Kano State Governor, Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, has admitted that he was under immense pressure for three days from different quarters over who should succeed the late Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero.
Kwankwaso disclosed this while presenting the letter of appointment to the new Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, in Government House, Kano, yesterday, saying all the contestants of the coveted seat were qualified.
But as the governor was speaking youths who had been angered over the choice of Sanusi continued their protest in the ancient city monday, forcing the closure of some private and public schools.
As the police in the city stood by, the youths also barricaded the roads round the emir's palace preventing entry or exit from the seat of the emirate.
Expectedly, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) exchanged barbs over the protests in Kano, with both parties blaming each other for inciting violence in the state.
Speaking at the Government House, Kwankwaso said it was a difficult task to choose from one of the contenders for the Kano throne because they are all close to the government, stressing that a leader must take a decision no matter the consequences of that decision, adding that failing to take a decision would spell doom for the state.
“It was a difficult decision, all the contestant are friends of the government. There is not one among them that is an enemy of the government. If it was possible to divide the position of the emir into six and share it among all the contestants I would have done that but it was not possible.
“There are people even in my government that inherited the position but we have to choose one. As a governor, I must perform my responsibility as a governor and take a decision if not things will go bad,” he explained.
He further revealed that contrary to claims in some quarters that the new emir’s name was not among the nominees submitted to him, he said the name of the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor was at the top on the list of contenders.
The governor cautioned those fomenting trouble to desist from it in the interest of peace of the state, stating that Allah gives power to whosoever he wishes, while admonishing citizens to take the emergence of Sanusi as the will of Allah.
In his acceptance speech, the new emir pledged to sustain the legacies of his predecessor, adding that his reign would place a premium on upholding the dignity of Kano people, just as he would work with the government to ensure the sustenance of peace and the protection of lives and property.
Sanusi debunked reposts that since he was announced as the new emir a schism had occurred in the Kano Emirate Council, stressing that all players in the council are part of his team.
He also pointed out that the family of the late emir and his own family are one, adding: “Our family and the late Bayero’s are one family. I grew up under the late Bayero’s tutelage. I grew up along with the children of the late emir, Ado Bayero.
“We are appealing to people to stop discussions on what they don’t know. This protest is not from our family. Our relatives cannot ignite this protest in Kano.”
His appeal notwithstanding, irate youths opposed to his emergence as the 14th Fulani Emir of Kano took to the streets yesterday morning forcing the closure of some private and public schools.
The youths in their hundreds, set bonfires along the Emir Palace Road holding green leaves while chanting “bamuayi”.
A number of schools remained shut in the city while additional security was beefed up at banks' premises.
Although the protests were concentrated within the old city, millions of residents elected to stay indoors for fear of getting molested.
In Sabon Gari, a predominantly Christian neighbourhood, business activities suffered, as most shops were closed for fear of looting by protesters.
Some youths were also seen burning used tyres at the intersection of Gidan Shettima, adjacent to the south gate of the emir's palace and on the stretch of road beside the residence of Alhaji Tijani Hashim (Galadiman Kano) and Hasiya Bayero Hospital, linking the intersection with the west gate up to the junction leading to Kano Central Prison.
At each point, they sometimes extorted money from motorists, following which they were allowed to pass.
There was no police presence at both the south and west gates of the palace, and even where policemen were stationed they just looked on as the youths carried on setting up bonfires and extorting money from motorists.
Eyewitnesses informed THISDAY that five people were injured yesterday when Sanusi’s supporters clashed with loyalists of the late Bayero's family who felt cheated by his choice. The clash occurred in front of the emir's palace at the south gate.
Sanusi's supporters, reported the Kano-based Freedom Radio (FM), were trying to gain entry into the palace, but Bayero loyalists barricaded the entrance, forcing Sanusi’s supporters to retreat.
Providing clarity on the clashes, a historian in Bayero University, Kano, Prof. Dahiru Yahaya, said: “Protests such as the one we are witnessing now are not new whenever a new emir emerges. Fifty years ago, when late Bayero became the emir, there were protests and people were told to stay indoors to avoid escalation.”
When contacted, spokesman of the police in Kano, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Musa Magaji Majia, declined comment.
However, business activities continued unhindered at major centres like Kasuwan Kwari, Kasuwan singer and Kurmi market, while roadside traders along the state road leading to Government House hawked their wares unimpeded.
Also, members of the Kwankwasiyya group, a socio-political group linked to the state governor, were also seen in the morning trying to control the aggrieved protesters from reaching the Government House.
THISDAY sources in Kano also revealed that the family of the late emir were absent at the presentation of the appointment letter to Sanusi.
Rather than attend the event, it was gathered that the late Bayero’s family members busied themselves at a meeting in the residence of the Ciroman Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Ado Bayero, who was a major contender to succeed his father.
Meanwhile, the APC yesterday accused the PDP of inciting the violence that followed the announcement of a new Emir of Kano on Sunday, in an apparent attempt to destabilise the state.
The party called on the Kano State Attorney-General to prosecute the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, and all PDP officials involved in the act of destabilisation.
In a statement issued by APC’s interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the statement issued by Metuh congratulating one of the contenders long before the Kano State Government announced the new emir was premidated and calibrated to incite violence.
It wondered why a ruling party, which has access to Kano or any state government, would rush to the media to congratulate a contender who had not been selected, without even contacting the selecting authority to ensure the veracity of whatever news it might have heard.
“What was so urgent about congratulating the new emir that could not have waited for a few hours for the appropriate authority to make an official announcement?” APC queried.
The party said when the announcement was eventually made and the contender who had already been congratulated lost out, it was only natural that his supporters would feel shortchanged.
“It is therefore obvious that the PDP, through its national publicity secretary went out of their way to stoke the fire of violence in Kano.
“Since we live in a country which is being governed by the rule of law, the best option open to the Kano State Government is for the state attorney-general to immediately initiate criminal proceedings against PDP and its officials for incitement.
“Whatever explanations they have for their irresponsible and premeditated actions they should reserve for their defence in court,” APC said.
Another group known as the Buhari Vanguard has also blamed President Goodluck Jonathan and PDP for the protests witnessed in some parts of Kano State following the declaration of the former CBN govenor as the Emir of Kano.
A statement issued by its leader, Jasper Azuatalam, said it had become glaringly clear that the PDP led by the president was indirectly inciting violence in Nigeria, especially in the northern part of the country.
He said while the kingmakers and traditional rulers in Kano were busy deliberating and observing all traditional rituals to choose the next Emir of Kano, PDP went ahead to congratulate one of the contenders to the throne and announced him the next Emir of Kano.
“It is true that the congratulatory message sent by the Peoples Democratic Party to the eldest son of the late emir, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Ado Bayero gave the people of Kano and Nigerians at large the impression that the late emir's son was declared the Emir of Kano. Those who got and believed the news from PDP were perplexed when the Governor of Kano state announced Sanusi Lamido Sanusi the next Emir of Kano.
“This obviously led to the rioting as many people believed that the son of the late emir was substituted for Sanusi Lamido Sanusi following the PDP's misleading congratulatory message. The apology tendered by the PDP and the retraction of the mischievous congratulatory message could not save the situation as medicine has little or no good to do with a dead man other than preserving its corpse,” he said.
But in a swift reaction, the ruling PDP dismissed APC’s call for the arrest of Metuh and other members of the party, saying Mohammed has a penchant for the insane.
In a statement by Metuh, PDP said it was shocked by the statement and wondered what sort of dirty individual that could be so unprofessional, unprincipled and unethical.
“Indeed, it appears that lying Lai Mohammed has gone delusional and requires urgent medical attention. Has he become a low life who can go to any extent to score a cheap political point?
“It is public knowledge that we made an innocent mistake but immediately withdrew it and tendered an unreserved apology well before the official announcement of the new emir was made.
“What does Lai Mohammed have to say to Mallam Lamido Sanusi Lamido himself who tweeted at about 8.59 am that same Sunday that Alhaji Lamido Ado Bayero has emerged emir?
“What does he have to say for credible electronic and print media organisations that broke the news of the emergence of Ado Bayero as emir upon which prominent Nigerians issued statements congratulating him.
“We also wish to remind Nigerians of the endless personal attacks by Lai Mohammed on the person of the PDP National Publicity Secretary. In fact, we are aware of the well-oiled machinery by the APC for the continuous campaign of calumny to discredit and demonise the PDP National Publicity Secretary and other PDP leaders for no just cause.
“Nigerians often wonder why the APC is seen as a religious, violent and ethnic party. They can now see that this also has to do with the character and content of their spokesperson.
“Our final advice to Lai Mohammed regarding his incessant lies and insults is for him to seek professional help on his mental state before it becomes too late,” Metuh said in the statement.
But as the two main parties exchanged barbs over the protests in Kano, other Nigerians sent out messages of congratulations to Sanusi, with many calling on him to use his position to support the government against the war against terrorism.
In his message, a former military Head of State and chieftain of the APC, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), urged the new Emir of Kano to support government in fighting terrorism and unrest in the country.
Buhari, in a letter congratulating Sanusi on his appointment, also charged him to bring his wealth of experience in assisting the economic revival of the state and the country in general.
Buhari who noted that the emir was chosen by God, urged him to fear God and treat all the people of Kano as those under his care and supervision.
“You should cultivate all and exclude none. After attending the burial of the late emir, Alhaji Ado Bayero, I am renewing my condolences to the new emir, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and the people of Kano and the country on the death of Alhaji Ado Bayero.
“I am forwarding my congratulations to you for assuming the office of emir of this historic land, a position once occupied by great historical figures such as Muhammadu Rumfa, Ibrahim Dabo, Abdullahi Bayero and Muhammadu Sanusi. I hope you will be a worthy successor to those great men,” Buhari stated in the letter.
Also, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar advised the new Emir of Kano to build on the enviable and positive legacies of the late Bayero.
In a statement congratulating Sanusi, Atiku said the new emir had worked strenuously to fulfill a life-long ambition, and that he should use his position to unite all the ruling houses of Kano State and its people behind his appointment.
According to Atiku, leadership is a test from God, and therefore urged Sanusi to use his position to do justice to all manner of people in his domain.
The former vice-president noted that Sanusi’s greatest and immediate challenge was sustaining Bayero’s passionate commitment to tolerance, unity and peaceful co-existence.
In his congratulatory message, the Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, said: “It gives me great pleasure on behalf of the good people and Government of Edo State, to congratulate Your Royal Highness on your well-deserved appointment as the 14th Emir of Kano.
“Your Royal Highness, I have no doubt in my mind that your appointment to this esteemed position of Emir of Kano Emirate is ordained by Almighty Allah. It is my sincere prayer that your reign will be long and be for the good of all Nigerians, particularly in serving as a vessel through which the much-needed socio-economic upliftment, mutual understanding and peaceful co-existence amongst Nigerians, within and beyond the Kano Emirate will be sustained.
“Given your vast experience in the private sector and public service, particularly your outstanding accomplishment as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), I am quite convinced that Your Royal Highness is equally well positioned to not only consolidate on the solid legacy bequeathed by your predecessor, but that Kano Emirate under your able leadership would witness phenomenal socio-cultural regeneration and economic prosperity, as well as continue to excel as world-renowned centre of commerce and learning.”
In his message to the new emir, the candidate of the APC in the last Ondo State governorship election, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), said Sanusi’s appointment by the Kano State Government “confirms the axiom that nobody can prevent the sun from rising”.
“We congratulate the emir and pray that the Almighty should grant him a peaceful reign and long life. But we must, however, hasten to admonish the new emir to join other well-meaning Nigerians in the current fight against the Boko Haram insurgents who are bent on wrecking our collective peace,” he said.
Akeredolu, who noted that Sanusi’s elevation came immediately after his tenure as CBN governor ended, said: “This should be a lesson to the ephemeral holders of transient power. If the power to choose had resided somewhere else we are sure someone else would have been preferred to this ebullient personality.”
In its statement, the ruling PDP also congratulated the new emir, stating that it would not play politics with the revered traditional institution.
Metuh in another statement yesterday said the party “has an unflinching reverence for the traditional institution and in that regard extends the same reverence it had for the late emir to Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi”.
It however said it expected the new emir to remain non-partisan deserving of the exalted and revered office, like his predecessor.
“The PDP holds the office of the Emir of Kano in very high esteem. We therefore give the new emir our prayers and urge him to ensure that the sanctity of the throne and the traditional institution are absolutely guarded and preserved.
“We are very much aware that his status has changed and we pray the Almighty Allah, who alone confers authority, to grant him the wisdom and good health to lead his people to peace and prosperity,” the party said.
Calling for calm in Kano, the PDP urged the new emir to take steps to unite his people and note that he is not the emir of any political party but that of the entire people of the Kano Emirate.
But the fallout of Sanusi’s elevation to the exalted throne assumed another dimension yesterday when policemen attached to the Kano State Government House were withdrawn.
THISDAY observed that a few policemen were seen at their duty posts at Government House, while in a departure from what was the norm, no soldier was seen around the first gate of the complex.
A reliable source confirmed to THISDAY that in the early hours of monday, the number of policemen attached to the Government House was reduced.
It was also noticed that a vigilante group was brought in to complement the efforts of the few security men at the Government House.
An official in the Government House who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “We are yet to be officially informed by the authorities on why the police officers were withdrawn.
“The compound is now guarded by a combined team of the vigilante group and members of the Askarawan Kwankwasiyya (Kwankwasiyya guard).”
The spokesman for the state police command did not return calls when he was contacted on the issue.
Also, THISDAY noticed that the policemen on patrol had been withdrawn from several of the streets of Kano. In their place, officials of the Kano State Road Transport Agency (KAROTA) and Aide-de-Corp were manning the streets of the city.