Since 1963, when he ascended the throne of his ancestors as the Emir of Kano, the debonair former Nigerian ambassador to Senegal, Alhaji Dr Ado Abdullahi Bayero, has remained a reference point on how traditional institutions could promote good governance and people-oriented policies under a modern, democratic system. His model royalty also highlights the roles and responsibilities of the monarchy and how the formalities of the office can complement rather than abnegate the tenets of democracy. It is little wonder, therefore, that the ceremonies marking his 50 years on the throne, penultimate week, attracted not only the high and the mighty but the masses who thronged his palace to felicitate with him.
At age 83, the scion of Abdullahi Bayero dan Muhammed Abbass and Hajiya Hasiya has been forthright, competent and suave. Although the 56th traditional ruler of Kano city, he is the 13th in the line of succession of the descendants of the Fulani jihadist, Usman dan Fodio. Alhaji Ado Bayero has brought his great learning and exposure in diplomacy to transform the city-state from a mere native authority he inherited to an expansive, industrial and cosmopolitan epicentre for the Hausa language as well as Islamic learning and tradition. Kano under him has also become a veritable melting point for cultures, commerce and religions.
Regarded as one of the longest-serving traditional rulers, he has waded through the drudgery of political adversity. But he has remained undaunted and focused as a respected traditional ruler and perhaps the most influential in the nation.
Alhaji Bayero's contributions to national development go beyond being an emir. Before succeeding his half-brother, Muhammadu Sanusi, who ruled for 10 years after their father had reigned for 27 years, Ado Bayero was at different times a bank clerk, a police officer and a foreign affairs officer. Educated at Kano Middle School and Zaria Clerical College, he won, in 1954, a seat to the Northern Region House of Assembly. When he was a police chief in Kano from 1957 until 1962, he was credited with efforts at minimising the practice of detaining political opponents based on "orders from above". As the Nigerian ambassador to Senegal, he headed for the classroom: he enrolled in a French language class, which facilitated his job in Dakar. He now speaks the language fluently. His tour of duty coincided with the period of transition to self-rule in the sub-region where he had to confront the challenges of rapid social and political changes.
Emir Bayero is also an astute businessman and a boardroom guru. He is a key player in the stock market and has large-scale agricultural investments both at home and abroad.
Through the path of honour and cosmopolitan dispositions, the Emir has ensured that religious hostilities are brought to the minimum in his domain. This had pitted him against fundamentalists and insurgents that made attempts on his life by attacking his convoy early this year. But, through grace, the Emir continues to march on from glory to glory.
We hail the inimitable monarch and wish him many more years in the service of his people.