gaban shi katon kauyen yayi wannan maganar.
Allah yaja zamanin Sarki. pic.twitter.com/SjcDXEjwi1
— ÆBBÆŜ_RÆŜHEED (@amb_abbas) May 8, 2019
In the words of the Speaker of the State Assembly, Kabiru Alasan Rurum, during the official presentation of the Bill to the governor, “Gaya, Karaye and Rano newly councils were in existence before for over 100 years. Along the line, “…many things happened when they all seized to exist.”
The same Kano House of Assembly that on Tuesday passed into law the Pensions Rights of Speaker and Deputy Law (2019), enabling the two presiding officers on exit from office earn life pensions, foreign medical trips and brand new vehicles every four years. Trade by Barter noni!
Hear Ganduje: “With the creation of more emirates, all sectors of the society would improve. It will also lead to more concentration on our health, education and other equally important sectors of the society. That is the popular wish of our people. The people of Kano state. This will also go a long way in hastening growth and development for the state. The efforts didn’t get through many years ago but now we are happy to see that the idea would come into fruition.” Too many questions on my mind.
It’s hard to argue against the facts; Ganduje’s actions are distasteful, and it is pretty clear that he will destroy 200 year old institutions to make a point.
Will the people of Kano under an emirate as old as 1805, let this happen? Will Sanusi?
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Political Journalist, Analyst and Social Change Advocate with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.