We landed at the Dutse Airport at 11:05hrs. For me, this was a moment of poignant remembrance. Between 2013 and 2014, I drove to and from Dutse dozens of times.
The first missionary journey
I was part of a team of media experts that then governor of Jigawa state, Sule Lamido, had put together to help midwife Jigawa State Television. True to his NEPU/PRP political antecedents. Lamido gave us an omnibus term of reference; we should deliver a very progressively-inclined television service which would be located within the broad radical, pan-Africanist vision of the NEPU era. We worked our socks off to deliver on the mandate and did that Abuja-Kano-Dutse trip so regularly that I literally knew every blade of grass by the roadsides.
A notable element of the regular trips to Dutse was that we also got to see the different transformational projects that Sule Lamido delivered or was delivering in the state. One of these was the Dutse International Airport. It meant a lot to Sule and we drove there to examine the pace of work several times because he had a vision of regular flights in and out; hajj operations too. Before he concluded his tenure in 2015, I flew into Dutse a few times because Overland Airways added Dutse to its list of destinations. I think the commercial operation fizzled out eventually.
Second missionary journey
I haven’t been back in Dutse for several years since till Saturday, March 4 2023. The vice president-elect, His Excellency, Kashim Shettima, is in town to attend the coronation and presentation of staff of office of the new Emir of Dutse. I had a very close relationship with the much-lamented late Emir, Alhaji Muhammed Nuhu Sanusi; a really decent Emir of the old school, who never used to miss my weekly columns in the newspapers that I wrote for and who eventually became a colleague at the 2014 National Conference. Yesterday night, Kashim Shettima had indicated that we would come to Dutse today for the ceremony.
Into the waiting hands of who’s who
The more things change, the more they seem to remain the same in life! We arrived at the Aminu Kano Triangle, the broad open fair, which was constructed by Sule Lamido. We had driven out of the airport in company of the state governor, Abubakar Badaru and the square was filled to capacity: the Sultan of Sokoto, the Shehu of Borno, the Emir of Kano and other Emirs were in attendance. Governor Simeon Lalong of Plateau state as the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum was also in attendance, as were members of the political, business and other elements of the societal nomenclatura. I also saw the minister of water resources, Sulaiman Adamu, a Prince of Kazaure, amongst the dignitaries.
The literary correlation
A coronation is also a major cultural and political spectacle. During the Middle Ages, Abdulkarim Al-Maghili, a near contemporary of Nicolo Machiavelli, author of the famous work, ‘The Prince’ was a guest resident in the Kano of the famous Habe Emir, Muhammadu Rumfa. He wrote a treatise, titled ‘Obligation of Princes’ that was to have a lasting impact on kingship in this part of what became Northern Nigeria. Al-Maghili emphasised the importance of spectacle in the deeping of the mystery around the stature of Emirs. The turnout of people in various colourful attires, horses decorated almost as if taken out of medieval court shows, with their riders equally impressively attired, spoke to the spectacle which came out of ‘The Obligation of Princes’.
But even a coronation is also a most political event, and a few days to the gubernatorial elections, the local political elite made an effort to milk the occasion. Young party enthusiasts, noisily carried placards of candidates, with the picture of the sitting governor, boldly displayed for all to see. A very sunny and hot afternoon only added extra political heat to what is already a most impressive and colourful gathering. And when the governor recognised the dignitaries, the mention of the names of well-known local politicians led to a major outburst of celebratory musical tribute by the urban lumpen youth.
The last Presidential and National Assembly elections showed that the ruling APC is very strong here, given the impressive results. This was a point that I underlined in a very short conversation that I had with Governor Badaru inside the Presidential Lodge where we had dinner. He was also my colleague at the 2014 National Conference; and we were all active in the Northern Delegation.
By 13:05hrs, the main element of the coronation was over. The spectacle would however be extended into a major durbar display which unfortunately, we weren’t able to stay behind to watch and enjoy.
His Excellency, Kashim Shettima’s attendance of this coronation is very symbolic. It is the first major event he’s attending, since the success in the presidential elections and collection of the certificate of return, a few days ago. It is very remarkable that a coronation like this helps to cement the connection with the traditional institution that retains an enduring legacy in Northern Nigeria.
Shettima is the northern representative on the APC presidential ticket; it is therefore vital to continue to oil the relationships with all sections of the north to help deepen the confidence that our people have in the incoming administration.
The new look Dutse
As we drove back in a convoy of vehicles to the Dutse Airport, we got the opportunity to take on the sights of Dutse. It used to be a very small town before its fortunes changed upon being named a state capital in 1991. Today, a succession of administrations has turned Dutse into a modern place, with all the amenities and ambitions to become a truly 21 century livable city.
The coronation has seen an impressive turnout, signposted by the presence of Nigeria’s vice president-elect, Kashim Shettima. The beloved Emir has departed and the new Emir has gotten a staff of office in a very colourful coronation. Long live the Emir of Dutse!