His Royal Highness, Alhaji Shehu Idris, the Emir of Zazzau and unarguably the longest reigning Emir of Zazzau, has passed on. He died on September 20, 2020 in Kaduna, at the age of 84. He celebrated his 45 years on the throne in February this year. As if he knew that the end was near, the Emir delivered what sounded like his final oration in an emotion-laden tone in which he prayed Allah, residents and all other Nigerians to forgive all his shortcomings. He explained that it was time for him to seek forgiveness as the end might be near. Seven months later, just as the Emir virtually predicted, he passed away.
In the death of the Emir of Zazzau, Nigeria has lost a gentleman and a peacemaker. His exit can be likened to the end of an era in the history of Zaria. His funeral was attended by a huge crowd that has not been seen in the country for a long time. Encomiums came from far and near. At the Fidatu prayers in his honour, Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, remembered him as a personal friend and confidant.
The late Emir was the one he turned to for useful advice and information. Governor Kayode Fayemi, who led the delegation of Nigerian state governors to honour the deceased, noted that the Emir immensely helped in the development of education and culture. The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, eulogised the late Emir for his contribution to the good governance of the state as the state benefitted immensely from the wealth of experience of Shehu Idris.
The late Emir was indeed a bridge builder and one so much concerned about the peace and unity of the country as well as the enthronement of good governance. He was patriotic, friendly and willing to render help to the nation’s leaders and his subjects. No doubt, he will be sorely missed by his numerous admirers and the people of Kaduna State and other Nigerians. We urge the government of Kaduna State to immortalise him considering his contributions to the nation’s overall development.
Alhaji Shehu Idris was born on February 20, 1936, to the family of Maiunguwa Idrisu Auta, a ward head of Unguwa Iya which is a ward between Unguwar Durumi and Kuyanbana in Zazzau Emirate. His father was sometimes called Autan Sambo, while his mother was called Ajiya Aminatu.
His father was also nicknamed Auta because he was the last born of the Emir of Zazzau, Muhammadu Sambo, who reigned from 1879-1888. Emir Sambo was the second child of Emir of Zazzau Abdulkarimi who reigned from 1834-1846. Thus the Emir’s father was a ward head while his grand father and great grand father were emirs in Zazzau Emirate.
Alhaji Shehu Idris started his early education by being tutored by two Islamic scholars in Zaria. He continued with formal education at the Zaria Elementary School where he studied from 1947 to 1950 during which period he also lost his father. He was only 12 years old. He continued his Qur’anic and formal education and enrolled in the Zaria Middle School in 1950 and completed studies in 1955. He then enrolled in the Katsina Training College to become a teacher.
After the completion of his teacher training, he became a teacher in 1958 at a school in Hunkuyi and later taught at a few other schools in Zaria. In the 1960s, he was private secretary to the late Emir of Zazzau, Muhammadu Aminu, and was also appointed as the Secretary to the Zaria Native Authority in 1965. In 1973, he was bestowed the title of Dan Madamin Zaria and was appointed the District Head of Zaria.
The late Shehu Idris succeeded Emir Aminu at his death in 1975. On January 10, 2015 he celebrated his 40th coronation and on February 8, his 45th anniversary. Emir Shehu Idris was loved by his people. He served them with dedication and identified with their aspirations. He lived an exemplary life in the service of the Zazzau Emirate, Kaduna State and the entire country. We commiserate with his family, the Zazzau Emirate and the Nigerian government on the great loss.