Daily Independent Online.
Thursday, August 28, 2003.
Emirs as local tyrants
By Shehu Sani
Every Sultan and Emir and their scion have their
origin and source of nobility on a bitter history of conquer and subjugation of
a particular sociological formation after a certain period of cruel, savage and
bitter war waged by their ancestors against a common helpless people. The
throne of every Emir or Sultan is resting on two major pillars: the tradition
which is Hausa and the religion which is Islam. In tradition, the power is
derived and in religion the power is justified. The Emirate or Sultanate of any
kind does not represent the custodianship of tradition or religion, it
represent the crown or sum of its manipulation.
There is nothing like blue blood or royal blood. Every human
blood is human blood. However, blue or royal blood can be defined as a chain of
association of a particular people who assumed a position of self-worthiness
with its origin in their root of brute force, violence and imposition.
Every Emir, Sultan, Lamido or whatever appellation is given
to an apex royal, possesses these negative tendencies. An Emir cannot be an
agent of unity because it is within the circumference of his ethnic, tribal or
village enclave he derived his authority and influence, and unity could be a
dissolving agent to the kingdom.
The Emirate as an institution that needs religion to give it
a spiritual legitimacy, they use religion to politically and socially
immobilise their society. They use religion to propagate retrograde fatalism
Constitutional rule and democratic ideals rescued the poor
masses of the north from the claws and harmful influence of the emirs and the
emirate system. In pre-independence and even years after independence, the
monarchical structure as represented by the Emirs symbolises terror,
intimidation and infamy for the common man. Most of the fortresses, splendor,
fanfare and gallery of their highnesses visible today were built upon the
right, sweat and blood of ordinary people. Emirate system used to be sustained
from such crime as slavery and slave trade rapacious tax system of the helpless
locals to outright seizure of farm produce and farmland of the peasant talakawa.
Our fathers suffered from their heinous and repressive role
during the NEPU activism in the first republic and in our recent past, we had
to deal with their treacherous support and celebration with military dictators.
The role the Emirs and their ‘noble’
counterparts from other parts of the country played under military regime is an
open historical fact. Emirs and their traditional institutions aid and abet the
stabilisation of coups and the sustenance of military dictatorships. Because of
their avarice and philosophy of identification with every government in power,
military adventurist always found them a ready-made structure and source of
support. Emirs leading a caravan of other traditional rulers – paying
homage and solidarity to military dictators like Babangida, Abacha and
Abdulsalami who misruled and loot are ugly sight that will stick forever in the
memory of the conscious among us.
In the reign of terror, during military regime, when denial
of freedom, violation of fundamental human rights and abuse of power is the
order of the day, Emirs and their institution were on the side of evil, calling
on oppressed people to ‘co-operate’ or ‘respect
constituted’. The self-acclaimed ‘fathers’ of our society
does not deem it fit to speak out against the injustice and violence unleashed
against their ‘children’. Testimony to their opportunism and lack
of principle is the deposition and subsequent incarceration of Sultan Dasuki by
the Abacha’s junta and also the arrest and murder of Shehu Yar’Adua
by the same regime. Rather than challenge or fight Abacha, they praise,
celebrate and reinforced his regime until the ultimate King rescued us and
wiped him off from the face of the earth.
Emirs played other roles as serving as informants to secret
security agents of the defunct military regime which usually leads to arrest
of or suppression of dissenters.
In the north, many of the followers of the Shiite sect have suffered from this. Today, the Emirate institution has
rediscovered the importance of commercialisation for relevance. Indiscriminate
award of chieftaincy title to serving public office holders, politicians, rich
retired military generals, police, customs, immigration officers, moneybags and
landlords are the preoccupation of our Emirs.
It is a traditional burden on its entire subject. Its merits
are more of an assumption and imagination and its harm are evident. Northern
minorities agitating for self-determination from the emirate system appear to
be doing that on a wrong track leading to same destination. Elites from the
minority championing the cause are not doing that to emancipate their people
from royal enslavement and subjugation. The elite are simply not championing a
republican cause. The prevalent case as it is in Southern Kaduna State and
other areas in the north clearly shows that the elite intent is more to have an
enclave, a sort of an autonomous circle within their ethnic circle for which
they can also rule and subjugate like Emirs but on a different label.
King Juan Carlos of Spain, Queen Elizabeth of England,
Emperor Hiro Hito of Japan, Jabeer Al-Sabah of Kuwait, Fahad Ibn Al Faisal of
Saudi Arabia as monarchs have every reason to be proud and perhaps haughty of
their monarchy. For their people are not only free of want and misery – from Sokoto, Kano, Katsina,
Zaria, Minna, Yola, Maiduguri, Jos, Bauchi, etc. where lies the relevance of an
Emir or their morale (or total) pride in an aerial view of a community with one
salacious expensive palace surrounded by mud and inhabited by an oppressed
Sani is President,
Civil Rights Congress,