EDITORIAL: The demolition crisis in Kano


On Tuesday, a Kano State High Court restrained the state government from demolishing structures consisting of plazas and filling stations that were marked for demolition along BUK road of the state metropolis.

Uba Group

The state government, through Kano Urban Development Planning Authority, had marked structures along BUK Road for demolition, an incident that generated controversy among people in the state.

The presiding judge, Justice Hafsat Yahaya granted the interim order and restrained the state governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf and three other defendants from demolishing the said structures.

The court then adjourned to October 26, 2023 for the hearing of the substantive suit.

A drive around many parts of Kano city brings three things into sight: the debris from several properties that the government pulled down within days after it assumed office; the buildings whose roofs, doors and windows have been dismantled, and the heaps of garbage littering many parts of the northern Nigerian business hub, especially the Sabongari area.

Some of the buildings brought down are the three-star Daula Hotel consisting of at least 50 rooms, four executive rooms, a restaurant and other facilities; and a three-storey building at the Race Course in the Nasarawa GRA, which had 90 shops.

The government did not spare dozens of shops built in front of the Government Girls Secondary School, Dukuwuya, along Federal College of Education in the city.

While the new government argued that its predecessor sold the land to cronies, families, and APC loyalists, thereby altering the city’s master plan, the former government and victims described the action as a political vendetta.

There are three major players in the demolition crisis: the state’s former Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who founded the New Nigeria Peoples Party, which produced the incumbent government; Governor Yusuf; and the former Governor, Umar Ganduje.

Kwankwanso had protested public land sales before his party won the last governorship election and had vowed to pull down every structure erected on the lands sold if his party won the election.

He said the lands sold were on religious places, cemeteries, schools, hospitals and other sites. Kwankwaso’s opposition to land sales by Ganduje further incensed the hostility between the two leaders.

“It is apparent that what is playing out in Kano is the politics of retaliation”

Ganduje was Kwankwanso’s former deputy. Both leaders enjoyed a smooth relationship till the former succeeded the latter on May 29, 2015.

But as of June 2023, the enmity had grown so profoundly that Ganduje threatened to slap his former principal at the State House in Abuja because he (Kwankwaso) backed the demolition.

Nevertheless, Governor Yusuf has reiterated his government’s decision to reclaim all public lands sold by Ganduje.

He also told the Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero, that he had no regret destroying the properties.

The Commissioner for Information, Baba Halilu Dantiye, equally aligned with the governor.

He denied allegations of political vendetta by Governor Yusuf’s government. He claimed that ninety-five per cent of Kano people were happy with the demolitions.

However, he said the government was law-abiding and would study the orders already issued against the exercise by the court.


It is apparent that what is playing out in Kano is the politics of retaliation. It is glaring that, by all intents and purposes, the newly elected governor of Kano went for broke to pay Ganduje back in his own coin.

Kwankwaso is using the new governor as a horsewhip to get revenge on his childhood buddy, longtime political ally, two-term deputy governor, and special adviser while he served as Minister of Defence under Obasanjo from 2003 to 2007, at which time he lost the race for governor for a second term to Ibrahim Shekarau.

In 2011, Kwankwaso and Ganduje won the election for his second term. The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was installed as the Emir of Kano by these two individuals, who served as Governor and Deputy Governor, in order to prevent the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan from arresting him (Sanusi).

Similar to how Ganduje became his successor, Kwankwaso is known to have played a significant role in the emergence of Ganduje as Governor.

However, as soon as Ganduje became visible, he made an effort to establish himself as an independent leader.

As a second-term governor, Kwankwaso inscribed “Kwakansiyya” on the roof of any schools or public buildings that were constructed or restored under his administration.

Of course, Kwankwaso’s egotistical branding of public properties with the Kwankwasiyya cult-like movement offended the bulk of Kano’s elites.

Thus, Ganduje’s rapid rise to prominence was a fait accompli to undermine and sever his relationship with his boss. The ensuing disagreement between them showed that Ganduje harboured intense resentment towards Kwankwaso’s dominant posture and attitudes.

The balkanization of the Kano emirate and the unceremonious deposition of the former Emir, who allegedly supported Kwankwaso governorship candidate in 2019 instead of Ganduje, were other interesting issues that culminated in the revenge mission being carried out by the current governor against the Ganduje administration.

To the surprise of everyone, Governor Yusuf did not just demolish the structures on the state-owned land that Ganduje and his associates were given and shared. He went above and beyond what was acceptable in his personal vendetta.

He demolished a historic roundabout built with taxpayer funds costing millions of naira.

We wonder why a government would want to damage a public property merely because it dislikes the builder.

This is harsh and destructive politics at the expense of the taxpayers. Governor Yusuf is only a hunting dog set loose to destroy Ganduje’s legacy because the first two months of his reign has been marked by widespread destruction.

According to general consensus and perspectives, Kwankwaso and Ganduje are both guilty of the same crimes of selling land, owning posh locations, and appeasing their friends and relatives with people’s property.

To put it simply, this is an instance of the pot calling the kettle black.

The ongoing demolition in Kano State is a political vendetta and it is condemnable.

It is condemnable because most people whose buildings were pulled down came up with their certificates, showing that it was allocated to certain individuals. Then, those particular individuals sold the property to them after the government had allocated it.

The wider implications are that the demolition would affect the public investment in properties, particularly properties owned by the government.

If one government could allocate lands to people, give them consent to assign the property, and then, after that government has gone, another government comes and starts demolishing, nobody, no good investor will invest his money in property owned by the government.

The demolition exercise in Kano State could cause a security threat to the state, but we urge the victims not to take laws into their hands but to pursue legal remedies.