From Maduabuchi Nmeribeh, Kano
The hope for peace, national unity and a better Nigeria became feasible at Coronation Hall, Kano Government House on Wednesday when three leaders—Kano state Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Emir of Kano, His Highness, Muhammad Sanusi 11 and His Imperial Majesty, Ooni of Ife, Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi Ojaja11, in one strong voice condemned leaders who are fanning the embers of disunity in Nigeria through segregation of indigenes and non-indigenes in their domains. They sent a very strong message of unity and peaceful co-existence, insisting that as a Nigerian, irrespective of your ethnic or religious background, you remain and indigene and you are entitled to all benefits, including security, justice, empowerment and protection of your life and property.
Though the event was the launching and fund-raising of N500 million Yoruba House, the three leaders, however, used the opportunity to preach peace, unity and oneness among all the various ethnic and religious groups in the country.
Emir Muhammad Sanusi 11 frowned at the actions of some state governors and traditional rulers who divide the country with ethnic and religious sentiments, warning that such actions remains inimical to peace and national development. He advocated for the abolition of non-indigenship in the country. According to him, “It is true and it is sad that in this country, and, indeed, some parts of this country, we have states where with support of leaders, some people are classified as indigenes, while others are classified as non-indigenes or settlers.
“Therefore, when some of us criticize some governors in some states for dividing their people into indigenes and non-indigenes, we do that because we know that here in Kano, our Governor, our government, our Emir, this statement, we do not do it, we do not accept it. We hope that in this country, every leader, every traditional rule, every governor will be able to adopt this principle. Everyone living in your territory is your son and daughter. They are entitled to justice, they are entitled to protection.”
According to him, “our position in Kano is that if you are from Kano, or you reside in Kano, you are a Kano person–you can be Yoruba, you can be Igbo, you can be Edo, you can be Hausa, you can be Fulani—a Kano person is a Kano person. This is why, in record, the Yorubas in Kano settled in Kano as at the time the Emir of Kano, Muhammdu Rumfa, the king of Kano in the 14th century built Kurmi market; and Yoruba traders trading kola nuts, spices settled in Kano at the time the Kurmi market was established, about 500 years ago.”
Emir Sanusi insisted that, “there is no way, by any logic you can call any person who has lived in a place for 500 years a settler or non-indigene. Maybe, I am not sure, the Yorubas even came to Kano before the Fulanis. Can you imagine today the Fulanis have the Governor and the Emir. So, if we can be indigenes, the Yorubas too can be indigenes.”
The revered Kano monarch said, “when I became the Emir, one of the first things I did was to say the senior ones among the traditional leaders of other communities in Kano should be placed on a monthly salary, like that of the Emirate Council. It is not much, but we give to Sarkin Yorubawa, Eze Ndigbo and Sarkin Edo. I know there are others, as we get more money, we will try to expand. It is not so much about the money, but the principle that they should know that we consider them as part of this community.”
He added that, “we also resolved at the Council that, Insha Allah, as part of our programme, as we renovate the Emir’s Palace, and we rebuild the houses of the Districts Heads, we will try, Insha Allah, to build a house for Sarkin Yorubawa, for Eze Ndigbo—it is not a personal house, just like the Emir’s Palace and the houses of the District Heads. Whoever is the Sarkin Yorubawa will live there, whoever is Eze Ndigbo will live there. It is meant to institutionalize and make them as part and parcel of our traditional structure.
“We have always said that anybody who lives in Kano, who is law abiding, who lives peacefully with his neighbours, who respects himself and the constituted authority, we have the responsibility of protecting their lives, their property and their dignity. We the leaders are the ones who are responsible for your welfare, security and empowerment. When I went to Ife, after settling a crisis between the Yorubas and the Hausa community, I went with the Ooni inside the Mosque to address the Hausa community, and I told them the Ooni is your Oba and this is your community; and I know he will do his best to protect you. This is how leaders and nations suppose to operate.”
The Emir, however, told the Yorubas in Kano that, “As you launch the fund to build this house, I hope you will be able to raise the fund to the completion of the structure; and this structure will serve as a centre to enhance unity and promoting peace and development. That you have Yoruba House doesn’t mean that you separate yourself from the community. You are Yorubas, but you are living in Kano. We will expect you invite us for some of your events; and I hope that this building will contribute to the development of this community.”
Emir Sanusi praised Governor Ganduje for carrying all ethnic communities in Kano along in his government, pointing out that, “when you talk of empowerment, I want to first thank the Governor (Ganduje) because in everything that he does, he include every other communities. When the President came, I told him we have to thank the Governor for the peace we are enjoying in Kano. Do you know that when the Governor selects people for empowerment, like those that went for mechanic training in Kaduna, he makes sure that he include Yoruba indigenes, Igbo indigenes, and other communities. When he sent a delegation from Kano, people should see that this represents Kano; and Kano is not one hundred per cent Hausa Fulani.
Kano is Hausa Fulani, Igbo, Yoruba, Edo, Muslims, Christians, and we are proud of it, because we want Kano to be diverse, peaceful and progressive. I will tell you that as Yorubas, your empowerment is part of the empowerment of Kano.”
Speaking at the occasion, Governor Ganduje who donated a piece of land for the building of the Yoruba House, also promised that his government will see how it could help in the development of land. He preached passionately for peace and peaceful co-existence among all the ethnic communities resident in the state.
Ganduje further stated that, “it is in recognition of the Yoruba role in the development of Kano state that our administration included them in all our development and empowerment programmes. We have rehabilitated many roads in Sabon Gari area and will continue this. It is worthy to state that in receipt of their letter for a plot allocation, I have instructed the Bureau for Land Management to find a very suitable land for allocation for the construction of a befitting Palace so as to enable the Sarkin Yorubawa settle well and attend to his people for their overall welfare and development of the state and the country at large.”
The Governor who expressed gratitude to the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi for finding time to attend the launching, urged all Kano residents to remain law-abiding, particularly, in this time of electioneering campaign, adding that, “at this juncture and as election nears, I wish to use this opportunity to call on all leaders in the state to prevail upon their subjects to live peacefully and exercise their franchise in an orderly manner. We assure all citizens of Kano state irrespective of where they come from of our resolve to ensure their safety and that of their businesses. Ours is a collaborative effort, not a system of divide and rule. Yesterday, I hosted my brother, the Ooni of Ife and had discussions on issues that will strengthen our unionship with all ethnic groups and move Nigeria ahead.
“It is a well known fact that the history of our co-existence with our Yoruba brothers cut across centuries and pre-date the colonial era as tradition, religion and culture has for long tied us together. It is therefore pertinent to note that the Hausa-Fulani of northern Nigeria and Kano in particular have lived in peace with our Yoruba brothers and our cordial relationship have led to inter-marriages and business links which has made it possible to find Yorubas living in the city and every other place in Kano, although large concentration are found in Sabon Gari area. The Yorubas for long have their Sarki who usually is turbaned by His Highness, the Emir of Kano and for this reason, to have their official befitting Palace is long overdue.
“Finally, I wish to on behalf of the Government of our great state, thank the Ooni of Ife for having time to grace this occasion despite grounded schedule. Equally, I extend my sincere appreciation to His Highness, the Emir of Kano for his various interventions in the unity of our dear country, Nigeria. I also extend my gratitude to the leaders of all other ethnic groups living in Kano for their contributions in making our dear state a peaceful place to live and do business. I also extend my sincere appreciation to the Yorubawa of Kano for initiating the pinnacle and showing interest to partner with Kano state towards the realization of its socio-economic development potentials.”
The Ooni of Ife, in his remarks, commended Ganduje and Emir Sanusi for accommodating the Yorubas in Kano, pointing out that, “Governor Ganduje is a very simple and understanding Governor. He is a detribalized Nigerian. We will continue to show our appreciation to him for the love and compassion he has shown our people.The Emir of Kano, Sarkin Kano, is our very own Emir. We have the honour and pride that he was trained in Yoruba land. He is a product of the famous Kings College. Most of his friends are from Yoruba land. He knows Yoruba land more that some of us. We appreciate him for his love and compassion to the Yoruba people.”