No contact could confirm when exactly it happened but Intervention can report authoritatively that Northern technocrats concerned about the security and cultural implications of the long running test of strength between the governor and the Emir of Kano barged on President Muhammadu Buhari mid last week to get him to intervene.
They got their way and the president insisted on having a feedback on their mission the very day they penetrated the fortress of power. The incipient committee obliged him the feedback by 7.00 pm that very day and things have never been the same again on the conflict.
But for the fact that Governor Ganduje would be away from Nigeria for two weeks and General Abdulsalami is not available immediately, the matter could basically be regarded as resolved, what with the threat “of the president intervening personally” should it persist.
The initiative which no one is putting beyond Alhaji Adamu Fika, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation as well as Head of the Federal Civil and a traditional title holder and some contacts in Kaduna has since blossomed into the General Abdulsalami Abubakar, former Head of State led mediation team with Fika himself as a member as well as Gen. Muhammadu Inuwa Wushishi, a former Chief of Army Staff; Alh Abdullahi Ibrahim, (SAN); Dr. Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, a former Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK; Dr. Umaru Mutallab, well known banker; Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, scholar-diplomat; Sheikh Sharif Ibrahim Saleh, a cleric and Dr. Adamu Fika, a much younger cob who is serving as Secretary.
It is not clear what exactly might have stung the Wazirin Fika into action. Some sources put it to the security and cultural implications of a possible removal of the Emir of Kano but others also contend that it might have been to blunt the intervention of the Northern Elders Forum, (NEF) being led by Professor Ango Abdullahi, former Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and also a traditional title holder himself in Zaria Emirate. In the olden days, both Ango Abdullahi and Adamu Fika would belong to the famed Kaduna Mafia, the assemblage of the modernizing elite in the North which has, however, acquired very mysterious image in Nigeria. Now, they seem to be on different but not necessarily conflicting initiatives on this matter.
Whichever claim is correct or closer to being correct, the masterminds of what has now become the Abdulsalami Committee were able to get President Buhari to see them promptly. That meeting must have taken place last Wednesday or Friday because the president was in Kano on Thursday to attend a Police Academy graduation event, an occasion which must have provided him conclusive evidence that Governor Ganduje and the Kano Emir are, indeed, at war.
Intervention was told very reliably that Governor Ganduje who was even more infuriated by the Emir riding into the Policy Academy event in his Rolls Royce did whisper to the president to oblige him the favour of extending the protocol recognitions beyond the Emir of Kano to include the emirs of the new emirates because a protocol listing in the president’s speech which excluded the four emirs would sound their death knell, implicitly. It is not clear if the president obliged but it is true the president took note of the seating arrangement in which the Emir of Kano was missing from the front row. Obviously, the president didn’t know how long and how deep the feud has gone.
These are the empirical details which must have informed presidential instructions to the emergent team to meet both parties, an instruction said to have been carried out that very day. While the Governor is said to be very bitter that the Emir doesn’t respect his office, the Emir thinks he has done nothing wrong other than criticizing openly what he doesn’t see to be in tandem with good governance. Whether spoken or unspoken, both sides had in mind Emir Sanusi’s criticism of Ganduje’s planned $1.8b loan from China to build light rail in Kano, something the Emir criticised on grounds of the China, the source of the loan also being the supplier of the workers, the wagons and the drivers of the project as well as its viability on the whole. This seems to be the classic of the criticisms, generating a feeling that the Emir whom the governor says does not even report to him but to a LGC Chairman has no regard for him.
Whatever the feelings, the two would have to come to grips with the threat of a personal intervention of the president, although no one could say what form that intervention may take.
What is not clear now is what happens to the initiative of the Northern Elders Forum. Will the two merge or continue on separate paths? Perhaps, a complicated situation as the creation of four new emirates in Kano requires more than one mediation team except that a mediation team with access to the president is more likely to produce results faster. Moreover, the Kano State Government told the Abuja based Daily Trust last Sunday it doesn’t know about the initiative of the Northern Elders Forum and that four additional emirates have come to stay.
Meanwhile, the initial statement issued late yesterday and signed by Fika himself confirms everything in this story except mentioning the meeting with the president. The last might not have been heard from him as this is still an unfolding story and more details are expected from both mediation initiatives and other stakeholders.