Alhaji Nasir Ado Bayero is the Emir of Bichi, one of the recently created emirates in Kano State. He is the younger brother of Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, the Emir of Kano, both of them sons of former Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero. In this exclusive interview, the Emir of Bichi discusses his early days, relationships with former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II; his brother; as well as combining his role as an Emir with his busy schedule as a business tycoon. He also speaks on topical issues like the insecurity and several agitations in the country vis-à-vis the role of traditional rulers. The Emir also speaks about his relationship with his children.
Your Highness, can you tell us what it was like growing up in the palace and the inspiration you got from your late father?
My early life, I cannot fully remember everything about it. I was too young but I remember I grew up very close to my father. As a young man in the palace, I grew up literally at his footstep. Literally, I grew up in his bed. I was with him up to the time I went to secondary school.
I remember there were times while in primary school when I would slip into his bed and sleep. I used to help him with his turban. So, I knew him. That is my source of inspiration in life; my father (bless his memory).
I was not treated as a prince. I grew up with the palace servants, their children and I was treated like them. I never had any special relationship or special treatment and that molded my character.
You grew up a very popular person in the palace, was that because of your closeness to your late father or due to the way you were brought up?
I would say it is a combination of both. I was close to him. I get emotional every time I remember him. I was released to the world like anybody and I don’t feel special even now. I think it is the background. When people told me then that I was a prince, I found it difficult to believe. I knew I had roles to play and after a while, the roles started building in me. That is all I can think of.
Was there aspiration to follow his footsteps, not only of becoming emir, but also in other aspects of life?
He had always been my role model. So, becoming an emir is another thing altogether. But in terms of character, behaviour and what he did, I always followed him to see what he was doing and I emulated him. That has helped me a lot.
After the death of your father, many people expected that you would succeed him. How did you feel when it did not turn out that way?
It is the will of Allah. That is how Allah wants it. I was never fixated on becoming an emir. It has never been my issue. Yes, I like to succeed. Yes, I like to be a successful man, but I was not fixed about becoming an emir or district head or whatever. I just wanted to make an impact in my life; to give back to people and make a difference. So, the fact that I was not the emir then did not make me feel any different or sad. It is the will of Allah, you cannot change that.
What was the feeling like when you were made the Emir of Bichi?
It was the same feeling, really. As I said, I like a quiet life. It might be an irony, I grew up in the palace and I like a private life. So, becoming emir at this time, for me, is just a calling, my call to duty to serve, that is all.
How do you feel about the duty now that you have been there for some time – the challenges and excitement, vis-a-vis, your very busy personal life?
I think I grew up with it anyway. So, for me it is just an extension of what I have been doing before. Even as a prince you can say my life has been a duty to the people; as a young man, prince in quote and district head. So, this is just a natural progression and I am not overwhelmed by anything; by this, I mean by the fact that I am an emir, is normal for me. I have been the same, I don’t feel overwhelmed, I don’t feel tired. Thanks to Allah I feel good.
We have all been in a celebration mood, preparation mood; there are a lot of things to be done. We are on top of it, I believe with the help of everybody here including you today. So, I pray we will succeed. It is about the celebration itself, it is about the progression; the hope we put in people, the ability to guide them and change their lives and make them happy to the best of our ability. So, the celebration to me, I wish I can fast-track it and get on with what I have to do.
How important is this wedding of your daughter to the son of the president, vis-à-vis other big events you have been part of?
I don’t know how to express it but giving away your daughter, first of all, is a very painful process. I’m very close to my children, so sending away Zahra is also an issue for me, but we thank God. She’s a young girl, only 20 and she’s in her final year in the university studying Architecture. I would have loved for Zahra to stay and finish her school and live with me a little longer, but we cannot change what God has ordained. We can only pray and wish them a successful and happy married life.
And yes, it’s also a happy time for me. I’ve given one in marriage already, and now, another one. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said when you successfully raise three daughters and marry them off, Allah will give you a place in paradise. This is my prayer and I hope that through them God will give me Aljannah.
Coming back to the palace, how is your relationship with you brother, the Emir of Kano?
He’s my blood brother. We came from the same womb. So, what would one expect? Our relationship is cordial and we grew up together. He’s only about three years older than me. So we have a very robust relationship and advice each other on issues. We are done with playing soccer, so we are now the referees.
Taking palace life into consideration, how do you handle normal relationships since everywhere you go people are with you?
That is almost impossible. I still cherish those times when you can just walk out and drive; go your way, have your fun, cross the street and walk. It’s different now. But I try to recreate it when I can. Sometimes, I like to sit with my friends and gist like normal times but then duty comes in. You sit to discuss with your friends and then there’s a problem somewhere, there’s a function somewhere, there are visitors. You can’t relax.
When I’m traveling from here (Kano) to Bichi, sometimes on a normal day, I can’t afford to relax for one second, because I have to acknowledge greetings; there are certain things that people expect you to do, you have to conform.
Many people say you have a lot of things in common with former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, in your career for instance. How do you connect with him now, apart from the family relationship?
We grew up together, in the same bed literally. He is older than me, maybe three years older, but we were friends right from the beginning. He moved to the palace where I was, to my room, my own little room. We lived together with him. We had our breakfast together and we also went out together. Life was the same, so we still relate.
We are friends, we are family and in the family, while growing up, we were the closest. Our friendship was kind of a case study in the palace because our fathers also grew up together. Late Ciroma Aminu Sanusi and my father were also best of friends and my father was his (Emir Sanusi’s) uncle. Yes! We still maintain a cordial relationship.
The creation of new emirates generated divided opinions in Kano and outside the state. In fact it turned into court cases. What is the relationship between you and title holders who opposed that decision?
I haven’t seen any dissent. For me, the way I look at it, we cannot change what God has done. As for the relationship, I’ve never had any issue with anybody on this, personally or officially. So I will say I have had a smooth transition from being a district head to an emir.
How is work going on among the emirates, whether on inter-emirate issues or Kano emirate council’s?
The council of chiefs is yet to be inaugurated, so we have been working with the other emirs at our own levels. If there are issues in our place that is civil, for example, Rano or Kano, we have our chain of communication and we do that all the time. If, for instance, somebody has complaints about an issue in Fagge and he comes to Bichi, I have a way of sending him back to the Emir of Kano.
I saw how my father handled thing while growing up. When issues came from say Zaria and how those issues were transmitted to the particular emirate concerned. So, we are running smoothly and when it comes to the affairs of the state; we have our way of communicating and resolving conflicts and other issues.
So many things are now coming up in the country, especially security challenges. Though Kano seems to be faring well, what role do you think you can play in ensuring that peace is maintained and even extended to other parts of the country?
I think we are playing the role already. Essentially, it’s about reportage. We, traditional rulers, have a way of getting our information and that information management has always kept us relevant. If I need to find out what is happening in say Bagwai, I will get it in two minutes. So, it is the information gathering and the intelligence that we have that is very unique. From ward to district to emirate, our traditional title holders would report to us what is happening every morning.
So, if we have any foreigner in Bagwai, we would get the report that morning that there are cattle rearers (for example) who have moved in and settled in certain places. The ward head will go and find out why they are here. What is the problem? And also monitor them to find out what they’re doing. They report to us and we will report to the government, to the police. That’s what we’ll continue to do for the government. I think that has helped with the help of Allah.
People say his Highness has always been a very busy person. How do you balance your personal life with the current role?
I wish I know the difference. I just moved on and I never had any problem relating to that. While I’m doing this, at my private level, things come in and I address them. As I do that, I address all other things that come along. Thank God I have able helpers and they are doing their best to ensure that whatever I do goes smoothly. I have very able district heads, a very strong secretariat and alhamdulillahi they are my backbone. Wherever I go,- if I am out of Bichi going elsewhere – I know they have my back covered. So that has been my strong support.
This is a little bit personal. What are the five major things that his Highness likes most and those that you like the least?
First of all, I like to stay alone. I enjoy withdrawing away from people, if and when I can. It gives me an opportunity to reflect on what I have done, what I’m going to do or how I’m going to handle certain things because in the midst of this, sometimes it’s difficult to reflect. But when you’re alone it helps you create, it helps you correct yourself and to understand what have you done.
For me, it is a retreat and I like to do that every day. I like to stay on my own.
I like to read, I am an avid reader. I read books, any book that comes my way. I do a lot of reading; everywhere I go to, I have my books; before I sleep I read.
I like to travel. Though now it is no longer fun to travel anymore. But I used to like travelling a lot. When I have time I like to travel and live on my own.
When I am on my own on holidays, I like to walk. And this, I got from my late father. We used to walk together for 2-3 hours each time we travelled. If we got tired, we found a place to sit and rest; fuel ourselves with water and continued. I still do it when I have the chance. If I go to Lagos and I know I can blend, I try to do that.
One more; and also things you like the least
I can’t remember offhand what I don’t like to do.
When you talk about travelling with your late father, I remember meeting Alhaji Aminu Dantata last year and he told me the number of countries that he has travelled to. He also mentioned many of the travels he did with your late father; I don’t know if you can remember the number of countries that you have visited…
No. Offhand I can’t. Maybe I can remember the number of countries I have not visited, but I think I’ve been to over 100 countries. I’ve travelled extensively.
The general insecurity in the country is now leading to calls for restructuring, agitation for secession in some parts of the country and there are some people in the North who are also voicing their concern about this situation. What is your advice to the leaders and other traditional rulers on this situation?
I think if we harness our resources, work together as a nation it would be better than being divided. We’ve seen how our forefathers fought gallantly to maintain the unity of Nigeria. We have seen how they died; some people gone trying to do that. We have seen how other countries have gone through a mess to divide themselves because of some parochial reasons. So, I would rather we stayed together as a country. I was not old enough to remember the civil war that happened but we have seen other countries like Rwanda, though Rwanda has come back stronger but offhanded, look at Sudan. Southern Sudan agitated for over 20 years for this to happen. Look at what has become of them today. They have gotten their independence, but are they happy? Are they better-off? Has the war ended? It hasn’t.
We should appeal to people to look for a way out to resolve our issues peacefully rather than dividing us. As I said about Sudan, I was in Darfur a long time ago, I have seen how things have become. Now even Southern Sudan is still in a mess.
We want to remain in a united Nigeria. We know there are issues but we can resolve them politically, we can resolve them among ourselves as a family without having to balkanize our country.
Culled from Daily Trust