Alhaji Dr. Ado Bayero was the Emir of Kano from 1963 till his death in 2014. He was considered one of Nigeria’s most respected Muslim clerics. Besides his traditional role as Emir, he was a successful banker, businessman, police officer, and diplomat, once serving as Nigeria’s foreign ambassador to Senegal. Ado Bayero was well known for his remarkable wealth and success in capital investments and large scale agricultural businesses.
Ado Bayero was born in Kano into a royal clan that has ruled the Kano emirate of Northern Nigeria since 1819. Named after his father, Abdullahi Bayero, a former emir who reigned for 27 years, Ado was the eleventh child of his father and second child of his mother. His education started with Islamic studies at Kano Middle School and the School of Arabic Studies, where he graduated in 1947. In 1949, he joined the Kano Native Authority and in 1952, obtained additional degrees from Zaria Clerical College. He worked briefly as bank clerk for the Bank of British West Africa and afterwards, went into politics, winning a seat in the Northern Regional House of Assembly in 1954. He later served as head of the Kano Native Police Authority between 1957 and 1962, before being appointed as Ambassador of Nigeria to Senegal and later became a traditional Muslim leader.
Emir of Kano
Ado Bayero became Emir on October 22, 1963 during Nigeria’s first republic, barely three years after gaining independence from Britain. Nigeria was undergoing rapid sociopolitical changes, tensions were rising at different levels of government and as well as brewing ethnic discord. As regional politics gained momentum in Nigeria, some Kano elites threw their support behind pro-Kano political movements including the Kano People’s Party, which was formed during the reign of Ado Bayero’s predecessor, Muhammed Inuwa and Kano State Movement, which emerged towards the end of 1965 and pushed for more autonomy of the region. The first military coup d’état in Nigeria was carried out in 1966 and the death of several key northern military officers and political agitators led to a more united front in the northern region. Political tensions heightened and spates of violence increased in the north, including Kano. In the years between 1966 and 1979, Nigeria shuffled different military regimes which led to stifling the constitutional powers of traditional rulers in Nigeria including the Emir of Kano. The northern Native Authority Police and Prisons Department were abolished; the Emir’s judicial council was also effectively replaced by a more docile body and the establishment of local government reforms in subsequent years further reduced the powers of the Emir.
Ado Bayero tried to stay out of mainstream politics as much as possible. As Emir, he focused and was credited for restoring peace and stability to Kano. He oversaw Islamic scholarship and acknowledged the importance of Western education in achieving success in a modern Nigeria. He was devoted to maintaining peace between the Hausa-speaking Muslim majority in Kano and Christian Igbo businessmen in the city. Ado Bayero was also notably a strong vocal critic of Boko Haram, an extremist Islamic group that oppose and campaign against Western education in northern Nigeria. An assassination attempt by Boko Haram was made on his life on January 19 2013, which killed his bodyguard and injured his two sons among others. A prime suspect was arrested in connection with the attack confessed to being the mastermind behind the attack.
The Emir died on June 6 2014, after a protracted illness at the age of 83. He was succeeded by his grandnephew, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
Ado Bayero is the longest serving Emir in the history of Kano emirate. Although the Sultan of Sokoto is the most senior Muslim leader in Nigeria, Ado Bayero as Emir of Kano was seen by many as the country’s most respected and influential Emir. He transformed the Kano emirate from native authority to community leaders and the custodian of Hausa language and Islamic traditions. He was an influential spiritual and community leader who often played advisory roles in government.
He used his position as Emir to positively promote Kano’s durbar –celebrations held at both Eid al-Fitr and Eid ar-Adhar, which are now the biggest in Nigeria and a huge tourist attraction. As ambassador of Nigeria to Senegal, he developed a flourishing relationship with then Senegalese president, Leopold Sedar Senghor. Ado Bayero was also the Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and the University of Ibadan.
- “Ado Bayero”. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 12 July. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ado_Bayero>.
- Aliyu Tanko. “Nigeria’s Emir of Kano Ado Bayero Buried after Palace Funeral”. British Broadcasting Corporation. Web. 06 June 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27740942>.
- “Emirs of Nigeria”. Online Nigeria. Web. 05 June. 2005. <http://www.onlinenigeria.com/links/adv.asp?blurb=542>.
- “Ado Bayero”. Nigerian Wiki. Web. 27 May 2008. <http://www.nigerianwiki.com/wiki/Ado_Bayero>.